The previous episode of The Flash saw the series properly launch the big crossover. Now for the season 3 winter finale, The Flash stages a very different quasi-crossover. Barry crosses Earths to find Flash, Jay Garrick, battling his own supervillain, the Trickster. With John Wesley Shipp playing The Flash and Mark Hamill stepping back into the role of The Trickster, “The Present” really does feel like a continuation of the universe from the scarlet speedster’s original TV debut in the ’90s. Luckily, this episode is not just fan service and actually crafts an episode that appeals to new and old fans alike.
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Flash Facts (About Savitar)
Of course, the homage doesn’t threaten to consume the rest of the episode because it barely lasts a scene. Mark Hamill’s return to The Flash is less a triumphant terror and more of a cameo. Barry travels to Jay’s Earth-3 to enlist the senior speedster’s help in defeating Savitar. In the process he also captures Earth-3’s Trickster. The winter finale is all about the gang, assisted by Jay, finding out as much as possible about Savitar and his second-in-command, Alchemy. Some of the information, mainly that Julian is Alchemy, we already know. Most of it is brand-new, which makes “The Present” a dump of exposition littered with several cool-ish fight scenes. (In other words, it’s not the greatest winter finale.)
The first reveal for Savitar is that we learn his origins … kind of. Savitar is less a god, like he claims, and is in fact the first speedster to have ever been recorded on Earth. Savitar’s powers are linked to the Philosopher’s Stone, which, in The Flash‘s continuity, is responsible for gifting the first metas their powers. It is also the stone that Alchemy has been using to make metas all season. This is not Harry Potter, despite the existence and involvement of Draco Malfoy’s Tom Felton.
Speaking of Alchemy, Savitar and his minion team up once again to try to bring all the Flashpoint metas into existence. The way they are going to do it is not important because Barry and Jay are able to stop it rather quickly. Using their new knowledge about the evil duo and their combined powers, the Flashes are able to stop the plan. Barry shuts the Philosopher’s Stone in the box, trapping Savitar, and knocks Alchemy out to reveal Julian underneath the mask.
Evil Only Goes Mask Deep
Julian is then thrown into the STAR Labs prison, and we find out that he is not nearly as evil as he has appeared. At least with Julian, The Flash is not repeating the same villain twists as before. Savitar used the memory of Julian’s dead sister to manipulate him and force him to find the Philosopher’s Stone. Savitar is possessing Julian when he is Alchemy. Julian has no memory or control over his actions.
As this bombshell is being revealed, Cisco is shown with the Philosopher’s Stone box. Dante, aka the brother whose death Cisco just got over, starts to appear to him. You probably see where this is going. Savitar uses Cisco’s memories to manipulate him and to make him open the box, releasing Savitar into STAR Labs. It’s a really frustrating scene that is probably necessary to keep the episode going but makes Cisco look like a complete idiot.
Savitar is loose now, though, so Barry has to fight him. Jay is still too injured from the first fight, so it is up to Wally to help out. To the surprise of almost everyone, Wally is not only helpful but also neither whiny nor annoying in the fight. Wally is actually incredibly lovable in his glee to help Barry out (and gets his ass kicked by Savitar). Caitlin, meanwhile, gets Cisco to come to his senses and close the box. Savitar is trapped again, and Barry and Wally don’t get stabbed by Savitar’s ridiculous hidden blades.
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Savitar Remains Awful Savitar
Cisco’s idiocy does, however, tell the team for certain that Savitar needs a human conduit to enter the world and communicate. The team decides to hook Julian up to some machine so they can communicate with Savitar without the threat of death. Savitar, through Julian, gives us the standard rote speech of a villain.
It’s the greatest hits of every other main Flash villain. Apparently, in the future, Barry thwarted and trapped Savitar (like Reverse Flash), and now he is back in time to wreck Barry’s life (like Zoom). The new wrinkle — and it is barely enough to make Savitar interesting — is that he taunts the team with their futures. One of the team members will betray Barry, one of them will “fall” and one of them will suffer a fate worse than death. It’s a solid effort, but none of this keeps Savitar from feeling like anything but speedy Metatron Jr. with any charisma.
A Vision of (and for) the Future
Savitar is caged once again, and the team needs to find a way to dispose of him. Jay comes up with the idea to throw Savitar and the box into the Speed Force. This plan works in the sense that Barry and Jay are able to go fast enough to access the Speed Force and throw the box inside. It backfires, however, because Barry is also zapped by the Speed Force.
Barry is transported to the future, where he sees Savitar holding Iris up by the neck. Barry also sees a future version of himself pleading with Savitar. Savitar refuses to listen. He stabs and kills Iris, dropping her body to the ground for Barry to cradle. Barry (both of them) is too late to save Iris.
Just before this horrifying image can be absorbed (and I can punch my TV in rage), Jay reaches Barry and pulls him back to the present. Barry begins to lose it, thinking that Iris will die. Jay, however, calms him down, telling Barry that that is just a possible future. Jay convinces Barry (once again) to not time travel and to try to “fix” things. Barry just needs to focus on the here and now, not to think about the possibility of Iris’ death. Jay should just stick around forever because apparently he is the only thing keeping Barry from making complete timeline mistakes.
Barry mostly takes Jay’s advice, but the potential of Iris’ death does convince him to take a big step. For her Christmas present, Barry buys a beautiful new apartment and asks Iris to move in with him. Iris, of course, accepts. The first half of season 3 ends with the main couple embracing in a home that is way too expensive for Barry to own. Now it’s just up to the rest of the season to find a way to not kill off Iris because that would be the stupidest decision The Flash has made since “Flashpoint,” and the crossover just repaired that blunder.
What do you think? Will The Flash kill Iris West this season? Will Savitar’s prophecies of the future come true? What do you think of Savitar? Did “The Present” sway you on the villain or are you still uncertain? Are you happy that Julian is not all that evil? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.
The Flash season 3 returns Tuesday, January 24 at 8/7c on The CW. Want more news? Like our Flash Facebook page.
(Image courtesy of The CW)