Now that the “Arrow-verse” is continuing to expand, we here at Punch Drunk Critics will be rolling out a weekly review for everything that happens in the world of the DC CW TV universe. Every week, we’ll spill all the good for your favorite shows: Supergirl, The Flash, Arrow, and Legends of Tomorrow in this increasingly connected TV universe. This week marks the return of The Flash and Arrow. So how did the season premieres of these show fare?
When we last left on The Flash, Barry once again saved the day. He defeated Zoom in a race that would have destroyed all Earths, except Earth-1 where Zoom would rule over it. It would seem like everything’s all fine. Unfortunately, Zoom killed his father, which left Barry feeling empty inside. He saved everyone, he and Iris were in a great place, but he’s still in a rut. Barry decided to go back in time to when Eobard Thawne (The Reverse Flash) killed his mother as he did during the season 1 finale. This time, however, he decided that he has to stop Thawne. Fans know this storyline from the comic book as “The Flashpoint Paradox.” Like any good time travel story, sometimes changing the past isn’t great for the future. In the comic books, his decision to save his mother has global repercussions as Wonder Woman’s Amazonians are at war with Aquaman’s Atlanteans, and Bruce Wayne never becomes Batman as he died instead of his parents and his father turns out as a much more murderous Batman than Ben Affleck’s ever was (and his mother ended up being The Joker). Now we know that Batman, Wonder Woman, and Aquaman aren’t in the CW DC Universe (well not until next week for Superman), so some of the storylines would be changed, but hopefully the show would capture the essence of Flashpoint. So did it?
It sure did. This week’s episode, “Flashpoint” showed us a world where Barry saves his mother and the changes as a result. As a result, Barry never meets the West family. Joe isn’t his foster-father. In fact, Joe doesn’t like him at all. To keep is biological family whole, Barry sacrificed his adoptive family. Other things that are different is that we have a new Flash. While time traveling Barry has his powers (we’ll get to that in a bit), there’s a new Flash is town. His step-brother Wally West connected with the Speed Force through an automobile accident and now is the new Flash. Given his youth, he is called “Kid Flash” by many, even though he hates the title. Wally doesn’t seem like he’s been doing it for long as he doesn’t have the same experience Barry has as The Flash. Lucky for him, Barry is able to help.
Speaking of Barry, when the episode begins it’s the best of both worlds for him. He has both of his parents back, and still has his connection to the Speed Force. Unfortunately, this doesn’t last long. The more he uses his abilities, the more the changes to the timestream affect him personally. He starts to lose memories from his past life. If he keeps it up, not only will he forget his past life, he’ll forget that he ever was The Flash. Barry starts to get a strong case of buyer’s remorse.
The only person the new timeline hasn’t affected is his mortal enemy, The Reverse Flash. After Barry knocked him out, he imprisoned him in a cell where he couldn’t use his Speed Force powers. He proceeds to taunt Barry very much like Hannibal Lecter, telling him about the effects of his changing the timeline. In order to correct it, he will need to go back in time and have The Reverse Flash proceed in killing his mother.
Barry tries to get the gang back together, but the new timeline is not the same. Cisco is basically Mark Zuckerberg and wants nothing to do with The Flash and focus on being one of the richest people in the world. Caitlin isn’t a part of the group either as she is just a pediatric ophthalmologist. Barry manages to convince them to all get together to help him and Kid Flash take on a new speedster, The Rival.
Barry decides that a world where his parents are dead is better, and works with The Reverse Flash to go back in time to kill his mother. After saying his final goodbye to them, he and The Reverse Flash go back in time where he kills his mother. The Reverse lash drops Barry back to Joe’s house where Barry is glad that everything is back to normal. But is it? He asks Joe where Iris is, and Joe gets upset. It’s clear that she and Joe don’t have the same relationship as before. It looks like the damage to the timeline is just beginning.
If you called last season if Arrow “disorganized,” you would be kind. The show had interesting points last season, but for the most part was not as successful as previous seasons. Part of it was because of the flashbacks the show was famous for. The show known for its gritty realism tried to delicately balance the world of magic with it’s already “street level” world. Adding Damien Darhk as the central villain was a welcome change, but towards the end started to get outlandish. The most impactful moment of last season was the death of Laurel Lance, AKA Black Canary and the breakup of Team Arrow. Diggle left, as did Speedy. It was only Oliver working the streets with Felicity and Curtis providing tech support for him. To make matters worse, Oliver was elected Mayor of Star City, so now he had to wear two hats.
Oliver is also in a dark place when it comes to vigilantism. Not since season one have we seen him kill bad guys. He blames himself for Laurel’s death since he used his “no killing” policy when dealing with Darhk, only for have him kill Laurel later on. He’s back to the brooding, dark vigilante he once was (think Batman Year One darkness).
The season starts with him continuing trying to balance being The Green Arrow and mayor of the city and continue doing it on his own. There’ still crime in the city and he can’t be everywhere at once. At the same time, new vigilantes are popping up.
We are introduced to Wild Dog, Artemis, and Vigilante. Oliver doesn’t want them, though, he wants his original team back. In addition to regular crime and a semi-corrupt police force, a new player has come to town.
Tobias Church played by Chad Coleman of The Walking Dead and The Wire fame is the new big bad guy and quickly establishes his dominance. In addition to killing a few corrupt police officers and uniting all the gangs under his leadership, he kidnaps Oliver Queen in the hopes of luring out The Green Arrow. While he isn’t successful, it quickly shows that he’s going to be a problem for Team Arrow for some time. Plus, we have a new bad guy on the horizon, Prometheus.
Towards the end of the episode, Oliver realizes that he has to get back to basics, and that means bringing a new team together. Oliver finally agrees to put together a new team of vigilantes, he even brings Curtis into the fold! Fans should be excited because we know that Curtis will eventually be “Mr. Terrific” from the comic books.
While the show was a great “back to basics,” episode, we still did get those dreaded flashbacks. However, these flashbacks didn’t feel like they were treading water as they did last year. The flashbacks show Oliver when he became involved in organized crime in Russia. Anatoly Knyasev (who we haven’t seen since season 2) returns. If that name is familiar, his character was in Batman v Superman and comic fans know him as "KGBeast." Hopefully, this season’s flashbacks will continue to give us character-building flashbacks for Oliver. If not, this should be the last season showing them.
Next week we’ll have the premieres of Supergirl as well as Legends of Tomorrow in addition to The Flash and Arrow. We’ll have a DC Show available almost every day of the week!