On this week’s episode of The Flash, Barry finds himself returning from the Flashpoint Universe, only to discover that things are worse than how he left them. With his friends in disarray and a new threat, will he stick with this world….or just time travel again?

I feel like the opening voiceover for the rest of this season should be Barry going, “I made a mistake. I made things worse. I am The Flash!” Cue theme music. That’s certainly what it feels like this season is working towards. Arriving in a new and more dismal version of his universe, Barry spends most of “Paradox” trying to make things right, one way or the other.

After a great scene where Barry stops a thief by disassembling his moving motorcycle, he speeds off to visit Felicity Smoak and tells her about the differences he’s encountered so far. In this version of reality, Joe and Iris aren’t speaking because Joe didn’t tell her that her mother was alive. Cisco is depressed because his brother died in a car accident and Barry didn’t go back in time to save him. Oh, and Barry has a disagreeable coworker, Julian Albert, played by Tom Felton.

As if that wasn’t bad enough, The Rival returns, Flashpoint memories intact, thanks to the efforts of Alchemy. Now he’s out for Flash’s blood, due to Barry pulling him out of that’s universe’s existence. Plus, there are several husks that have been appearing throughout the city, leaving the CCPD scratching their heads.

So Barry decides that the only solution is to go back in time again. Thankfully, he’s pulled out of the time tunnel by none other than Jay Garrick from Earth-3. Garrick gives Barry a much-needed dressing-down, explaining that he’s been down a similar path and there’s no way to return the world to its state at the end of Season 2. Barry seems to finally get it and returns instead to S.T.A.R. Labs, to tell everyone how he messed up and altered their lives.

While the scene is well-acted, including the follow-up conversation between Barry and Cisco, the writers move way, way too quickly to resolve the drama between these characters. Joe and Iris break their months-long silence in a matter of minutes and by the end of the episode, Cisco breaks out his Vibe gear to save a wounded Barry from The Rival. It’s like the writers realized that this sad-sack universe isn’t really appealing, so they blew through the revelations and healing as quickly as possible. Sure, Cisco isn’t 100% yet, but he’s already adding a Dr. to Alchemy’s title by the end of the episode.

The consequences of Barry’s actions seem to have few lasting impacts so far, but I hope that will soon be rectified. Caitlin’s developing ice powers seem to hint at bigger changes to come.

Assorted Thoughts:
⦁ “I’ve kissed Iris twice and I’ve managed to erase both times from existence.” – this statement alone should make Barry stop messing with the timeline ever again. He does get to kiss her a third time in this episode though. Maybe this one will stick!

⦁ “We finally get rid of Zoom and there’s another evil speedster.” Joe says what we’re all thinking. But it doesn’t look like Alchemy is pleased with The Rival’s failure.

⦁ The Vibe/Flash team-up was pretty great. I’d be all for more field work for Cisco.

⦁ What’s the over/under on episodes before Julian learns that Barry is The Flash?

⦁ In terms of Arrow, Diggle now has a son instead of a daughter.

⦁ Dr. Alchemy is giving back powers to those who had them in the Flashpoint universe. Barry should give Wally a heads-up, as Alchemy may wish to restore Kid Flash too.