Barry and Kid Flash team up to defeat The Rival in the Season 3 premiere of ‘The Flash’
Hello, fellow speedsters! Hope the hiatus wasn’t too hard on you guys. (God knows it was a struggle for this reporter.) After five long months of waiting, our favorite TV show about our favorite superhero is back! Well…almost. As we saw horrifically play out at the end of the Season 2 finale, after admitting to Iris (Candice Patton) that he felt incredibly broken inside due to Zoom (Teddy Sears) murdering his father, Barry (Grant Gustin) went back in time and saved his mother. In tonight’s premiere episode, we were introduced to the new timeline that was created because of that fateful decision.
The episode opens in a location we’re all very familiar with: C.C. Jitters. Barry’s working up the courage to talk to this new version of Iris for the very first time and he’s about to…until he’s interrupted by a news report about The Flash facing off against The Rival (Todd Lasance). The Rival tells The Flash that “he has no rival” and starts throwing lightning. Barry’s about to be hit when The Flash saves him.
Immediately after the altercation, Barry comes back into Jitters and introduces himself to Iris. She vaguely remembers him as the last time they met was in elementary school. After three months of living in this new timeline, Barry finally asks her out for iced tea. She says yes.
We then see Barry at another familiar location: the CCPD. This is when some strange changes start being revealed. David Singh (Patrick Sabongui) is not the police captain. So who is? In a very clever casting move, it’s Alex Desert as Julio Mendez–friend and partner of John Wesley Shipp’s Barry Allen in the 90’s Flash series. Mendez questions Barry about The Rival case. He says that there’s no evidence to go off of and that he can’t do anything until The Flash catches and unmasks him. Mendez then wonders where Joe (Jesse L. Martin) is. Barry attempts to cover for him and fails.
He then heads over to a warehouse with a bag of Big Belly Burger and we’re shown a flashback of what happened on the night Barry stopped the Reverse Flash (Matt Letscher) from killing his mother. Barry ran him out of the house and back to the present. He locked him in a speed-dampening cage in that warehouse and he’s been there ever since. Thawne lectures Barry about the dangers of messing with time (and creating “Flashpoint”) but Barry isn’t having it. He’s happy with his new life and the fact that his parents are still alive…no thanks to his arch-enemy. Thawne then ominously warns Barry that soon he’ll be begging him to kill his mom again. Cut to Barry going home and being over-the-moon grateful that he still has his parents.
The next morning, Barry joins Nora (Michelle Harrison) and Henry (John Wesley Shipp) for breakfast. Nora hints that she wants Barry to move out already which leads to him telling them that he asked a girl out and she said yes. They’re nothing but proud of and happy for him.
Barry goes back to work where Mendez tells him that he warned Joe about being late one more time. Barry covers for him again and runs back to the West house where he sees Joe passed out on the couch and reeking of alcohol. Barry uses his speed to get Joe showered, dressed, and to the police station. Joe wakes up in the elevator with Barry standing next to him. He wonders why Barry cares so much about him as “[they’re] not partners and [they’re] not friends.” He’s telling Barry how much he hates his job when Iris comes into the bullpen. Joe immediately voices his disapproval of Barry going out with her. Iris throws shade back at her father and says she almost forgot he even worked there. Their relationship is the furthest thing from the caring, loving one we were used to seeing since day one.
Out on a walk (and as the WestAllen theme from “Out of Time” and “The Trap” plays), Iris tells Barry that she feels like she knows him and wonders why she said yes to him when she doesn’t normally say yes to guys randomly asking her out. Barry tells her that some people are meant to be in their lives. We then see a montage of the greatest WestAllen moments from the past two seasons and when Iris asks Barry if he’s okay…he tells her he lost his train of thought.
A police car interrupts them by driving down the street and Barry asks a nearby officer what’s going on. She tells them that The Flash and The Rival are fighting again. Iris “pulls a Barry” and says that she has to leave. Understandably confused, Barry waits for Iris to walk off before running toward the fight. When The Rival pushes The Flash out of a window, Barry creates wind funnels to try and catch him. The Flash ends up falling into a dumpster. Barry unmasks him to find out that Central City’s new hero…is Wally West (Keiynan Lonsdale).
Wally takes Barry to his base of operations where he meets Iris. They wonder how Barry knew who Wally was and, in a mumbled mess, Barry says that “[he’s] a CSI and [he] put it together.” Barry then asks Wally how he got his speed. Some things apparently don’t change. He used to drive illegal cars and he was testing out a new nitro-formula to make his engine go faster. One night, the car he was racing got struck by lightning. Cue nine-month coma. Cue superpowers. (Cue Barry calling Wally “Kid Flash” and Wally not approving of the nickname.) Iris joined her brother in a crime-fighting crusade because, as a reporter for CCPN, she was tired of just writing about the crimes that we were happening in the city. When Barry tells them that he wants to help them stop The Rival, Iris says the words I was dying to hear all episode: “There’s only one man who can help us now–Cisco Ramon.”
Cisco (Carlos Valdes) is the owner of Ramon Industries (currently housed in the former STAR Labs building after he bought it). He made billions off of his tech apps and, as the SDCC trailer revealed, is the richest man in America. (He even has some arm candy that the normal Cisco probably thinks he can only get in his dreams.) We learn that Cisco made Wally’s suit and then asked to be left alone. Barry recounts the story of how Cisco once helped his brother, Dante (Nicholas Gonzalez), pay off a bookie and reminds him that he cares about helping other people. We then get another montage of the greatest Barrisco moments from the last two seasons (cue me screaming at the television) and when Iris asks what’s going on with him, Barry says he’s not sure and forgets what he was saying.
Barry goes to see Thawne to ask what’s happening to him–wondering why he’s suddenly forgetting moments from his original life. Thawne figures out that every time Barry uses his speed, he loses more memories. Barry refuses to believe that. However, when Thawne tells him that when he loses all his memories, the timeline will forever be altered and won’t be able to be changed, Barry’s completely okay with that. He tells him to go to Hell and Thawne responds that Barry’s taking both of them there. (Gentle reminder that any scene between The Flash and Reverse Flash–no matter the actor–is complete and utter gold on this show…as it should be.) Barry then speeds Wally and Iris to Ramon Industries and reveals to them that he’s The Flash and that he’s going to help them stop The Rival.
When they hesitate to believe that Barry altered the timeline, he draws a picture for them in a fun, little nod to Back to the Future: Part II. They still find it hard to believe him and Barry realizes that they’re missing someone: Dr. Caitlin Snow (Danielle Panabaker). Barry “kidnaps” her and she reveals to him that she’s a pediatric ophthalmologist…not a scientist like he thinks she is.
Iris pulls Barry aside and tells him that she completely believes him for the sole reason that the moment they met, her life felt complete. The thing she was missing was Barry. She admits to him that she’s in love with him and the only thing that makes sense is if they were something more to each other where Barry came from. Barry confirms her suspicions. Cisco interrupts and him and Caitlin inform them that they found the location of The Rival. Barry and Wally take off.
The two speedsters discuss their game plan when The Rival comes running in. He unmasks and reveals himself as Edward Clariss–saying that it’s only fair that they know who each other are if he’s going to kill them. Wally takes on Clariss first. Cut to the police station where Mendez informs his officers that The Flash is taking on The Rival at Prescott Sawmill and that they shouldn’t leave The Flash out there alone. Back at the sawmill, all seems to be going well…until Clariss impales Wally with a pipe. Barry runs to comfort him but is provoked by Clariss to fight him. He does.
Again, things seem to be going well…until Thawne’s theory comes true and Barry begins to lose his powers (preceded by another montage of Barry discovering new abilities and testing the limits of his speed). The Rival then creates twin tornadoes (possible reference to WestAllen’s future children?) and after a classic movie reference and Weather Wizard name-drop by Cisco, Iris gives Barry a speech telling him that she believes he can stop him “because [he’s] The Flash”. (Cue another montage of Barry stopping the Reverse Flash in the Season 1 finale and Zoom in the Season 2 finale.)
In a beautiful throwback to the pilot episode, Barry runs around the cyclones and dissipates them. We then hear a gunshot and find out that Joe arrived at the scene and killed The Rival. Barry unmasks and tells him that Wally’s hurt–revealing his son’s identity to him. Back at Ramon Industries, Caitlin informs everyone that Wally isn’t healing like he should. Barry takes this as a sign that he needs to undo what he did…and set everything back to normal.
He brings Iris to his house and in a powerfully emotional scene, Barry is forced to say goodbye to his parents without saying goodbye. He doesn’t tell them what’s happening…just that’s he’s so glad he got to be with them for the past three months. When Barry and Iris walk outside, in a final montage, he loses all of his original memories of his mom and dad.
Barry then brings Iris to the warehouse where Thawne is and reluctantly asks him to kill his mother. He’s more than glad to. Barry reminds him that he hates him and Thawne tells him that the sentiment is reciprocated. Iris asks Barry if she’ll remember or feel anything different and Barry informs her that it’ll be as if nothing ever happened. She kisses him and sends him on his way. However, Barry’s completely lost his speed at this point and Thawne has to drag him back through time.
We’re then taken back to that fateful night and see the Barry from the Season 2 finale and the Reverse Flash disappear. Thawne comes in, grabs the knife, and kills Nora once again. He then speeds Barry back to the normal timeline…well, normal for him anyway. Barry wonders what Thawne means by that but is left without an answer before he runs back to the future.
Barry walks into the West house and sees Wally and Joe. He goes to hug Wally and Joe lets him know it’s okay to be upset as his father was just murdered. Barry asks him where Iris is and Joe, surprisingly, gets very upset at Barry, telling him that he’ll chalk that question up to grief. Barry asks Wally what he said wrong and Wally informs him that Iris and Joe aren’t on speaking terms. Barry now knows what Thawne meant and realizes that he messed up big time.
In the post-credits scenes, Clariss is in bed with his wife when he’s woken up by a voice telling him that “it’s time to wake up.” He goes to his mirror and sees the word “ALCHEMY” being scratched on it. Season 3, we are a go.