The second episode (“Paradox”) of The Flash’s third season was all about repairing what’s been broken—only, that’s impossible. Over Chinese food, Barry has a meltdown with Felicity (Emily Bett Rickards, from Arrow): “I made a big mistake. I just couldn’t take it anymore, you know?” In true Felicity fashion, she cheers him on and calls him pudding, not unlike A.J. likening Corey to a warm bath in Empire Records: “If there’s one thing I learned from you, it’s that anything is possible. … The Barry Allen who is just like pudding can fix this.”
Sure, Joe and Iris are not talking. Caitlin appears to be turning into Killer Frost (if wanting this to happen is wrong, I don’t want to be right). And yeah, Cisco’s brother Dante died. And, okay, Diggle’s daughter is now a son. And…okay, Julian Albert (Tom Felton) is now Barry’s work nemesis. Nothing a little noodle dish, wine, and a discussion about a Team Flash getaway won’t fix.
Not buying it? Good. Because neither was anyone else. Barry’s clumsy efforts to slather glue on the cracks that formed because of his poor choices doesn’t work. Essentially, he Parent Trap’s everyone to the world’s worst dinner party. No one even appeared to drink their wine, y’all. And when that imploded, Barry withdrew (that never helps a problem). Then, bless his little heart, he decides to try and fix it himself. (Say it with me: Barry, NO.)
Thankfully, a wiser Speedster literally rips him out of the Speed Force (Jay Garrick to the rescue! Love John Wesley Shipp) and deposits him in…the ’90s. (No, really. And it was charming, with “Runaway Train” was the soundtrack. Why? Because a brief clip of Dawson’s Creek played on the TV in the diner, and I lost my shit. Not, it should be noted, my ice cream.) Jay explains that Barry’s actions are what they are. Much like a chipped cup—which, hi, hello, I said that last week—things can be repaired, but they’ll never be the same.
Barry finally takes that moment to grow as a person. He comes clean with the Flash Gang, just in time for Cisco to name Doctor Alchemy. The Doctor (no, not that one) looks like he’s wearing garb from a plague doctor, and he’s realllly evil. Turns out, he’s awakening the powers of everyone who had them in Flashpoint. And he can throw flaming blue balls (snort) of magic.
He begins with Edward Clariss (aka The Rival). Clariss nearly kills Barry, too, except Cisco saves him brilliantly: “Stay away from my friend.” And yeah, I cheered. My love for Mr. Ramon is no secret. And while the cracks of their friendship need time to mend, it’s clear Barry and Cisco are on their way. (Barry: “Thank you.” Cisco: “Sorry it took so long.” Barry: “You’re just in time.” Awww, you guys.)
Now, can we please—for the love of Hogwart’s—talk about Tom Felton? Sure, Julian is a standoffish wank. And yes, we’re obviously not supposed to like him. But Felton’s performance is subtle. You get the impression that this metahuman expert is a curious sort. He’s not trusting—he doesn’t trust Barry, that’s for sure. While there was a tiiiny glimpse that, perhaps, these two could be friends, that will take work: “There is something not right about you, Allen. They don’t see it. But I do.” Julian has a point. Every interaction between the two had Barry lying or stealing from Julian. If his Spidey senses weren’t tingling, I’d be more surprised. I appreciate the ease at which Felton seems to have slipped into TV, and I’m looking forward to seeing if he goes full Voldemort. (Come on. You knew I was going to make that joke. Barry’s wearing a suit with a lightning bolt, for Hagrid’s sake.)
In the end, Iris is, well, the glue. It’s not Barry. She sweetly brings the gang in and primes them to forgive: “We all have secrets. We’ve all screwed up. But this is Barry we’re talking about.” And yes, it’s Barry. Grant Gustin is tremendously heart-tugging and earnest in the role. He’s emotionally wrecked and supremely affected by what he’s done. That’s clear. But again: it’s Iris who starts to mend everyone’s brokenness. Her words are heeded, and her sway is not nothing.
Now, things I’ll need, STAT: more Caitlin, more Cisco, and Julian making any kind of Harry Potter reference. Accio!