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Wednesday, 26 April 2017

The Flash S3E19: The Once and Future Flash

The Flash
Series 3, Episode 19
The Once and Future Flash.

"Oh, wow," said I, and also probably everyone going into this episode. "At last the wait is over and we're going to find out who Savitar is. This is going to be swell."

It was not swell. We did not find out who Savitar is, and honestly, that would be so much less irritating if we didn't have the massive hiatus beforehand. Honestly, I was jumping at shadows for most of this episode: I thought it was Cisco at first, then I thought it might be Barry, then Ronnie, then back around to Cisco or Barry -- and HR still isn't off the hook, since he and Savitar share so many verbal tics.

But this episode doesn't give us an answer, and honestly, it barely even hints at one. All we know by the end of the episode is that Barry's going to be 'surprised' when he learns, and that it's somebody who Caitlin trusts absolutely. Oh, and that it's somebody shocking enough to Wally that the horror of it (plus having his spine shattered) made him catatonic. A lot of people are rightly unhappy about this, and the consolation prize of 'you'll find out next week' doesn't do much to ease that, especially since there's always the possibility we won't find out at all next week anyway.

Top and Mirror Master, demonstrating that they are truly the most Z-list of Flash villains.

This week's episode sees Caitlin fleeing STAR Labs as Killer Frost, while Barry runs eight years into the future to try to uncover Savitar's identity. Arriving there, he finds little information on Savitar, instead discovering that after Iris' death, the team fell apart. Barry became a hermit living in STAR Labs, Cisco lost his hands and thus his ability to vibe, Wally's spine was shattered and he was rendered catatonic, Caitlin was imprisoned, and Julian, Joe, and HR all went their separate ways. At Cisco's urging, Barry tries to unite the team again, hoping to take down Mirror Master. In the process, though, he acquires a lead which may be instrumental in taking Savitar down.

Oddly, that lead isn't the little device Cisco used to sap Barry's speed. Honestly, the show has introduced so many ways of draining a speedster's speed by now that I'm surprised they aren't throwing themselves into research to just slow Savitar down. Hell, given the tech we've been shown so far, I wouldn't be surprised if it was possible for them to create a space where nobody had super-speed.

But no, the lead is instead future Barry giving Barry some kind of drive with the data on the Speed Force trap that he used on Savitar, so that Barry might possibly be able to produce it early and use that -- which is good, but if he can't catch Savitar in the first place, is going to be pretty useless.

Barry's red jacket is really nice. Looks comfy.

The rest of the episode is mostly just a gallery of torments for Barry -- almost unrealistically so. Am I really meant to believe that eight years on, Barry would still be a hermit hiding out in the husk of STAR Labs? He's not the first person in the world to lose the love of his life, after all, and most people don't respond by living in an underground lab for eight years. At the very least, they become hermits in their flats and/or houses.

Obviously, the manner in which Iris died, and the aftermath -- given what happens to Caitlin, Cisco, and Wally -- is very traumatic, but it still doesn't feel very believable to me, and I think a lighter touch would have worked better. Instead of having Barry isolating himself in STAR Labs, have him living and working in another city altogether -- separated from all the things that remind him of Iris, and refusing to be the Flash, and maybe working a dead-end job somewhere. Have him be isolated, but in a less melodramatic, Phantom of the Opera way. Ultimately, that would make his decision to become the Flash again more meaningful, since he'd be giving something up: He'd be sacrificing a life that, while maybe not happy, is secure and safe and keeps him insulated from everything that happened with Savitar.

Joe's scarf also looks pretty snug.

Similarly, I think it's odd that we never really find out what Cisco's doing. He plays the Virgil to Barry's Dante in this episode, but beyond that, he doesn't seem to really have a life: Is he working at another company now? Did he reunite with Gypsy at all? If the show wants me to sympathise with Cisco's need to get the team back together, I need to have some glimpse into what his life is actually like, beyond just 'sad and handless.'

Overall, I didn't hate the episode, but it was something of a disappointment, and at the end of it, I didn't really feel like we had gained anything -- Barry, obviously, gained a potential means to stopping Savitar, but we the audience come away basically empty-handed, with neither an impactful plot to keep us entertained nor any new developments on the mystery front.

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