Warning: The following contains spoilers for the second episode of The Flash's third season.
In last night's episode of The Flash, we finally come to grips with the fact that Barry Allen is the worst Nice Guy in TV.
After the season premiere introduced us to the Flashpoint timeline, we got to see what Barry's heaven looked like and why Barry had to nuke that version of his reality for the good of everyone. Now, Barry has to deal with a third timeline that contains innumerable inconsistencies and subtler problems.
What's the best place to take stock of all of this? In Arrow's secret Batcave in a different city with Felicity Smoak. That makes sense to the rest of you, right? Good.
Barry has noticed that he's created a divide between Iris and her dad. His kiss with Iris has been erased for the second time in the series (a weirdly good punishment), Cisco is lamenting the death of his brother, Caitlin is probably taking the first steps into meta-villainy and the gender of a baby changed. You know, general timeline weirdness. All of this information is delivered by Barry in the most panicked story point recap I've ever seen on TV. Chill man, you've got time(s).
One of the other big changes is that Barry has a lab partner now played by Draco Malfoy (Tom Felton) who just doesn't like Barry and it drives our hero up the goddamned wall. It's my new favorite thing on the show — watching Nice Guy Barry demand to know why there are some people in the world who don't love him. It's great. Dude, he's a Slytherin. It's just not going to happen.
Meanwhile, the week's story involves a bunch of human skins getting shed around the city, which recalls the time on Buffy:The Vampire Slayer when the swim-team all turned into swamp things. Unfortunately, no cool slime monsters this time around. Remember that dude The Rival from the season three premiere? You may remember him on account of the character repeatedly claiming he has no rivals. If not, don't worry about it: he doesn't actually remember himself. Not from being a forgettable character who also got shot by a cop and died, but rather because the only timeline in which he was a Speedster got erased.
Which brings us to this season's probable big bad: DOCTOR ALCHEMY. God, I hate these names, but somehow this show keep me coming back for more. Doc Alc is showing people how much better they were in other timelines and restoring them to that glory. Suburban husband Edward Clariss gets to become Rival again, although I have no idea where his faux-Batman suit came from? Maybe it was just a rush order at a local costume shop.
I don't like pudding and I don't like Barry
Rival and Alchemy take on Flash, and at one point Rival pulls out Flash's decorative lightning bolts and stabs him with them. Look, I've been waiting for that since the very first episode. Thank you. The rest of the showdown is pretty fast and forgettable, with Alchemy killing Rival for disappointing him. But there's something kinda great about Doc Alc basically being an evil guidance counselor — reminding people of their potential and then just taking their skin in repayment. I'm down for spending a season doing this. Sure.
In the comics, Alchemy is known for transmuting elements via the Philosopher's Stone. The potential introduction of a Harry Potter crossover in the same episode we get Draco is such a fun pop-culture Easter Egg, it makes up for a lot of the episode's schlock .
At one point, Barry bails on this timeline and decides to change things again because no one on a TV show has ever learned less about their terrible choices than Barry Allen. Jay Garrick stops Barry in the 90s, and in a grunge cafe with Dawson's Creek on the TV (IN CASE YOU WERENT SURE ABOUT THE YEAR, FOR THE SEATS IN THE BACK), he explains how time travel means you can never fix anything, you can only make it worse. It's season three of this show and Barry still doesn't get this. Each doctor in Doctor Who gets this by like episode four of their run. C'mon Barry, rent The Butterfly Effect, dude.
Barry has to tell the rest of the team he accidentally ruined their lives by messing with time, and they are understandably very displeased with this news. Then they aren't anymore, because of friendship. Listen, this show can be quite bad. That's probably why Tom Felton's Julian Albert is my new favorite aspect. At one point, when discussing Julian's dislike of Barry, they compare him to "pudding and who doesn't like pudding?" I don't. I don't like pudding and I don't like Barry and I don't like how he's clearly the villain of the show now and everyone forgives him because he smiles and gets coffee NAMED AFTER HIM. You know what's great? A guy who just sees all this fake Nice Guy behavior and treats Barry like the fake he is.
Here's hoping that Alchemy isn't also Julian Albert at the end of the season, because in a real world at least two people should probably think Barry is kinda a dick.