At the beginning of the second season for the hit CW show The Flash, Barry Allen stands alone in a deteriorating S.T.A.R. Labs. His team has disintegrated and he works alone to help repair Central City after it was nearly destroyed by a black hole (see the end of season 1). In saving the city, two dear friends were lost in selfless sacrifice and their deaths are something Barry can’t forgive himself for.
As the season came to its end, and after undergoing even more tragedy in fighting the evil Zoom, a distraught Barry Allen ran back in time to the night of his mom’s murder and prevented it from happening. He had suffered enough pain.
For the fans, this was an exciting twist since it meant thefamous Flashpoint storyline from the comics would play out on the show. But from a character standpoint, this was a surprising move on Barry’s part. Only a few episodes before, Barry, while trapped in the Speed Force, learned he needed to accept his mom’s death. But with his dad’s murder at the hands of Zoom, the heroic and hopeful Flash cracked and tried to undo his tragic past.
Many fans noted how dark the season was in general, afraid the show was losing its cheery tone. But I believe through all the heartache Flash and his team suffer through, the showrunners had a point they wanted us to learn from Mr. Allen: to be a great hero, you must accept tragedy. Barry didn’t do this, and I think we’re supposed to acknowledge his poor decision.
As the Flash, Barry has a unique ability in toying with time to fix mistakes. It’s a wish I’m sure we’ve all had before. If only I can go back to such-and-such year and say this to so-and-so and avoid what happened instead! But as we’ve seen on The Flash already, playing with time may correct one mistake and create a host of other headaches.
I imagine we’ll see this amplified in the coming season. Perhaps the world is falling apart and facing destruction; maybe a different type of tragedy strikes Barry’s life; perhaps old friends are now distant strangers. The possibilities are endless, but it’s likely, no matter what happens, Barry’s decision to radically alter time will bring more hurt than healing.
We can’t time-travel (yet), so we don’t have the luxury of playing with the past. That doesn’t stop us completely, though. We all have tragedies that have happened in our lives, whether personally, in the family, or as a nation. The tendency is to mourn for a short while and then move on as quickly as possible. We bury our past/our pain beneath entertainment, work, or any other excuse we find. Everyone hits a point where they can take no more.
As understandable as that is, it’s not healthy. What makes the Flash a superhero is the tragedy he’s endured. What makes us better humans is facing pain and standing up to misfortune. In the case of Barry Allen at the end of season 2 of The Flash, we would do better to learn from his mistake rather than follow his example.
What did you think of The Flash Season 2? Let me know in the comments below!
An up-and-coming writer who blogs weekly at jrunderdown.wordpress.com and published a novel (“Plethora”) independently on Amazon.