The Flash: Finish Line

“It’s easy to mistake one for the other.”

No spoilers on the front page, even if we are dealing with time travelers…

In my review of “Dead or Alive,” I discussed the implicit comparison between HR, who writes stories in which he is the hero, and Iris, who writes with journalistic objectivity about her boyfriend, her brother, and her father. At the time, I saw the comparison as an indication that the show knew it needed to give Iris more: more backstory, more character, more depth. While I still think that is true, “Finish Line” shows us that “Dead or Alive” was more than parallel structure; it was subtle foreshadowing.

I am happy Iris is not dead. I am sad that HR is dead, even though he was my least favorite Wells. But I think HR was comfortable with the fate he chose. Back in “Dead or Alive,” his description of his fictional alter ego is telling: “Fortunately, our team has a secret weapon…A man of action. And that man’s name is HR Wells.” This week, HR lived up to his fictional multiverse reputation.

And they tricked me! I really did think Iris was dead in “Infantino Street,” although I expected her to come back next season, since this is a superhero show with soap-opera inclinations. But the face-changing tech—just like those sneaky masks in the Mission Impossible movies—totally fooled me. (Did they fool you, too?)

That’s all the pre-credits sequence: the rest of this episode was hit or miss. I burst out laughing when Barry said that it would take “a few hours” for the temporal paradox to erase Savitar from existence. Either it happens immediately or not at all. It’s not like waiting for an IKEA bookshelf to settle or a ratatouille to finish simmering.

But this episode wouldn’t be…well, it wouldn’t be a full episode without a few more Barritar shenanigans. His attempt to exist at all points in time was interesting. His faith in Cisco was misplaced. His double-cross of Team Flash’s goodwill was unsurprising. Barritar died, so all’s well that ends well.

Except it didn’t. In “Into the Speed Force,” that eponymous entity used various characters from Barry’s past to talk about sacrifice. At the time, I thought Barry was right to push back on the guilt. But in retrospect—as with Iris and Wells—I think there’s more to it: the Speed Force was setting Barry up to realize he had to fix the problems he created with Flashpoint.

Did he not realize that until the Speed Force storm? Or was his realization gradual? Mailing the save-the-date announcements for the wedding was charming optimism, but I wonder if it was also an attempt to whistle past the graveyard.

It might also be an implicit promise: although Barry has gone searching for a Speed Force redemption, we’ve seen how he can go into the Speed Force and come back instantaneously. From our perspective, at least. From his perspective, it could be eternity.

I hope it takes a few months. Without wanting to inflict pain on all of the sweet people who comprise Team Flash, I think that Iris needs to get some distance on her relationship to Barry, as does Wally (for different reasons). Cisco needs to realize he’s a superhero, too, not just “tech support.” Caitlin, or Killer Frost, or Madame Not-Too-Cold—whatever she’s calling herself—needs time to get her ducks in a row, fix her hair, and return to Star Labs. I look forward to the team re-teaming.

And I look forward to it more now than I have before. I know Season Three wasn’t a fan favorite, but I really enjoyed it. (Aside from the Grodd episodes.) I volunteered to review some of the straggler episodes mostly because I have a rather boring summer planned, but I found myself liking Flash more with each review. It’s not a perfect show, but it still has the optimistic heart that made it so appealing a few years ago, and the team has coalesced in a lovely way. I’m grateful for the chance to review these episodes, and I look forward to reading JRS’s reviews next fall.

Flashpoints:

• Joe: “So, for the millionth time, I’m lost on all this time-travel stuff.”

• Barry: “The future’s ours again.” Was it Caitlin who quoted the great line “Man plans; God laughs” in an earlier episode?

• Barry didn’t want to kill Barritar because: morality. But Iris shot him in the back right before he was erased from time. Does that imply that the moral impact of killing someone decreases in direct proportion to the temporal proximity of their inevitable death or erasure?

• Normally, I make snarky comments about miniskirts at funerals on The CW. Since there was nary a miniskirt to be found at HR’s funeral, I will instead ask: why on earth was Barry wearing sunglasses?

• Random pet theory: Barry told Iris “Promise me you’ll run.” Did he transfer his Speed Force powers over to her?

• Do you think they’ll bring back last season’s Harrison Wells? I really liked him.

• And maybe Jay Garrick, Dad Flash, could stick around, too! And Gypsy!

• Want some actual spoilers, not just my wish list? Here’s some info on next season’s Big Bad, and here’s a tiny spoilerette on what Iris will be doing when The Flash returns in October.

Three out of four interdimensional quantum splicers.

Josie Kafka is a full-time cat servant and part-time rogue demon hunter. (What's a rogue demon?)

3 comments:

Billie Doux said...

The thing with Iris and HR did surprise me, so good on them. It made sense, too, and didn't feel like a cop out. I can't imagine this series without Tom Cavanagh, so I'm sure that there will be Wells next season. Somehow.

Thank you so much for filling in the Flash stragglers, Josie. :)

Patryk said...

What I wrote in my notepad shortly after the episode aired:

Sad to see HR go, but I guess we will get yet another Wells next season. Once a year a new Wells.

The Speed Force vacation for Barry will of course only last for the summer so I completely did not feel anything during the cliffhanger apart from rolling my eyes that they must always do a cliffhanger. Imho cliffhanger make less poeple tune in next year then more.

They didn't kill Julian so I guess Tom Felton likes playing this role and will stay for next season. I hope they add Gypsy too for more episodes, especially during Caitlyns walkaobut.

Victoria Grossack said...

Maybe there weren't miniskirts at the funeral, but there sure was cleavage... Good ep, though.