By BGN Guest Blogger Jahkotta Lewis
Team Flash Tries to Find Hope in a Dark Future
The Once and Future Flash (03 x 19)
As Iris West’s future death looms on the horizon, Barry Allen makes the decision to travel to the future to uncover Savitar’s identity. Barry’s past experiences with time travel have proven to be disastrous, to say the least, so will his visit to the future be equally catastrophic? This is the question that was no doubt on many fans’ minds as Barry traveled to the year 2024 in “The Once and Future Flash.” Though his presence in the future was surprisingly benign, the future itself was a mess and showed the viewers just how screwed up the world would be if Savitar succeeded in murdering Iris West.
The future sucks, at least for Central City and its heroes. When Barry Allen speeds his way to the year 2024 to uncover Savitar’s identity, he finds himself in a city that has lost all hope. The Central City of the future is gloomy and dreary and riddled with villains. There is no Team Flash to protect its citizens and with the likes of Mirror Master roaming about, things are bleak. Apparently, after Iris West met her demise at the hands of Savitar, Team Flash disbanded and everyone went their separate ways to grieve, process, and basically exist in perpetual gloom.
The first person Barry Allen comes across in the future is Cisco Ramon. Cisco is ecstatic to see his friend again and is convinced that Barry is the key to getting Team Flash back together. The future Cisco is grounded, hopeful, and super stoked to see Barry, embracing him upon his arrival. Barry, who still hasn’t figured out just how screwed up the future is for his friends, asks to see his future self so that he can question him about Savitar. With Cisco’s help, Barry meets Emo Barry; a severely depressed, angst-filled, heartbroken and long-haired version of himself. Bad wigs aside, Grant Gustin does a spectacular job playing the defeated scarlet speedster of the future and it was enjoyable to watch the surly interactions between Emo Barry and present Barry.
Emo Barry turns out to be incredibly unhelpful in the first portion of the episode. He doesn’t know who Savitar is and he doesn’t know how to save Iris West. Instead, he spends most the episode moping around a dilapidated Star Labs as present Barry discovers just how bad things have gotten for his friends. Bad is an understatement in this future and it’s interesting to see just how intrinsic Iris West was to a happy and healthy future. Her death caused Wally to go after Savitar by himself, resulting in him becoming catatonic and wheelchair bound. Cisco lost his powers after a battle with Killer Frost and is reminded of his defeat by the presence of his cybernetic hands. An imprisoned Killer Frost is as evil as ever and taunts her former friends. Julian is paunchy and tired having dedicated his life to figuring out how to cure Caitlin of her frosty personality. Joe West is absolutely destroyed by the death of his daughter and is no longer on speaking terms with Emo Barry. And finally, H.R., who seems to be the only one who has a semi-excellent life, is a successful author.
The best interactions between present Barry and the future versions of his teammates is between him and Cisco. As usual, Carlos Valdes kicks ass as Cisco and he does an excellent job of portraying an older and wiser version of the character. Future Cisco functions as a beacon of hope and though he lacks his vibing powers, Cisco Ramon truly has the heart of a superhero.
This episode had all the elements to be super depressing, kind of like the Zoom episodes of previous seasons. Yet, it wasn’t. As sad as it was that Iris didn’t exist in this future and Caitlin Snow being a supervillain, seeing the friendship and emotional performances by the cast was welcomed. The only real issue with the episode was the fact that Savitar’s identity wasn’t revealed to anyone but Killer Frost.
After present Barry gets the future version of Team Flash back together, he returns to the present with knowledge of the exact date of Iris West’s death (May 23, also the season finale), the episode ends with Killer Frost meeting face to face with Savitar. At this point, Killer Frost is still on the fence about whether she wants to be on Team Savitar. It isn’t until Savitar powers down his chrome suit and steps out of it (this is done partially off camera) revealing himself to her does Killer Frost pledge her loyalty to him. Though Savitar’s identity isn’t revealed to viewers this episode, this scene sheds some light on who could be behind the chrome speedster’s mask. Firstly, whoever stepped out of the suit must be someone Caitlin knew prior to becoming Killer Frost as she seems to recognize Savitar. Secondly, Savitar must be someone she trusts as she doesn’t blink an eye prior to agreeing to help him with his machinations. These two clues suggest that Savitar is someone that is very close to Team Flash or is someone that was part of Caitlin’s life prior to her transformation.
There are several hypotheses floating around the web regarding Savitar’s identity, the first being that someone on Team Flash is Savitar, namely Barry Allen. This would be a disastrous outcome it Savitar indeed happens to be the future Barry Allen as present Barry would have to deal with the emotional guilt of being responsible for the loss of his love, Iris. The second theory suggests that it’s someone from Caitlin’s personal life that was impacted by Flash Point. A good guess for the latter theory is Caitlin’s deceased husband; Ronnie Raymond.
All in all, this episode of The Flash was entertaining but it’s high time that the show’s writers bite the bullet and reveal Savitar’s identity. It’s time for the narrative to move beyond the mystery of the Speed God. Hopefully, all will be revealed next episode.
Savitar Revealed on the Flash (Finally)
I Know Who You Are (03 x 20)
It took nearly an entire season to reveal the identity of Savitar, but it finally happened during the last half of “I Know Who You Are.” Was it who fans expected it to be? Likely. Is it the right direction for the show? Well, that remains to be seen. Does the reveal make sense? Absolutely, and here’s why…
Are you ready? Drum roll, please…Savitar is Barry Allen! Well, Barry from the future. This Barry is a whole different creature from present Barry or even Emo Barry. He takes delight in tormenting his former friends and spends most of the episode watching from the sidelines as the newly recruited Killer Frost battles it out with Team Flash. The episode never explains why this Barry went dark or why he feels the desire to kill the woman that once meant everything to him, Iris West. This Barry Allen is set on hurting everyone that ever cared about him, and Grant Gustin once again does a good job of playing different versions of the character. From his maniacal smirks to his egomaniac ranting; Gustin nails the few seconds of Savitar Barry that was introduced to audiences this episode.
The big reveal wasn’t terribly surprising. After the “Once and Future Flash” aired, it became obvious that the chrome baddie originated from Team Flash. Killer Frost’s reaction last episode said it all; she knew and trusted whoever stepped out of the Savitar suit. While it would have been interesting if Savitar had been her former lover, Ronnie Raymond, the clues dropped during the duration of the season said otherwise. From the Savitar possessed Julian repeatedly telling the team, “I am the future, Flash,” to Savitar’s prophetic rants about individual teammate’s futures, the clues always pointed to Barry.
While Future Barry as Savitar makes sense, what doesn’t make sense is why he’s so set on killing his former love, Iris. The fact that he is just itching to impale Candice Patton’s Iris makes you wonder: Is the present Iris West part of a relationship that will eventually be defined by domestic violence? Is the future Barry beating his wife, becoming so deranged and violent that he’s willing to go to the past to murder her? Does this mean that Iris can never truly feel safe around her love for fear that he will one day look at her with murderous intent? How will Iris proceed regarding their relationship knowing that Barry has the capacity to commit murder, her murder specifically? It’s a provocative question but likely won’t be addressed in the series. This is the CW after all, and while there’s plenty of drama to go around, it seems unlikely that a show like The Flash will tackle domestic violence in a superhero setting.
Which brings us to our next question; why and how did Savitar Barry become so evil? An interesting thought came to mind while reviewing the episode and that was, what if present Barry isn’t really “our” Barry Allen. Think about it. In one of the crossover episodes with Legends of Tomorrow, a message was sent to the present from Future Flash asking his superhero peers not to trust Present Barry Allen. This happens after the whole Flash Point ruckus and is never addressed again. What if the Present Barry is a time remnant from that reality and replaced Original Barry during the whole time travel/Flash Point chaos? And what if, because Flash Point didn’t exist anymore, along with the reality that existed before it, the Original Barry was forced to live in some sort of Flash Point Limbo Hell where he remembers all of Present Barry’s experiences? And finally, what if, through some sort of time travel/Speed Force magic he escapes, lives out his life in a bleak Iris-less reality and blames everything on his time remnant (Present Flash), before making it to this reality to make him pay? It’s a pretty wild theory but could explain why Original Barry/Savitar Barry is so pissed off at Present Barry.
There are many Savitar Barry theories floating around out there (time remnant theories seem very popular), but none of them answer the most important question of the season: why would any version of Barry kill Iris? She’s an innocent party no matter how you look at it and Savitar Barry’s desire to kill her is perplexing. At some point he loved this Iris, so why would he murder her?
Poor Iris. It’s scary enough to think that her future husband wants her dead, but it’s even scarier to think that Present Barry obviously has the capacity to hurt her. This is something that Iris is going to have to consider when the truth of Savitar’s identity is revealed to her. Which brings up another theory that’s been discussed extensively on Reddit; what if Savitar is in disguise as Barry and is using the same technology the Reverse Flash used to disguise himself as Harrison Wells seasons ago? This theory would be consistent with the faux identity narrative that the series has followed since its inception. From the Reverse Flash to Zoom; the villains of The Flash love identify theft! Still, this theory doesn’t take into consideration the fact that Savitar knows everything about Team Flash, even their personal conversations. Such knowledge suggests that Savitar was part of these conversations, pointing once again to Barry as the villain of the season. Ugh!
Outside of the Savitar reveal, the focus of “I Know Who You Are” was on the battles between Killer Frost and her former teammates. As Frost attempts to thwart her friends’ efforts to create a Speed Force trap for Savitar Barry, we see the full extent of the Ice Queen’s powers. From frosty hand blasts to surf-worthy arches of ice; there’s no doubt that Frost is the show’s most formable villain this season (outside of Savitar of course). Yet, with all her prowess, Frost can’t seem to follow through with Savitar Barry’s orders; to murder Dr. Brand (speedster trap maker) and harm Team Flash. Frost’s behavior suggests that Caitlin Snow might still be buried somewhere deep down in her icy personal, meaning that there is still hope of getting her back.
Though Frost repeatedly misses her mark with her lethal ice knives during the episode, she’s still a villain and takes the opportunity to stab Present Barry in the leg with a blade of ice. She’s a nemesis and it takes a blast of Cisco’s impressive vibe powers to nullify her. Unfortunately, Team Flash’s victory is short lived and Savitar Barry, who at this point hasn’t revealed himself, reclaims his ice queen, speeding her back to his lair (super curious of where evil Barry hangs out in his off time). It’s soon after this scene that Present Barry figures out that Savitar is him from the future and the two face off at the end of the episode.
The next episode of The Flash will undoubtedly deal with Present Barry informing his team that he’s sort of their enemy. It’s going to be so awkward to watch, especially Iris’ reaction. Hopefully, the next episode explains how Barry became Savitar and what needs to be done to prevent it from happening. Whether this is even possible is questionable, and with any luck, Savitar Barry is just some evil jerk in disguise. Because realistically, you can’t stop someone from being evil. Evil is evil and Barry Allen better not be.
Highlights of the Episode:
- Evil Barry Allen
- H.R.’s flirting skills and infatuation with Dr. Brand.
- Joe West’s Barry Allen reaction to being in love with Cecille.
- Killer Frost’s ice surfing sessions through Central City.
Catch The Flash Tuesdays on the CW!
Jahkotta Lewis is a professional archaeologist, an amateur astronomer, and an aspiring writer. When she is not documenting Pacific Island archaeology, she spends her days hiking through native forests, spelunking within the depths of an active volcano, and watching/reading all things fantasy and science fiction. Follow her on Twitter @jahkotta