Barry rushes to the lair in Star City where he informs Felicity on the Flashpoint experience, much to Felicity’s shock. She advises him to walk her through the events where he found things to be wrong, and he explains what happened since he returned.
He begins when he stopped a local motorcycle thief by dismantling his ride on foot. When he returns to STAR Labs, he finds everyone except for Wally in a somber mood. When he encourages Cisco to come up with a nickname for the thief, Cisco dismisses him and leaves with Caitlin following him. Iris and Joe prepare to leaves as well, though Barry tries to get the two to talk about their issues. Joe simply leaves without answering as Wally exits with him, though Wally appears to be the same. Though everyone seems to be changed, Barry learns from Iris that she still wants to consider their relationship on a new level, just as she did before he left.
Barry meets up with Joe at the station to ask about his problem with Iris. Joe reveals that Iris holds a grudge against him for never telling her that her mother was alive, something she accepted in the previous timeline. Since this, Joe refuses to bring anything up with Iris, and he further wonders why Barry wouldn’t know about this. More surprisingly, Barry discovers another man working in his office, a meta-human CSI specialist named Julian Albert. Though Julian has been a skillful addition to the precinct for a year, he acts particularly distasteful of Barry.
In addition to Joe, Barry also discovers Cisco in a grief counseling session. Listening in, he discovers that Cisco has lost his brother Dante, revealing the source of his depression. Once Cisco sees Barry, however, he maintains his cold attitude.
Barry: I've kissed Iris twice and I've managed to erase both times from existence.
Revealing this to Felicity, she questions whether or not Barry changed more than he knows. Barry quickly searches and finds everything fine until discovering a picture of John Diggle with his son John Jr. who was previously his daughter Sara. Despite the circumstances, Felicity encourages him to figure out how he can fix the situation like he always had.
Meanwhile, Edward Clariss travels Central City continuously plagued by visions of himself as the Rival and the word ALCHEMY carved on a wall. Finally, he travels to an underground lair where he finds a figure surrounded by followers. The figure understands that Clariss wants to stop the visions, but he offers a chance to return to his life as the Rival. Then, he can regain his speed and his ideal life.
The next day, Barry, Joe, and Julian travel to the waterfront where they discover a husk sample. Julian clarifies that this is the fifth sample found, something Barry did not know. With Julian unwilling to work with Barry, Barry resorts to sneaking a sample away in order to analyze any possible meta-human activity in STAR Labs.
At STAR Labs, Caitlin analyzes the husk but finds nothing abnormal in the sample. However, Cisco continues to avoid Barry. Barry confides in Caitlin that he discovered Cisco at grief counseling, leading Caitlin to reveal that Dante was killed in a drunk driving accident months earlier. Barry encourages her to help, but Caitlin refuses to get involved. Despite this answer, Barry decides to gather everyone together for a dinner.
Using his speed, Barry races back and forth from the precinct and Iris’s office to convince Joe and Iris that each has invited the other to a dinner. With the addition of Caitlin, Cisco, and Wally, Barry hopes to inspire the team to bond with each other once again. However, the dinner grows more awkward as Iris discovers that Joe did not tell her about the growing case, much like he kept the secret of her mother. In their argument, Cisco finally reveals that he feels anger towards Barry for refusing to go back in time to save his brother. Suddenly, they are interrupted by the meta-human app, detecting a speedster on the boardwalk.
When Barry races to the boardwalk, he is surprised to din Edward Clariss as the Rival facing him. Clariss reveals to Barry that he remembers everything from the previous timeline and realizes that he was the one that changed his life. Now, he believes he can return to the life he wanted. The two race throughout the city until Barry knocks him aside at full speed. However, Clariss escapes being caught as an unseen man watches them fight.
Back at STAR Labs, Caitlin analyzes a substance found on the scene. While she doesn’t find traces of dark matter from the particle accelerator, she traces elements of the Speed Force. In addition, she discovers a connection between the husk and the DNA in that they both belong to Edward Clariss whom Barry already knows. Before Barry can explain, Iris takes him aside to talk in the hall.
Iris reveals that, through infiltrating street camera, she watched his confrontation with the Rival and learned that Barry changed something in the timeline. She argues that unless he tells her truth they cannot hope to continue their relationship. Barry admits that he changed the timeline but decides to do something about it for good by going back once again.
As Barry runs through the Speed Force, he is pulled out by none other than Jay Garrick, the man who watched his battle. Taking him to Central City 1998, he talks with Barry about his choice to go back in time. Jay also reveals that Harry filled him in on Barry’s situation in losing his parents as well as him being a doppelganger of Henry Allen. While he understands Barry’s reasons for changing the past, he advises against doing it from his own personal experiences. As a fellow speedster, Jay admits that even if he were to go back, there will always be consequences that he cannot fix. To be a true hero, Jay advise Barry to move forward from his mistakes rather than continuously fixing the past.
Jay: We're not gods. We're men.
Barry returns to STAR Labs and explains the situation behind the Flashpoint Paradox. From this, the team then learn that their lives were entirely different, though Edward Clariss managed to regain his powers from a previous timeline. However, from this explanation, Cisco grows angrier at Barry for changing the timeline to try and save his parents despite refusing to save Dante and storms off.
Barry then confronts Cisco in his lab as he constructs devices for his own powers. Barry admits to trying to save his parents but emphasizes that going back in time can only make things worse. Cisco refuses to listen, believing that he would prefer a world with his brother alive, but Barry continues to apologize, echoing Jay’s words on moving forward in life.
To help with that, Barry looks into Edward Clariss by requesting file reports from Julian. Though Julien doesn’t want to help Barry, he gives in when Barry specifically asks for Clariss. The file, however, reveals that the husk for Clariss likely came from a different location despite being found on the waterfront. With this location, Barry then tracks down the Rival. Unfortunately, he also comes face to face with the masked figure.
As Barry continues to fight, Iris defends Barry’s choices, reminding the others that they have also made poor choices for those they care about deeply. Caitlin also defends Barry’s choices in keeping his changes a secret and quickly discovers Barry in trouble through his systems on comms.
Without help from Kid Flash, Barry is helpless against the figure who calls himself Alchemy. With his abilities, he claims to want to prepare the world to unlock their true potential. The Rival then destroys Barry’s comms, preventing him from communicating with the team. Fortunately, the team can still track his location which is just one block away from the lab. Cisco then uses his technology to amplify his abilities, and, together, the Flash and Vibe take down the Rival.
However, no one at STAR Labs can ascertain who the masked figure, dubbed Dr. Alchemy by Cisco, is as Barry does not even recognize him from the previous timeline. Even worse, he seems to be able to give powers to meta-humans who existed in previous timelines, explaining while Clariss didn’t leave traces of dark matter. With four other husks found, they may have four additional villains to face. In light of this turn of events, the team also reveal to Barry that they do not wish to know about their lives before their change, satisfied in moving forward. With that, Iris agrees to have dinner with Joe, and Cisco considers the possibility of working with Barry in the field. Before he leaves, Barry thanks Caitlin for staying onboard, remarking that she seems to be the only one unchanged from the paradox. Unseen by Barry, however, is Caitlin’s new cold powers, reminiscent of Killer Frost.
Back at the police station, Julian confronts Barry over the recent capture of the Rival who was placed in Iron Heights. With the recent capture by the Flash, Julian wonders why Barry was so curious about Edward Clariss’s file. Barry insists that there is no connection, but Julian believes that Barry stole the original sample to find Clariss in the first place. From this, Julian admits that the reason he does not like Barry is because he does not trust him.
Barry then meets with Iris on the porch of the West house. She admits that the dinner with Joe went well, though they have no leftovers for Barry. He asks how she feels about what’s she learned of the timeline, but she admits that all she needs to know is that he is Barry and she is Iris. Knowing that, she believes they will always find each other. They then finally share a kiss without a reversed timeline.
Meanwhile, at Iron Heights, Clariss hears the voice of Dr. Alchemy telling him he failed. An arm then reaches out and pulls him down off-screen.
- Iris references the time Cisco told Captain Cold's secret identity which occurred in episode 16 "Rogue Time."
- Dr. Alchemy is targeting people who previously had powers in the other timeline. Could this include Wally as well?
- Though Dr. Alchemy spoke with Clariss, a new arm seems to grab at him in the final scene. Could this be Savitar?
- In 1998, the television at the diner plays an episode of Dawson's Creek. Greg Berlanti who works as a writer and producer of The Flash also worked on Dawson's Creek.
Photo Credit: CW/DC