Thursday, March 9, 2017

The Flash Season 3, Episode 15: The Wrath Of Savitar

Welcome to a very dark and depressing hour (well, forty two minutes) of The Flash!

This is the mandatory "Heroes At Their Lowest Point" episode that most series have, so they can triumph in the season finale.

Since the series began, The Flash has had one big problem
— secrets. In virtually every episode, someone discovers information crucial to the survival of the team, and their first instinct is to keep it to themselves, which inevitably results in disaster.

The secret-keeping was mildly annoying at first, but lately it's become downright overused. In addition to making all the characters seem like assholes, it also makes them incredibly stupid. You'd think that after the nineteenth or twentieth time that keeping a secret blew up in a character's face they'd stop doing it, but no. The writers seriously need to come up with a new way to generate conflict on this series.

For weeks now the series has been teasing the secret identity of Savitar, this season's big bad. I thought I'd figured it out, and Savitar would turn out to be a corrupted, future version of Wally. 
The writers have certainly been hinting at that all season, what with Wally becoming faster, reckless and more arrogant each week. After this week's episode though, I'm not so sure. There are several other suspects in the cast who are all equally likely.

Let's take a look at the various Savitar candidates, shall we?

Wally West: 
The writers would dearly love for us to think it's Wally, but that seems too obvious. Of course that's what I said when they hinted that Julian was secretly Alchemy, and look how that turned out!

During their big battle this week, Savitar taunts Barry, saying, "You have everything, and deserve none of it." That doesn't sound like something Wally would say. I can't remember him ever acting particularly jealous of Barry. Now that Wally is a speedster and is dating Jesse, their lives seem pretty equal.
I suppose it's possible that if Wally's trapped in the Speed Force for eons (as I think time probably moves faster there) he could become jealous of Barry's normal life and want to kill him. But it's starting to feel less and less likely though that Savitar is Wally.

Barry Allen:
After the events of this episode, a lot of viewers are starting to think that Savitar is somehow a future version of Barry himself! I have to admit that after this week, it's starting to look somewhat likely.

When Julian's channeling Savitar, he rants to Barry, saying things like:

"Another victim Barry Allen failed to save."

"But Barry Allen doesn't kill. He's the good guy. The boy Joe raised. The man Iris loves.You have everything, and deserve none of it."

"I want so badly to kill you, and I will. But you have to live a little while longer. Long enough to see Iris die."

Those are all things that only someone close to Barry would know. Someone like... himself, perhaps? I could see a future version of Barry being trapped in the Speed Force and becoming jealous of his past self.

There's one last possible piece of evidence. During their final fight, Barry asks Savitar, "Who are you?" Savitar replies, "I'm the future, Barry!" 

Some viewers are thinking maybe there isn't really a comma in that sentence. They think that instead of saying, "I'm the future, Barry," he's actually saying, "I'm the future Barry!"

I dunno. That would be pretty cool if that turned out to be true, but it seems like a long shot to me. And frankly, I think it's giving the writers too much credit!

HR Wells:
Some are actually suggesting that hipster doofus/Earth-19 refugee HR is secretly Savitar. Their reasoning? He's the only member of Team Flash who calls Wally "Wallace." Savitar just happens to call him that as well. Hmm....

That theory seems like pretty weak sauce to me, but who knows? Since he was introduced, I've always got the impression that HR was hiding something. Sure, he's jovial and goofy on the surface, but I get the feeling there's something dark lurking inside him.

I actually hope the writers don't go this route, because in Season 1, Harrison Wells turned out to be evil speedster Eobard Thawne, who betrayed Barry. We don't need HR Wells to turn out to be evil speedster Savitar, who betrays Barry.

Eddie Thawne:
There's also a theory floating around that Savitar is really the late Eddie Thawne. Eddie was last seen in the Season 1 finale Fast Enough, where he killed himself to prevent his descendant  Eobard Thawne from ever being born. It worked, but then a singularity opened above Central City, sucking up cars and buildings into the sky.

What if Eddie's body was sucked into the singularity, and somehow ended up inside the Speed Force. I could definitely see Eddie blaming Barry for "creating" him. Plus Eddie would be insanely jealous of Barry's relationship with Iris, considering he was once engaged to her himself!

I really like this theory, and it would be a cool way to bring back Eddie. I have a feeling the writers won't be that clever though.

So who do I think it is? Honestly it could be any of them. I think Wally's too obvious, so I'm gonna say either Barry or HR. How's that for hedging my bets?

Funny how this episode was so somber, but just two weeks from now we're getting a lighthearted musical episode! I hope no one in the audience is injured by this abrupt tonal shift.

SPOILERS!

The Plot:
Barry and Jesse Quick help Wally train, trying to improve his speed. They're amazed when he finally breaks his own speed record, and is now fast enough to prevent Savitar from killing Iris.

Later Barry and Iris call a meeting of the entire cast at STAR Labs. They announce they're engaged, to the shock and surprise of everyone, especially Joe. He congratulates the happy couple, but seems hurt that Barry didn't ask his permission to marry Iris.

Suddenly there's a fire alarm, and Barry and Wally rush to the scene. On the way, Wally sees Savitar and stops in his tracks. Savitar grabs him and throws him against a wall. Barry sees Wally lying on the ground, but for some reason can't see Savitar (even though he's supposedly only visible to speedsters).

Back at STAR, Wally reveals he's been seeing Savitar for a week or so (SECRETS!) but didn't say anything because he thought it was all in his head (MORE SECRETS!). Barry tears him a new one over this and bans him from the team, fearing Savitar may be eavesdropping through him.

Barry asks Julian to channel Savitar again (since he was once possessed by him). Julian refuses, saying it's too traumatic. Caitlin sweet talks him into it with a kiss. They hook up Julian to an apparatus, and Savitar begins speaking through him. He tries getting into everyone's mind, and says several minutes worth of frustratingly cryptic crap: That Barry's the big bad, that both of them can't survive, that he's always been Barry's greatest enemy, that he created himself and on and on. He also tells Iris he's sorry she has to die, but it's either him or her (?). Barry angrily unhooks Julian from the machine.

The Gang suggests finding Savitar's acolytes to see if they have any intel on him. Barry tracks down Craig, an acolyte who's worshiping a statue of Savitar in a park (?). Craig has the box the Philosopher's Stone was kept in, which is odd, considering Barry threw it into the Speed Force back in The Present. Barry opens the box and sees it's empty. He takes it back to STAR Labs.

Cisco and the Gang examine the box, and determine that it's somehow the same one from the Speed Force. Barry worries that this means Savitar found the box and took the Philosopher's Stone from it.

Meanwhile, Wally wants Cisco to vibe him to the future, so he can see the moment of Iris' death. He says since everyone is counting on him to save Iris, he wants to scope out the area and know what he's getting into. Sounds reasonable to me, but Cisco thinks it's a bad idea because we need to pad the run time somehow. He eventually agrees, and he and Wally vibe to the future. Wally sees Savitar kill Iris, and then notices her hand is conspicuously ringless.

After the vibe, Wally charges into the Cortex and accuses Barry of proposing to Iris as a feeble effort to change the future. Barry sheepishly admits it's true, and that he hoped the presence of a ring on Iris' finger would somehow alter the future he saw (EVEN MORE SECRETS!). Iris storms out of the room.

After that uncomfortable scene, Caitlin admits to everyone that she kept a sliver of the Philosopher's Stone for herself, hoping it would somehow rid her of her Killer Frost powers (YET MORE SECRETS!).

Barry fears Savitar could use the sliver to return to Earth, and demands Julian channel him yet again (!) so they can locate him. I dunno if Julian's earning any kind of pay from STAR Labs, but if he is, he deserves a big raise for putting up with Barry's sh*t in this episode. Julian reluctantly agrees, they hook him up again, and Savitar begins rambling once more. Barry distracts Savitar long enough for Cisco to "pinpoint" him. He's somewhere in Central City. Well that narrows it down!

Back at the West house, Wally and Jesse have a heart to heart talk. Suddenly Wally sees his late mother beckoning to him, and embraces her. Jesse of course sees nothing, fearing her boyfriends lost his mind. Wally's "mom" tells him he's been working himself too hard lately, and he needs to slow down. He suddenly realizes his "mom" is really Savitar. Wally speeds off, ranting that he has to stop him once and for all.

At Star Labs, the Gang comes to the conclusion that Savitar can't exit the Speed Force without the ENTIRE Philosopher's Stone, so Caitlin's bone-headed idea actually worked out for the best. Just then Jesse zips in and tells them Wally ran off to fight Savitar. They check the containment room and find the Stone sliver's gone, apparently taken by Wally.

Wally zooms to an old warehouse and tries to open a portal to the Speed Force. Savitar appears and taunts Wally, telling him he's the one who created him and gave him his speed. Wally finally opens a portal and throws the shard into it. Suddenly it grows bigger and starts sucking him into it. Barry arrives on the scene, but there's nothing he can do but watch in horror as Wally's pulled into the Speed Force.

Savitar then crawls out of the portal, laughing that Wally's trapped in the Speed Force forever. Barry attacks him and actually gets a few hits in this time. Eventually Savitar stabs him in the chest. Barry vibrates his hand and severs Savitar's blade before passing out.

Barry wakes up in STAR Labs, as Caitlin pulls Savitar's blade from his chest and patches him up. Barry vows to get Wally back somehow.

Thoughts:
• I was a little discombobulated by the beginning of this week's episode. Last week's Attack On Central City ended with Barry proposing to Iris, her not answering and Wally running out for ice cream and encountering Savitar.

Then in this episode Iris has apparently accepted Barry's proposal behind the scenes, and Wally's training like nothing unusual ever happened. What the hell?

For a minute or two I honestly thought I'd missed an episode! Obviously quite a bit of time passed between these two episodes while we weren't looking. Heck, Wally's hair is even longer than it was last week!

• Joe's silent reaction to Barry and Iris' engagement announcement was a bit odd. I get that he's probably overwhelmed, but Jesus, he didn't even crack a smile! For a second I thought he was going to explode and say, "You two realize you're technically brother and sister, right?"

• Welcome to Portland, er, I mean Vancouver, I mean Central City! Yeah, that's where this is, Central City!

• When Wally finally admits he's been seeing visions of Savitar, Barry has a hissy fit and benches him. He says for all they know, Savitar could be spying on them through Wally's eyes. Meanwhile, Julian stands there listening, despite the fact that he was POSSESSED by Savitar on numerous occasions, and Barry doesn't say a thing to him.

In fact Julian himself brings up the possibility that he might be compromised:
Julian: "One will betray you" You may well have invited Judas into the group, Caitlin."
Caitlin: "It's not you."
Julian: "It's impossible to tell. Savitar could be controlling me, and none of us would know about it. None of us, not even me."

It turns out that Julian's wrong about Savitar using him to spy on the Gang, but how the hell did any of them know that?

Earth-19 Watch:
HR: "We're all still the Four Amigos here, right? What? You don't have that movie on this Earth?"

• When Julian's channeling Savitar, Barry asks him, "You want to tell me why we're enemies?" Savitar replies, "Because we had to be. Only one of us could live."

I'm betting that was another Harry Potter reference (no doubt because Tom Felton's a regular now). You know, similar to Voldemort's "Neither can live while the other survives."

• This episode spotlights the main problem with Savitar— He's a poor man's Ultron with an immobile, expressionless face, who's just not all that threatening. No matter how good The Flash's effects team is, a villain who looks like a CGI robot is never going to be as effective as a flesh & blood foe.

This is demonstrated perfectly during the high tech seance scenes. Savitar was a much more intimidating presence when he was simply a voice coming out of Julian's mouth.

Kudos to actor Tom Felton for actually becoming Savitar twice in this episode. He completely sold the notion that he was being possessed by the supervillain. It makes me wish they'd dump the robot look and give us a Savitar that can actually emote.

• This whole "Vibing To The Moment Of Iris' Future Death" thing is VERY inconsistent, and like most comic book science, it makes little or no sense.

For example, the first time Barry's thrown into the future, he sees Savitar kill Iris. Later Cisco vibes him to that moment, so he they can gather intel that might help them alter the future. This time Barry sees HR on a nearby roof with a rifle. So obviously this future moment can be changed.

Or can it? In this episode Wally vibes to the future and sees Iris isn't wearing the engagement ring Barry just gave her. But she doesn't stop wearing the ring until AFTER Wally vibes. So she should still be wearing it when he sees her.

So apparently the "vibe future" can be changed, except when it can't. We need some definite rules as to how this stuff works, so the audience can play along and the writers can't just do whatever's convenient for the plot.

• As we all know by now, The Flash writers love to name Central City's streets and buildings after various comic creators and TV writers. There are three such references in this episode. After the big engagement announcement, Cisco says there's a three alarm fire at the Raab Building. Benjamin Raab is a writer and producer on The Flash.

Craig the Acolyte is worshiping Savitar in a park on Mount Buccellato. It's named after Brian Buccellato, co-writer and colorist of The Flash comic during the New 52 period.

Later Wally confronts Savitar at "the old Kob Factory." David Kob is a writer and story editor on The Flash TV series.

• More Scientists Being Stupid in this episode: Caitlin admits kept a piece of the Philosopher's Stone, hoping it could somehow rid her of her powers. Luckily for everyone, her hair-brained decision turned out to be the right one, as it was the one thing keeping Savitar stuck in the Speed Force.

As Dr. Steve Brule would say, "Way to go, dummy!"

• Near the end of the episode, Savitar starts monologuing and reveals that he turned Wally into Kid Flash so he could take his place inside the Speed Force. Um... that's pretty much the exact same master plan that Eobard Thawne had back in Season 1. He was stuck here in the past, so he created the accident that turned Barry into the Flash, so he could siphon off his speed, add it to his own and run back to the future.

Thought we wouldn't notice that, didn't you, writers?

• After Wally's sucked into the Speed Force, a distraught Jesse runs out of the room. HR follows and before he can even say anything, she embraces him. It was a nice touch to have her turn to him for comfort as a substitute for her dad.

• I usually list the best and most fun lines of the episode each week, but this one was so grim and somber, it really didn't have any. Maybe next week.

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