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The Flash season 3 episode 21 recap: Just like Bart

It’s all up to Savitar

The CW

Last week, we didn't run a Flash recap here at Polygon because there were too many big real world things happening, like a Writer's Strike and such. Last night, in the real world, maybe democracy was crumbling, but Bart Allen, otherwise known as Kid Flash, was there to save us.

Bart? Yes, Bart.

In our last episode, we finally found out that Savitar — the speedster robot god — was actually Evil Barry Allen from the future. Why and how? Well, tonight we start getting some of those terrible pieces put together. Turns out that a time remnant version of Barry basically gets created as part of the effort to stop Savitar ... in the future. This time remnant Barry is basically treated as an outcast because he's both required to defeat Savitar but also becomes Savitar, and he's obviously super bummed about that.

So he makes a big evil robot suit and becomes his destiny. Yeah, this is all bad, but here's the work around that makes sense: The more time Barry spends stupidly messing up Time, the less Time can be controlled. Barry made so many bad Time Choices, Barry essentially ruined time. You know what? Yup, I buy it. I spent three years yelling at Barry for being bad at this, and finally even time ttself has to agree.


As part of a not-that-well-thought-out plan, the team decides to destroy Barry's ability to remember things moving forward, as they create a plan to stop Savitar, hoping this means that future Barry won't be able to beat them to the punch. The result is that Barry accidentally gets an entire memory wipe, and holy cow we have an actual Fun Flash Episode in ways we haven't touched since season one.

Barry is delightfully awkward about not knowing his own name, the color of the skin of his brother, who he is romantically linked to, and even his super powers. The result is that everyone else in Team Flash gets to project their hopes and beliefs for Barry back onto him, while he seems to be dealing with a self-inflicted disaster on-par with the greatest meta villainy.

Also, Barry makes fun of his own headshots. We've got Meta, folks.

Even Julian does emoji jokes. That's how delightful this week is. The biggest ass on the show acts like a teenage girl. I forgot what it was like to like everyone here.

Barry winds up in a courtroom where he has to fake his way through a criminal deposition and winds up ruining Date Night with Iris by suddenly discovering his powers. Meanwhile, H.R. and Tracy have a super cute romance, and the rest of the team is trying their best to turn Caitlin back into a member of the team. (Caitlin's Savitar team-up has been delayed on account of Savitar also losing all his memories, which is also pretty great.)

Then we wind up with a Bart Allen who is free of all his memories and tragedies while he re-learns how to be The Flash. Just seeing Barry Allen get excited about running fast again is delightful in its own right. No matter how the show ends this season, this is an honest reminder of what we're fighting for, without needing anyone to explain it.

Later, mid-super-villain attack, they reboot Barry's memory but it won't kick in until something visceral adds fuel to the flame. So Iris has to walk him through his mother's murder while he deals with citizens trapped in a burning skyscraper. It's one of the darkest scenes the show has ever taken on, and it reboots Savitar in the process. I know we can't expect the show to be this good all the time, but it's nice to be rewarded for sticking it out with the occasional reminder that this is really, really worth our time.

It's an important episode in the development of Barry because it's the first time he's had to accept who he is and that he is capable of tremendous darkness— and may even want to inflict that on others. No matter how this season ends, Barry is no longer The Too Nice Guy whose insufferable adherence to an imagined mortality has kept him from ever growing up. Barry Allen has accepted his darkness, and that means Barry Allen can finally change.

Then the show teases that Captain Cold and King Shark will be here next week. Bully. Bully for you. Let's end this with a tremendous bang.

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