It’s just possible that this week’s The Flash episode may present viewers with the most complicated time travel paradox they’ve encountered yet on the hit The CW superhero show. We’ve already seen the Flash/Barry Allen travel into the past on multiple occasions, but we’ve recently seen him pop into the future for a few moments to witness the death of Iris West. It’s fairly clear from the trailers for the upcoming episode that he’ll do anything to prevent this.
As reported by TV Guide, just before the midseason break, we saw Barry Allen and crew taking on Savitar and seeming – at first – to defeat him by tossing the mystical whatsit box into the speed force. But Barry quickly found himself being tossed into the future – we’re not clear just how far – and being confronted with the death of Iris West.
He sees himself begging Savitar not to kill Iris, only for Savitar do just that with one plunge of the Wolverine-style knife blade he apparently has in his hand. Then Jay Garrick – the older version of the Flash from Earth 3 – yanks Barry back to his own time.
Even though Garrick warns Barry not to go “back to the future,” it’s fairly obvious that Barry is going to disregard this advice and do whatever he thinks is necessary in order to protect Iris. So even though his previous time travel shenanigans had a disastrous result for almost everyone, the trailers make it clear he’s going to try again.
Oddly, it seems as though Cisco – who because of the loss of his brother, was perhaps most severely affected by Barry’s previous attempt to travel through time and save his own mother – is now going to help The Flash bop into the future so he can save Iris.
From a plot standpoint, the interesting part of Barry doing this is that it could create a variation on the paradoxical time travel problems that he experienced in Flashpoint. In his earlier attempt to save his mother, although he successfully saved her – and incidentally his father – he ended up making everyone else’s lives so bad that it was necessary to allow his mother to die to straighten everything out.
Or so he thought. As it turned out, even doing this didn’t return the timeline to its previous state, since Caitlin Snow now has Killer Frost powers and Cisco’s brother was now dead.
Traveling to the future to save Iris could cause a different set of issues, since the paradox of him now traveling to the future and saving her from Savitar’s attack will mean that past Barry – the one from the episodes before the midseason break – wouldn’t have been able to travel to the future and see her die.
Thus we can have a circular paradox in which the event that caused him to take action to save Iris never occurs, meaning that he doesn’t take any action to save her. But that of course means that – since she doesn’t get saved – the pre-midseason break Flash would have seen her die.
It’s the kind of brain numbing time travel confusion that in comic books usually causes everything in the universe to unravel and ultimately reset itself. That, of course, is what the original Flashpoint in the comic books actually was, although they stayed away from that when they did Flashpoint at the beginning of the season.
The producers of The Flash have already mentioned in previous interviews that the original Flashpoint situation was going to have far more of an impact throughout the season than people realize. Most viewers thought they were just talking about the ways that Barry’s decision at the end of last season impacted his friends and family. But this week’s The Flash episode could be yet another example of Barry making a mess of things.
The Flash airs Tuesday nights on The CW.
[Featured Image by The CW]