Sunday, May 7, 2017

The Flash Season 3, Episode 20: I Know Who You Are

Sorry this review is so late, but it was unavoidable. For the past three years I've been watching The Flash over the air on my local The CW station, Channel 7. This past Tuesday I sat down to watch it, and Channel 7 was just... gone.

All the other channels were still there, but for some reason that one wouldn't come in. I have this stupid indoor antennae that looks like a black plastic placemat, and I moved it all over the room trying to pick up the signal, but no dice. I even called the station to see if they were having technical difficulties, and they had no idea what I was talking about. 

Apparently sometime in the past week, someone erected a fifty story, lead-lined building between my house and the Channel 7 broadcast tower. So I didn't get to watch The Flash on Tuesday, and had to scramble to find an alternate source, hence the delay. I guess I'm gonna have to invest in a bigger and better antennae. Or move to a new house with better reception.


This week on The Flash, we finally, at long freaking last, learn the true identity of Savitar. It's about goddamned time too! I like mysteries as much as the next person, but this one was dragged out wayyyy too long. As I said last week, I hoped they revealed the secret soon, because I was about five seconds away from no longer giving a sh*t.

MASSIVE SPOILERS FROM THIS POINT ON, INCLUDING DISCUSSIONS OF SAVITAR'S TRUE IDENTITY! PROCEED AT YOUR OWN RISK!

Welp, I've been trying to guess Savitar's identity for weeks now, and named virtually everyone on the show as a possibility, including Barry. I'm not gonna say I called it though, because every week my choice of prime suspect would change. First I was sure it would be Wally, then I started suspecting HR, then Barry, Julian and even Eddie Thawne and Ronnie Raymond!

The writers laid the clues right out in the open for us all season. The biggest one of course came back in The Wrath Of Savitar. In that episode, Julian channeled Savitar, who spelled out a series of prophecies for the Gang, and ended with the somewhat cryptic statement, "I am the Future Flash!" 

There was much online debate over what Savitar actually meant here. Was he saying, "I am the future, Flash" with a big ol' comma? Or was he declaring his identity by saying, "I AM THE FUTURE FLASH!" We now know it was the latter. This is why punctuation is important, kids!

I'm not particularly crazy about the Barry As Savitar revelation, especially since it doesn't make any sense (more on that in a bit). I think Eddie Thawne would have been a much better candidate, and it would have been a cool way to bring him back to the show. Ah well.

The idea of introducing yet another Future Barry after we just met Future Barry in 2024 a couple weeks ago is a bit silly, and more than a little confusing. I guess this version is Future Future Barry?

The way Cecile suddenly received so much prominence this week, I was half expecting her to climb out of the Savitar armor at the end! That didn't happen of course, but I'm convinced the writers were using her as a last-ditch red herring.

Actually I think there's another reason why the show's desperately trying to remind us that Cecile exists. I'm calling it right now— she's going to get the spear through the heart instead of Iris in the season finale. Check back and see if I'm right.

I like this Killer Frost story arc, as she's one of the coolest (heh) and most kick-ass villains the show's ever had. The writers seem reluctant to let her cut loose and actually kill though. No doubt because that would taint the legacy of the Caitlin Snow character and prevent her from returning to Team Flash. 

I actually wouldn't mind seeing Killer Frost become the Big Bad of Season 4, but I know it'll never happen. The writers aren't that bold, and will no doubt restore Caitlin sometime in the season finale.

This week we're introduced to brand new character Tracy, er, Brand. It seems awfully late in the season to be adding new characters to the show, but what do I know?

On the other hand, what if the sudden appearance of Tracy Brand means the writers are grooming her as Caitlin's replacement, and Killer Frost is here to stay? That would mean HR is probably going to stick around too. That would be a first, as so far each season of the series has featured a completely different version of Harrison Wells.

Man, I swear, eighty percent of this week's budget must have gone toward writing pep talks for the characters. I counted at least five of them. HR gives Tracy Brand two, possibly three, Barry gives one to Joe and Julian gives a big "I believe in you, mate" to Cisco. It's grating enough when we get the requisite one pep talk each week, but five in the same episode is intolerable.

FINAL SPOILER WARNING!

The Plot:
We begin with Barry confronting Savitar on a deserted street as he says, "I know who you are!" Houston, we have a title!

But because the writers need to drag this mystery out as long as humanly possible, we then cut back to a few hours earlier. Joe and Cecile return from a run. Cecile's training for a marathon, and talks about needing to shave thirty seconds off her time, in an effort to make us wonder if SHE'S really Savitar. Joe makes a joke, and she casually says she loves him, which freaks him out. Fortunately for him he gets a call from Team Flash, and heads for STAR Labs.

At STAR, Barry fills the Gang in on his trip to the future last week. He tells them about Tracy Brand, a scientist who will eventually invent a way to trap Savitar in the Speed Force, and says they need to find her pronto.

Barry, Cisco and HR track Tracy down at Central City University. She's nothing like they expected, as she's scatterbrained, clumsy and disorganized. She says the university rejected her work, and Barry gives her Patented The CW Pep Talk #1, telling her not to let the "naysayers" get her down, as she's brilliant. He mentions her paper on "relativistic quantum mechanics and its application to inter-spatial theory to manipulate matter on a subatomic level," and quickly realizes that was a mistake, as she hasn't published it yet.


Before he can explain, Killer Frost appears and fires a deadly icicle at Tracy. Barry's able to shove her out of the way in time, and after a brief battle, Killer Frost leaves. Barry takes Tracy to CCPD to file a police report, though I can't for the life of me understand why. Barry tries to get her to stay at the station for her own protection, but she refuses and leaves. At the station, Cecile talks with Joe and says she's worried that confessing her love freaked him out.

Killer Frost meets with Savitar, who says she's not living up to her name. He orders her to kill Tracy Brand— or else.

Tracy goes to Jitters, and HR just happens to show up to keep an eye on her. He impresses her with his knowledge of her theoretical work (with the help of Cisco and Julian, who are feeding him info through an earpiece, Cyrano de Bergerac-style. Barry and Joe are also staking out Jitters, to protect Tracy from Killer Frost. Joe frets about bringing Cecile into the Team Flash fold, and Barry gives him Patented The CW Pep Talk #2, saying he needs to tell her soon or risk losing her.

Tracy tells HR that she's been studying speedsters, and she thinks they draw their powers from some energy source. HR says, "Like a Speed Force?" Tracy says that's exactly right, and the two begin hitting it off. HR takes a sip of his coffee, and sees it's frozen.

They rush outside, which seems like a bad idea, as Killer Frost appears and fires another icicle at Tracy. Barry saves her again, and Killer Frost forms an ice slide to zoom away, which may be the coolest thing this show's ever done. Barry chases her through the city, but apparently Killer Frost is somehow now at least as fast as he is, if not faster.

Barry radios Cisco and says he's going to try and herd Killer Frost toward him, and to be ready to blast her with a vibe. As she heads toward Cisco, he starts to vibe her, but hesitates. She fires a blast of ice at him. Barry manages to knock him out of the way, but is hit by the ice blast and falls down a staircase into the subway. Killer Frost follows, stabs him in the leg with an icicle and gets away.

Back at STAR Labs, Team Flash decides they have no other choice and bring Tracy in. They tell her everything that's going on, and
 how she's destined to invent a way to trap Savitar inside the Speed Force, and that they need her to do it like, right now, in order to save Iris. She flees from the building in a panic, and rightly so.

Julian asks Cisco why he didn't vibe Killer Frost and stop her when he had the chance. He says she's his best friend, and he's afraid of accidentally killing her. Barry asks Joe if he's told Cecile about Team Flash yet. Joe says no, as she's the only thing in his life that's still normal. 

HR tracks down Tracy, who's sitting in front of a statue of Galileo at the university. He brings her another cup of her favorite coffee, and instead of calling the police on this creeper who keeps following her around, she sits and talks with him. She says the revelation about her future was too much for her, and she needed time to clear her head. HR gives her Patented The CW Pep Talk #3, saying he "believes in her." Oy. The return to STAR Labs.

Meanwhile, Cecile visits Joe at his house to talk about what happened earlier in the day. Joe tells her his life is "really complicated" right now, and thinks they should stop seeing one another (!). Wow, I thought Barry was an idiot when it came to his love life, but Joe just gave him a serious run for his money. Ger it? Run for his money? Eh? Cecile's understandably upset and angrily leaves, which I'm sure was meant to make us think she's running off to put on her Savitar suit.

A second after Cecile leaves, there's a knock on Joe's door. He opens it and sees Killer Frost holding a deadly sharp icicle at Cecile's throat. Again with the icicles! She gives him an address, and tells him to bring Tracy there or she'll kill Cecile.

Back at STAR Labs, Julian gives Cisco Patented The CW Pep Talk #4, saying he believes in Cisco, and is confident he can stop Killer Frost without killing her.

HR asks Tracy if she can help them with something dangerous. Cut to yet another abandoned warehouse somewhere in Central City, as the Flash and Joe wander in with Tracy. They see Cecile tied to a chair, as Killer Frost appears and tells them to hand over Tracy. 

Barry tells her she doesn't have to do this, going on and on about how they're family. Killer Frost mocks him, saying every word a split second before he does. When Barry asks how she's doing that, Killer Frost says Savitar told her everything he'd say. She says, "You two are more alike than you know." Hmm...

Killer Frost also says she knows about the explosives that Team Flash SOMEHOW hid in the rafters, where Cisco is hiding. She blasts the explosives, setting them off. Cisco vibes himself out of harm's way just in time. Killer Frost shoots an ice blast at Joe, and Barry jumps in front of him to absorb it. He's encased in ice and incapacitated.

She then turns her attention to Cisco and attacks him. They fire their blasts at one another, which are somehow evenly matched for a while. Finally Cisco's had enough and turns up his power to eleven, blasting Killer Frost across the room and knocking her out. He takes a sample of her blood so Julian can synthesize a cure in the season finale. Suddenly Savitar appears, scoops up the unconscious Killer Frost, and leaves. Um... why didn't he just go ahead and kill Tracy while he was at it?

Back at STAR Labs, Julian takes the blood sample and says he may be able to synthesize a cure in the season finale. HR flirts with Tracy some more. She says she thinks Savitar wears protective armor because he needs it to protect himself from the enormous energies his extra super speed generates. She says she thinks she can alter the suit to trap him within the Speed Force. HR gives her Patented The CW Pep Talk #5 and says he knew she was a genius all along.

Joe and Cecile talk at the CCPD. He admits he tried to end their relationship because he didn't want her involved with all the Team Flash weirdness. He says that from now on there'll be no more lies between them, and tells her everything— including Barry and Wally's secret identities!!! Hey, why not? The whole city already knows, so what's one more person?

Joe goes home, where Barry and Iris are relaxing on the couch. Wally returns from his Earth-3 booty call, and tells them Jesse says hi. Joe informs them that he told Cecile everything, because "Love's the only thing we got in this world, and who knows what we'd become if we didn't have it?" For some reason, this causes Barry to start having flashbacks to every time he's encountered Savitar all season. 

He sees Savitar saying, "You did this to me, Barry" and "I created myself." He sees Killer Frost saying, "Savitar told me everything you'd say. You two are more alike than you realize. He's always one step ahead of you." He sees Cisco saying, "This wasn't just brushing up on days to come. This was precise. Like Savitar was there." And he sees Julian channeling Savitar, saying, "I am the future Flash."

Barry excuses himself and zooms out of the house, as we catch up to the beginning of the episode. He confronts Savitar on a deserted street and says, "I know who you are!" Savitar kneels down and his suit opens up. A future version of Barry Allen steps out, the right side of his face horribly scarred to indicate he's eeeeevil
. He says, "Like I told you from the beginning... I am the Future Flash."

Thoughts:
• It's tough to write a time travel story that isn't riddled with plot holes and actually makes sense. For example, last week Barry traveled seven years in the future, and encountered his older self. When Present Barry asked this Future Barry who Savitar was, he said he didn't know, as he still hadn't found out. So far, so good.

However, this week we see that Present Barry figures out that Savitar is really a future evil version of himself. If 2017 Barry knows Savitar's identity, then 2024 Barry should know it as well.

I suppose you could blame this massive plot hole on Barry's constant screwing with the timeline. Maybe his actions erased that 2024 version of himself that didn't know anything. But if that's true, then 2024 Barry wouldn't have been able to give 2017 Barry info about Tracy Brand, so we're right back where we started.

See? I told you writing coherent and logical time travel stories is hard!

• Another time glitch: Savitar's from the future, so he knows Tracy Brand is the person who will eventually invent the method that traps him forever in the Speed Force. So why is he just now deciding she has to be eliminated? Why didn't he killer her years ago, before the Flash became a threat to him? Why not kill her when she was a kid? Or wipe out her parents and prevent her from ever being born?

Answer: Because the writers just now thought of Tracy Brand and the Speed Force Prison idea. 

• Another missed opportunity for Savitar at the end of the episode, Barry, Cisco, Tracy, Joe and Cecile are all standing around, looking down at the unconscious form of Killer Frost. Savitar rushes in, and even though he wants to kill Tracy and she's right there, he leaves her alone as he scoops up Killer Frost and zooms away.

Um... why the hell didn't he take one ten millionth of a second to kill Tracy before making off with Killer Frost? And why the hell is he sending Killer Frost after her in the first place, instead of killing her himself? To give Killer Frost more screen time?

And while we're at it, why is Savitar waiting until a specific date in May to kill Iris? Now that Barry knows about this deadline, he's doing everything in his power to stop it. Why doesn't Savitar just kill her now, while no one's expecting it and their guards are down?

The answer is that the writers have backed themselves into a corner here, with no good way out. They've made Savitar too powerful. He's faster than Barry and Wally combined, and could easily snap the necks of everyone in Central City in between blinks. The writers can't think of a good reason why he wouldn't just do that, so they just kind of rush past it and hope we don't think about it too much either.


• At STAR Labs, Julian's angry, as he feels Team Flash isn't doing everything in their power to find Caitlin/Killer Frost. He says, "Right, so what is Wally doing swanning off to Earth-3 to be with his girlfriend?"

That's a good point, Julian. Isn't there kind of a crisis going on, what with Savitar and Killer Frost being on the loose and all? Plus wouldn't he maybe want to spend as much time as possible with his sister, before her potential death in May? Is this really the best time for an interdimensional booty call? Because obviously that's why he went, right?

I could almost understand this if there was some kind of scheduling conflict, and actor Keiynan Lonsdale was unavailable for filming and needed to be hastily written out this week. But later on he pops up at the end of the episode! Weird.


• Back in Shade, the Gang decided to tell HR that he has the same face as wanted murderer Harrison Wells here on Earth-1. This means that HR can't ever leave STAR Labs, or he'll be arrested on the spot. Instead of killing Cisco and the Gang for putting him in such an unpleasant situation, HR simply uses some kind of Earth-19 morphing tech to alter his face, so he can safely move about on Earth-1. I know, it's kind of confusing.

So when HR starts flirting with Tracy, which face is she seeing? Is she seeing his morphed face, or his Harrison Wells murderer face?

Now that I think about it, this morphing face deal caused a huge plot hole a couple weeks ago in The Once And Future Flash. In that episode, we see HR in the year 2024, reading from his latest romance novel to a crowd of adoring MILFs (well, that's what they are). 

On the back of the dust jacket, we see a publicity photo of HR's true face. So... did no one in 2024 notice that this writer has the exact same name and face as a wanted killer? There's no statute of limitations on murder, so Harrison Wells would still be wanted even in 2024. Whoops!

I have a feeling the writers hoped we'd all forgotten about the whole "morphing face" thing by now.

 Apparently Central City University has a Theoretical Physics program. I dunno just how big Central City is, but I get the impression it's a medium-sized place, with a population of well under a million. Probably about the size of Indianapolis or Louisville. I will let the reader decide if a city of that size would have a school with such an advanced program.

After Killer Frost attacks Tracy for the first time, we immediately cut to the CCPD. There Tracy apparently files a report, and describes Killer Frost to a police sketch artist.

Whose idea was THAT? Barry and Joe know all too well what Killer Frost looks like and who she is. So why go through the motion of involving a sketch artist? Or filing a police report, for that matter.


I guess maybe Tracy insisted on doing both, since that's standard procedure when someone tries to kill you? It still doesn't make much sense in the context of the episode though.

And how much do you want to bet that the "police artist" was a penciller at DC Comics?

• I've been pretty hard on The Flash costume designers this season, and with good reason. More often than not, they stick an actor in a tight-fitting, generic black leather suit and call it a day. Their costumes give new meaning to the word uninspired.

Credit where credit's due, they finally stepped up and gave Killer Frost a, well, killer looking outfit. Yeah, it's still leather, but it's kind of dark blue this time, and they broke up the usual catsuit with a short skirt and thigh boots. Kudos! See, guys? I knew you could do it if you stopped playing with your phones long enough to do some actual work.

• Killer Frost's "ice ramps" may be the coolest thing I've ever seen in a live action superhero TV show or movie. Lord knows how the miles-long ramps stay suspended in the air without breaking apart, but it was still pretty darned awesome.

One small nitpick here after Killer Frost takes off on her ice ramp, Barry chases after her. She actually manages to outrun him for a while. So that has to mean when she's skating along on her ramps, she's actually faster than the Flash, right?

Of course she borrowed this mode of transportation from Iceman of Spider-Man And His Amazing Friends fame, but it was still pretty awesome. Have we ever seen Iceman do this in any of the X-Men movies? I honestly can't remember.

• Earth-19 Watch:
On Earth-19, french fries are called "finger chips."

HR claims to have written a book there about motivational speeches, called All's Wells That Ends Wells.

Also, Albert Einstein may have been named "Norbert Einstein." Or not. Here's a snippet of conversation between Cisco and HR:

Cisco: "Ahh, the soul-sucking fluorescence of academia."

HR: "Yeah, this is exciting, though. It's like meeting Norbert before he was Einstein."
Cisco: "Albert."
HR: "Norbert Albert?"

I'm actually not sure what's going on there, or exactly what Einstein was called on Earth-19.

• Last week Future Barry gave Present Barry some kind of advanced flash drive containing info about Tracy Brand. I said I hoped Cisco would be able to figure out how to read the data on a storage medium that hadn't yet been invented.

This week we see that the storage device is actually self-playing. You push a button and it projects a hard-to-see hologram in the air in front of you.


The writers know I'm watching....

• Did Barry and Iris say a single word to one another in this episode? Weird. Eh, no need to talk to your fiancee, Barry. She's got a whole three months left to live.


• After Killer Frost kidnaps Cecile, she tells Joe to have Team Flash bring Tracy to an abandoned (of course) warehouse. Once there, Killer Frost says Savitar told her all about the explosives the Gang planted in the rafters.

Um... just how were they able to accomplish that? When did they have time to sneak into the warehouse and plant the explosives? And why would Savitar let them do it, if he's really Barry and knows that's what they're planning?

• Sigh... yet another person now knows Barry's identity, as Joe tells all to Cecile. I honestly don't know why Barry even bothers with a mask at this point. Joe even told Cecile about Wally too.

I wonder if Barry told Tracy as well? They bring her into Star Labs, but I think Barry had his mask on while she was there.

• OK, so at some point in the future, Barry— or some alternate Earth version of him— becomes Savitar. All season long, Savitar's been whining about how Barry "took everything from him," which I assume means Iris. So then why is Savitar trying to kill her? Seems like ANY version of Barry, past, present or future, would want to prevent her death, not cause it.

I'm not going to chalk this up as a mistake just yet, because they've still got two episodes left to come up with a satisfactory explanation for this. I ain't holdin' my breath though.

• You can tell Future Future Barry is eeeevil, because he has a giant facial scar. I'm honestly surprised they didn't give him a goatee.

• This Week' Best Lines:
Cecile: "The Central City Marathon is in two months, and I gotta shave... ooh! I still got half a minute I gotta take off my time.You?" 
Joe: "A lot more than 30 seconds. Look, I am going to wait for you at the end of the marathon."
Cecile: "No, you’re not pulling out of this thing."
(This wasn't really that great a line, but I have to admit my inner fourteen year old giggled at the "not pulling out" line. Sorry!)

Cisco: "So you've gone full-on Killer Frost, huh? New threads and everything."
Killer Frost: "No more pencil skirts for me."

Tracy: "See, I've been studying speedsters."
HR: "Oh?"
Tracy: "And so you know how, when they run, they generate a trail of lightning behind them?"
HR: "Lightning."
Tracy: "I don't think all of that is generated by them running. I think some of it comes from somewhere."
HR: "Mm-hmm."
Tracy: "Like, it's some sort of a... like a..."
HR: (tentatively) "Speed... Force?"
Tracy: "Yeah... Wait, That is a great term for it."
HR: "Well..."
Tracy: "Speed Force."
HR: "Thanks."
Tracy: "Anyway, so I've been doing some calculations."
HR: "Mm-hmm?"
Tracy: "I think there might be a way to manipulate it."
HR: "Mm-hmm?"
Tracy: "Maybe even control it."
HR: (again, tentatively) "Maybe even turn it into a prison?"
Tracy: "Maybe. Um, yeah."
HR: "Yeah, yeah. I mean, just a random thought."
(HR and Tracy were really great together in this episode, which makes me hope they both stick around for Season 4)

Barry: "So what, you're Savitar's lackey now?"
Killer Frost: "More fun to reign in hell and all that."
(apparently Caitlin's read Paradise Lost!)

Tracy: "Okay, and the the White Witch? I'm guessing you know why she's after me."
Iris: "Well, she's teamed up with an evil speedster from the future, and apparently you developed the technology to trap him for an eternity, so..."
Tracy: "You can't be serious."
HR: "Totally serious."
Tracy: "An evil speedster?"
Barry: "He calls himself Savitar."
Tracy: "Savitar? And he's from the future?"
Barry: "Yup."
Tracy: "And I build a trap for him? Me?"
Iris: "You."
Barry: "He wants to kill you before you build it. That's why he's sending Killer Frost after you."
Tracy: "Killer Frost? Her name is Killer Frost?"
HR: "Yeah."
Joe: "We know it's a lot to take in."
Tracy: "Well, to be fair, you're basically telling me I'm Sarah Connor in Terminator."
Team Flash: (together) "Well..."
HR: "Uh, more like..."
Cisco: "Miles Dyson."
HR: "Yeah. But good effort, though."

Tracy: "I think Savitar travels so fast that he needs that suit to neutralize the charge he builds up around him."
HR: "Huh. Interesting. So without the suit, he's just a dude with a bad case of static cling."

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