‘The Flash’ Recap: Heroes and Villains are Born in ‘Paradox’

By letting the Reverse Flash kill his mother, Barry created another alternate timeline

If it’s not obvious by now, I thought I’d let you all know that I’m one of the biggest Cisco Ramon (Carlos Valdes) fans on this side of the multiverse. I’ve written fan-fiction about him, his powers, his demons, and everything in season 2 that would help him become the superhero he’s meant to be for the past two years. Tonight, all my dreams came true. (Surprise! Another episode that made me bawl my eyes out.) Let’s talk about it.

The episode opens with Barry (Grant Gustin) freaking out…big time. He runs all the way to Star City to vent to Felicity (Emily Bett Rickards) about this new timeline he created. She has no idea what he’s talking about so he backtracks and lets her know what’s gone down in the past few hours since he’s been back.

It started out as a normal day as Barry takes down a jewelry thief who was getting away. He’s his confident, cocky self and, aside from learning the night before that Iris (Candice Patton) and Joe (Jesse L. Martin) aren’t speaking to each other, things seem to be pretty okay for the most part. He gets back to STAR Labs, though, and that’s where things take a turn for the freaky. Barry asks Cisco what he’s going to name the thief and Iris and Caitlin (Danielle Panabaker) get very confused. Obviously distraught, Cisco says they should just call him “Thief” and walks out of the cortex, announcing that he’s going to the gym. Now the confused one, Barry attempts to ask Caitlin why Cisco’s upset and Joe and Iris why they’re upset at each other. He doesn’t get an answer from either of them (although Iris does reveal that, whatever it was, it was Joe’s fault). Finally, he learns that Wally (Keiynan Lonsdale) is still in college studying to be an engineer.

When Joe and Wally leave, Iris tells Barry that she wants to talk about “us”. He tells her that he followed her advice to “do what he needs to do” in the season finale and Iris clearly does not remember having that conversation. Barry tells Felicity how annoyed he is that every time he’s kissed Iris, he’s erased it from history.

We then find Barry at the precinct where he learns that David Singh (Patrick Sabongui) is still the captain as he and Joe head upstairs to Barry’s lab. In the hallway, Joe drops the bomb that Iris is mad at him because he didn’t tell her that her mother was still alive–something Iris quickly forgave him for in the original timeline. When they get to the lab, though, Barry learns that it’s not just his anymore. Meet Julian Albert (Tom Felton): Meta-Human CSI Specialist. Apparently, he’s been Barry’s (reluctant) partner for the past year and, currently, they’re working on a case involving human epidermal husks.

Barry then goes to the gym to see what’s up with Cisco. Cue hearts breaking around the globe: Cisco’s brother, Dante (Nicholas Gonzalez), died in this new timeline. Things really couldn’t have gotten any worse. He tells the grief counselor that he resents never telling Dante that he loved and idolized him. Barry tries getting Cisco to talk to him, but Cisco’s not having any of it. He sends Barry on his way.

FAN THEORY BREAK: In the New 52 Vibe series, Cisco and Dante believed that their oldest brother, Armando, died saving Cisco from one of Darkseid’s boom tubes. It turned out that he had actually become the villain, Rupture, and gained the same powers that Cisco had. We already know that Dante’s doppelgänger on Earth-2 was Rupture…but could he be resurrected as the Earth-1 version, mirroring Armando’s storyline in the comics?

Back in the present, Felicity wonders if anything in Star City has changed. Barry looks up Team Arrow and finds out that one major thing did: Diggle (David Ramsey) has a son named John (Connor Hawke from Legends of Tomorrow), not a daughter named Sara. (How that particular change happened? Don’t ask me. And if you’re wondering, Dig and Lyla are still together. Check out the synopsis for episode 5×04, ‘Penance’.) Felicity tells Barry to fix what he messed up.

On a bus somewhere in Central City, Edward Clariss (Todd Lasance) is having memories of Flashpoint (and his death in that timeline). He hears Alchemy’s (Tobin Bell) voice who tells him to find him. When the two finally meet, Clariss tells Alchemy that he’s having visions of his other life. Alchemy asks him if he wants the powers he possessed there. The Rival rises.

Down at the waterfront, Joe and Barry go to meet Julian who’s found another husk. Joe asks him if he wants Barry to help and he immediately declines. Barry speedily steals a sample anyway and brings it back to STAR Labs. When Caitlin’s looking at the sample, Barry learns that her and Cisco know Julian and apparently think the world of him–whereas Barry has complete and utter disdain for the guy who seems to hate him. When Cisco leaves, Caitlin lets it slip to Barry that Dante was killed by a drunk driver. Barry asks Caitlin to ask Cisco to come to his house for dinner.

In a hilarious next sequence, Barry speeds between the CCPD and CCPN asking Joe and Iris if they want to have dinner together. He tells Joe that Iris wants to forgive him. He tells Iris that Joe’s going to tell her some information about the husks for her article. Surprisingly, Barry gets everyone to show up. Cue the most awkward dinner party of all time. Barry proposes a “Team Flash vacay” and Wally’s the only one who’s for it. Iris and Joe then start talking about what they thought dinner was for and they both figure out that Barry lied to them. Barry says that he just wants to fix what happened and Cisco tells him that he didn’t have that attitude when he asked him to go back in time and save Dante. Dinner, then, gets interrupted by Cisco’s meta-human alert app going off (on everyone’s phones). Barry runs to the lake to find that The Rival has returned.

Clariss tells Barry that he remembers Flashpoint and he knows that Barry changed the timeline. In an incredible CGI sequence, the two speedsters race around the city. Barry knocks down Clariss who bounces into the lake. Unable to find him, Barry runs off…and we see that Alchemy was watching the whole thing.

Back at STAR Labs, Caitlin informs everyone that there were no traces of dark matter on the husk, just the Speed Force. It belongs to Clariss–which Barry already knew. Iris pulls Barry aside to find out how he knew that and tells him that she knows that he’s keeping something from her…again. Seeing no other option, Barry runs into the Speed Force and begins to travel through time again…until a hand pulls him out. It’s Jay Garrick (John Wesley Shipp).

Jay brings Barry to a diner in 1998 and explains to him that he knows how Barry’s been messing with time. Apparently, Harry (Tom Cavanagh) told him what happened with Barry’s parents and that he’s Henry’s doppelgänger. Jay explains to Barry that once history is changed, it can never be exactly how it was ever again. Barry wonders why he has these powers if he can’t fix his mistakes and Jay tells him that he needs to decide if he’s going to be the kind of hero that attempts to fix things every time he messes up or if he’s going to own those mistakes and learn from them.

Back in the present (again), Barry reveals to his team that he saved his mom and created Flashpoint. Barry draws the same thing that he did at Ramon Industries last week but this time, adds a third timeline–the one they’re living in now. Iris realizes that her and Joe were on better terms in the other timeline. Barry gives everyone the option of learning how their lives are now different. More hurt than ever, Cisco can’t wrap his brain around the fact that Barry thought it was okay to save his own family but not his best friend’s. Cisco storms off and Barry follows.

In his workshop, Barry finds out that Cisco’s been working on gauntlets for “his suit”. (DID I NOT CALL THIS?!?!?!?) Cisco’s heart is broken and he feels completely betrayed. He doesn’t care that things might be worse if Barry went back and saved Dante, he just wants his brother back. Barry repeats Jay’s lesson to Cisco and tells him that he doesn’t want to bear the burden of screwing up someone else’s life…as Barry’s doing now. He apologizes and leaves Cisco to think about it. (If Carlos Valdes doesn’t win TVLine’s Performer of the Week award for this scene, I will be shocked. We’ve seen Cisco sad, hurt, and lost but never this flat out angry. It’s not a pretty color on Cisco but Valdes’ performance was nothing but outstanding.)

Back at CCPD, Barry asks Julian to look at Clariss’ case. Julian informs him that even though the husk was found at the waterfront in Leawood, it drifted there on the lake from, most likely, Williamson–near Prescott Sawmill (where Wally, Barry, and Clariss fought in Flashpoint). Barry runs over there to find Clariss…who brought Alchemy along with him.

At STAR Labs, Iris echoes Barry’s speech from ‘Fast Lane’, telling the team that Barry made a mistake to save his loved ones. She reminds Cisco that he did the same thing for Dante when Snart (Wentworth Miller) held them hostage. Iris forgives Joe and Caitlin agrees with her, trying to convince Cisco.

At the sawmill, Barry’s being blasted by a stone that Alchemy has in his hand. He tells Barry that he’s “helping people achieve their true potential” and that he’s “preparing this world”. Clariss rips off Barry’s earpieces and jabs them into him. He lets Barry know that he’s the fastest man alive. The two of them fight again and Barry takes a brutal beatdown. When the team realizes that Barry needs help, Cisco (in his goggles and with his gauntlets), arrives at the mill and shoots Clariss with a sonic blast. Caught off guard, The Flash and Vibe take down The Rival together.

FANGIRL BREAK: This is where I bawled my eyes out. This beautiful character who I’ve grown to love and written numerous fanfics about over the past two years finally became the superhero he’s destined to be. (Remember what Thawne told him in the Season 1 finale?) This moment was everything I’ve ever dreamed of and so much more. God bless this show.

With Clariss in Iron Heights, Team Flash tries to figure out who Alchemy is. Barry tells them that he gave Clariss back his speed and, in true Cisco fashion, he names him “Dr. Alchemy”. Barry also tells them that he believes he’s going to give every meta-human in Flashpoint their powers back. (Cue ominous shot of Wally.) Iris informs Barry that they all decided that they don’t want to know how their lives have changed. Iris, Joe, and Wally then all go to get Jitters (on Joe). With just OTF in the cortex, Barry tells Cisco that he liked having him out there in the field with him and that he wants to team up again. Cisco says that he has some things he needs to work on first…but maybe some day. He then leaves. As Barry heads out, as well, he tells Caitlin that he’s pretty sure she was the least affected by Flashpoint. After Barry turns the corner, Caitlin lifts up her hand…and frost starts to cover it. (EARTH-1 KILLER FROST, LADIES AND GENTLEMEN!)

Later that day, Julian wonders how Barry knew Clariss’ name when he never told him. He realizes the only way is if Barry stole a sample of the husk. He asks Barry how he did that and Barry can’t answer. Julian tells him that while everyone else might trust him, he doesn’t.

That night, Barry has another conversation with Iris on the West porch. She tells him that she doesn’t want to know about Flashpoint because it doesn’t matter. They’ll always find each other. Cue the first kiss in history that Barry doesn’t plan on erasing.

In the post-credits scene, we see Clariss in his prison cell being told by Alchemy that “he failed”. He begs for a second chance when, all of a sudden, he’s grabbed by the neck by a mysterious metal arm.

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