There are no new episodes of The Flash for the rest of 2016, but the last few weeks of episodes left audiences with a lot to unpack -- so we're here to help with that.
The season got off to a promising but uneasy start when, back in October, the long-awaited "Flashpoint" story arc turned out to be less an arc and more an episode. The TV series retained the barest bones of the core concept from the comics -- Barry Allen traveled back in time to stop his mother's murder at the hands of the Reverse-Flash and inadvertently created an alternate timeline where everything is awful except his parents are alive -- but didn't explore then changed Earth very much before Barry tried to "fix" the timeline, resulting in a near-perfect (but still flawed) present-day Earth-1.
That bit -- after a fashion -- came from the comics as well. In the Flashpoint comic book miniseries, Barry Allen tried to "fix" the time he'd broken but due to the intervention of at least two different characters -- the immortal agent known as Pandora, and the godlike Doctor Manhattan -- things didn't go exactly as planned and Barry and the rest of the DC Universe ended up in "The New 52," a continuity reboot that altered DC's timeline, its multiverse, and its history.
When Barry went home, he discovered that his interference in the timeline had caused ripple effects that seemed to make life worse for basically everyone around him. He was reprieved from being blamed for most of the specifics at the time because it was generally agreed that the less people knew about their Flashpoint selves, the better. Still, as the season wore on, information started to trickle out.
That trickle lacked the explosive impact many viewers had hoped for, though, and while the TV universe certainly held Barry Allen's feet to the fire for his mistakes more than the comics did (everyone forgot about Flashpoint pretty quickly in The New 52), "better than the comics" could still be loosely translated to "not much." What did happen, was generally not what fans were wanting: a sullen Cisco, dejected by his brother's recent death, became even more morose when he learned that the pre-Flashpoint timeline didn't include the car accident that killed Dante. Wally and Caitlin were having existential crises that revolved around their budding powers.
And Barry...well, he was...less happy at work?
Reviews for The Flash were about on par with last season, but still nowhere near as stellar and ecstatic as they were in season 1. The sense of excitement and direction lent to the season by "Flashpoint" quickly faded as it became clear that the biggest impact of the event was to give Barry another White Event-like plot device to create new villains.
"Flashpoint" couldn't be blamed for all of the malaise that many fans felt had settled over The Flash -- there were a lot of variables, not least of which the fact that Arrow, Supergirl, and DC's Legends of Tomorrow were firing on all cylinders so The CW's flagship superhero drama seemed a little "off" by comparison -- but given the high expecations for the story and the fact that "Flashpoint" was the season premiere, a lot of people blamed it anyway for any perceived shortcomings.
And then came "Invasion!"
A three-night, four-show crossover, The Flash's episode of "Invasion!" kicked off when he learned that aliens were invading Earth. He sought out the help of Green Arrow and his merry band as well as Sara Lance, captain of the timeship Waverider, and her crew. For good measure, Barry determined that to fight aliens, it would be smart to have an alien of their own, so he drafted Supergirl into their effort.
Excitement for "Invasion!' dwarfed discussion about the shows' own midseason finales, reviews and ratings for each of the four shows were at their season's best, and as the epic unfolded, audiences learned why the aliens had come to Earth: "Flashpoint."
Barry's reckless behavior had led a powerful, dangerous alien race to Earth's doorstep, concerned that he posed a threat to the universe -- and it was difficult for most of the other superheroes, who had just learned about Barry's actions and were grappling with the fallout themselves, to deny it. Still, he was instrumental in turning back the Dominators, and along the way some of the other heroes came to sympathize with what he was going through when he made the terrible decision to turn back time.
Showrunners have said that while there's still goign to be some new villains created by Alchemy as a result of "Flashpoint," the "Invasion!" crossover more or less put a bow on the story, and other concerns -- like the possibility of Iris West being killed by Savitar in a future Barry saw during the midseason finale -- will be taking over the show for the foreseeable future.
What they did -- either by design or by happy accident -- was to deal with many of the issues that fans had objected to. Barry was held responsible for his actions, ostracized from the rest of the heroes, and had to earn his way back in through hard work. The rift among the members of Team Flash was repaired. "Flashpoint" was given a suitably epic conclusion and created a lasting impact ont he world of the show in the form of the introduction of alien life and the rest of the DC Universe meeting Supergirl.
Fans loved "Invasion!" for the fun superheroes-versus-aliens romp that it was, but The Flash fans also have the crossover to thank for redeeming "Flashpoint" and helping to put the show on more solid footing heading into the midseason break.
NEXT: The Flash, Arrow, Supergirl, Legends of Tomorrow Crossover Trailer / First Look At The Dominators / Invasion! Crossover Promo Photos / Potential The Flash Spoiler Spotted On Set / Will Joe West Die During The Invasion! Crossover? / Enter To Win An Ultra-Rare Invasion! Crossover T-Shirt
Supergirl airs Mondays at 8 p.m. ET/PT; The Flash on Tuesdays at the same time; Arrowon Wednesdays and DC's Legends of Tomorrow on Thursdays.
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