Last week, Barry discovered who Savitar was – and it was himself, from the future, sort of. Turns out he is a Time Remnant.
This week, we get an explanation, as to what exactly happened that caused Barry to become Savitar. The two Barrys’ have a nice heart-to-heart, and Barry learns how Savitar is created.
But first, let’s talk tone.
The last several episodes of season 3 have been dark and broody. While I understand the need for some heavy bits in a show, it helps create the drama and pathos for the show. I get it. However, this is the “light” show, and Arrow is the “dark” show. To make comparisons, Arrow is a Batman show (complete with Batman villains), and Batman is a dark, brooding character. Arrow is dark and brooding, taking that place on DC TV, as they’ll never get a ‘real’ Batman show (always has to be a prequel, or something, because no *WAY* DC will let a character like Batman on TV (where it can generate positive feelings and good corporate karma), it’s WAY too valuable, and needs to be in theaters, where it can make a fortune, even when it’s terrible). SO we will never see another Batman TV show. Arrow is the closest we will get. Arrow, is the TV Batman.
That being said, Flash is the TV Superman. Superman is another character we’ll never get back on TV (well, not in his own show, right Tyler Hochen?) for similar reasons – he’s far too valuable in movies where he can make WB/DC millions, as opposed to on TV. We were lucky enough they were able to add Superman to the Supergirl show – but it took an entire season, a Network change, and a need for a serious ratings boost, before Superman was more than a distant blur and casual reference joke. Since he has shown up, however, nary a word about her ‘famous cousin’ until this last week when Jimmy (I mean James) was talking about his feelings.
So, Superman isn’t going to be on TV, and as a result, The Flash has taken his spot. Flash is supposed to be the light to Arrow’s dark, as I said. However, the last few weeks have been quite dark. Sure, it has to deal with Iris dying, and Wally’s reaction to it, which is a dark theme. But this episode showed exactly why Flash was a hit originally: comedy.
The Flash in the comics wasn’t always so light. Barry Allen was a lot more serious. He was cut from the normal superhero cloth, and took his responsibilities seriously. He even sacrificed himself to defeat the Anti-Monitor in a crossover event called “Crisis on Infinite Earths”, and if you are a Flash fan, and haven’t read that series, I highly suggest you find a way to read it. The TV show alluded to it back in season 1, when Thawne had the future paper showing 2024, and the “Flash disappears into Red Sky” event was a call-back to the crossover. After that event, a newer, younger Flash took up the mantle. It was Wally West, Kid Flash. And he had a lot more joy in using his powers (since he had them as a kid, and basically grew up super powered, as opposed to gaining his powers as an adult, like Barry). Wally was a little more of a joker (sorry, Joker), and a refreshing change from stoic Barry Allen. Wally loved using his powers, and loved helping people.
When DC made the animated Justice League (and the Justice League Unlimited that followed), the Flash was a lot more funny, and light hearted. One story arc (“A Better World”, where the Justice League has become the rulers of the Earth and named themselves the Justice Lords), showed that without the Flash around, the Justice League descends into despotic rulers. His jocular manner, and light hearted jokes are more in line with Wally from the comics, but this show made an impression, and a lighter hearted Barry was chosen to be the star of the live-action show.
So when the Flash goes dark, and does so for several episodes, it starts to weigh down.
Fortunately, this week, they showed they can still be a fun, enjoyable show, even while dealing with a terrible tragedy.
How did Barry turn into Savitar? Turns out it’s fairly straightforward. When Barry created Flashpoint, he changed reality, this has been established. When he reset Flashpoint, reality didn’t go back to exactly the same place, this was also explained previously. In creating Flashpoint, and all the other time travel Barry has done, he has sort of removed himself from paradox (as explained by Savitar – the more you time travel, the less the time travel rules apply to you!)
When Savitar is about to kill Iris, Barry creates a bunch of Time Remnants of himself. That simply means, he goes back into his own past, talks to himself, and convinces himself to come to the future to stop Savitar. He does this dozens of times. This is the same move Thawne used at the end of the Legends of Tomorrow season finale. It can’t be good for the timeline, but Barry does it anyhow. Savitar kills all of them. technically, this means a bunch of Past!Barry’s have all died. But since it’s in the past, Barry is unaffected. That’s where the Time Remnant thing gets weird. So Savitar kills all the time remnant copies of Barry – except one. He leaves one alive. Barry is broken, and turns into Emo!Barry from 2024 due to Iris dying. Then he puts Savitar into the Speed Force, where he escapes, and kills Iris, and in order to stop him, Barry gets a bunch of time remnants. This is, as Cisco correctly states, is a closed loop. Barry creates Time Remnants to stop Savitar, one lives and becomes Savitar, who goes to kill Iris, which Barry creates Time Remnants to stop, and so on.
So Savitar!Barry is a Time Remnant that lived, who is broken and alone, and scared, and afraid, and angry. So since, as he puts it, rules don’t apply to Gods, he tries to become the ‘God of Speed’ and renames himself Savitar. His only mission now, is to create himself by killing Iris. He has no other purpose, and if he doesn’t kill Iris, as Savitar, then Savitar will never be created.
Cisco then gets a great idea: What if Barry forgot who he was? Then Savitar would forget who he was, and the entire thing would stop, the loop would open up, and Savitar isn’t created because Iris isn’t killed, because Savitar forgot who Iris was. Now, Team Flash tried to simply block NEW memories from being formed, so SAvitar would only know past events, and not anything in the future. However, without Caitlin Snow, the neurologist and resident brain expert around STAR Labs – it went wrong. All of Barry’s emotional memories are erased. He still can walk, and talk, and knows Central City – but he has forgotten everything else. He doesn’t know Iris, doesn’t know Joe, and certainly not Team Flash.
Hilarity ensues, as Team Flash has to deal with a Flash who has forgotten he is the Flash, and forgotten he has any super powers. So they have to deal with a courthouse date, where Barry is supposed to testify in a case, as an expert witness. If he doesn’t an arsonist named “Heat Miser” (terrible name) will have his trial dismissed, and he will go free. Team Flash tries to circumvent Barry’s memory loss by using tech glasses with a screen printout on them. Julian feeds the right information to Barry, who then gives his testimony. It, of course, doesn’t go well. Turns out, the glasses were highly sensitive to liquids, and Barry’s sweat causes them to short-out. Long story short, bad guy goes free. Barry feels terrible, and wants to do something, but can’t.
Now that Barry has lost his memory, however, so has Savitar. That means, Savitar has no reason to give Wally his powers, which means now Wally is powerless, no longer Kid Flash. That also means, his deal with Killer Frost (aka Caitlin Snow) is over, and he nearly kills Frost as a result. So Frost shows up at Team Flash HQ (Will their security system *EVER* work??), and offers to help them fix Barry.
Frost (she hasn’t killed anyone, so Killer Frost is a misnomer right now) works with Team Flash, and calibrates the machine properly, to restore Barry’s memories, and thus giving Savitar his memories back. Cisco uses the opportunity to try to reach his best friend, the scientist buried inside the supervillain. He does his best, which Frost is unhappy with, but they finish the project, and get ready to reboot Barry’s brain.
Before that, Iris gets to spend some time with Barry, who is unweighted by all the dark stuff in his past. He smiles, he laughs, and he generally falls in love with Iris. Iris doesn’t want to give Barry his memories back, because she sees him so lighthearted, and carefree. They have a nice dinner, and return back to their shared apartment. LOVED it when Bart (the amnesiac Barry) asks “How can we afford this place?” and Iris simply ignores him. I guess he is independently wealthy now? Anyhow, the two of them get close, and nearly kiss, when suddenly Barry is running around the room at superspeed. It seems, his powers kicked in when he got excited. Now he knows he has powers, but doesn’t know anything about how to use them.
Unfortunately, Heat Miser, who took over as the local arsonist after Mick Rory joined the Legends of Tomorrow TV show, shows up in an office building and starts throwing flames around. So, this super villain is an arsonist. But he is so brazen as to commit crimes with a FRIGGIN FLAMETHROWER strapped to his back, no mask, no costume, and evidence of his crime in his hands. Why did they need a CSI again? So, he’s lame. But he starts a fire, and Kid Flash has no powers, and Flash has no memories, and no one can save anyone in the building, as firefighters watch the inferno helplessly beside their truck filled with water.
The Team has built in an electric shock device into Barry’s helmet (thanks guys?), which they think will fix the block, and let Barry remember everything again. Cisco, as a real friend, gives Barry about a second before he cranks the machine on, zapping Barry’s brain, and hopefully restoring his memories.
Ultimately, Barry’s memories are restored, which means Savitar’s memories are restored, which gives Wally his powers again, and Frost no reason to stick around. Barry and Wally return to STAR Labs, and try to convince Frost to stay around, and to let them help her. Julian even professes his love for her, but she coldly says she never loved him, or any of them, and walks out. Of course, in the elevator, we get to see her eyes change from Frost, to Caitlin, and back again. So there is hope she could be returned as a regular on the show (I will miss Caitlin if she isn’t around anymore. I can’t imagine they’ll do that to the actress, so I expect her to either be ‘cured’ or learn to control it or something.), and they’ll “never stop trying to get her back”, as Iris says to Barry.
At the end of the show, Savitar has his memories back, which gives Kid Flash his powers back, and they still have to figure out a way to stop Savitar.
If I were Barry, I’d just not create the Time Remnants when trying to stop Savitar. No Time Remnants, no Savitar, no Savitar, no death of Iris. And so the loop will end.
But knowing how The Flash works, and with there only being a few episodes left before the season ends, I am positive that Team Flash will find a way to stop Savitar, end the loop, and save Iris.
Only 2 more episodes left, so, expect things to really – shall I say it? – SPEED UP before then!
EXCELSIOR….wait, wrong company. I’ll see you next week!