After being forced by The Reverse-Flash to reset the timeline, Barry returns back to what he believes is his normal timeline…yet that is not the case. The timeline has some subtle changes which affect all of the characters. Joe and Iris are estranged from each other; Cisco’s brother has been killed and he holds resentment for Barry for not reversing time to save him; he now has a partner in the CSI office, an overbearing Brit named Julian Albert (Harry Potter’s Tom Felton); and when he visits Felicity Smoak for help in Star City he finds that John Diggle has a baby boy and not a baby girl.
The changes may be minor but Barry is determined to try again to set things right by going back in time again. This time, however, he is dragged out of the speed force by Jay Garrick, the Golden Age Flash. The elder Flash explains to Barry that no matter how many times he tries, that the timeline is forever fractured and cannot go back to what it was. Barry has to face his friends and let them know what he did, calling his trip back in time the “flashpoint” and that they cannot go back to their previous timeline. As a group, they decide that they do not want to know about their lives in the other timeline but choose to move forward.
In the other major plot of the week, the newly revealed Doctor Alchemy (voiced by Tobin Bell of Saw fame) uses his powers to restore the speed of Edward Clariss, the Rival. Barry is shocked to see The Rival in this timeline and the two do battle with The Rival gaining the upper hand with Alchemy’s aid. The timely arrival as Cisco/Vibe helps to turn the tide. The team discovers that Alchemy is using his powers to create metahumans from the Flashpoint.
I hate to sound like a broken record but let me stress again how much I hate plots involving time travel and the changing of timelines. The possibilities can make your head explode! On one hand, there were not many major changes and by the end of the episode, Iris and Joe and Barry and Cisco had resolved their differences making them much ado about nothing. On the other hand, the one person whom the change didn’t seem to affect was Caitlin…wow, were we WRONG there! And of course, the writers can now have a field day with other minor discrepancies. The one big positive out of this is Felton. Hopefully, he stays around awhile as he presents an amusing foil to Barry who now has to share his “fortress of solitude” with the new guy. And also have to mention Tobin Bell who is the sinister voice of Doctor Alchemy, what a fantastic casting choice!
Alchemy provides yet another source for metahumans other than the particle accelerator and the portals to Earth-2. The one dangling plot thread is that Felicity knows about the change in timelines and the change to Diggle. It will be curious to see if this is carried over to Arrow. Will Diggle now have a boy? He has to, right? Otherwise, Arrow and The Flash no longer share the same timeline. And THAT’S why I hate time travel stories!