I watched this week’s episode of ‘The Flash’ mistakenly believing it to be the season finale. In fact, it very much plays like a finale in a lot of ways, from its emphasis on emotionally wrapping up storylines to its cliffhanger ending. But no, we actually have one more week left.
We start with a countdown that hangs over the entire episode: 24 hours to go before Iris’ death. (Considering that our hero can time travel, this deadline seems awfully arbitrary.) Cisco and Tracy have had no luck finding a power source for their Speed Force Bazooka weapon, but Barry remains hopeful. “We can accomplish a lot in 24 hours,” he reassures Iris. She pretends not to be worried, but also records a secret video message on his phone while he’s out of the room.
Cisco catches a break! He identifies a power source that will serve their needs. It’s even in friendly hands – locked up at A.R.G.U.S. headquarters in Star City. He and Barry travel there to ask Lyla (Audrey Marie Anderson) about it. She explains that it’s technology confiscated from the Dominators (the aliens who invaded during the four-show crossover earlier this season). Unfortunately, when they ask if they might, pretty please, borrow it for a little while, Lyle flatly turns them down. The tech would be too dangerous if it fell into the wrong hands, and she frankly doesn’t trust them to take care of it. Although she’s sympathetic about their desperation to save Iris, she tells them that they’ll need to find another way.
Barry won’t accept that answer. He immediately makes plans to break into A.R.G.U.S. headquarters and steal the power source. However, doing so won’t be as easy as just racing in and phasing through walls. The building is equipped with anti-meta-human security measures that will dampen his speed.
H.R. asks a question that I’ve wanted answered for most of the season. Why don’t they just put Iris on a plane to Paris and get her as far away from Central City as possible before the midnight deadline? Barry deflates that idea, saying that Savitar would find her no matter where they sent her. (Umm, hello, why not lock Iris up for a couple days in A.R.G.U.S. headquarters, where Savitar’s powers won’t work? How does no one else consider this?)
Because Barry has no ideas for how to steal the power source, he decides that he’ll need the help of a master thief – Leonard Snart (Wentworth Miller). Although Snart was killed off on ‘Legends of Tomorrow’, he was also later brought back as a time remnant, and as we last saw him had been dropped off in 2014 with his memory wiped so that he could be recruited by the Legends again. Barry finds him alone with a time ship in 1892 Siberia for reasons unexplained. Where this is supposed to fit into the chronology of the two shows, I can’t even begin to fathom. Nevertheless, Barry successfully appeals to Snart’s thirsting for a challenge and brings him back to the present day.
Soon after this happens, Savitar is overcome by a memory flash of his younger self recruiting Snart. He knows Barry’s plan, because he was Barry. Killer Frost asks what they should do about this, but he isn’t concerned. “No special gun can stop a god!” he boasts.
Barry brings Tracy into his circle of trust by revealing himself as The Flash to her. Barry then asks Joe to take Iris somewhere far away and not tell him where. If Barry doesn’t know, then Savitar won’t know. Joe and Wally bring her to Earth-2 to visit Harrison Wells. This actually seems like a smart idea. Although Savitar can travel interdimensionally, doing so probably won’t be his first thought. On the other hand, after getting to Earth-2, it might be smart to get some distance from Central City, rather than hang out with Wells in S.T.A.R. Labs. You know, maybe go to the A.R.G.U.S. building in that world… I’m just saying…
As night falls, Barry walks into A.R.G.U.S. disguised as Lyla, using the holographic transmogrifier device from H.R.’s world. He brings Snart along as a prisoner. This ruse fails pretty quickly and Barry has to punch out the two guards at the security desk. Luckily, these are the only two employees working after hours at this allegedly highly-secured facility. (Ah, maybe this is why it’s not a good safe house for Iris after all.)
As they’re wandering the building, Barry and Snart come across a section for meta-human prisoners, leading Barry to mention Amanda Waller and the Suicide Squad. Has that been covered on ‘Arrow’? As far as I’m aware, DC’s television universe isn’t supposed to have any crossover with its feature film universe, but I don’t watch ‘Arrow’ to know if the Suicide Squad played a part there yet or not.
Finally, they come to a supposedly impenetrable vault. Of course, it takes Snart less than 30 seconds to crack it. Inside, the monster known as King Shark roams the room like a guard dog. Determined to do whatever it takes to save Iris, Barry asks to use Snart’s freeze gun so he can kill the shark. Snart is a little disappointed at Barry giving up his goodie-two-shoes ways, and points out an alternate solution. Sharks fall asleep in cold water, so he lowers the temperature in the room until King Shark passes out. Barry and Snart then waltz in and steal and glowing red crystal. As soon as they remove it, an alarm goes off and the door to the room closes. Barry is able to slide under it to safety, but Snart gets trapped in the room with the shark.
Snart tells Barry to leave him behind, saying, “Sometimes you gotta make a tough call.” Barry, however, can’t bring himself to do it. He stays until Cisco can hack A.R.G.U.S. security and open the door enough for Barry to pull Snart to safety, narrowly avoiding getting snatched by the waking King Shark.
Before they can get out of the building, Barry and Snart are accosted by an A.R.G.U.S. squad led by Lyla. She tells them that she watched the whole thing on security cameras, and is impressed that Barry risked himself to save a one-time enemy. She offers to let him use the crystal after all. How convenient. (This seems like complete bullshit to me.)
Before returning to S.T.A.R. Labs, Barry drops Snart off where he found him. Snart advises him that trying to defeat Savitar at his own game is a bad idea. Barry is a good guy, and that’s his strength.
The Flash runs in to S.T.A.R. Labs and asks where Iris is. Without thinking, H.R. blurts out that she’s with Harrison Wells on Earth-2. Of course, it isn’t Barry asking. It’s Savitar. He thanks H.R. and runs straight into a portal. Cisco contacts Barry, Joe and Wally to tell them what happened.
Even though he was wearing the Flash uniform just a second ago on Earth-1, Savitar apparently had time to go fetch his full suit of armor before arriving on Earth-2. Wally tries to fight it off, but gets his leg broken. As Joe and Wells shoot at it, they learn that the suit was operating robotically. Savitar sneaks up behind them and grabs Iris. Joe tries to appeal to his humanity and his memories of being Barry, but Savitar won’t listen (he really doesn’t like being called Barry) and runs off with Iris just before regular Barry arrives.
Barry, Joe and Wally return to Earth-1. Wally is laid up with his injury. H.R. feels devastated about his screw-up, but Cisco talks him down and tells him that any of them could have made that mistake. (Not really, though. It was pretty dumb.) The Speed Force Bazooka is ready, but Barry doesn’t want to be told the details of the plan – which is kind of silly, since the entirety of the plan is “Give Barry the Speed Force Bazooka and shoot Savitar with it.”
Cisco vibes a vision of Killer Frost calling to him. Barry tells him to focus on saving Caitlin. Saving Iris will have to be Barry’s responsibility. No one else can do it.
Cisco meets Killer Frost in a snowy forest. He doesn’t want to fight her, but she says that killing him will be the last step in purging herself of Caitlin. They begin to battle, and it looks a lot like the flashback in Episode 3.19 where Killer Frost shattered both of Cisco’s hands, but we’re not allowed to see the resolution to the conflict here.
At the stroke of midnight, Barry confronts Savitar on Infantino Street. Everything he saw in his previous visions has fallen into place. He hasn’t changed the timeline at all. Savitar taunts him about his ascension to godhood. Barry whips out the Speed Force Bazooka and shoots. Savitar runs around a bit but Barry eventually nails him with it, dead center. Hooray!
Uh oh. Nothing happens. The Speed Force Bazooka has no effect. Savitar is fine. Having already been trapped in a Speed Force prison once before, he came prepared for this and brought a chunk of the Philosopher’s Stone, which negates the trap. Savitar laughs, “You lose, Barry!”
As Barry runs helplessly toward them in ultra slow-motion, the episode flashes back to the video message Iris left earlier. In it, she recites their wedding vows. Precisely at the “Until death do us part” bit, Savitar stabs Iris through the back and she slumps to the ground, exactly like Barry had foreseen.
The episode ends with Savitar escaping and Barry crying over Iris’ dying body.
As I mentioned at the start, this episode really feels like a season finale, albeit one with a dark conclusion. It even finds time to slow down and deliver some worthwhile character moments in between the action and the exposition bits. If the season had ended here, I’d consider it a worthy cliffhanger, despite my quibbling over plot points above.
This isn’t the end, though. Another episode remains. My guess is that Iris isn’t lost, that Barry will use time travel to save her. At the very least, we need an explanation for when Barry is supposed to create the time remnants, because he hasn’t done that yet, and Savitar can’t exist if he doesn’t.