at the end of The Flash Season 2, fans were thrown into a flurry of speculation. For months we’ve been wondering what this means for the other shows — an entire timeline reset was sure to have huge implications for the entire fictional universe, right?
Now, we have some answers about this, and it seems as though the DC TV showrunners might be taking the easy way out when it comes to Legends of Tomorrow, a show that revolves around time travel.
As Greg Berlanti revealed at the Television Critics Association press tour, Flashpoint will mostly be confined to The Flash Season 3, with some knock-on effects in Arrow Season 5. Because Supergirl takes place in another universe, that Earth won’t be affected by the timeline reset at all. Legends of Tomorrow will be similarly unaffected — but not for the reasons you might expect.
Let’s face it: Time travel is confusing. This is probably due to the fact that it is theoretically impossible, so all the theories on how it could work are all based on a combination of guesswork and philosophical/scientific thought experiments that are lengthy at best and convoluted at worst. Which is why you have to take a lot of time travel romps with a pinch of salt, and let the pseudo-science jargon flow over your head. But when one fictional universe has several conflicting theories of time travel, that’s when things start to get a little aggravating.
By rights, Barry Allen’s decision to save his mother should have dissolved the Legends entirely, because Rip Hunter recruited the team as a direct result of several events in The Flash Season 2.
Of course, we couldn’t expect Flashpoint to just erase an entire show from The CW’s lineup, so the Legends had to escape the reset somehow. We previously theorized that this could be — their physical location outside the timeline would allow the changes to flow around them. But Berlanti’s explanation flies in the face of the team’s entire mission in Season 1… and Season 2, for that matter.
“The Legends are dealing with an unmovable timeline that they’re working on week to week until they make their first appearance back on the show in the crossovers.”
It’s the phrase “unmovable timeline” that really has us nitpicking. First of all, there’s no way the timeline can be both “unmovable” and also subject to butterfly-effect changes like .
This is a basic idea of causality vs alternate timelines: Either time is already determined, with all time travel resulting in events we already knew would happen, or changes to the timeline cause it to fracture off into an alternate version of events. Think Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azakan time travel vs Back to the Future.
The causality theory is very rarely used in time travel stories, because it doesn’t allow for any kind of tension, if we know any accidents the time travelers make will result in everything falling exactly into place. Up until this point, the DC TV shows have operated on a theory of a flexible timeline, which is why Rip recruited the Legends in the first place, hoping to kill Vandal Savage and change the course of Earth’s future, as the timeline “solidified” (which is my new favorite quote about time travel, courtesy of Legends).
What Does This Mean For The Show?
Obviously, the timeline isn’t suddenly going to become “unmovable” for the Legends — it seems more likely that Berlanti was just throwing out a reason for them to be unaffected, which is probably because they’re protected by the Waverider.
Nit picking theories of time travel aside, basically this means that the Legends won’t be dealing with Flashpoint, which is a shame. There’s no way a huge change like this wouldn’t show up on the Waverider’s scanners, and Rip would certainly have some strong words to say to Barry about the dangers of changing the timeline. After all, Barry’s reset will have erased the Legends killing Vandal Savage in 2016 (but not in the two other eras they killed him).
It seems most likely that the showrunners are trying to avoid Flashpoint from getting out of control and having a huge impact on the other shows. Which is a shame, as Legends of Tomorrow is a show about time travel, and this seems like it would be the perfect opportunity to get them involved. But at the end of the day, while time is not linear, storytelling has to be, and trying to work around that can make everything just too convoluting and confusing — much like the theories of time travel itself.
But there is one major way that Flashpoint may affect the Legends, and that’s through the return of Captain Cold.
It was recently revealed that for Legends Season 2, with a team comprised of Malcolm Merlyn, Damien Darhk, the Reverse Flash, and Captain Cold. Considering Leonard Snart’s slow journey of redemption in Legends Season 1 culminated in his self-sacrifice to save his friends, Captain Cold’s inclusion was surprising to say the least. Unless we take Flashpoint into account.
If the Legends are protected from the timeline reset in the Waverider, this could make them all time remnants, because if The Flash Season 2 never happened, none of them would have been recruited by Rip. Therefore, the team could have duplicates in the Flashpoint version of the timeline — a Sara Lance who remained in Star City after her resurrection, a Firestorm who continued to be a superhero in Central City, etc. So the Captain Cold who joined the Legion of Doom may very well be a Flashpoint-created duplicate of Leonard Snart. And that’s sure to cause some friction with the team.
Basically, despite Berlanti’s claim that the Legends will be unaffected by Flashpoint, it seems inevitable that they will be affected in some way, unless the showrunners want to throw all time travel theories out the window completely. Which is possible. We’ll just have to wait and see to find out, but with the exciting plot possibilities, here’s hoping that Flashpoint does have some affect on the Legends, if only to introduce them to a more villainous version of one of their team-mates.
Do you think this Captain Cold is a post-Flashpoint duplicate? Let us know in the comments!
MP staff writer. I talk about superheroes a lot. Sometimes I’m paid for it.