The Flash S03 E21: ‘Cause and Effect’


In the last episode of The Flash, Barry came to the not-so-shocking conclusion that Savitar is in reality a future version of himself. What can he do with this knowledge? What does Killer Frost want with Team Flash? And, who’s Barry??!? Meet me after the super speed jump for my thoughts on “Cause and Effect.”

Secret Origins

We open seconds after Savitar has revealed himself to Barry as a scarred older version of himself. What we witness is rather bizarre villain monologue detailing the origin of Savitar, but told in connecting pieces by the two Barrys. Savitar is a time remnant, a temporal anomaly created when Flash fought Zoom in their final race. He should have died, the Flashpoint happened, and changed everything.


I don’t know about you folks but it felt to me like they were just making it up as they went along here, but Grant Gustin’s dual performance and the intense music bought me for the moment. Savitar insists that Team Flash excommunicated him because he was an aberration. That doesn’t sound right either. It’s not like this is Doctor Who and The Doctor always lies, but then again, villains do lie.

Timey Wimey

Speaking of Doctor Who, Savitar has some interesting things to say about time travel. At one point Barry threatens to kill himself and end the threat of Savitar before it begins, but the villain brings up the example of Eddie Thawne’s suicide and how the Reverse-Flash is still around. The more you time travel, he posits, the less the rules apply to you. Hmmm, he might have a point.


Of course that’s the moment Barry does what he should done from the start, and that’s punch him in the mouth. And that was indeed the entire viewing audience yelling “yeah!” in unison. It doesn’t last long however as it appears Tony Stark built Savitar’s armor and it’s got a mind of its own, joining the fight against Barry.

Wonky Science

Once Barry gets trounced again and Savitar disappears, Cisco re-explains what we just heard. Neither explanation makes much sense, so hopefully we won’t revisit this wonky paradox again. That hope is in vain, as Barry does it again with Iris. *rolls eyes* Thankfully Cisco has a just as odd plan to handicap Savitar.


The reason Savitar is one step ahead of them is because he’s lived all this before and has access to Barry’s memories. Cisco wants to put a stop to that, but it doesn’t quite work the way he thinks it will. It wipes Barry’s memory completely. Yeah, we’re seriously in sitcom territory here, no, strike that, cartoon territory. How everyone’s keeping a straight face is a credit to the cast.

Night Court

The underlying tension of the situation and the obvious weakness in the villain are shamefully downplayed in favor of the comedy aspect. There’s far too much who’s-Barry and not enough let’s-take-advantage-of-Savitar-also-having-no-memory. There are some good moments with Iris, but they are outweighed by slapstick antics.

When Barry is called upon to testify against an arsonist and help Cecile, Cisco rigs up a pair of glasses to give Barry a cheat sheet. It’s funny for like a minute. The pyro by the way is Heatmonger, who in the comics is heat-based neo-Nazi super-villainess. Not sure of his political stance here, but he’s definitely male.

Hot and Cold

Like the title of the episode, “Cause and Effect,” Barry with no memory equals Savitar with no memory. Killer Frost arrives at S.T.A.R. Labs with a plan to return their memories so she gets her boss back, they get their Barry back, and the status quo is complete. There’s an ulterior motive here for the showrunners. Having Frost work so closely with Cisco might warm her, shall we say.


Speaking of warming, Barry’s cartoon testimony got Heatmonger released, and he’s on the rampage. So of course amnesiac Barry has to go into action as the Flash. Besides the technological cure to the memory loss, a trigger is needed. Iris is up to bat and makes him remember the night of his mom’s murder. It works, and Barry saves the day.

Final Thoughts

Killer Frost makes an icy departure, without a fight, but not before cutting Julian down by telling him she never loved him. I think she could be worn down however and I still have hope we’ll get Caitlin back. We also get baggage-filled Barry back, no matter how much we all liked him better without.

And then there’s the matter of the Speed Force trap. While pursuing a romantic entanglement with Tracy, H.R. inspires her to get the job done. It looks suspiciously like the gun H.R. had in the future vision. Unfortunately the machine needs a power source of mind-bending proportions. We’re shown one at ARGUS, presumably Dominator technology, but King Shark is either guarding it or about to steal it. That’s one way to do it, I suppose.

This was not the strongest of episodes, feeling more like a time filler or placeholder before the main event. Enough foreplay, get to the fireworks factory already, let’s see the final battle with Savitar.

Next: The Flash and Captain Cold vs. King Shark on “Infantino Street!”

Leave a Reply