The Flash season finale – which if you’ve not seen it yet, STOP: BE WARNED – SPOILERS AHEAD … Should have been called “Flashpoint.” Because that’s what it was, except that it bypassed the view of the warped universe that was the subject of the miniseries.
What was Flashpoint? Flashpoint was the 2011 DC miniseries where Barry Allen wakes up in a totally messed up world, one in which he had saved his mother but as a consequence had never become the Flash. In one changed instant everything about the old Post-Crisis on Infinite Earths DC Universe that had prevailed from 1985 to 2011 (with a couple of tweaks along the way – 1994’s Zero Hour, 2006’s Infinite Crisis) was altered – for the worse. Sure, Barry Allen’s mother had lived, but he did not become the Flash, and the world was now on the brink of catastrophe, torn by warring factions between unstable super-beings because, to name a few other differences (DC milked it for all it was worth, of course – in addition to the seven-issue main story, there were something like fifteen ancillary three-issue miniseries telling side-stories; I read only the main story and a couple of the side-stories): Instead of Thomas and Martha Wayne being killed and inspiring Bruce Wayne to eventually become the Batman, Bruce was killed, leading to Thomas becoming a darker, murderous vigilante Batman – and Martha becoming his archenemy, the Joker; the spaceship carrying young Kal-El was discovered by the U.S. military who had raised him secluded away from yellow solar energy; a diplomatic marriage between King Arthur of Atlantis and Princess Diana of Themyscira had been scuttled by an Atlantean assassination of Queen Hippolyta, leading to a global conflagration between the two superpower nations that by now threatened to destroy the world; and so forth. To make a long story short, Barry eventually does find a way to regain his speed just as an Atlantean-Amazon Armageddon is destroying the Flashpoint Earth, he runs back through time and prevents himself from saving his mother … and the DC Universe is restored – except it isn’t. It is now different than it had been before. It was the “New 52” Universe that has prevailed since 2011. (The fact that I have grown to dislike the direction DC is going is beside the (flash)point (sorry, couldn’t help it!) – there were developments that I found increasingly repugnant even before; the New 52 just hastened things along, in my opinion.)
Why didn’t Barry in this Episode save his mother? It was pretty obvious he was torn up by the uncertainties of what he would be losing – primarily never living with Joe and Iris, never becoming the Flash, never meeting Cisco, Caitlyn, etc., for an uncertain alternate life in which, yes, his mother would not be killed by Thawne and thus his father would not be imprisoned for her death, but there was no assurance that things would not turn out worse (who knows but that they all three might have been killed in a car accident the next day? Or any of a million other bad developments) – then pretty clearly Future Flash was waving him back, essentially telling him not to save his mother, or at least that’s how he could interpret it. So he let her die, but seized the chance to at least have a few last moments with her – then try to get back and thwart Thawne’s plans. I think Future Flash may well have been from a “Flashpoint Universe” that he had come back to prevent from occurring – in other words, that this Episode bypassed the warped version of reality that would have been a CW-DCU version of the Flashpoint Universe. I.e., we saw the beginning and end of Flashpoint without seeing the middle.
Did you catch all the Easter Eggs? Jay Garrick’s helmet bouncing out of the Wormhole. A namedrop for Rip Hunter and the actual introduction of his (and the Legion’s) Time-Bubble (at least the technology) (Rip and his Time-Bubble will feature in the upcoming CW Arrow/Flash spinoff Legends of Tomorrow – man! It's a good time to be a DC comics fan, on TV at least!). Confirmation that Cisco will indeed become Vibe. I’m sure there were more, but that’s all I remember right off the bat. Far and away the coolest is the helmet as far as I’m concerned.
Of course, like all time travel stories, you really can’t think about it too hard or it all falls apart. The paradoxes – one of which is key to the climax of this Episode – are just too many. In fact, just to follow the implications of Eddie Thawne’s sacrifice to destroy his own descendant …
If Eobard Thawne was never born (as it appears now he was not … er … will not be), he never would have gone back in time to kill Barry’s mother in the first place, and he never would have been stuck in the past needing to recreate the Flash in order to get home. So there would be no Flash to save the world as we know he will even with the cliffhanger ending here. Of course, there would be no particle accelerator either, threatening to destroy the world. Or creating any of the metahumans we’ve seen over the past year. Basically, nothing of the past year would have happened. Assuming that things in Arrow managed to get to that show’s season finale without Barry’s (and other Flash characters over the past year in the occasional crossovers) presence several times since the middle of Season 2, well, the Flash would certainly not be there to help break Team Arrow out of Nanda Parbat last week (I hope that’s not too big a spoiler!)
… Besides which, there never would be a Future Flash to go back and prevent Flash from saving his mother …
I generally like time travel stories, but as I think I’ve said before, I consider them fantasy, in no way science fiction because frankly I don’t think time travel is possible. The paradoxes are just too many. (Ditto alternate universes. There my objection goes off into the philosophical/theological – One God Who has a Plan … although to my surprise I’ve discovered that there are serious theologians considering it very much possible God could create alternate universes. Most recently, I’m presently reading the recently-deceased Stratford Caldecott’s All Things Made New, who has this interesting little tidbit roundabout page 31 [I’m reading it via Kindle]: “God must be free to create any number of worlds, each of them an expression of his uniqueness,” with a citation to St. Thomas Aquinas’ Summa Theologiae III.3.7!: “According to St. Thomas, ‘the power of a Divine Person is infinite, nor can it be limited by any created thing. Hence it may not be said that a Divine Perison so assumed one human nature as to be unable to assume another’. Similarly it may not be said that God cannot create any number of other universes.” I’m not convinced, but I don’t want to debate it against St. Thomas and Strat!)
Of course, reportedly that’s what the second season of The Flash is going to be about – him (probably right off the bat, via the black hole he just ran into) “exploring the multiverse.” I think it’s a pretty sure bet we’ll finally see Jay Garrick on-screen – the original, “Golden Age” Flash. He was part of the JSA of the Smallville universe, but never actually seen in live action except in the big magnificent painting that hung in the old JSA headquarters (he did become a character in the follow-up comic series Smallville: Season Eleven, though).
Hopefully we’ll actually meet him next season. Rumor has it that Barry will encounter Earth 2…. Might their version of “Earth 2” be the Smallville universe? In fact, wouldn’t it be cool if the upcoming CBS Supergirl universe were actually the Smallville universe, complete with at least one appearance of an older, wiser Superman played by Tom Welling? Nah, they’d never do that! (Rumor has it that the CBS Supergirl universe will be the same as the DC-CW universe since the showrunners are the same and CBS and CW are corporate sisters or somesuch. CBS seems to be saying No, but the producers seem to be saying Yes....) Whatever … whether I believe in a “multiverse” or not, I’m definitely along for the ride!
Cheers!, and Thanks for reading!