I started watching The Flash some weeks back. I don’t want to go into the merits of the show as such, as I don’t want to spend any time on a lengthy analysis. Suffice to say that I needed something to have on in the background. But when I came to the season two episode Flash Back, I got royally ticked off.
Flash had, thus far, travelled back through time on a couple of occasions, so that was nothing new. He just runs at Mach 2 (which is twice the speed of sound, not of light. And even with the “speed force” it seems ludicrously slow for time travel, but whatever. They should have Barry slingshot around the sun and cold start his warp drive. And how did this parenthesis get so long?)
Anyway, he runs at Mach two, sees some mirror-Flash, ends up back in time, and then is Barry X hours ago. Ending up in past!Barry’s body, apparently.
Not so this time, though. This time around, he travels back physically and future!Barry has to deal with past!Barry. All just to add some more drama with the two eventually meeting, as well as shots with two Grant Gustin’s in frame (because that hasn’t grown old since the 60s)?
Not quite, it’s even worse! The writers decided right in the middle of the second season that they want their time-travel to work completely differently all of a sudden. There had been no need for ‘two-way’ time-travel back in time and then forward again, “back to the future” so to speak. huh, well-sounding turn of phrase, that.
Because he could not really travel back to the time he originated from, everything that had gone wrong up to the point future!Barry departs is erased from existence and we have a nice, handy Deus-ex-Reset-Button, negating all chances for future drama ever again, which is one of the reasons The Flash got demoted to ‘on in the background’ in the first place. Voyager broke my heart and now I have trust issues with reset buttons!
Now that time-travel is supposed to provide a way to learn from the past, future!Barry needs a way to get back to his own time (and be surprised by the alterations to it, of course). So, simply taking past!Barry’s place forever isn’t possible anymore.
I used to hate that Seven Days back in the late 90s never once addressed the question what happens to Frank Parker’s past selves when he travels back the titular seven days. There were only ever to posibilities.
A) he replaces past!Parker and for everybody else every time-jump is the first one, or
B) he doesn’t, and since there is only one Frank Parker around, there is an unmarked mass-grave Frank Parker’s, all shot neatly in the head.
From all the clues, both possibilities could be ruled out as wrong, but nothing was ever said about it or even hinted at on screen. Now that The Flash showed me how to botch time-travel even worse, I miss the days of Seven Days.