The Flash – Season 3 Episode 22
The Flash reaches the moment we have all been waiting for and reveals if Team Flash have what it takes to stop Savitar from killing Iris.
I must say I was surprised that the moment the show has been building to since “The Present” was dealt with in the penultimate episode rather than the finale though I think I know why that is which I will come onto in a while.
This episode reminded me a lot of “Rogue Air” with the bulk of it dealing with a largely unconnected plot before devoting the end of the episode to the promised conflict. Funnily enough both episodes are the penultimate one and heavily feature Leonard Snart.
It’s fair to say that it’s impossible for me to truly dislike an episode of any of these shows that features Snart. He has always been a compelling presence due to the masterful performance of Wentworth Miller. Killing him off on DC’s Legends of Tomorrow was a mistake but it’s good that he has been able to return here and there thanks to time travel shenanigans.
In this case, a master thief is needed to steal a McGuffin power source from an A.R.G.U.S. facility since Lyla won’t let them borrow it. Her reasoning is sound and it echoes what I’ve been saying for a while. Barry’s an idiot and can’t be trusted with such things. His actions causing the accidental change in gender for Lyla’s child is one of the reasons she feels that way and a general mistrust of time travel is a healthy stance to take.
She leaves Barry no choice but to organise a heist and who better to do that with than Captain Cold himself? He’s definitely the best thief Barry knows and they respect one another in an adversarial sort of way so a morally ambiguous team-up is just what the doctor ordered.
The way Snart was brought in made a lot of sense. Barry plucks him from some point during his time on the first season of DC’s Legends of Tomorrow. When that falls in the timeline of that season is unclear but it seems to be towards the end during some unseen adventure. Where it falls doesn’t really matter as the important thing is that Barry is able to recruit a version of Leonard Snart after the personal growth he experiences by being on Rip Hunter’s team. That makes him easier to work with and far less likely to betray Barry and the rest of Team Flash.
I’m glad the episode addressed the fact that Barry is meddling with the timeline once again even if it is brushed aside with a promise to return Snart to where the exact moment he came from. It’s not a problem the episode is interested in dealing with to any massive degree but the mention of it is at least appreciated even if nothing is done with it.
As predicted, Wentworth Miller is a delight as Snart. His unique vocal performance and snarky attitude elevated the episode in massive ways and his dynamic with Grant Gustin makes for great viewing as well. Seeing Barry tap into his naughty side works well as he is a desperate man willing to do whatever it takes to save Iris. If that means working with a criminal and robbing a government installation then so be it. As a desperate act it makes sense and Barry has always been prone to rushing headlong into situations without thinking them through properly and this is just another one of those. He’s an idiot but a consistent idiot.
The whole scenario has Barry tap ever so slightly into his dark side. It’s the side of himself that will eventually give birth to Savitar but the episode largely fails to address that. There are a couple of moments that strongly hint at what Barry is capable of such as when he wields the cold gun with the intention of King Shark. It takes Snart to convince him to find a better way which leaves the question of whether Barry would actually have done it as an open one.
Another hint at Barry’s darker side is when Snart is trapped with King Shark and Barry has the choice to stick around to try and help him or leave him behind. He chooses to stay and help which compliments Barry’s heroic nature but there’s a moment of hesitation there when he considers leaving because he has the thing that he came for. Snart pushes him to make a choice to see what he’s really made of and the moment comes across as really tense.
The heist itself seemed far too easy. It might not have been so bad if the episode hadn’t constantly pointed out how formidable the security in the A.R.G.U.S. facility was. It made the ease of the robbery laughable by comparison as it basically amounted to beating up one guard before getting to the corridor they needed to be in. Considering all the build-up there was a complete lack or urgency to what could have been a fun and tense part of the episode.
Once they reach the room they need to be in and find out that King Shark is being used to guard it things do get a lot better. The scene where they walk into the cell and aren’t sure if he’s actually asleep was really tense and I was impressed that they managed to toss in a Jaws reference despite being nowhere near water. It was short but very effective and made good use of the limited visual effects resource.
The resolution of this plot is somewhat weak. Lyla changing from “you can’t be trusted” to “I couldn’t stand by and let Iris die” makes no sense and undermines her credibility as Director of A.R.G.U.S. plus it’s something she could have easily realised before that point and loaned them the tech. There was definitely a better way to do this and it probably involves Snart knocking her out and helping Barry run off with the tech.
My favourite scene in the episode is when Barry returns Snart to the moment they left. Snart sums up their dynamic perfectly. Barry sees the good in Snart and Snart sees the bad in Barry. They meet in the middle and are able to compliment each other nicely. It’s clear that there is genuine respect there and Snart closing off his time in the episode by repeating “there are no strings on me” echoing his final words adds so much more meaning to them.
It’s abundantly clear that the Savitar reveal came too late. What the show had was the potential to explore the potential that Barry has to become truly warped and play up the theme that he is his own worst enemy. The scenes that have explored Savitar as a tortured and damaged version of Barry Allen have been good but far too brief. I liked his scene with Caitlin where they both feel like outcasts and are struggling to define themselves outside of what they used to be. This scene also confirms my theory that his memories change as Barry does different things.
A major conflict between Cisco and Caitlin has been building since she became Killer Frost and we see the start of that here. We are now in the midst of the fight where Cisco’s future self lost his hands. I imagine it’ll play out differently here and that Caitlin will take some kind of redemptive action that will allow them to gain the upper hand against Savitar.
Now the Iris portion of the narrative. Despite the heist section the episode does remain on task by reminding us that time is very quickly running out. There are frequent updates on how long Iris has left to live and the Barry/Snart story is intercut with scenes of the rest of Team Flash preparing for the event. Iris even gets to have a really well put together bonding moment with Joe where they both reveal a secret that the other didn’t know. It’s well acted and adds something to their relationship. I only wish there were more of these and a more substantial role for Iris in general.
Even though there are mere hours before her death as the episode begins the episode still isn’t about her and neither has any other. We don’t know if she still goes to work or has anything she wants to experience before she dies. Seeing Iris tick items off her bucket list over the past few episodes would have been a great way to develop her character and give us some insight into how she feels about her upcoming death.
Outside of the touching moment with Joe and the video she records for Barry she has very little else to do in the episode which definitely counts as a missed opportunity. At the very least we should have had a scene following her capture where she is able to talk to Savitar about what he is about to do and try to get through to whatever is left of Barry within him. It can still fail but things like that can tell us a lot about characters.
Running alongside this is a confusing subplot with H.R. where he starts to consider his future. He asks Tracy to become his partner which seems very strange considering how little they know one another though this is the first attempt in a while that attempts to define H.R’s place on the team. It seems somewhat suspicious to me and I’ll definitely come back to it.
In what is supposed to be a shock twist Iris dies. It happens pretty much exactly as we have seen it except there isn’t a past version of Barry looking on from the sidelines for some reason. We get to see everything leading up to it including Barry failing to capture him using Tracy’s Speed Force Bazuka because the Philosopher’s Stone is able to counter it. It somewhat raises the stakes for next week as that was their only chance to stop them but it probably only means separating him from the stone.
Iris’ death itself was well done. The combination of the staging, the music and the growing sense or urgency made for a tense sequence and the death felt like a shock even though it really wasn’t. Having one episode left means that it’s highly likely that it will be undone.
Undoing Iris’ Death – My Theories
- Barry goes back in time to save her and breaks the timeline again to set up season 4 This option seems likely as it has been well established that Barry is a desperate man willing to do anything to save her which includes risking damage to the timeline such as plucking Snart out of time to help
- H.R. uses his face changing technology to become Iris and dies in her place It’s probably no coincidence that this has been brought up again after being ignored since its introduction. H.R. talking to Cisco about how grateful he is that Team Flash took him in and accepted him while wishing he could give something back feels a little too much like foreshadowing to me. This would also involve time travel otherwise the heartwarming moment between Joe and Iris would make no sense. That look he gives the piece of Savitar’s suit also seems to herald something so I think H.R. will be key to whatever happens next week
- Barry makes a time remnant of Iris that dies in her place I don’t have any fully formed idea of how that would actually work because the show hasn’t bothered to establish any rules around Time Remnants but his desperation makes that not outwith the realms of possibility at this point.
Whatever happens I’m fairly certain Iris won’t stay dead and something will happen next week to undo this tragedy so that she can return in season 4. For now the conflict has changed to preventing her death to punishing Savitar for killing her and that might change things up enough for it to become interesting.
An enjoyable episode that makes excellent use of Leonard Snart. He’s always entertaining and the heist portion of the episode was great to watch. Wentworth Miller and Grant Gustin create a fun dynamic that elevates the material. The heist itself seems far too easy considering how good the security is supposed to be but it gets better once King Shark gets involved. This story also lets us see the potential darkness inside Barry. He rises above it thanks to Snart but the potential is still there and that’s what makes Savitar possible. It’s a shame that reveal was left so late as there are lots of missed opportunities to explore the darker side of Barry but his scene with Caitlin where they talk about escaping what they once were was well done.
The episode remains on task building up Iris’ death throughout. There are constant reminders of how long she has left and the staging of her death was nicely done. I doubt it will be permanent and I have a number of theories on how it can be undone but as moments go it was handled well.