The true identity of evil speedster villain Savitar is revealed on ‘The Flash’, and it turns out I was sort-of right in one of the guesses I made last week – which is not to say that the answer makes much logical or even narrative sense.
Before Barry left the future in the prior episode, his annoying future self gave him a data drive with information about a scientist named Tracy Brand, who built the Speed Force trap that eventually captured Savitar. The problem, he explained, is that Brand won’t build it until four years after Iris’ death, too late to save her. Upon returning to 2017, Barry fills the team in on what he learned (except Wally, who’s absent for most of the episode with a vague explanation that he felt it was a good time to go visit Jesse on Earth-2).
They read up on Tracy Brand and discover that, not only has she not built the Speed Force trap, she hasn’t even graduated college yet; she’s still a grad student. (Note that actress Anne Dudek is currently 42-years-old, which seems like an awfully long time to still be in grad school). Barry, Cisco and H.R. go to the college campus to introduce themselves, hoping that perhaps she already has a prototype. Instead, they find her on the verge of dropping out of school because her dissertation was rejected by her professors as too outlandish. She’s also kind of flighty and an adorable klutz. H.R. is instantly smitten.
As they speak to her, they’re interrupted by Killer Frost. Savitar sent her to kill Tracy before she can build the trap. (For this mission, Caitlin is also sporting a sexy new villainess costume.) Barry saves Tracy and repels Caitlin. Afterwards, Tracy files a police report with the CCPD but assumes that this was just a random meta-human attack. She can’t fathom why anyone would want her dead. H.R. tries to get her to talk about her research, and also to flirt with her, by pretending to coincidentally run into her at Jitters. For this, he needs the help of Cisco pulling a ‘Cyrano de Bergerac’ trick to make him sound smart. Tracy is very open about her work and explains that she’s been studying speedsters.
Killer Frost attacks again, and Barry saves Tracy again. He chases after Caitlin, who has learned a new trick and can fly through the city riding on giant ice slides. Barry lures her toward Cisco so that he can knock her out with his vibe powers, but Cisco hesitates and Barry gets hurt. This leaves Julian very upset with Cisco. Later, Cisco admits that he’s afraid he doesn’t have enough control over his powers yet and might accidentally kill Caitlin. He couldn’t live with himself if that happened.
Feeling that they have no choice, the team bring Tracy to S.T.A.R. Labs and tell her what’s happening, including showing her details from her own future. Tracy asks, “You’re basically telling me I’m Sarah Connor in Terminator?” Cisco corrects her that, no, she’s more like Miles Dyson.
Caitlin next takes Joe’s girlfriend Cecile hostage, and threatens to kill her unless he turns over Tracy within the hour. Joe tells the team, and they try to set up a trap for Caitlin. Unfortunately, Caitlin is not only one step ahead of everything they do, she even knows the exact words Barry will say to her. Savitar told her exactly how the scene would play out down to the letter.
The trap may have failed, but Cisco manages to blast Caitlin and knock her out anyway. He’s very relieved that he didn’t kill her. Julian grabs a blood sample while she’s out. Just then, Savitar races in, scoops up Caitlin, and escapes with her. Barry finds it suspicious that Savitar focused on saving Caitlin and not on killing Tracy when he might have had a chance.
Back at the lab, Tracy theorizes that Savitar’s metallic suit isn’t just armor, but that it’s actually boosting his speed and he wouldn’t be as powerful without it. Something she says triggers a revelation for Barry. He knows who Savitar is.
Barry races off alone and calls out Savitar for a showdown. He tells the so-called God of Speed that he’s finally figured it out. Savitar don’t just know what Barry will do because he’s from the future, he knows exactly what Barry will do because he personally lived through these events on the other side of them. Savitar is Barry. At this, Savitar removes his armor and confirms that, yes, he’s an older Barry from the future, his face covered in scars.
As if learning that he’s going to turn into an emo douchebag in a few years weren’t bad enough, now Barry has to worry about turning evil after that. This kid has a rough life.
This plot twist is at once the most obvious answer to Savitar’s identity, and yet also completely defies credibility. Are we really supposed to believe that, after everything he’s experienced, Barry would turn evil? He’s shown no evidence of having a capacity for that. Being mopey about Iris’ death I can buy, but not evil.
The episode also has a pretty serious plot hole regarding the Tracy Brand storyline. If it’s such a big problem that Tracy won’t build the Speed Force trap until after Iris dies, why doesn’t Barry just time travel to 2021to meet her as soon as she does build it? In fact, he was already in 2024 in the last episode and could have popped by to see her then, get the specs of the device she built, and bring them back for Cisco to work on. This seems like an obvious solution, but it’s not addressed in the episode, if the show’s writers ever thought of it at all.
My recap above sidesteps a storyline about Joe and Cecile having relationship issues. It’s not very interesting. The only takeaway is that now Cecile knows about Barry and Wally being speedsters.