Thursday, June 20, 2024

The Flash Won’t Let Wally West Be Great

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This week was the premiere of The Flash’s third season, and, despite the summer’s worth of memes about messing up timelines, the entire fandom was excited about it. Not only were we getting to see a version of the iconic “Flashpoint” arc – sans the rest of the Justice League – but we would also finally get to see Wally West suit up as Kid Flash. Except, it didn’t quite go as planned.

I usually don’t like to write spoilers in my recaps, but there’s honestly no other way to talk about this. If you have not seen the episode, and do not like spoilers, please save this post until after you have seen “Flashpoint”. Otherwise, carry on.

Overall, I think the episode was great, though I do have some discrepancies. As an avid WestAllen fan, and self-proclaimed member of the Iris West Defense Squad, I have to watch each episode twice to really have a grasp of how good or bad it really was. Otherwise, I ’d be way too caught up in my fangirling to notice whether anything other than Barry and Iris’s interactions actually made sense for the plot and overall continuity. The second watch of the episode yielded much more insight than I thought it would, let me tell you.

The best place to start would be with Wally, because his treatment in this episode was probably the most atrocious, all things considered.

Keiynan Lonsdale as Wally West / Kid Flash in “Flashpoint” (Photo Credit: Tumblr)
Keiynan Lonsdale as Wally West / Kid Flash in “Flashpoint”

People have been waiting for Wally West’s appearance from the time this show started. I know that there can’t really be a Flash show without Barry Allen, but quite a large number of Flash franchise fans prefer Wally West’s Flash instead. However, because this has always been, and will always be, the Barry Allen show, no one really expects Wally to be the Flash, but surely they could have let him be greater than what he was in the premiere.

So when we get into “Flashpoint”, we are told from the get go that the Flash of this universe is Kid Flash because of the banner during the initial newscast. However, since everyone in this universe, except for Barry and Iris, calls him the Flash, it makes no sense for the newscast to title him that way since, as far as they know, there is technically no other Flash in that ‘verse. It can be argued that this was done as a way for us to tell the difference between the two, but Earth 2’s Flash was still called The Flash, so why does Flashpoint’s Flash have to be different?

And then there’s also the fact that the moment Barry reveals his powers, people stop taking Wally seriously as a speedster. From Wally’s enemy to his own sister, by the time the episode has ended everyone basically shafts him for Barry. I really have to give it to Keiynan Lonsdale’s acting skills because those scenes would have entirely fallen apart if he hadn’t been selling us on how pissed off Wally was about having to have another speedster come in to help him fight his enemy.  Ultimately, he took it much better than expected, but you could see he was basically over it.

Honestly, “Flashpoint” could have probably been two episodes, but the inability to allow Wally to get at least one win in was probably what made it only worth one. Still, it was awesome to see the West siblings fighting crime together, and just generally operating as a cohesive unit. And Wally at least got a good amount of screen time.

I also like The Rival, and I have to give a shoutout to Tumblr user spockvarietyhour for this picture. People weren’t so quick with the Rival gifs, and my original search was an absolute waste.

Todd Lasance as Edward Clariss / The Rival in “Flashpoint” (Photo Credit: Tumblr)
Todd Lasance as Edward Clariss / The Rival in “Flashpoint”

I don’t know if you guys like cocky villains, but I absolutely love them. One of the first thing that this guy said when he showed up on screen was, “I have no rival”. I knew from that moment that he would be fun, but the thing that sealed it was when he pulled off his mask and told them his real name. When a masked meta show you his face and tells you his real name, then that means that he know that he can win.

I. Was. Ready.

I had a conversation last week with a commenter about how I like my villains to just be antagonists, and not morally reprehensible. Basically, I like my villains to have some kind of code. They can be murderers (to a point) and they can be thieves, but when they start getting into racists, rapists, and abusers, I think they’re doing too much. Every villain doesn’t need a redemption, but the moment that they move from morally grey into morally black, I have to wonder if that villain really needs to continue existing. There was no saving Jessica Jones’s Purple Man, or Luke Cage’s Uncle Pete, but Daredevil’s Wilson Fisk is a villain worth keeping.

The Rival is a villain worth keeping. He’s like Zoom, but with a much lower body count and probably more likely to let a civilian live. The Rival doesn’t like losing, and he does not give up, but he’s definitely someone worth coming back to.

As far as him being another speedster, I will say that Reverse Flash, Zoom, and The Rival all being blonde and blue-eyed is a little bit too much of a coincidence. However, if Marvel can continue to cast several Steve Rogers clones, I’m not going to comment on DC TV’s casting of several Barry Allens.

Carlos Valdes as Cisco Ramon in “Flashpoint” (Photo Credit: Tumblr)
Carlos Valdes as Cisco Ramon in “Flashpoint”

I knew I’d put that picture to good use.

Speaking of cocky speedster villains, Eobard Thawne continues to be a favorite. I loved Tom Cavanaugh’s Eobard Thawne as Harrison Wells (and Harrison Wells as Eobard Thawne as Harrison Wells), but Matt Letscher really did a phenomenal job in this episode. Every time that Barry thinks he has Eobard where he wants him, Thawne comes through with another reality check that Barry is never ready for.

I mean, this man told us that Barry was going to beg him to kill his mother again, and that is exactly what happened. Surely we are done with killing Nora Allen; this had to be the most stressful version of her death yet. If Barry hasn’t learned his lesson by this point, I don’t know what else is going to teach him to let that be.

I am also partially convinced that Eobard Thawne is part Merlin, but that’s a reach, and I need to move on.

Matt Letscher as Eobard Thawne / Reverse Flash in “Flashpoint” (Photo Credit: Tumblr)
Matt Letscher as Eobard Thawne / Reverse Flash in “Flashpoint” (Photo Credit: Tumblr)

I appreciated a lot of the changes that went on in the “Flashpoint” episode. Like Barry’s parents suggesting that it was time for him to move out, whereas Joe West was perfectly fine with all of his very adult children living with him. Or Cisco’s becoming a billionaire off of his apps, whereas most of his genius inventions were used to fund Star Labs (I’m still not quite sure how any of them are paying bills), if not help Barry fight crime. And Caitlin’s obvious love for pediatric ophthalmology, whereas, up to this point, she had never been given the chance to talk  about children in any capacity.

There was also a callback to the 90s series with the inclusion of Alex Désert as Captain Julio Mendez. Mendez was a CCPD scientist, and Barry’s best friend, in the 90s series. However, a lot of us probably remember his as Mr. Williams, best friend of Mr. Turner, from Boy Meets World. As much as I love Captain Singh, it would be nice to see Julio Mendez again in the main timeline.

As far as changes go, Joe West’s turn as a drunkard and estranged father was probably the most surprising, but not the most unlikely. I know a lot of people thought that Iris should have been much angrier with her father about how much he had lied to her last season, and wanted to see that dealt with. However, I also recall a moment in season 1 when Iris had told Barry that his coming to live with the Wests had made them a family again. It’s possible that the Joe West of the Flashpoint timeline is a culmination of both, whereas the Joe we see in the main timeline is probably a consequence of him lying to Iris about her mother.

Speaking of Iris, I can finally talk about WestAllen.

Candice Patton as Iris West in “Flashpoint” (Photo Credit: Tumblr)
Candice Patton as Iris West in “Flashpoint” (Photo Credit: Tumblr)

As a WestAllen fan, and an IWDS member, I thought that this episode was great for Iris. She was an integral part of team Flash, she still had her job at CCPN, and she got to be shady at the most opportune moment. The only issue I had was Iris shafting Wally’s Flash for Barry’s, but, you know, Barry needs his pep talks, and Iris was the best person to give it to him.

Other than that, I appreciated every WestAllen moment in this episode. It was nice to see them have such an uncomplicated meeting after having so many people cite them growing up in the same house as an impediment to their relationship. And it was terribly endearing that Barry took Iris to meet his parents before he erased the timeline, just so he could have that memory.  You can’t help but feel for him in that moment.

I do wonder at the continuity, though, if Iris couldn’t remember the boy she’d been best friends with prior to the incident that almost killed his mother. I don’t think it was mentioned whether or not the Allens had moved, but I honestly believe that that’s the only way that that would work, even if they’d just moved to another part of town. Even still, I remember the kids I was friends with 20 years ago, so I don’t see it as too much of a stretch to have Iris remember someone she’d been best friends with 17 years beforehand. Unless Flashpoint was already operating on a different timeline even before Nora Allen’s almost death.

Danielle Panabaker as Caitlin Snow in “Flashpoint” (Photo Credit: Tumblr)
Danielle Panabaker as Caitlin Snow in “Flashpoint” (Photo Credit: Tumblr)

I didn’t think I’d get to use this picture, but I found a way.

Early in the episode, when we’re shown where the Reverse Flash is held captive, Eobard says that the Flashpoint is a mirage. Originally, I thought it was just a metaphor, but, after seeing the last scene and then rewatching the entire episode, I’m beginning to think there’s more to it. Now I’ll be the first to admit that I sometimes give the writers too much credit, but there were a lot of things that went on with “Flashpoint” that made me think that something was up with this timeline.

Like I said before, there’s the issue of Iris and Barry’s relationship prior to the Reverse Flash trying to kill Barry’s mother. We’re told from season one that they had been close friends, which was why Joe had decided to take Barry in. So why wouldn’t the Allens have known the little girl that their son had been so close to? Or at least have recognized her name?

Wally, for some reason, is unable to heal, despite being able to before we meet him. If Wally West is the Flash of the Flashpoint, and accelerated healing is a speedster trait, then why can’t Wally heal? They don’t quite explain if Wally dies, but you get the feeling that he was dying. And this is a minor thing, but, if Barry still has his speed, how come his clothes never burned up? Cisco makes mention of how he had to make Wally a suit that wouldn’t burn up when he ran above Mach 2, but Barry was zipping all over Central City in jeans and a button down with no issue. And we know that Barry was faster than Wally, because Wally doesn’t get to be great here.

Then there’s the non-existence of Harrison Wells, despite Cisco’s having bought Star Labs. With no Eobard to kill him and his wife, there’s no reason that Harrison shouldn’t have at least been mentioned. And Barry manages to know something about Cisco and Dante that is obviously very dear to Cisco, but we have no idea who could have told it to Barry. This is probably a writing issue, but I feel like it also has something to do with the next episode.

(I’m probably in the minority of people who like Dante Ramon, but I really don’t want him to be dead.)

What really brings it home, though, is that the Mirror Master — because I’m not going to pretend that that wasn’t who that was — knew to go look for Edward Clariss, and tell him to wake up the Rival. I don’t know about the Alchemy thing, but how would the Mirror Master know who The Rival was if Clariss hadn’t revealed himself in the Flashpoint?  

The only person we know who can see into other timelines is Cisco, but I don’t think it was a matter of vibing something. I think that this timeline was manipulated.

Grant Gustin as Barry Allen / The Flash in “Flashpoint” (Photo Credit: Tumblr)
Grant Gustin as Barry Allen in “Flashpoint” (Photo Credit: Tumblr)

It’s a lot when you think about it, and it could probably be chalked up to bad writing. Because if you really think about it, how could a fake timeline affect the real one? How would Eobard know that the timeline that they were in was a fake? And I want to say why wouldn’t he warn Barry, but that’s a stupid question.

However, if it isn’t bad writing, who is to say that this version of the Mirror Master isn’t capable? A villain that has the ability to manipulate timelines? That would be wild, but also terribly necessary in just the Arrowverse alone.

In any case, I think that this season will have a hell of a time just explaining the who and the why of the Mirror Master, much less the how. Hopefully, we’ll see the damage that he and Barry might have caused be fixed, and Wally West might finally be allowed to be great, if only for an episode. However, I personally don’t care how it plays out, as long as it’s plotted out better than the Zoom/Jay Garrick reveal from last season. There’s nothing fans appreciate more than a well-plotted storyline.

That’s all for the “Flashpoint” episode. What were some of your favorite and least favorite moments? How do you think it’s going to affect the rest of the season? Let me know in the comments. Otherwise, I’ll see you guys next week!

Images courtesy of The CW

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