Series 3, Episode 23
So, I said last week that there was still the possibility of Iris coming back, and HR would somehow be involved in her doing so -- but what I didn't catch on to (but plenty of other fans did) was that HR could have taken her place. Well done, internet, for figuring that one out. Truth be told, until I saw those theories online, I had completely forgotten that HR even had technology for changing his face.
This episode opens with it being revealed that HR swapped places with Iris, letting Savitar kill him in her stead. With the timeline changed, and Savitar's creation no longer a part of it, Savitar only has a matter of hours before the paradox -- manifesting, of course, as Black Flash, the zombie Hunter Zolomon that the Speed Force has drafted as its executioner -- catches up with him and erases him. Capturing Cisco, he commands him to turn the Speed Bazooka into a quantum splicer, which would scatter him across time, rendering him omnipotent and omnipresent. Meanwhile, Barry decides to take a new tactic against Savitar, and Julian finds a cure for Caitlin.
So, I feel like I should have been upset with HR dying, but as with Iris' death last week, I just sort of felt nothing at all. It was there, it happened, but I don't feel like either I or the show really lost anything because of it -- and that's not just because there'll almost certainly be a Wells next series (it's implied by the end of this episode that it'll be Earth-2 Harry Wells), but also because none of this third series has managed to rouse any kind of emotion out of me.
|Cisco and his glowy sunglasses.|
Hell, even the characters didn't seem that bothered by it. It's not so much that HR's death is forgotten, so much as that, with the exception of Cisco, nobody seems to be all that concerned by it: They're a little sad, and then they move on, until such a time as the episode needs to bring it up again to try (and fail) to make the main cast sad.
But 'weirdly wasted potential' is practically this episode's mainstay. A little way into the episode, we're presented with the idea of Savitar coming into the fold at STAR Labs, and the team figuring out both how to save him from the paradox, and how to cope with him living among them. It's an interesting concept, but it gets cut off at the knees in a bafflingly undramatic fashion: Savitar leaves (in the midst of a slightly fraught but more or less normal conversation), and about six seconds later everyone realises that he's trying to blow up STAR Labs. There's no punch to it, no dramatic weight, it's just a thing that happens, and it never really gets brought up again after that.
Similarly, Savitar's plan -- which hinges on Cisco just apparently being able to convert the Speed Bazooka into a machine that will turn Savitar into a god -- is threatening, but will obviously never be followed through on. I almost feel like a more compelling way to end the episode would have been to have Savitar succeed at the last moment, setting up series four to be a battle between Team Flash and a literal god. That could have been pretty compelling: What limits would Savitar have as a god? What would his goals be? And so on, and so forth.
Instead, it's like the writers couldn't quite decide how to defeat Savitar. We get a short running fight scene of him versus Barry, Wally, and Jay (which is weird, because despite Savitar previously being so fast he could literally appear all across the city at once, they can all mostly keep up with him) which is over almost as soon as it starts, followed by Barry phasing into his suit, and then followed by Iris shooting him. I like the idea of Iris shooting him, but the three versus one fight just felt kind of pointless, and the Barry phasing into his suit was over pretty quickly too.
|Evil dream team.|
Perhaps part of the reason everything in this episode is so rushed is because they had to leave time for the unforeseen consequences section of the proceedings -- a Speed Force storm that threatens to destroy the world unless Barry goes to Speedster Heaven to atone for his crimes. While he names Wally as the new Flash, and there's an air of finality to the whole thing, it's pretty obvious that it won't be more than a few episodes before he returns. Twelve at the absolute maximum.
Still, this was an okay-ish episode in a series that has been more or less consistently okay-ish. Definitely the worst series of The Flash, but also considerably better than, say, Arrow's third series, so there's hope for this show yet.