Welcome back, Flash fans. We’ve had an entire month off, but no time has passed in S.T.A.R. Labs, so we’re getting right back into it. The crew is all gathered together for yet another poor series of time travel choices and, like it or not, you're along for the ride.
(But you'll mostly like this one.)
Directed by the cast member who wears the most hats (Tom Cavanagh) and written by The Originals‘ Carina Adly MacKenzie, this new episodes mines some familiar territory and brings a few frustrations I have with the show back to the forefront. The episode does, however, have some of the most meaningful development in this weirdly frustrating season
When we last left off, Caitlin Snow had become Killer Frost in the middle of Flash Lab Central, and the whole team was in a hazardous weather watch. Again, for the life of me I do not understand why meta powers keep turning people evil, especially with Caitlin who cannot seem to overcome the darkness of needing to murder her friends. I'm sure there are plenty of answers for this that can be found in the comic, but the show has never given a good explanation to make Caitlin's personality changes seem anything but campy.
Frosty disappears and Barry decides this exact moment is the perfect time to run away into the future and make everything worse for everyone. Typical Barry.
See, Barry's still stuck on the fact that a giant robot may kill Iris, so he's checking out the "Flash Disappears" newspaper article we first saw in the show's pilot. This gives him the idea to run to 2024 and ask himself how to beat Savitar or maybe just get a secret identity to work with. It's not his worst plan, because it's not nearly as bad as going back and ruining the past. After Wally throws Barry into the future, we leave the present Team Flash to just chill while Barry goes on a journey.
Barry arrives in 2024 and is immediately engaged in street warfare by Top and Mirror Master. Almost no one in this episode seems to have aged that much in eight years, so don't go looking for that. Barry does manage to find a super-twitchy weirdo Future Cisco, who has lost his Vibe power when Killer Frost shattered his hands — a super damn dark moment for this show, but certainly not the last sad turn this episode.
Future Barry lives in the basement of S.T.A.R. Labs and looking at pictures of Iris. Eight years later this is still all he is doing. He also never discovered Savitar's identity, and it turns out trapping him in the speed force requires technology that won't be developed until four years after Iris gets murdered.
Also, the whole point of this particular narrative rests on a newspaper report that Flash has disappeared in 2024. But he's already been in self-imposed exile for eight years and is kind of an emo prick? Who ... who notices a few months after this that Flash is gone? Why would anyone care?
Elsewhere, the rest of the team is all fractured and sad, including a Killer Frost who apparently joins up with Savitar to help wreck the team but is now being kept in a very nice cell. Joe and the rest of the team are a wreck, but H.R. is doing very well in the literary world, the coffee owning world and the making love to multiple women world.
Realizing that the future is a bust, Barry tries to get back home but can't. He sticks around, trying to put the team back together so they can take down Top and Mirror Master. While these two have learned some neat Doctor Strange world twisting tricks, the question remains: What are we doing here? Does Barry really not understand how time travel works? Still? When he changes anything in the past, this all gets undone, so we're literally wasting time.
Future Barry winds up giving Real Dumb Barry a future flash-drive with information on trapping Savitar in the speed force. Why he can't just print this information off on usable paper no one knows. Barry heads back to Current Time Earth One and has just enough sad future knowledge to know that he needs to have a cool date night with Iris.
This is fine. It was a good episode, even if it was pointless aside from getting the crucial Death Star plans.
Then we get the tease that Savitar is already teaming up with Killer Frost, and finally shows her his true form. He's a dude in a robot suit and someone she already knows and trusts. Who could this be? Ronnie, her former husband, perhaps, who Killer Frost teamed up with on Earth Two. Or perhaps H.R. because the villain is always Tom Cavanagh. Or, please no, not a double of Barry.
But we also have H.R.'s face changing technology still on the table from earlier in the season, so who knows who it is that Savitar actually winds up killing? There's enough weird tricks and speed force magic left in these final episodes to do some serious damage to whatever plot we'd already sussed out. This journey into a dark future has already put Barry at odds with himself (and a couple of b-villains) so maybe we can turn towards finding some shred of hope next.