The Flash – The Once and Future Flash
By: Stacy Miller
The episode picks up from where the previous one left off. Killer Frost (Danielle Panabaker) is in STAR Labs. Caitlin Snow is dead; she’s in charge now. And to prove it, Killer Frost starts tearing STAR Labs apart, smashing everything in sight. This causes H.R. (Tom Cavanagh), Cisco (Carlos Valdes) and Julian (Tom Felton) to take cover and then run for their lives!
Not knowing any of this is happening, Barry (Grant Gustin) is in the loft with Iris (Candice Patton) researching the future to determine the best time to go to in his quest to learn Savitar’s identity in order to stop him from killing her. As there isn’t any mention of Savitar in the year 2024, Barry believes that he must have defeated him by then and that means that he needs to go to 2024. Iris is looking at photos and tells Barry that although she has faith in him, if he is unable to keep Savitar from killing her she wants him to promise that he’ll be there for her dad. Barry reassures Iris that won’t happen, but does promise that he will look after Joe (Jesse L. Martin).
Back at hideout headquarters a/k/a STAR Labs, H.R., Cisco and Julian are in the pipeline. Julian starts singing “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot” which doesn’t bode well that he thinks they’ll make it out alive. The door opens as Killer Frost is able to get through the locked partition. “Hey dummies, my palms still work,” she taunts, because her Caitlin Snow handprint cracked the security. It looks like she’s going to put them in a deep freeze, but The Flash arrives in the nick of time. Killer Frost escapes. There’s no time to argue about Julian going against Caitlin’s wishes by removing her pendant and unleashing the icy menace as Barry needs to head off to 2024. Maybe stopping Savitar will also help to stop Killer Frost. Barry and Wally (Keiynan Lonsdale) speed off to the future, but only Barry makes it through the breech. He arrives in 2024 which is a bleak place. He is welcomed to the future by Sam Scudder a/k/a Mirror Master (Grey Damon) and Rosalind Dillon a/k/a Top (Ashley Rickards). And by welcome, I mean Mirror Master punches him and leaves him on the ground. The villains are surprised to see The Flash as the superhero has been MIA for years. They have no idea that they are looking at The Flash of the past. Barry manages to get away from Mirror Master and Top. The next person he sees in 2024 is Future Cisco. Ramon realizes right away that this is not his Barry, but is glad to see Barry from 2017 as that can only mean one thing; he came from the past to stop Savitar. Future Cisco brings Barry to STAR Labs where Allen meets his future self. After Iris’ death, Future Barry disbanded Team Flash and basically became a bitter, defeated recluse. And Future Barry is no help because he never learned Savitar’s real identity. Since this was the whole reason for his trip to the future, Barry decides he might as well return home. However, he is unable to make the speed leap back into the past. Barry is trapped in 2024! And, unfortunately, Future Cisco can’t help him get home. After a battle with Killer Frost, the Ice Queen froze off his hands so the robotic limbs he is now forced to wear makes him unable to vibe.
Since Barry can’t return back home to the past, Future Cisco wants him to help them in 2024. As they no longer have an active Flash, they can use him. He brings Barry to Iron Heights where Julian works. Julian is surprised to see the past’s version of Allen. Julian shows Barry that he has Killer Frost locked up. She tells Barry that they were never friends. In fact, she joined up with Savitar to defeat Team Flash. Savitar helped her to see who she really was. She was more than Caitlin Snow. As Killer Frost is talking about Savitar, Barry realizes that she knows who Savitar really is. But even though Killer Frost admits that she knows Savitar’s real identity, she refuses to reveal it to Barry.
The future is a depressing place as Team Flash are shells of their former selves, broken and bitter. Future Wally (Keiynan Lonsdale) is no longer Kid Flash; he is now confined to a wheelchair after his battle with Savitar. Whatever happened with Savitar left Wally in an unresponsive state. Barry finds Future Joe visiting Iris’ grave. West is surprised to see Barry there as Allen hasn’t come to see Iris in years and also is no longer a part of his life. When watching this scene, I felt saddened for many reasons. The obvious one is that Iris is actually dead and there was nothing Barry could have done to save her. But as bad as that was, the idea that in his grief Barry left Joe to deal with his loss alone was especially disheartening. Joe had been there for a young Barry when the boy’s parents had died but Barry didn’t do the same for him. Barry leaves the cemetery and returns to visit his future self and berates Future Barry for not keeping his promise to Iris by being there for Joe when he needed him the most.
The hopelessness of Team Flash is something that Barry could have never imagined. Each time they faced a threat, they were always there for each other and that’s what made them strong. Now, each and every member of the team had gone their separate ways. Iris’ death had torn everybody apart, which is something that she never would have wanted to have happened. Barry realizes that he was unable to go back to his own time because Future Cisco was keeping him in the past to help them. Barry vows that he will bring Team Flash back together as the first step in fixing the future. So, Barry as The Flash super speeds all over Central City to bring Team Flash back to Star Labs. He even interrupts H.R. who is giving a reading of his latest book. The reassembled Team Flash see the two Flashes together. Future Joe realizes that the person he was talking to in the cemetery wasn’t his Barry. Present Day Allen tells his friends from the future that they have to work together to save their world from the bad guys; starting with Mirror Master and Top.
The two Flashes square off against the villains because as you know, two Flashes are better than one. Mirror Master and Top are worthy adversaries with Top giving The Flash vertigo, her specialty. But in the end, through determination and teamwork, The Flashes defeat Mirror Master and Top. Back at future STAR Labs, Team Flash listen to a television news report in which the long dormant Flash is thanked for coming back to fight and protect Central City. Although Future Barry will never get over losing Iris, he is determined again to be the hero that his city needs him to be as he knows that is what Iris would have wanted. Barry has to return to his own time. But before he leaves Future Barry tells him that although he never found out Savitar’s real name, there may be another way to help save Iris’ life. Apparently four years after Savitar kills Iris a physicist named Tracy Brand developed technology that made it possible to trap Savitar in the Speed Force. Future Barry gives Present Day Barry a flash drive that contains Dr. Brand’s information. If when he returns back to his own time, Barry is able to find Dr. Tracy Brand and help her to develop the technology sooner he will be able to save Iris as Savitar will be trapped in the Speed Force and unable to kill her. With this information, Barry returns back to his own time to help save the life of the woman he loves. And for the first time since he learned of Iris’ deadly fate, there appears to be a concrete way to keep her from Savitar’s deadly reach.
As the episode concludes, Killer Frost in the present day meets with Savitar, who promises her that he can guarantee that Caitlin Snow never returns. This appears to be what Future Killer Frost was telling Barry about how she and Savitar forged a partnership. But although Killer Frost wants to keep Caitlin at bay, she is leery about trusting Savitar. That is, until he shows her who he really is. So, it’s obvious from Killer Frost’s look when she sees Savitar and her response to him that he is someone that she knows and has no problems with trusting. Savitar’s identity was revealed to a character but, unfortunately, viewers may have to wait until next week (or longer depending on what the writers have in mind) to learn who Savitar really is.