I have been a steady watcher of the CW’s Arrow and The Flash, both of which have some pretty good moments to go along with cringeworthy romance plots and dialogue. I understand that it’s the CW and therefore they’re going to have that stuff, but it can be pretty awful. In fact, Season 3 of Arrow was so bad that I want to purge it from my memory and also backslap the writers who came up with that garbage.
Anyway, I’m not going to review Arrow because this season was just terrible and there’s nothing more to say. I’ll discuss The Flash finale that helped showcase why it had both a strong start but also predictably fumbled away logic for cheap tension.
Long story short, this season finale was about how Barry Allen was presented a choice by his archnemesis, the Reverse Flash, to go back in time and save his mother from being murdered by the Reverse Flash. The episode is mostly about Barry’s inner conflict as he decides between saving his mom and potentially making his family whole and his current life and the relationships that he has gained. Grant Gustin played the part well as Barry wrestled with his strong emotions and the conflicting advice his friends and family gave. After all, his whole life had been shaped by his mother’s murder and the subsequent imprisonment of his father for being falsely convicted of that murder.
As for the Reverse Flash, Eobard Thawne, his motivation for helping Barry is purely selfish: He wants to go back to the future, his own time, which he became unable to do after murdering Barry’s mom. The deal is that the Flash uses his super speed in a controlled environment to open up a wormhole to go save his mom while Thawne uses the same wormhole to go back to the future. Everyone wins.
However, when Barry goes back to that fateful night, where his future self is battling Thawne around his mom while his kid self watches in terror (confusing, I know), he briefly catches a glimpse of his future, more mature self. This future Barry Allen holds up his hand to him: No. Don’t do it. He then speeds off with Kid Barry Allen to take him to safety, while Current Barry Allen has to endure the pain of hearing his mom get stabbed in the heart by an enraged Thawne (who originally went back in time to kill Barry but settled for his mom). Current Barry at least has the opportunity to walk in and have a brief conversation with his mom while weeping, telling his mom that he grows up to be okay.
It was a powerful scene and Gustin portrayed Barry’s pain well. Too bad when you take a step back and think about it, this is all sorts of messed up.
One giant problem is this: Barry knows beforehand that opening up the wormhole can not only create a singularity that threatens the whole city but threatens the entire planet. If anything were to go slightly wrong, it would endanger billions of lives. Yet Barry does it anyway. Not only that, when he does go back, he doesn’t even bother to save his mom… for ultimately silly reasons. Even his own dad tells him not save his mom because “everything happens for a reason” and he shouldn’t mess with time… but didn’t the Reverse Flash already go back and change the past? Wouldn’t Barry therefore just be fixing what Thawne did? And wouldn’t saving his own mom erase that timeline and therefore completely remove the threat of destroying the city or the planet? But no, Barry decides to sit around and have a chat with his dying mom.
To make matters worse, instead of simply allowing Thawne to leave as was agreed, Barry’s flies back through the wormhole and super-punches Thawne’s time traveling contraption, destroying and antagonizing Thawne. Thawne predictably starts beating everyone up and threatens to kill everyone Barry knows until Eddie Thawne, the Reverse Flash’s ancestor, heroically kills himself to erase Thawne from existence. Of course, all this mess doesn’t prevent the wormhole from reopening (it was possibly caused by the resulting time paradoxes) and possibly destroying the city. The finale ends with Barry racing to try to contain the singularity.
To summarize, here is what Barry did:
1. Instead of keeping Thawne prisoner and going about his life, he agrees to Thawne’s deal and goes back in time, knowingly jeopardizing billions of lives.
2. When he goes back, he doesn’t even save his mom, as he would have been perfectly justified doing for all sorts of reasons, and simply talks with her.
3. He runs back to pick a fight with Thawne who was actually going to leave peacefully (Thawne even admitted multiple times to killing his mom, so unless everyone at Star Labs is an idiot for not recording that, Barry can now easily free his father).
4. Thawne, now ticked off, beats up everyone including Barry and threatens to kill everyone Barry knows. Eddie has to kill himself to save the day.
5. The creation of his wormhole + whatever time paradoxes were just created by Eddie’s death begins destroying the city anyway, so Barry has to try to save everyone. From a problem that he clearly caused for no reason.
Look, I know it’s a superhero show and illogical crap happens, like when Barry in one episode runs so fast people can’t react to him while in another he has a hard time fighting regular dudes. Still, when an entire finale is based upon horrifically irrational decisions by supposedly good characters, it starts getting annoying. They absolutely should not have included the part where this wormhole could destroy the earth because it destroyed any sense in Barry’s decision. If they had just left it as an inner conflict between choosing between his current life and a life that he always wanted, then would have been enough. Extinction level events are a common trope in comics, but this time it completely derailed the finale and made Barry look like the most selfish moron ever.
Ugh. Do the writers not sit back and think about these things? Seriously, it makes me wonder.