After months of speculation, The Flash finally unmasked its latest villain, a big bad speedster, and gasp! It's someone Barry Allen already knows. Stop me if you've heard this one before, which you most definitely have if you've watched the past two seasons of The Flash, because yes, we're doing this thing again.
Image: The CW.
So aside from the big reveal in the aptly titled "I Know Who You Are", there was actually quite a bit going on. Team Flash had to deal with Killer Frost, now a persistent threat — especially to Cisco, who's laden with angst about having to fight and maybe even kill his friend. Caitlin/Frost at least seems to be having a ton of fun revelling in being a villain for now, even if it feels like she's being held back a bit to presumably bring her back into the Team Flash fold by the season's end.
There was also the moral quandary of what to do with Tracy Brand, the scientist of the future Barry believes can help them stop Savitar. It turns out present Tracy is nowhere near completing her research that could help trap Savitar for good. In fact, no one actually believes in her research yet, so H.R. and the rest of the team decide it would be great to show Tracy her future successes and meddle with the timeline some more (hey, who's keeping track at this point?) in order to convince her to help them. Somehow this actually works, mainly thanks to another of The Flash's favourite things, the rallying pep talk, this time given by H.R.. There's even the indication that H.R. and Tracy might develop feelings for each other soon enough, because between Julian and Caitlin, Barry and Iris, and Joe and Cecile, there isn't enough potential relationship drama in store.
But the presence of all that love on the show actually helps set up its bigger point, and is what finally lets Barry put it all together when he's figuring out just who Savitar is. In the climax of the episode Barry zips away, calling out Savitar, and lists out how he figured out just who he really is, and why he knows all of Team Flash and Barry's friends' secrets...
Because Savitar is a Future Barry. Not to be confused with the future emo Barry we saw like, an episode ago — which makes this all the more silly — but seemingly another Barry from another reality that ends up having something horrible happen to him, depriving him of the love and bonds our Barry has developed in his time as a hero, necessitating him going around through the Speedforce being a dick to other Barrys.
So basically, regardless of the timeline or reality, Barry Allen is very much the worst.
But aside from all the confusion around just what this new version of Barry's deal really is, this is absolutely the same storyline we've seen in both of the show's previous seasons. In the first, the mysterious Reverse-Flash was the season's big bad, and he turned out to be... their trusted mentor Harry! In the second, the mysterious Zoom tormented the Flash all year, and he turned out to be... their trusted friend Jay Garrick! Now, in season three, Savitar has turned out to be the one person Barry thought he trust most of all... himself.
The first season's reveal was great. The second was, if muddled, at least still a novelty. Now it dangerously feels like The Flash is running out of ideas.
Hopefully the Barry v Barry: Dawn of Barry conflict can resolve itself in a manner that will at least help differentiate this villain arc from what came with Reverse Flash and Zoom (so help me God, no one tell Barry he just needs to run faster). Otherwise, this starts to feel like a retread of what season three already did by having Barry come to terms with his horrendously self-centred actions in the creation of Flashpoint. At least then, it was our Barry feeling the ramifications and the consequences. Here it's going to be some arsehole we've only just met who just happens to look like him.
- Well, I guess Savitar did tell Barry "I am the Future Flash" earlier. We all just imagined it had a comma in there instead of it being the truth the whole time!
- You'd think Wally would be more concerned about the impending death of his sister than to go off gallivanting to Earth-3 for a date.
- There's been talk that the big villain of Flash season four won't be a speedster, thank God. But after this episode I kind of want it to be Caitlin for a bit. I fully expect Cisco to do some magic STAR Labs nonsense to her blood and change her back by the season finale, but she was actually so fun as a villain here, Killer Frost would make for an intriguing overarching threat for a bit.