Flash’s second episode is “Paradox,” as Barry continues to find differences between what he remembers and the changes and ripples he’s caused by traveling in time. They do a good job of this even with the new voice over. Instead of the heroic narration, Barry sounds like he’s not very far from a nervous breakdown, which was both entertaining and gave a feel for how bad things are for the Fastest Man Alive.
Since everyone at STAR seems to be deeply effected by the changes, Barry goes to get some advice. One of the nice things about being the Flash is that your friends are never that far away. Barry zips off the Lair and talks to Felicity of Team Arrow fame, after his speedy entrance blows all her papers around, much to her dismay. Barry is frantic and talking too fast, so Felicity makes him slow down, which gives us a chance to find out what’s happening as Barry narrates his day.
As the Flash, he stops a gunman on a motorcycle, which is about the only part of his day that goes well. At STAR, even more changes are making themselves known. Cisco is quiet and withdrawn and doesn’t really seem to care about naming the new criminal. Joe and Iris are still distant with each other. A frazzled Barry makes sure that Wally is at least still taking engineering courses, which he is. We do learn that the rift between Iris and Joe is over him not telling her that her mother was alive, which in the original timeline, she forgave him for quickly.
Barry does a bit of mostly incompetent spying on Cisco, and finds out that his brother Dante is dead in this timeline. Cisco is clearly holding some kind of grudge against Barry, but Barry doesn’t know why, since he just got to this version of reality, like the rest of us. Breaking in on the narration, Felicity asks Barry if the Lair is still the same. He says yes at first, but a quick check of the computers show that something has changed in Star City, as well. I’ll be really curious to see if they carry this change forward on Arrow.
Edward Clariss, who was Rival in the “Flashpoint” reality, is having a lot of troubling visions. Apparently Alchemy is giving him glimpses of his life from Flashpoint. Edward is drawn to a creepy tunnel where Alchemy seems to have a cult going. Alchemy tempts Edward with getting his power back.
On the waterfront, Joe is trying to make peace between Barry and his “new” office-mate Julian Albert, a meta-human CSI specialist. For whatever reason, Julian doesn’t care for Barry at all, which is just one more brick in the load Barry is now carrying. When Julian won’t cooperate, Barry steals a sample for STAR. Something is up there, too, as they do several closeups of Caitlin with some odd coloring and lighting. We also find out that Dante was killed by a drunk driver, but Caitlin won’t tell him why Cisco’s mad. Barry is still trying to patch things up with the team, and does some amusing superspeed back and forth to set up a dinner with Joe and Iris. He also includes the rest of Team Flash.
The dinner is very quiet and very tense. It’s a nice try on Barry’s part, but, as Cisco remarks, it’s more of an “epic failure.” It’s a mercy when Cisco’s metahuman alert goes off and puts the dinner out of its misery. Barry speeds off as the Flash and finds Clariss is Rival again. They talk about the Flashpoint, which Clariss is remembering more and more. Weirdly, Clariss’ voice changes when he puts his mask on. The two of them fight, zipping all over Central City. Somehow or other, Barry loses Rival after knocking him off his feet.
The team regroups back at STAR, and Barry beats Caitlin to the punch revealing Clariss’ name. Iris finally has had enough and pulls Barry aside to try and find out what’s going on. Barry decides once again that the only way to fix things is to try and change history again. He sets out to do that, and then gets stopped and gets a stern talking-to by a special guest star. It’s nice to see someone telling Barry he’s being an idiot.
Barry finally goes back to STAR and comes clean with the team. He tells them about what he did to change history. He offers to tell everyone the differences between now and the original time, but he’s not going to change things again. This makes thing worse with Cisco, since he asked Barry to go back and save Dante. Barry tries to apologize to Cisco, who is off on his own tinkering with bits of what I guess are his Vibe suit. Personally, I think this was the moment Barry should have told him that Dante’s death was a new change, but he doesn’t.
Barry goes to Julian for help, showing how desperate he is. Julian greets him with more snark. Whatever is going on there, Julian really doesn’t like Barry at all. Barry manages to persuade Julian to let him look at a case file, trying to get clues about Clariss. Barry gets a clue and goes the sawmill where he fought Clariss in the alternate time. The good news is Barry finds Rival. The bad news it that he’s not alone, and Alchemy blasts Flash.
As the team debates how to react to Barry’s revelations, Alchemy introduces himself. Barry, somewhere between confused and exasperated, asks, “Ok… what do YOU want?” After some cryptic comments, Alchemy leaves the fighting to Rival. Rival seems like he actually fights better than Barry, but gets a surprise when Barry gets some backup.
Back at STAR, the group combs through various databases trying to figure out who Alchemy is. No one has any idea, but Cisco gets some of his old spark back, dubbing him Dr. Alchemy. The team decides they don’t want to get told about the differences in the various timelines. The West family leaves together, apparently reunited. After they leave, we get a hint about another change affecting the team.
Barry has another run in with Julian, and gets a bit better of an idea why Julian doesn’t like him. I have to say that, while Julian’s a jerk, he makes a decent point. Barry and Iris have a nice meeting that goes well for once. Rival has a much less nice meeting that gives us a peak at one of the other big villains.
What I liked: Barry needed to get told to, “KNOCK IT OFF ALREADY!” I’m glad someone did. Hopefully he starts learning from this. I’m glad the Wests are patching things up, and Cisco might be coming around. It was also nice to see Barry’s back up in that last fight. Barry going to Felicity for advice made sense.
What I didn’t: Barry’s being an idiot in general, and he needs to quit it. Iris being the source of all insight is getting a bit old. Rival’s costume is just plain ugly as sin. I’m not sure how I feel about the new surprise among the STAR crew.
I liked this one better than the season opener. Hopefully they keep getting better as they go. I’ll give this one a 3 out of 5.