In case you missed last week’s episode — which was amazing — here’s the quick catch-up. After beating Zoom, Barry travelled back in time and saved his mother by capturing Eobard Thawne. The pair then returned to a new present where Wally is the Flash, Cisco is rich, and the Allen family is alive and happy.
Things quickly fall apart, and Barry is forced to let the Reverse-Flash complete his sadistic mission and kill Nora Allen. Everything seems to be back to normal but Barry angers Wally and Joe when asking about Iris — something has gone terribly wrong.
A Running Start
Fearing for his friends, Barry runs to Star City to check on Team Arrow and talks events through with Felicity. The first (or second) indication that Barry ran across was Cisco seemingly too depressed to name a villain and having to head “to the gym”. One good thing to have come out of the situation is Iris and Barry are still on the brink of being a thing. Unfortunately, they never kissed — again. I don’t think that true love has ever had a harder time getting started. We know that something will eventually happen, but it’s sad watching it happen and then un-happen (twice).
Back at the CCPD, Barry learns that the West schism is over Joe not revealing that his wife was still alive. Iris has yet to forgive him in this timeline which is quite understandable. Another set of eyes are also present in the team — Julian Albert, Meta-Human CSI Specialist, now works in Barry’s lab. Being new to the timeline brings another hiccup as the scarlet speedster doesn’t remember the past year of them working together.
Barry later tracks down Cisco and discovers that his brother Dante died. Just when things look like they can’t get any worse, Baby Sara is no more. There’s Baby Jon instead. An innocent Edward Clariss suffers a flash of memory on a bus — memories of his life as Rival. After being drawn to Alchemy, the masked figure offers to unlock the powers of his other life. Watching a once innocent man being drawn into a life of evil makes him as much a victim as villain.
Crime fighting duo Albert and Allen meet at a new crime scene where they discover another ‘husk’. To launch his own investigation, Barry steals a sample at speed and takes it to STAR labs. Team Flash apparently recognise Julian as an expert as Barry attempts to con everybody into a dinner together to fix his mistakes.
Suggestions for a team retreat fall apart when they discover his deceptions. Cisco tells Barry that he could change time to save Dante, but news of a new speedster sends Barry to encounter Rival once again. Clariss now remembers both timelines and has reverted to his evil self. One minor problem is why everybody keeps using the word ‘timeline’. Does nobody in the Arrowverse understand the word ‘history’?
The Race Begins
Both speedsters charge at impossible speeds across the city with Rival suddenly disappearing after Barry pushes him into the bay. A figure in a woollen hat watches Barry race off after finding no trace of his new Rival.
Events come to a head as Caitlin reveals the test results from the Husk — it’s Edward Clariss. But there is only Speed Force in his system with no trace of dark matter to create it. Investigative reporter Iris West realises something is wrong with Barry and takes him outside for a quiet word. That moment perfectly mirrors the events in “Flashpoint” where other-Iris talked with Barry. The speedster concludes that there is only one way to fix events and he runs off to break the time barrier. While travelling through the timeline, something knocks him out of the Speed Force — the Flash. Jay Garrick has come to set things straight.
Harry fills Jay in on events and Jay’s position as Henry’s double. Jay kept an eye on Barry and saw how his timeline kept rewriting. The older figure also made the same mistakes and is here to stop his companion from making them. It doesn’t matter how many times Barry tries to fix things; differences will occur. With the realisation that there is nothing left to do, Barry reveals the Flashpoint to Team Flash. It’s sad for Barry to learn that time-travel is not the ultimate solution he thought it was. So many differences could have happened if he attempted another journey.
Everybody slowly comes to realise that Barry is at the centre of their hurts. Cisco is particularly angry as Nora is apparently more important than Dante was. Retreating into his work, Barry hunts Rival down to the same mill he hid in last time. But the numbers have been reversed this time — Alchemy and Rival against the lone Flash. In a not-unforeseen twist, Alchemy is wielding the Philosophers Stone.
Rival rips the communications equipment from the Flash suit and stabs them into Barry before running him all over the mill. It appears that this Rival might be the fastest man alive. But hope springs eternal, and Vibe arrives to save the day. The pair double-teams Rival into a beatdown, and they take him in.
Alchemy promised to change the world, and it appears that anybody who had powers in Flashpoint will be getting their abilities back. Despite Barry claiming Caitlin appears to be unaffected, alone she reveals ice and cold spreading from her hand.
With a bad end to a difficult adventure comes some awkward questions from Julian Albert. When asking for information on the Clariss husk, there was no way Barry could have known the name. Unless he stole a sample without alerting Albert. The reason why Julian doesn’t trust his lab partner is that he can tell Barry lies.
Now safely contained in Iron Heights, Rival is awoken by the voice of Alchemy. He begs for another chance, but there is no reply. Then somebody appears in the locked cell and pins him to the wall by his throat. It would be too much to hope for a death this early on, but Rival might be out of the game in preparation for a big comeback someday.
“Paradox” is a solid follow-up to “Flashpoint” and has given the Arrowverse writers some new room to carve out changes in the Flash and Arrow continuity. Felton is a brilliant addition to the team, and his character brings a welcome inclusion of realistic snark to sunny Central City.
Despite being the original Reverse-Flash to face off against Jay Garrick, Rival has been turned into little more than an introduction for Doctor Alchemy at this point. Although his fate is yet undetermined, Rival might make a reappearance in a few episodes or even become an ally to Savitar.
How far did Barry explore Flashpoint? Does he know about every meta-human who was there? What of the ones who were in hiding? Alchemy can now raise an invisible army to strike at the city and Savitar has yet to show his face. Regardless of how fast the Flash can run, the surprises will always catch up fast.