When any form of pop culture starts messing with time travel, it’s always a slippery slope. Unless the rules of time travel in your TV show, book or movie establish right away that messing with the past has no appreciable effect on the future — which is a rare approach — tinkering with events that have already happened usually has consequences. And changing particularly important past events can lead to disaster.
DC Comics explored this idea in Flashpoint, a five-issue series that ran during the summer of 2011. One of the reasons it worked so well is that it came out of nowhere, relatively speaking. DC had promoted that some kind of story with that name would be coming up, but gave readers little indication that it would change everything (or nearly everything, anyway).
Why is this relevant? Because as the hosts of The Flash After Show discussed in this week’s episode, the Season 2 finale of The Flash ended with a scene that included the very action that set Flashpoint into motion in the first place.
In case it wasn’t clear what event that was, “The Race of His Life” seemed to end on a bit of an up note after Zoom’s defeat. Harry and Jesse Wells had gone to Earth-2 with Jay Garrick in tow, and the rest of Team Flash was at the West house having dinner, or at least snacks.
An obviously distressed Barry went outside and was followed by Iris West. Their conversation seemed to be leading toward true #WestAllen, as host Devon Stewart would say, until Barry played the “I’m broken inside and need to fix myself first” card. Even so, it led to Iris pledging to wait for him, and a short but tantalizing kiss.
And then Barry apologized for what he was about to do, and like Adam Kruger found he could only blurt out:
Barry goes back in time and save his mother! Like, he just goes and beats the crap out of Reverse-Flash!
That’s what Barry has wanted to do all along, his original goal when he first acquired his super-speed. So everything is awesome, right?
Uh, probably not.
The Spark That Lights a Flashpoint
Comic book readers or fans of the Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox had to be shaking their heads after seeing that final scene, at least after they picked their jaws up off the floor.
That’s because the action that sets Flashpoint into motion is exactly the same thing: Barry going back in time to prevent his mother’s murder at the hands of the Reverse-Flash. What the comic book series and the animated movie do so brilliantly, though, is that the Flash simply wakes up and everything is different. He believes that Eobard Thawne is responsible for the dystopian alternate future that has resulted, only learning later that he caused it himself (albeit spurred on by Reverse-Flash deciding to kill Nora Allen in the first place).
It’s quite possible that when Season 3 begins, Barry will return to his own time and find that everything has changed. He may have to finally accept that what the Speed Force told him was right: That even with the power of the Flash, some bad things are going to happen to him, and there’s nothing he can do — or rather should do — to change them.
Yet the writers of The Flash have swerved fans before, and they might be doing so here as well.
A Prior Taste of Flashpoint?
Devon, who’s a big enough fan of the source material that he’s been on Flashpoint alert almost all season long, presented the strongest evidence for why Season 3 might not open with a straight Flashpoint riff, pointing out that, “They already did a Flashpoint Paradox-esque storyline arc right there.”
What he’s talking about occurred just a few weeks back when Barry lost his speed. The solution was to try to recreate the accident that gave him his powers in the first place, an attempt that went horribly awry and ended up with Barry trapped in the Speed Force itself.
In Flashpoint, Barry tries something similar with the aid of that timeline’s Batman, Thomas Wayne. All it gets him is badly burnt, and it’s not until later that he reclaims his mantle as the Fastest Man Alive.
With that in mind, it’s not out of the realm of possibility that the writers won’t revisit Flashpoint again quite so quickly. Our hosts threw out a couple of quick theories, including the idea that he’d be reclaimed by the Speed Force as a type of punishment and need to be rescued by his friends. Or he could simply be a man on the run when Season 3 begins, because the time wraiths that caught up with Zoom can’t be too happy about such a massive alteration to the timeline …
In any case, if the goal was to ensure that fans of The Flash have something to talk about all summer long, consider that mission accomplished. There’s no guarantee that the show did indeed go full Flashpoint in those closing minutes, but you might want to check out your local comic shop for the trade paperback just in case.
Be sure to watch this week’s whole episode of The Flash After Show to catch special guest Armen Kevorkian, the visual effects supervisor on The Flash. You’ll also get to see Devon talking about losing his “Flashginity,” Jack Hind use a mild curse word multiple times while wearing a onesie, and a possible revelation about a certain ring. Even with The Flash ending its Season 2 run, don’t forget to keep interacting with our hosts using the hashtag #TheFlashAS.
Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter @theStreamtv and The Flash After Show hosts:
Adam Kruger – @TheAdamKruger
Devon Stewart – @DevonDStewart
Jack Hind – @JackHind
theStream.tv Fan Show Network presents The Flash After Show. Tune in each week, live or on demand, for review and conversation about CW’s The Flash! At the helm of the show are writers & producers Greg Berlanti, Andrew Kreisberg, and DC Comics CCO Geoff Johns who help bring this DC Superhero to life. The series is produced by CW and is a spinoff of their popular DC Superhero show, Arrow. The Flash, tells the story of Barry Allen after witnessing his mother’s strange murder and his father’s wrongful conviction for the crime. Allen becomes a brilliant but socially awkward crime scene investigator for the Central City Police Department. After being struck by lightning from a storm and doused with chemicals in his lab, he enters a nine-month coma, and when he wakes up he discovers he has the ability to move at superhuman speeds. Harrison Wells, the disgraced designer of the failed accelerator which caused the storm, describes Barry’s special nature as “metahuman”. Allen soon discovers that he is not the only one changed by the radiation, vowing to use his gifts to protect Central City from the escalating violence of metahuman criminals. In the series, The Flash will face metahumans from the DC universe including Weather Wizard, Multiplex, The Mist, Captain Cold, The General, Girder, and Blackout. Barry Allen is aided by a few close friends and associates who guard his secrets.
If you’re a fan of the DC and the show then tune in each week for the live after show. #TheFlashAS
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