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Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Static Thoughts - The Flash Season 3, What's Next?






Edited by Robert Beach

The Flash season 2 has come to its conclusion and what a conclusion it was. As the title suggest, I’m going to be discussing what could happen in the immediate aftermath of The Flash’s major season 2 reveals and twists, so if you haven’t seen the finale yet, beware of spoilers ahead. 

At the end of the show, Barry foiled the villainous Zoom by managing to summon the time wraiths, the undead monsters that defend the timeline and the speed force that consumed Zoom and dragged him off to parts unknown. However, victory came at a high price as Zoom had killed Barry’s father Henry Allen, a loss compounded by the discovery that Zoom’s prisoner was the Henry Allen of Earth-3 AKA the real Jay Garrick.  

In the face of so much loss and flirting with the dangers of time travel once more, Barry chose to travel back in time and save his mom from being killed by the villainous Reverse Flash, causing catastrophic reverberations through the timeline. 


















Obviously, this change is going to have some major ramifications for The Flash season 3. One needs to remember that time works funny in The Flash. The best way to explain time travel in The Flash is it runs on paradox dodging and audience goodwill. Characters are routinely able to create temporal duplicates that act as body doubles without much explanation. If you change time, you still remember the timeline as it was before your changes and some of the stuff pre-change even still exists. 

For instance, even though Eddie Thawne killed himself in the present, thus wiping out his descendant Eobard Thawne, the Reverse Flash (and all of Eobard’s actions) still happened because it was his time meddling that triggered Eddie’s sacrifice. That weirdness can make your head implode from thinking about it too hard, but it’s essentially a big, contrived excuse to preserve the continuity of events and characters despite time meddling. What this means is that Barry saving his mom A) won’t alter the Flash we’ve been following and B) will probably reversed at some later date.   

Just because this time travel might get undone down the line doesn’t mean it won’t have serious ramifications in terms of the new Season 3 status quo and whatever ends up being sacrificed to set time straight. Barry saving his mom as well as intercepting the Reverse Flash at that point in time is a massive temporal paradox that could have tons of unforeseen consequences even beyond altering stuff like the details of Flash’s origin and fellow heroes. 

The whole idea of a single changed instant in the Flash’s life resulting in innumerable paradoxes and a more flexible timeline goes all the way back to 2011 and the birth of the New 52 relaunch with the DC event comic Flashpoint.


Flashpoint is an event I had planned to cover sooner or later, so consider this the cliff notes version of what I’ll end up saying about it down the line. Launched in 2011 as the coronation of superstar writer Geoff Johns’ takeover of the DC universe, Flashpoint was a time travel-based event that reshaped the DCU into a darker mirror image of its normal state. In this world, Superman is an agoraphobic government test subject; Cyborg is the US’s premiere superhero; Batman is Thomas Wayne, and Atlantis and Paradise Island are locked in a war that could destroy the planet. 

All of this was set in motion when Barry Allen went back in time to save his mother from being killed by the Reverse Flash, and, in so doing, unhinged the Reverse Flash of time and allowed him to alter history as he saw fit. A lot of folks really like Flashpoint, somewhat thanks to the animated movie DC put out awhile back and immensely thanks to the role of Thomas Wayne Batman. 

Personally, I can’t stand Flashpoint, and I genuinely don’t see why the series has gained so much popularity. All the bad ideas that permeated the New 52 relaunch like Shazam becoming an asshole, Superman taking a major backseat in visibility, Wonder Woman becoming an angry war monger started with Flashpoint. Worst of all is the Thomas Wayne Batman. I at least understand why some people cling to his character. 

Thomas Wayne Batman is more or less the perfect embodiment of everything insufferable about the Batman fandom. The fetishization of Batman’s money, the way he never uses his money to help people, the idea that he’s a rich thug using his money and trauma to excuse brutalizing the poorest and most vulnerable members of society, the complete lack of empathy, it's all there with Thomas Wayne Batman. 

Additionally, Martha Wayne became the epitome of everything insufferable and poorly written about the Joker. Seriously, the big Flashpoint twist on the Batman mythos is this: what if Bruce Wayne was killed by Joe Chill, so his dad became Batman. and his mom became the Joker. Martha’s Joker is yet another “worst monster imaginable” take on the character that excises any of the playfulness that makes the character even remotely tolerable. She basically just exists as a justification for Batman’s psychopathy, an even worse evil to be countenanced against Thomas’ terribleness. 


While I’m certain Flashpoint is exactly what The Flash creators are drawing from for this latest twist, I doubt it’ll play out much the same as it did in the comics, mainly owing to lack of characters. Flashpoint the comic was free to play around with the entire DCU. Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman are completely off limits in the show.  It’s possible the show might use the time travel out to do Thomas Wayne Batman as I don’t think he’s restricted by rights, but it all seems unlikely. 

A point The Flash probably will touch on is a unique element of its own continuity: the idea that the Reverse Flash meddled with time to trigger the Flash’s origin story 6 years early. Yeah, that plot point was blitzed over in season 1, but it’s established the reason the Reverse Flash impersonated Harrison Wells was to speed up production on the particle accelerator that exploded and gave the Flash his super speed. If Barry stopped the Reverse Flash back at his mom’s death, Reverse Flash will never go back in time to kick-start the accelerator, and Barry won’t yet be the Flash. 


That’s a big change in and of itself, but it spreads out beyond that one point thanks to the shared continuity nature of the CW shows. See, the particle accelerator explosion didn’t JUST create the Flash. It also created Firestorm and helped trigger Captain Cold and Heat Wave. Without those guys around, the Legends of Tomorrow, CW’s time-traveling super team, might never have formed. What’s more, in last season’s Flash/Arrow crossover, it was Flash’s time travel that helped stop Vandal Savage from killing Hawkgirl and Hawkman and saving both Central and Star City. Without Flash, might Vandal Savage and his lords, the manipulative Time Masters, may still be in charge of the world, the universe, and everything? 


I’m not sure CW will actually follow up on those plot lines as it’d require a lot of inter-show understandings and crossover elements, though it’d at least explain “where’s Green Arrow?” in whatever story they end up throwing together. What seems like a more likely topic to touch on is the fate of Zoom. As mentioned, The Flash season 2 ended with the Speed Force’s Time Wraiths subsuming Zoom in gruesome fashion.  

However, keen-eyed fans will have spotted that the Time Wraiths impact on Zoom was essentially turning him into the Black Flash, a character he already fairly resembled. The Black Flash is a corpse-like being dressed in a black version of Flash’s costume and acted as the embodiment of death within the Speed Force. The Black Flash comes for all speedsters sooner or later and is one of the creepiest and coolest Flash concepts. If The Flash writers want to eek out a few more appearances out of Zoom, or even just find a way to keep his cool design around, having the Black Flash chasing down Barry for his crimes against time would be a way to slot him into the new story. 


As for The Flash season 2’s other big shocker, the reveal of the REAL Jay Garrick as an older and more heroic figure from the world of Earth-3, I’m not sure how that will factor into the show. The showrunners are certainly smart enough to want to keep making use of Jay Garrick, especially given the Justice Society of America tease at the end of Legends of Tomorrow. I doubt Jay or the denizens of Earth-2 will be featured too prominently into the events of Flash’s time-travel paradox adventure.  

The same is true for supporting characters that’ve been waiting to manifest their place in the mythos like Wally West or Tina McGee, head of Mercury labs. I still suspect The Flash is running full speed towards a full-on Flash family, complete with super speed version of Wally, Jesse ‘Quick’ Wells, and Tina McGee as a Madame Mercury-type figure. I don’t think any of that will happen till they resolve Barry’s meddling in the past. If there was ever a time to slip Wally into the Flash suit and give him a test run, Barry’s time-travel shenanigans would be a great opportunity to do it. 
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