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Wednesday, 10 May 2017

The Flash S3E21: Cause and Effect

The Flash
Series 3, Episode 21
Cause and Effect

Let's set the scene: We're almost at the end of the series. Caitlin has betrayed the team (if not entirely willingly); Tracy is hard at work on a Speed Force prison for Savitar, but her success could potentially be compromised if Savitar gets wind of it; the deadline for saving Iris looms ever closer; and Savitar's identity has been revealed. We're in the final stretch of the third series now, the episode where the tension hits a fever pitch.

How should we deal with the fallout of the reveal of Savitar's identity? How should we up the stakes and back the heroes into a corner? At this point in the first series, Thawne was finishing his device, and had Eddie in his clutches; and at this point in the second series, Barry was trapped in the Speed Force while Zoom assembled an army of metahumans.

Well, let's have a light-hearted, comedic episode about memory shenanigans.

That's not to say I dislike this episode, but it's oddly jarring to have something so lighthearted inserted this late in the series, especially as it doesn't really have any kind of lasting impact: At the end of the episode, the team is basically at the same point that they were at the beginning, except that now Tracy has finished the Speed Bazooka.

Beginning immediately after episode twenty, this episode sees Savitar explaining how he was a time remnant that Barry created to help defeat Savitar, but that he was rejected by the people closest to him, which combined with his grief over Iris' death, caused him to become Savitar. After Barry relays this back to Team Flash, Cisco has an idea: Prevent Barry from forming new memories, so that Savitar can't remember their plans. When this plan goes wrong, however, wiping Barry's memory completely, the team must scramble to restore Barry's memory -- especially when a noted arsonist, Heat Monger, is freed from prison.

Wally's so pretty.

Okay, so the first hurdle this episode has is convincing me that the others -- Joe, Wally, Cisco, etc, would shun a time remnant version of Barry just because he's not 'the original,' and to be honest, I'm not sure I can believe that. Maybe, maybe you could swing it that they know he's going to become Savitar, since they've been told this story, and maybe I could then buy that Wally wouldn't accept him: But I think Joe and Cisco, at least, would do their best to comfort and stop him from turning evil. Both of them are too warm and too loving to really do anything else.

So, already Savitar's backstory is on shaky ground, and it's not helped by the fact that I really don't like him being a time remnant. It feels like a way of removing any kind of responsibility from Barry, since it's basically the show saying 'oh no, it was my evil double.'

Most of the episode, though, is committed to Barry's memory stuff, and while weirdly light-hearted, it actually was a pretty good episode. Goofy, fun Barry was a breath of fresh air, especially in a relatively grim series, and the dilemma of whether or not Barry should be given back his memories did feel like an actual dilemma, even if we all basically knew exactly how it'd turn out.

Caitlin still going full supervillain.

I've seen other reviewers remarking that the episode feels like a meta-commentary on complaints that this series is too grim, but it didn't really feel like that to me, so much as just a commentary on Barry's identity -- that is, after all, a pretty key concern of the series right now, given Savitar and all.

Having Caitlin show up to help the team out was a nice touch, too, allowing the show to put in some work to justify the inevitable redemption storyline that we know she'll be getting. That said, unless it leaves her redemption for series four, the show doesn't have a lot of time with which to actually redeem her.

Our C-plot is a romance between HR and Tracy, but there's not a lot to actually say about that. It's -- there. It goes from zero to about sixty in about one scene, and ultimately doesn't have an impact on anything. I'm not wild about the pairing, but I'm not against it, either.

It's just not very interesting.

The next episode looks positively jam-packed (just -- just packed with jam) as it will apparently include Barry traveling through time to pick up Leonard Snart, the two of them doing a heist to get the Dominator power core to fuel the Speed Bazooka, Savitar fighting Wally, some kind of dual Vibing with Cisco and Caitlin, and, from the looks of it, the fated day where Savitar is going to try to kill Iris.

It's difficult to imagine how they'll fit so much in one episode, but I look forward to seeing them try.

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