Last week, Barry Allen thought he was living in a perfect world where his parents were both alive. He quickly found out that this new world had some faults, and there was a new speedster villain in town named The Rival. You can check out a full recap of the developments from last week's episode here.
Barry has returned to his regular timeline but there are a few changes in the world. There is a rift in Barry's group of family and friends. He tries to get everyone back together again and make things right. He also has a coworker in this new timeline, Julian Albert, who is not the nicest guy in the world. There were a few big moments in tonight's episode, so let's take a closer look at what's changed in Episode 2.
Warning: Spoilers for the October 11 episode below.
Things Aren't What They Used To Be
After having to watch Reverse Flash kill his mother again, Barry returned to the present to learn that his happy-go-lucky group of friends and family are not what they used to be. There's a rift between them. Cisco's brother, Dante, died at the hands of a drunk driver recently, and the West family isn't on the greatest of terms. Once again, Barry wants to fix everything, which we've already learned isn't a great idea.
While seeing this group together adds a fun dynamic to each episode, everyone having a stand-offish attitude towards each other adds a new layer to the show. We get to see Barry do whatever he can to return things to what he considers to be "normalcy." This continues to develop Barry as a character who wants the best for everyone; however, he's not without his faults as sometimes he uses his powers for selfish means.
The Rival Is Back
In the alternate timeline, Flashpoint, Barry and Kid Flash took on a villainous speedster named The Rival. At the end of the season premiere, Doctor Alchemy reached out to Edward Clariss, who was The Rival in the "Flashpoint" timeline. The week, Alchemy unlocked the speedster powers within Clariss, as well as giving him the memories of his life in the alternate timeline. Clariss was eventually defeated and sent to Iron Heights prison. However, something grabbed him in his cell in the final scene.
While The Flash has been over-using speedsters as villains in the series, it was nice to see that Clariss wasn't a throwaway villain. He's not someone who wants to steal Barry's Speed Force, which both Reverse Flash and Zoom wanted to do. The Rival wants to best him, and here, he's working for Alchemy, which we'll get into below. It's a bit of a new take on an old standard.
Jay Garrick Is Back Too
At the end of Season 2, we learned that the Earth-3 version of Henry Allen--Barry's father--was actually Jay Garrick, the Flash of that world. During this week's episode, Barry decided to go back in time, again, to try and make things right, again. Jay grabbed Barry from the Speed Force, to pull him into the '90s. Jay wanted to have a talk with Barry and explained that there are consequences to time travel. Every time Barry goes back in time to try and fix something, things may change, and it can never get back to exactly how it used to be.
Once again, another speedster is the voice of reason in the episode. It's nice to see Jay's return, and it's better to see him as a mentor or father figure to Barry. Jay has used the Speed Force for much longer, and he's got the experience to lend a helping hand. Hopefully, we'll get to see more of him in Season 3.
Doctor Alchemy Is Up to Something
During the season premiere, we briefly saw Alchemy's name being carved into a mirror. Aside from that, we didn't get much else. We learn a bit more about him this week as he's restoring powers to people who had them in the Flashpoint world. He's preparing an army, but we don't know for what yet. In addition, the team at STAR Labs learns that Doctor Alchemy is not a metahuman.
This character is a bit of a mystery and not a lot was revealed about him. We don't know what he's preparing for, who the person is under the mask, or what is up with the stone he's using. To be fair, comic fans may know, but keeping the audience in the dark is the hook that's going to keep them coming back for future episodes.
Cisco Goes Full Vibe
Barry ends up fighting The Rival, but during the fight, Doctor Alchemy shows up to gain the advantage. It looks like The Flash is going to be beaten. However, Cisco shows up with his new vibe gauntlets and takes The Rival out. Doctor Alchemy disappears.
This is a moment that fans have been waiting for, ever since they saw Cisco's Earth-2 doppelganger, Reverb. It's about time Barry has some help in the field, since the villains keep getting tougher and tougher. Hopefully, this wasn't a one-shot moment, as Cisco seems to be a fan-favorite character.
Caitlin Snow Has Her Killer Frost Powers
On Earth-2, Caitlin was known as the villain Killer Frost, who could freeze anyone in her path. On Earth-1, she never had any abilities, until now. After Barry and Caitlin have a talk, she looks at her hand, and she has her Killer Frost powers.
This threw everyone off, as Caitlin was the only character who seemed completely unchanged at the opening of the episode. While this is exciting, it's a bit worrisome, since we've all seen her mean-streak take hold of her on Earth-2. Hopefully, she'll use her powers for good, but for now, it seems like she'll be keeping them under wraps.
The best moments from the episode all come from Tom Felton as Julian Albert, Barry's co-worker at the CCPD. Felton plays the antagonist role exceptionally well, and he's the best addition to the cast in quite some time. It will be exciting to see how Julian and Barry interact with each other throughout this season.
All-in-all, there are some great moments, but the majority of the episode was spent explaining how this world is different from the last. Barry feels like he's been dumbed-down a bit and doesn't get why he can't keep jumping around in time. The audience is two steps ahead of him and the story for the entirety of the episode. Is the episode still fun and entertaining? Yes. However, that's about it. A few of the developments and the addition of Felton will make fans want to come back, but Doctor Alchemy and his plan of gathering metahumans feels a lot like Zoom's plan to gather metahumans. There's lots of repetition here so far. The Flash needs something really fresh this season to keep up with the high bar it set in Season 1 and 2.