Iris West is dead. Or is she? In The Flash, a show that has out-timey-wimey-ed even Doctor Who this season with the time travel twists, anything could be possible. Now the season finale is here, and we’ll find out if Iris is really dead, as Team Flash squares off for possibly the last time with Savitar and Killer Frost, and who knows what might happen? Meet me after the speed and time traveling jump for my review of the more-than-appropriately titled “Finish Line.”
The Death of Iris West
In the last episode we saw Savitar kill Iris before Barry’s eyes on Infantino Street. Not to be cold, but it’s not something we haven’t seen before in previous episodes, whether in nightmare, flashback, or actual eyewitness, we have seen Iris die several times at the hands of Savitar. It’s all much as we suspected, except for the ineffective Speed Force bazooka, and the missing Wells on the rooftop.
Worth noting is that Iris died in the comics once (at least), at the hands of the Reverse-Flash (in a method eerily similar to how he killed Cisco in season one), although Clive Yorkin felt the blame for a time. Iris’ real parents, who in the comics were from the far future, save her consciousness and project it into a cloned body in their time, thus restoring her to life. As wild a ride as we’ve had these three seasons, I doubt we’ll find Iris is really from the future… unless that’s the key to introducing the Legion of Super-Heroes? We have seen a Legion Flight Ring, twice.
As we open we get my answer about Wells on the rooftop with the gun, he shows up seconds too late, but nothing is as it seems. Joe is devastated, Barry is, well, you know, but H.R. calls Joe ‘dad.’ Yeah, you got it. He used the face changer from Earth-19 to switch identities with Iris and was murdered by Savitar. Back at the Braille room, the headline has been restored, success, the future has been changed…
Or has it? Iris has been saved, yes, but Savitar, however fading Back to the Future-style, is still out there. He has the Speed Force bazooka and has stopped Killer Frost from Killer Frosting Vibe – because Savitar wants him to build something. This is a rather brilliant move cleaning up this possible future conundrum in the first five minutes, because now the rest of the episode is a blank slate. Brilliant.
King and Kang
Savitar wants Cisco to take the bazooka and alter it into a device that will splice Savitar into time itself. He will become one with time, existing in every moment in the past, present, and future simultaneously. So Savitar wants to be Kang, or Imperiex, or maybe it won’t work at all. To me, it indicates that he is desperate, and insane.
To make Cisco do what he wants, he threatens to kill Frost, providing information that Julian showed up out of nowhere with a cure for her (am I the only one thinking that was rather convenient, and who else wanted to see him actually interact with Caitlin’s mom?). While Cisco works against his will, Barry goes to reason with Savitar, using his own memories against him. Barry, against all odds, brings the villain back to S.T.A.R. Labs… to help him. The ultimate Barry-ism, right, folks?
Barry and Barry
Mind-bogglingly it is Iris that agrees to let Savitar stay. He is Barry after all. For a brief moment it really feels like Savitar could join Team Flash, be redeemed. We feel for him, and in the moment when he looks at Iris’ ring, and says he remembers giving it to her, remembers singing to her, and that she’s going to marry him, indicating Barry, instead of him – our hearts almost break. Emotional or not, we as viewers could see this maybe working, couldn’t we?
There are name drops of Midway City, Hawkman’s Silver Age comics hometown, and once again DeVoe. That’s two for Clifford DeVoe, the Thinker, who is the odds-on favorite to become season four’s big bad, that is, of course, if Flash ever gets out of the Speed Force, but we’ll get to that later. Unfortunately, Savitar’s seeming redemption is almost all a ruse, and he tries to blow up S.T.A.R. and speed away.
I say almost, because he is Barry, and surely he has some remorse for doing this after the way the team tried to accept him. I suppose we’ll never find out now. One thing does stand out for me however. Savitar was far more compelling post-reveal than before it. Perhaps the mystery guessing game shouldn’t have taken so long, before giving us the villain we could relate to and hiss at the same time. Barry as Savitar makes us think and weep, as just Savitar not so much.
The showrunners throw a lot at us in the second half of this episode, as almost everyone connected to this season (and even those not) drops by for the final battle between these forces of good and evil. Gypsy returns to help, demonstrating both a fondness and a forgiveness for Cisco. Zoom as the Black Flash is even dispatched as an appetizer by Savitar before the rest of the good guys appear. And as far as the repurposed Speed Force bazooka goes, both The Bride and I knew Cisco wouldn’t give Savitar what he wanted. Instead Cisco built a device that opened up the Speed Force and released Jay Garrick – nicely coinciding with the character’s return from beyond in the comics this week. Is there any limit to what Cisco can build quickly… when the plot allows?
The battle rages as one would expect, Savitar playing dirty, and Killer Frost switching sides, and yet not taking the cure provided. One might suspect that she has found a middle ground between Caitlin and Killer Frost, perhaps even a new persona, as may have been hinted at last time. She goes off on her own at the end, surely not for good. I like the character but I don’t want her only subplot to be Killer Frost, ya know?
There is a point in the battle when Barry vibrates into Savitar’s armor, pushing him out of it, and the armor glows red rather than blue. The villain mumbles some prophetic gibberish about Barry becoming Savitar in that moment. I really hope that the showrunners could hear the collective groan of the viewers across the world last night. Thankfully that did not happen. But after the defeat of Savitar, and the funeral of H.R., something else, just as annoying did happen.
What at first appears to possibly be the Crisis, the Crisis on Infinite Earths, happens. Lightning everywhere, and most convincing red skies, but it’s not the Crisis, it’s the Speed Force. It’s lonely, and it’s pissed. The Speed Force of the TV show is a very different entity than that of the comics. This is a living breathing virtual reality of a sentient dimension, and it apparently needs a sacrifice. There is no more Savitar, or Wally, or Jay to feed it, so it hungers. Barry, without thinking (now this might be the ultimate Barry-ism), offers himself and goes into the Speed Force, represented by his mother, so it was expecting his choice.
With Barry gone, Team Flash might not be as shattered as S.T.A.R. Labs is, but it definitely will have a different dynamic. We’d have two Flashes in Wally and Jay from Earth-Three, Cisco, Harry from Earth-Two, Joe, Iris, and Tracy, still grieving from the loss of brief love H.R. Barry will be back of course, but until then, we might have some fun with Jay and Wally.
This was a good season, but a harrowing one, substantially darker than the first or the second. I think we need to get away from that in season four. When The Flash began, it was a bright light in the dark and gloomy Arrowverse, and we need to return to that, more villain of the week, maybe, because after all, the Flash has an awesome Rogues Gallery, let’s explore that. Thank goodness that the Thinker is not another speedster, but let’s not make him a doom and gloom guy – a villain who makes a hero whose powers are physical use his mind is a delightful change of pace. I look forward to it, and I’ll see you next season. What did you folks think?
One Reply to “The Flash S03 E23: ‘Finish Line’”
I think the writers have no idea what to do with a Barry who evolves beyond his ‘barryisms’ so they keep on keepin’ on … HR’s sacrifice was a nice touch. I hope it’s not the last we see of Tom Cavanagh though. There are after all, a gazillion versions of his character out there. 🙂 … Frosty, come back. We need you. Actually what we need is a Cisco/Frosty spin-off. Wouldn’t that be a hoot! 😀