Series 3, Episode 20
I Know Who You Are.
You know, it's a bold move, to advertise over a several week hiatus that you're going to reveal the identity of your main villain, not reveal the identity of your main villain, and then immediately start hinging all your advertising for the next episode on 'but we're really going to reveal our villain's identity this time.' I almost expected Savitar's armour to open to reveal another, smaller set of armour beneath it, or for the camera not to show us who he actually is, just Barry's reaction.
Luckily, it didn't do that, and we do actually get to find out Savitar's identity? Was it shocking? Were we surprised and alarmed?
Well, if social media is anything to go by, apparently at least a few people were.
This episode sees the team hunting down Tracy Brand, currently a failed grad student, to get her to create her Speed Force prison four years early. While they find her, a wrench is thrown into their plans when Caitlin appears and attempts to kill Tracy. As the team tries to keep Tracy away from Caitlin -- who is now armed with Savitar's knowledge of what they'll all do -- Cisco struggles with whether he should use his powers against Caitlin, as he fears he might accidentally kill her with them.
By and large, this is actually a really strong episode. The whole episode hinges on us sympathising with two characters: Cisco, which is an easy sell because we already know and love him, and we've seen his relationship with Caitlin over three series, so it's not difficult to get us to sympathise with him; and Tracy, who's a new character, and who thus requires a bit more work on the part of the writers. They do a good job, though, committing a lot of episode time to fleshing out her motivations and doubts, and endearing us to her. There's something quite Felicity-ish about how she's written, which isn't a bad tack for the writers to get: Felicity is basically universally beloved by fans, after all.
|This is just a great promo image.|
Sympathising with characters is crucial for any story, but it's not necessarily easy to sell a story that rests entirely on a character introduced mere episodes before the end of the series -- and while the story has a physical threat to up the stakes (Caitlin in full Killer Frost mode), that physical threat is never really central to the story. It is, indeed, made clear very early on that Cisco could defeat Caitlin if he tried, so any tension regarding Killer Frost turns squarely to 'will Cisco take that step, or will he continue being terrified that he might accidentally kill her.'
The big thing that the episode was marketed on, however, was us finally learning who Savitar is -- which doesn't happen until the last five minutes of the episode, and prior to that isn't even presented as a major conflict within the story.
With Barry putting together everything people have said so far, he finds Savitar and reveals that he knows that Savitar is -- spoiler alert -- a future version of himself. Given that Future Barry was, at the time the episode aired, the main theory among fans, this didn't come as a shock to a lot of people, although I have seen a few people who were apparently totally surprised by it.
|Not the faces of two happy bunnies.|
Weirdly, I've seen a lot of people saying that they hope Savitar is a time remnant of Barry, not Barry himself, and I don't get that. Why would you want to take the most interesting part of this storyline -- Barry having to come to terms with the idea that he might, one day, go crazy enough to want to kill Iris, that he's not immune from going dark -- and effectively strip that away so that we're left with 'oh no, it's not really Barry, though. It's like, Diet Barry," ? What an utterly baffling thing to want.
There are three episodes left in the series, and what will be really interesting to see is how the writers use the characters now knowing that Barry becomes Savitar: After all, this is the latest they've left one of these reveals. In series one, we knew for a fact that Wells was the Reverse-Flash by episode nine, and the characters knew by the end of episode nineteen. In the second series, we knew that Jay was Zoom by episode fifteen, and the characters knew by episode sixteen. This time, the writers haven't left themselves very many episodes to work with.
Next episode, it looks like the characters are hoping to neutralise Savitar's knowledge of what they'll do by stopping Barry from forming new memories, meaning that they can keep him updated on what they need to do, but Savitar won't be able to remember any of it -- only for something to go wrong and for Barry to lose his memories altogether. That's interesting, but it seems more comedic than I was expecting the next episode to be.
We'll see what happens, I suppose.