If there was one focus of the giant Flash/Arrow/Supergirl/Legends of Tomorrow crossover last night, it was the fact that aliens invaded earth and abducted the president. If there was a second focus, it was that everyone was mad at Barry Allen.
The second one is almost more significant, given how likable Barry normally is, and as Cisco says “it’s like illegal to be mad at Barry or something.” But a large chunk of the guest stars turned up and were upset when they discovered that Barry had altered the timeline by going back to save his mother, then going back again to undo it once he realized things were getting bad, only return to the “correct” timeline and discover that some things were still different.
Iris and Joe weren’t speaking because of drama with Iris’s mother.
Cisco’s brother was killed in an accident.
I’m going to ignore how fundamentally goofy it is that Barry saving and unsaving his mom in a single second somehow changes the gender of someone’s baby or causes a car accident, and just accept that yes, fine, things are different when you time travel and change stuff, however small. But everyone being mad at Barry over this fact is nonsensical to me, and it was really irritating to see a number of characters lambast him for this, chief among them the time-police Legends (who eventually forgave him) and Cisco, who remains mad at Barry, and mad Cisco is a bad Cisco.
Here’s the thing, for the most part, the only person that should be truly affected/scarred by changing the timeline is Barry, who can remember both realities, or people that are effected by the work of Alchemy, who draws on the alternate timeline. But it was sort of ridiculous when someone like Diggle was furious over learning the gender of his baby was changed, when he has literally never known anything different in this timeline. It’s not like he had a baby daughter and suddenly she popped out of existence in his arms and was replaced by a baby boy. It would be like someone telling you that in some alternate timeline you had a brother instead of a sister. Would you be that mad? Would it even matter from your perspective?
The Cisco thing is a decidedly negative event, Dante dying, but again, it’s not as if Barry was racing through time and saw his parents on one track and Cisco’s brother on another and had to choose. This Cisco being mad at Barry for this is being incredibly short-sighted about the entire concept of time travel.
Every time Barry travels back a new timeline is created, split off from the original point, and it’s always going to be different from the original. Saving his mom to create Flashpoint created big changes, while then un-saving her had more minor changes, given that he was trying to keep things close to the original.
But there are a zillions of potential alternate timelines out there. Keep in mind that Barry’s first experience with time travel was to warp back and save everyone he knew from being murdered by Vandal Savage. Saving a bunch of superheroes should have huge ramifications for the timeline, but is that ever discussed? Not at all.
Furthermore, it’s not even clear if Barry’s changes are responsible for stuff that’s happening in present day. Would Caitlyn have manifested powers anyway? Would Wally? Does Dr. Stein having a daughter he can’t remember have to do with Barry’s timeline changes, or his own?
And that’s the thing, I can buy exactly none of this for one reason alone, Legends of Tomorrow. It is extremely hard to believe that Barry Allen is at fault for trying to save his mother and father by time-traveling when the Legends and their adversaries don’t just mess with the timeline, they tear it up and stomp on it on a weekly basis.
I had to laugh when Sarah Lance and Ray were saying “Barry, this is the kind of stuff we’re traveling through history to protect!” Like I get their point is to “protect” the timeline from disruptive events, but even if they do things like prevent the Confederates from winning the Civil War or stop Hitler from nuking New York there are all these scenes of them fighting legions of historical enemies or appearing to kings and Presidents and emperors and what not. There’s one episode where yes, they stop someone from blowing up the Reagan-Russia Cold War summit, but they practically storm the White House with their super-suits and fire powers and ninja skills. Like, how is that not altering the timeline by itself in a massive way? How is Barry crucified for changing and un-changing one thing while they do this every week, and another speedster like Eobard Thawne is literally running wild through history changing more things than anyone could possibly even know?
This is always the problem you get into with time travel-based plotlines, and obviously you are going to find a lot of plot holes unless the matter is handled very carefully in fiction. But I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything play so fast and loose with the rules of time travel like what we’ve seen in the Arrowverse. I’m willing to suspend disbelief most of the time because that’s sort of the goofy nature of the show, but when it becomes a major plot point like what we’re seeing with this recent mass rebellion against Barry and the fact that a character like Cisco is being ruined because of a nonsensical grudge, it’s gone too far.
The only one making any sense this past episode was Oliver Queen, who told Barry anyone would have tried to save their parents, he made a mistake, and he and everyone else has to move on. I 100% endorse all of that, and it’s time for the show to free itself from this awkward rendition of Flashpoint as soon as possible.
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