‘The Flash’: It’s time for Barry to pay the piper (no, not that one)
Season Three, Episode Twenty-Three — “Finish Line”
By Jarrod Jones. Let’s face it — had Barry not received his well-earned comeuppance for Flashpoint, the third season of The Flash would have been a bust.
Who among us really thought there wouldn’t be any serious consequences for mucking around with the fabric of time? While it’s perfectly reasonable to assume that Mr. Allen will be back in his adorably dweeby threads by the time Season Four’s Christmas episode rolls around, for now Barry is a prisoner of the Speed Force.
The Flash has always made sure that its season finales make us ache, and “Finish Line” was certainly no exception. It felt like twists popped up every ten minutes — each one more startling than the last. They began, of course, with the bittersweet reveal that it was H.R., not Iris, Savitar had just murdered with his crazy death spear.
It was a dirty, dirty trick to “kill off” Iris West in the penultimate episode, but it wasn’t long before we realized that The Flash, much like Barry, was going out of its way to stay one step ahead of us. Like Savitar, I certainly didn’t see H.R.’s death coming.
Though maybe I should have. The Flash had been sneaking in a full character arc for Wells-19 right under our noses all along. His constant buffoonery had been tiresome at first — I wasn’t quite ready to say goodbye to Wells-2 just yet — but before long ol’ H.R. and his drumsticks had grown on me. Just as that happened, the show was already moving on to the next chapter of his story: a whirlwind crush with Dr. Tracy Brand and a collision course with his inner hero.
Harrison Wells of Earth-19, when he wasn’t guzzling lattes and/or plotting out his memoir, was a frequent calamity for Team Flash. (His biggest blunder was indirectly tipping off Savitar as to where Iris had been stashed away.) And yet “Finish Line” showed us just how necessary Wells had always been to the Team Flash dynamic. Without him, as it turned out, the show becomes something of a dry affair. (Wells-2 appears to be back for Season Four, though how he’ll mix with the perpetually glum Julian is happily open to speculation.)
Interestingly enough, this last leg of the Savitar saga gave Grant Gustin the opportunity to break bad. As a cracked-mirror time remnant from Barry’s future, Gustin played the villain angle completely straight. Perhaps more vitally, because Savitar turned out to be a version of Barry, this season felt more intimate than Season Two. That gave The Flash an opportunity to emotionally clean house, not to mention thoroughly scrape off any lingering bad taste left behind by Hunter Zolomon. (He popped by too, just to get his ass killed off by Savitar.)
Team Flash found themselves playing off of both versions of Barry for a good chunk of “Finish Line”. That included Mr. Gustin himself, who acquitted himself beautifully in the sequences where Barry faced off against his nemesis within the confines of S.T.A.R. Labs. Whenever Savitar jumped out of his particularly well-made god suit — which was thankfully often enough, because otherwise Savitar was running around wheezing like a winded asthmatic — Gustin embraced all the complicated emotions each version of The Flash carried with them.
As for Dr. Caitlin Snow, her Killer Frost persona saw the error of her ways eventually. By the end of the finale, she was neither Killer Frost nor Caitlin Snow, and rocking some serious Targaryen hair. (“The Mother of Snowflakes”? Yeah, probably not.) Any savvy comics reader could surmise that she’ll return to The Flash next season with the oh-so-chic moniker “Frost” along with a more altruistic worldview, a la Steve Orlando’s current run on DC’s Justice League of America.
Barry walked off into the sunset, leaving Central City in the hands of Wally West. Does this mean Wally has become the new Flash? Maybe, for a while at least. It would certainly do for The Flash if it committed to change instead of falling back into formula every season. Here’s one idea: No more speedster villains.
Now. Can anyone explain to me how any of that Alchemy/Savitar cult crap made any sense.
“This took strength, and he gave it to me.” – H.R., to Barry, concerning Cisco.
BEST MOMENT: The Flash/Savitar War. Savitar played his hand, but Cisco had already outsmarted him before he began. (“Speed Force Bazooka”. Feh!) What followed was an outright battle between three Flashes (Jay, Wally, and Barry) versus the would-be Speed God himself. Guess how it worked out.
SEASON’S MVP: Tom Cavanagh has provided us with three crucially different versions of the same person, and each one has been incredible. What’s more, Season Three would have been nothing without H.R.’s energy.
– Davo? Dah Vaux? Who does Team Flash tangle with in the future? I dunno. All I could come up with was Davo Yull, Green Lantern of Space Sector 2345.
– I always wanted to see what would happen if Julian and Harry ever ended up in the same room. Looks like they did not make reality implode on itself.
– Hey! Hunter Zolomon makes a brief appearance in the form of the Black Flash. Speaking of which, R.I.P, Black Flash.
– To tell the truth, at H.R.’s funeral, Barry looked like he was about five seconds away from forming the band Interpol.
– Definite highlight this season: Barry’s visit to Gorilla City.
– Anyone else feel the show kinda forgot about Julian towards the end there?
– So what did you think, Flash fans? Are you ready to have Barry enjoy a long adios in the speed force? Or do you expect him to be back this fall? D’ya think Wally will have a red suit next season?
6 out of 10
Season Three Score: 7.5 out of 10
Before: “Cause and Effect”, “Infantino Street”, here.