The Flash: The Once and Future Flash

"I need to talk to me. Do you know where he is?"

When Barry reaches the end of his rope, he discovers something sticky at the bottom: the future. Hopeful that a slingshot forward will get him information to help save Iris, he risks the devil he knows to make a deal with the devil he doesn't.

I admit to being somewhat disappointed by this episode — initially. What I was looking for was a lot of action and some reveals about Savitar, the Mysterious Villain. We do know a little more than we used to, but this episode was largely about Barry learning a lesson from himself, and maybe finding a new future in the past. While I still have some criticisms, the episode won my grudging respect by the end. Now I consider the episode a Metaphor for Barry.

When Barry went to the future, instead of answers, he found villains. Mirror Master and Top were there to spin him around (although Barry escaped with a notable roundhouse kick.) All Barry's momentum to the future was taken away from him in the first few minutes. The villains are on top, is the message. With Barry, the villains are almost always ahead of him, and it seems as if he only defeats them with luck and Cisco.


When Barry went to himself for help, he found EmoAnimeBarry. EmoAnimeBarry has spiky hair and clearly enough time on his hands to mold gel, although that might be his superspeed in operation. EmoAnimeBarry is moody and self-centered and recovering emotionally from his failure to help Iris and from the loss of Iris (which are two different things.) EmoAnimeBarry is in fact the kind of Barry most of us have seen in the series by now and who we hate — the kind who stresses and feels guilt instead of taking action. In a way, it's like a Spock/Kirk transporter accident show, because seeing his worst qualities externalized seems to inspire something in Barry.

When Barry goes to his friends for help, he finds the inevitable consequences of being EmoAnimeBarry. It's like a warning from the ghost of Christmas Future. His friends are either injured (poor Cisco!), insane (Poor Wally, so broken. And I'm still trying to figure out what the hell is going on with Caitlin, but I guess she's just crazy evil inside), or infamous (HR's sexual antics and grace-less threesome had me laughing out loud). And it's all happened because Barry gave up totally after Iris died. The combination of seeing these effects, as I said, seems to inspire something, and our Barry is pushed instead to adopting his best qualities — his leadership, his ability to bring people together, to see the positive and the possible. His speed might be the power and the fulcrum on which all these things turn — yes. But these are the qualities which do the turning. By the end of the episode we might have only learned, in passing, from Killer Frost, that Savitar is someone we know who she immediately trusts (I'm still betting he's Eddie.) It takes us only a little forwarder. But somehow seeing Barry in this kind of Barry-positive state — the opposite of EmoAnimeBarry - makes me feel more positive about Iris and her chances. And as for these guys here in the future? Well, all Barry really has to do is run backwards again and save the past. So it's a great lesson, but in some ways the episode feels very fluffy and shorter than a usual Flash episode, and it's not clear whether the future team Barry saved will even still be there when he goes back.

And that's one of two major critiques I want to make, the other being: wow. This is a Boy's Own Story, complete with the team cheer. Once Iris — who is preparing to accept her own death and her powerlessness to prevent it — has been removed to the past, the only woman on the episode is Caitlin, and she's gone completely metahuman in the future. The picture which keeps coming to mind is of an Iris who feels as if she's been Mario-Princessed, cooped up in another castle while Mario/Barry (they're both even dressed in red) keeps checking for her down different timelines. I really don't like how this show takes agency away from women sometimes. Even her appeal to Barry in the past to take care of Joe, it turns out, is essentially ineffective.

But maybe now Iris will have a chance to shine; it looks as if Barry has a new lead on Savitar and the tech needed to stop him, and if the information on the hard drive is at all viable then Iris, star reporter, just might be the person who finds her own salvation.

Flashes of Insight

The opener finally showed us Caitlin's transformation into Killer Frost, and there's a hilarious moment with HR and Cisco singing Swing low, sweet chariot — awesome!

I loved the look of the future, totally. Future STAR Labs is a spooky death trap.

Barry and EmoBarry fighting, then working together, was a very cool look!

HR Jitters. It was sort of fun watching Tom Cavanagh in this because he was also director of the episode.

Cisco. I did not give him enough time in this review. What time can you give him? Essentially, Cisco is a kind of hero Barry may never be. He holds faith and an innocent heart.

The title. I hoped there would be some sort of Arthurian reference here, but it's meant literally — the Flash that was, will be again.

In a Flash

Four out of five stars, although it's weird to see a future with no women in it.

7 comments:

Billie Doux said...

"EmoAnimeBarry." That's perfect, Joseph. :) I was also weirded out by how the entire gang of the future was male. Couldn't stop thinking about it. But it was absolutely a terrific episode.

yodudeyo100 said...

For some reason I feel like Savitar might be Ronnie, why else would Caitlin be so on board with following him?

Anonymous said...

My thought was Ronnie too. Eddie in the suit would get a surprised reaction out of evilCaitlin, but she wouldn't be so quick to join Team Savitar. Ronnie being in that suit is the only guy who could, in my opinion. Plus, Eddie didn't just die, he was erased from ever having been.

Michal Dvorak said...

I also figured that Savitar would have to be Ronnie for Caitlin's reaction to make sense. But the show doesn't always make sense. Plus I can't see it working from the storyline point of view.

Maybe it's an evil version of Barry or something. Or Iris :-)

Patryk said...

Ronnie makes the most sense. After all he just vanished in the vortex without any trace and could have developed more superpowers, insanity and a hatred for the Flash. We also saw how evil he can be on Earth-2. The question is if Ronnie would hold the same significance to Killer Frost as he does to Caitlyn.

Joseph Santini said...

Looking forward to seeing this play out. I can't see this being Ronnie, but who knows?

Josie Kafka said...

EmoAnimeBarry.

Perfect.

Billie: "I was also weirded out by how the entire gang of the future was male. Couldn't stop thinking about it."

Yes.