Monday, July 15, 2024

The Once And Future Flash Shows Us The Grim and Dark Future

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After a good month of waiting, The Flash is finally back to bring us what happened after Barry made his decision to dwell into the future for answers on Savitar’s identity and also with Killer Frost’s awakening at STAR Labs.

So, picking right up where we had left off, Barry is figuring out the details of his journey into the future and figures out 2024 is probably a good date—in that journal from the timevault, which is dated April 25th, 2024 (yes, exactly eight years from the day the episode aired, how nice!) and talks about The Flash vanishing, there’s no mention of Savitar, so Barry concludes it’s probably because he had already imprisoned him by then.

He shares the news with Iris, who was looking up a photo album. She asks Barry to promise her that, if Savitar does end up murdering her, Barry must be there for Joe and Wally, making sure that they will end up okay in the end. Barry makes the promise just in time for the notification on her phone indicating an attack at Star Labs and we are reminded about the whole Killer Frost thing.

Caitlin is showing off her powers and being her usual “killer b*tch” when Cisco uses her powers so they can run away to one of the holding cells. However, KF catches up to him and just as she is about to kill them, The Flash shows up and stops her. She asserts herself on how she doesn’t want to be helped, traps Team Flash for literally one second and suddenly she is gone. I have absolutely no idea how this worked at all.

Barry decides to make the trip right away given he can go forward and be back to the same point in time like he had never even left. He asks Wally for his help because his super speed, which I guess is much, much faster than Barry (for reasons unknown) so that he can be thrust into the future. They do their things and, shazam, Barry lands in February 03rd, 2024.

Almost immediately, he is confronted by Top who blurts a “What is this, throwback Thursday?” and I get confused wondering if we are still going to be saying that eight years from now. I also love Ashley Rickards from her time on MTV’s Awkward, but Top is not a particularly bright role. Nonetheless, she uses her vertigo inducing powers to take away Barry’s equilibrium making him more prone to attacks from the Mirror Master; the villain couple is ruling the semi-deserted, cold-filtered, and hero-less Central City.

Barry manages to get away from them and visits the apartment in which he lived with Iris. He finds it trashed, empty, and dusty—the photo album from before is on the ground and it is quite sad. Wearing gloves now, Cisco barges in saying he felt a vibe that it was Barry using the speedforce. Barry explains that he came from 2017 for information from himself and Cisco deduces it is about Savitar.

Cisco takes Barry to meet up with 2024-Barry at the now empty and shut down STAR Labs. Some exposition comes in: HR had moved on with other things, Caitlin never came back from being Killer Frost, and Barry ended up putting an end to the entire Team Flash operation, becoming a recluse at the facility.

Barry finally meets the future version of himself (let’s call him Allen) who is sporting a sad face and a longer, emoish hairdo—believable, because Grant Gustin has great hair—and immediately recognizes his past self from “before she dies”. Allen tells Barry to go home because he can’t save her. Barry asks who Savitar is, but gets squat as answer: in 2024, Allen doesn’t even know it himself.

This wig though.

Given the failure in his journey, Barry decides to go back. He says goodbye to Cisco and starts running around to create the portal, but that also is rendered a failure because it won’t open leaving him stranded in the future. Cisco starts planting the seed in Barry’s mind that he could get the team back together and finally exposes a secret in a painful flashback—Killer Frost had attacked Vibe and her ice powers had destroyed his hands, leaving him with robotic prosthetic ones and without his powers.

Cisco takes Barry to check out the rest of the gang and the first stop is at a recluse facility where Julian works and also keeps Killer Frost imprisoned. She reveals something that Cisco had kept a secret: Killer Frost worked together with Savitar against Team Flash because Savitar got Killer Frost to accept her powers. Barry begs her to tell him who he is, but she refuses and even adds that he would be really surprised when he finds out. As a throwaway note, Killer Frost mentions that Wally went toe-to-toe with Savitar and thus could help him out.

And so the tour through dark!Central City makes a stop at the old West house where Barry and Cisco are greeted by a nurse. They soon see what’s become of Wally: basically, a catatonic person who doesn’t move after Savitar crashed his spine when Wally tried to revenge Iris’s death. Cisco says that, given Joe is not at the house, there’s only other place he could be…

… Which brings up to the cemetery where Joe is putting fresh flowers at Iris’s grave. Barry meets Joe who is non-receptive in any way whatsoever. He doesn’t outright tell Joe that he is from the past and gets some of the history: first Iris died, then Wally got injured, and finally Barry left Joe. Therefore, Barry is understandably inquisitive about his-future-self having abandoned Joe as he had just promised Iris he wouldn’t, but he leaves anyway as per Joe’s request.

Barry goes back to STAR Labs and finds Allen at the time vault by himself. Barry confronts Allen having left everyone alone after Iris dying which prompts him to explode on Barry:

“Then on the night of May 23rd, Iris West will die in your arms and in that moment where she takes her last breath, it will feel like an eternity and it will break you. She’s the love of your life, Barry… She was the love of my life. There will be nothing left at all but stopping Savitar. So, no, you won’t be there for Joe. You won’t be there when Caitlin becomes Killer Frost and Savitar destroys Wally. You won’t be there for any of them. But then one day you stop him, you lock him in the speedforce forever, but at that point… he already won, because everything that you’ve ever loved is gone, including you.” – Barry Allen, 2024.

And so Barry decides to go home again and Cisco is destroyed because he feels abandoned by Allen. Barry realizes that it is Cisco who has been keeping him in the future with a piece of tech he created that disrupts the resonance fields Barry creates when he runs. Cisco makes his last pitch and Barry prepares to go back to past…but he can’t leave the future so broken like this, so he goes back to meet Cisco and try to get the team back together.

Cut to HR, owner of Jitters, published author (yes, author “H.R. Wells”…gee, what a subtle and yet cute reference) “The Streak Vs. Mr. Reflecto”, and on his way to achieving a threesome when Barry takes him away from his public reading event just as he takes Julian and Joe from their respective places. Now, everyone is back together at STAR Labs for a good old Team Flash meeting.

Barry makes his grand old speech about how should have been there for everyone and how he plans on not abandoning them once he goes back in time. The metahuman app conveniently flashes and Team Flash is back again.

We catch Top and Mirror Master robbing a bank as the Flash interrupts them from their success-strutting.  So, like, congratulations to Tom Cavanagh who has played 3+ types of Wells so far who got to direct “The Once And Future Flash” for the next sequence because they straight up starting borrowing some concepts from Inception and Doctor Strange: Mirror Master’s and Top’s powers now can give the illusion of a huge ass building being bent right in front of Barry and it was fucking amazing.

And so, being unable to move, Cisco manipulates the device he used to stop Barry to adapt to the current needs in stopping Top and Mirror Master and it is up to a volunteering Allen to take the gadget to Barry—Allen is sporting an amazing, brighter, and more flashy costumes and comic book readers literally go up in awe. The fight becomes two against two now and the villains even attempt to run away, but that’s, well, entirely useless.

This looks so good!!

As the mission has been accomplished, Allen realizes that Barry is right and it is up to him now to get the family/team back on track despite their grief because, in the way, they really do need each other to cope with their losses. Plus, it works well timeline wise because, with the Flash back on action in 2024, he can vanish two months later.

As the gang leaves for 80% off coffee at Jitters, Allen tells Barry about how he was only able to capture Savitar four years prior with help from a physicist who cracked the technology for the speed force trap called Tracy Brand; guest star Anne Dudek comes in next week and I am so excited because I had a love/hate relationship with her character in House M.D. Still, Allen hands Barry a device with some information that might help Tracy figure it out sooner. So, Barry says goodbye to Cisco and leaves the future returning at the moment when he left.

I personally love when actors direct, so we are all collectively proud of Tom.

Barry shares the news about not knowing who Savitar is and about Caitlin aligning herself to Savitar as they realize they *really* need to help her. Barry has a soft moment with Joe and reaffirms that he will always be there for him.

So now we see the runaway Killer Frost and her promised meeting with Savitar. As Killer asks Savitar why should she trust him, he bows and his armors begins, very cinematically, to open up, and a mysterious figure steps out. Killer Frost closes the amazing episode with a “What do you need me to do?”.

Theories wise, the general speculation is that Cailtin would not react like that for anyone which leaves a few possibilities ranking first in the “Who Is Savitar” office pool: Ronnie Raymond goes first because of their romance and, even if the powers don’t line up, Caitlin will always love Ronnie; a future Barry which people have claimed to be the villain during S1 with the Reverse Flash and then again during S2 with Zoom, so naturally, his name steps up as Savitar—possibly even Eddie Thawne, somehow. I wonder if Savitar could actually be a female character like Jesse Quick or Iris West (somehow), even with everyone referring to Savitar as “him”.

But worry not: apparently, his identity will be revealed next week, so it’ll all be okay soon.

Images Courtesy of The CW

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