Series 3, Episode 15
The Wrath of Savitar.
I admit, despite my reservations about Savitar, they've set up some interesting time travel shenanigans here. Savitar is from the future, but the near future, meaning that Barry and company will see his origins either this series or next series, thus creating a potential situation where they get to know Savitar now, and then they create him and send him into the future, and then they have their confrontation with Savitar from the future.
He's also obviously HR.
I didn't realise it until this episode -- the sheer loathing Savitar directs at HR for his cowardice, far in excess of what he says to anyone else, paralleling HR's own remarks that he's a coward; the foreshadowing of HR finding Savitar intensely scary; Savitar's propensity for performativeness; and the fact that Savitar and HR are the only people to call Wally 'Wallace,' all tipped me off. HR is going to become Savitar.
It makes a lot of sense, too. Savitar is intimately familiar with the STAR Labs team, as HR is, and his plan hinges on Wally getting faster -- something he knows Wally will do, because he's already experienced that as HR, and was instrumental in training him.
That's not to say that HR is evil -- he's not -- but at some point in the future, I think the allure of speed is going to be too great and he'll use the Stone to grant himself speed, turning into Savitar, before Barry (quite possibly distraught and not in his right mind) sends him into the Speed Force, where he'll go mad. All of which points at the idea that, actually, maybe Iris really will die this series.
I do hope she doesn't, though. I really like Iris.
|Thou art a villain, sir.|
Anyway, this week's episode sees Wally suffering from hallucinations of Savitar. As Wally becomes more and more distressed, the team discovers that Caitlin kept a piece of the Stone -- before quickly realising that Savitar is trapped in the Speed Force, and that the fact that Caitlin kept part of the Stone is the only reason he hasn't already escaped. As Wally hits breaking point, however, he steals the Stone, with disastrous results. Meanwhile, Barry and Iris suffer problems when Iris realised he only proposed to her because she wasn't wearing a ring in the future, and he thought he could change it.
Regular readers of this ongoing will know that I have a pretty hair-trigger rage switch when it comes to interpersonal drama in television, since far too often it comes across as a banal attempt to string out audience emotions with a minimum of effort (see the entirety of Supernatural), and this episode is 75% interpersonal drama. We've got Barry not trusting Wally, Wally angry at Barry, Iris and Joe angry at Barry who's been lying to both of them, Julian angry with everyone, Julian angry with Caitlin, and Caitlin lying to everyone.
But actually, the episode handles all of that really well. Barry gets a few moments where he acts like an asshole despite the fact that the show clearly doesn't want you to view him that way, but apart from that, I'm pretty okay with most of this interpersonal drama. It makes sense for Caitlin to lie to everyone, it makes sense for Julian to be angry at her (and also everyone else, to an extent), and when Wally discovers the truth of Barry and Iris' engagement, it makes sense for him to be angry. It even makes perfect logical sense for Barry not to trust Wally, even though he goes about it in kind of an abrupt way.
|Tom Felton looks so old. When did he age? I didn't clear this.|
That's key, because the foundation of this episode is interpersonal conflict. There is no physical threat for the heroes to face this week, no metahuman causing havoc that they have to work their way around (well, there's Savitar, but his superpower this week literally is 'causing interpersonal conflict'), so had those conflicts been badly handled, the episode would have had nothing else to offer. Luckily, it manages to pull it off.
This episode also gives us a few really solidly tense moments as the team talk to Savitar through Julian, which are easily the highlights of the episode, and it builds to an atmospheric and ultimately somewhat -- somewhat because Savitar's return was revealed in trailers, but Wally getting brutally lightning-sucked into the Speed Force was not -- shocking ending.
|The glasses are nice, I like them.|
The result is that this episode solidly kicks us off to the 'high octane action' segment of the story, and is very reminiscent of the start of this stretch of episodes in series two -- a sequence of episodes that ramp up tension repeatedly and often quite brutally.
Next week, The Flash is apparently going full Silent Hill as Barry enters the Speed Force to save Wally -- except, you know, Savitar's already told us that someone has to replace whoever leaves that prison, so either Barry or Jesse is going to end up staying, and given how little the show seems to want to use Jesse, I'm not enjoying her chances there.