Tonight’s episode was the beginning of the Flash and Arrow crossover!
Just kidding…but only mostly. The framing device of tonight’s episode was that Barry takes a trip to Star City (specifically, the “Arrowcave”), in order to vent to Felicity about how weird the new post-“Flashpoint” timeline is. Actors Grant Gustin and Emily Bett Rickards have had fantastic chemistry from their first interactions on Arrow and it is always a treat to get Barry and Felicity back together.
So, in the opening minutes we have established that Barry altered the timeline. For the third time in show continuity so far.
Barry starts his story stopping a jewel thief (this is not technically a #DCTV Secret, but it’s a classic comic book trope to have super heroes take down a jewel thief and really fun to see here), and being “faster than a speeding bullet.” The Flash may not, technically, be Superman, but in this case he’s fantastically close!
Sadly, for you West/Allen fans, one of the big changes post-“Flashpoint” is that Barry and Iris have never kissed! Considering their previous romantic overtures, Felicity is a really good friend when listening to this point.
One of the coolest—and most obvious—developments is the appearance of Julian Albert (as played by Tom Felton, who in another life, you may recognize as Draco Malfoy). Like his Harry Potter counterpart, Julian Albert is immediately cast in the role of bad guy. Not only is he sharing a workspace with Barry, but he doesn’t even like our leading man. He’s a compelling addition to the cast of The Flash and a nice obstacle for him to have at the CCPD now that Singh has returned (and with an improved attitude toward our hero).
Not only have things changed for Barry at work, but Team Flash is different. Cisco is grieving following the death of his brother Dante at the hands of a drunk driver. Iris, Wally and Joe delve more into their family issues, which Barry attempts to resolve by collecting everyone and forcing them to have a very strained meal together. Caitlin is the only one who feels largely unchanged.
…the best thing about these changes was seeing Barry race back and forth between Iris working at the paper and Joe working at the police station in order to put together the perfect event for team building. Fast-paced hilarity ensued.
Okay, it’s #DCTV Secrets time again. Fans of Legends of Tomorrow will want to fasten their seatbelts for this: Felicity confirms for Barry that John Diggle has a son (rather than the daughter we’ve become familiar with), named John Diggle Jr. Now, in an alternate future timeline glimpsed last season on Legends, John will not only grow up to change his name to Connor Hawke, he’ll succeed Oliver Queen as the Arrow (much as Connor Hawke did in the comics). As a huge Connor Hawke fan, this was SO COOL!
…and one of the many paradoxes that occurs in the episode tying into the episode title.
Rival made his return in “Paradox” and he, along with us in the viewing audience, met Doctor Alchemy (named so by Cisco, who returns to his old joke-y self by the end of the episode and to his super hero role as VIBE!), and learned that his plan is to return powers to those who had them in the “Flashpoint” world in order to “prepare them” for something ominous and, probably, terrible. He and Barry had several badass fights throughout the episode that, unfortunately, ended with Rival getting benched for the rest of the season.
When Barry decided that he couldn’t handle this new post-“Flashpoint” world, he decided that changing the timeline for the second time in as many episodes is the best course of action. When, suddenly, he got knocked out of the timestream powerfully—into 1998! It was none other than John Wesley Shipp’s Jay Garrick who assaulted Barry at, presumably, mach speed. Hereafter followed one of the greatest scenes in the entire history of The Flash. Remember when I brought up 1998 earlier? That is an important #DCTV Secret because 1998 is the year Dawson’s Creek premiered and Dawson’s Creek is playing on the television in the restaurant Barry and Jay go into. In the scene, Jay beautifully illustrates to Barry—through the clever visual metaphor of vibrating a coffee cup until it shatters—that the timeline can never be broken and reformed in the same way.
Hopefully the lesson sticks this time around?
John Wesley Shipp gives a stellar performance in this sequence and it also harkens back to Jay Garrick’s role as a mentor in the comics when he was in the Justice Society of America and they were training future members of the Justice League of America. In comic continuity as well, Jay Garrick has served as a mentor to two other speedsters—Wally West and Bart Allen. (How are those for some #DCTV Secrets?)
In some of the final moments of the episode, we got to see Cisco appear in his Vibe costume (something I’ve been waiting to see since season one!), confirming that he will be stepping up on Team Flash and it was revealed that Caitlin now has her Killer Frost powers, which is certain to pop up again before the season is over!
Don’t worry, my WestAllen peeps. Barry and Iris returned to the steps of their childhood home in the very last moments of “Paradox” and reprised their kiss from the end of last season, ensuring that this romantic connection is securely in place. Sorry, Felicity.
“Paradox” does a bit of retreading from “Flashpoint” because Barry had to explain everything that happened over and over again. On the flip side, it really expanded the interpersonal relationships between characters that we love (I love!), some of which have never been seen before. Plus, we met both Julian Albert AND Doctor Alchemy in the same episode and you know what has been a synonym for “alchemist”? …Wizard!
Ashley V. Robinson covers The Flash as a part of the #DCTV Couch Club. You can find her on Twitter at @AshleyVRobinson and on the Jawiin YouTube channel. The Flash airs Tuesdays at 8 p.m. (7 p.m. CST) on The CW.