When it comes to The Flash’s success in the course of this now third season, I’ve always believed that it hit its peak in its freshman season. There was a level of thrill, excitement, and emotional trauma that rivaled most shows – and at a consistent pace. It defined The Flash as the best DC Comics show – and one of the best television shows period – out there.
In “The Wrath of Savitar,” I was reminded of those times when an episode could singlehandedly destroy you in the best way possible. How shock after shock actually landed instead of feeling like it was being overdone. Where our hero had to pay the consequences of a selfish decision that he made in the past. How the overall narrative began to take shape as Savitar proved that he’s a big bad that we weren’t ready for.
It’s been a while since an episode of The Flash has emotionally impacted me the way that this one has. While most of this season has been a letdown for me (Flashpoint speaking), I feel like was the episode where The Flash finally gathered itself and looked at the overall arc for the story it wanted to tell that involves revealing the parts that make the whole.
In a way, “The Wrath of Savitar” is to season 3 what “x” was to season 1. It’s the episode that we’ll no doubt look back on as the changing point for this season; where the pieces for the remainder of the season were laid out; where, for a moment, we were truly concerned about this ending well.
This episode had me from beginning to end. There was this feeling of it grabbing hold of me and refusing to let go. Just when I thought I had things figured out – or when I thought I was emotionally strong enough to handle this episode – it went and surprised me. It was an active experience as far as the audience goes. The shrieks of “OH MY GOD” and “F*** YOU BARRY” and jaws dropping on repeat.
This is The Flash that I’ve been missing. One that hits all of the right marks in all aspects, including the action, the plot twists, and the important character dynamics that set the tone for this show. Every character had a moment to shine in this episode; and every character was well represented in terms of who they are and how they’re being portrayed in the writing. Well, except Barry. I don’t know where my Barry Allen (circa season 1, early season 2) went.
This entire season has been about the ramifications of Flashpoint. Flashpoint is one of the reasons why I don’t like Barry anymore. Not that that can’t change in the future, but he’s just become the villain of his own story as everything that’s happening is essentially his fault. I’ve been begging for some kind of consequence that extends far beyond a single episode of Cisco being mad at him. Barry needs to feel the ramifications of his mistake so he’s not tempted to repeat it. I don’t think he’s had to do that. Until now.
One of the most important things to Barry is his family. We know that. It’s what has driven him to this point in his life. It’s what made him investigate the impossible. It’s what ultimately led to him becoming The Flash.
With his mother and father gone, Barry isn’t without a family. He’s always had Joe and Iris, and he’s also formed a new family with Cisco, Caitlin, Wally, and the rest of Team Flash. Love is the strongest emotion. But it’s also an emotion that puts you in an incredibly vulnerable place. Savitar has been using that to his advantage.
Savitar sought to kill Iris for a reason. Savitar himself knows it. He knows that Barry is who he is, fights why he fights because of the people he loves. Iris is the most important person in his life now, so it would make sense for Savitar to kill Barry’s motivation. This entire season we’ve found Barry suffering at the hands of Savitar as the big bad has exploited his weakness. And that’s certainly going to continue.
Only now, after this episode, Barry has lost two important people to him and affected the others as a result. Wally is trapped in the prison that Barry created with Flashpoint and Iris has walked out on him after he lied to her about why he was proposing and essentially tainted the engagement. Then you have Joe and Jesse especially affected by Wally’s departure. You could say Barry is feeling the lowest he’s felt in some time.
This would be the time for the hero to rise.
Let’s break this down:
Wally Has Been Played
Wally West has been a character that I’ve wanted to embrace with every fiber of my being. He’s a character that I’ve liked, and one I’ve wanted to see more of. And it was an episode like “The Wrath of Savitar” – where we got to know him more emotionally and where we learned his significance in all of this – that really allowed him to shine.
All Wally has wanted since last season was to have superspeed. He’s been obsessed with going fast all of his life. And being surrounded by speedsters was something that made him crave it. After we saw him as Kid Flash in Flashpoint, Wally began to get flashes of being Kid Flash. Later in the season, Wally got his super speed from Savitar just as he had in Flashpoint.
Up until now, the speed hasn’t really been a curse. There haven’t been any lurking nightmares like there were before he got the speed. But in “The Wrath of Savitar,” Wally began to feel the pull of Savitar once more. He manifested himself in a way that only Wally could see him. He even manifested himself as Wally’s dead mother urging him to stop trying to run faster; that he was never going to be fast enough.
Wally recognized Savitar and fought even harder to get faster. Little did we know, this was what Savitar wanted.
Near the end of the episode, Wally attempts to get rid of the last piece of the philosopher’s stone that Caitlin had kept hidden in an attempt to help rid her of Killer Frost. But when Wally tried to run fast enough to open a breach, the Savitar hallucination was there to tear him down claiming “you’ll never be fast enough.” That just inspired Wally further until he was able to open the breach and throw the stone into it.
But then something else happened. He was sucked into the breach as Barry watched on helplessly, and as a result, Savitar was released from his prison. Savitar explained to Barry that the prison that housed him – he could only escape it if there was someone to take his place. As a sort of fail-safe, Savitar gave Wally his powers (knowing he wanted them) because he knew that Wally would be his fail-safe. He knew Wally would get fast enough, and he was waiting for the moment to trade places. So as Savitar is free, Wally is trapped in this prison Barry created as a result of Flashpoint.
At this point, I’m just relieved that Wally isn’t dead. Because it reminded me so very much of when we thought Barry was dead only to realize he was stuck in the speed force. It caught me by surprise. But now, not only does Barry and Team Flash have to deal with Savitar’s return – and the fated date approaching – but they also have to figure out a way to retrieve Wally from that prison.
Iris Gets Up the Courage to Do the Painful, But Necessary
See, I knew it. Nothing good ever comes from proposing early on in the season. Not that I agreed with this proposal in the first place as I believed that Barry was doing it out of fear of not getting to share his life with Iris instead of genuine intention. But the truth…even I didn’t see that coming.
In a scene that was particularly brutal to watch, Cisco took Wally into the vibe of the future where Iris was killed. Not only did we have to suffer through watching Wally witness his sister killed right in front of him (God, kill us!), but when Wally noticed an important detail missing from Iris’ hand, we knew that something was wrong.
At first I assumed that something had happened down the road that broke up their engagement. I had no idea that that something would happen just a few scenes after this moment. Wally confronted Barry about the important detail missing from that vibe: Iris didn’t have a ring. Which means that Barry and Iris weren’t engaged at the time when she was killed some two months in the future. Which translates to: Barry proposed to Iris because he wanted to change the future.
How’s that for romantic?
I knew something didn’t feel right about their engagement. Not only did it happen so fast, but the fact that it was happening in the middle of the season spelled doom for me. That’s what happened with Oliver and Felicity on Arrow. And we’re still paying for that.
My fear in this situation was that Iris was going to forgive Barry without a second thought. That is the kind of person she is. But this is a situation that affects her greatly. It was a siutaiton that forced her to take a step back and evaluate.
Iris realized, and she told Barry, that he proposed to her out of fear. She had said yes for all of the right reasons – she loved him so much and she was ready to be his wife – but Barry’s part in this proposal made it all kinds of wrong. Iris wants to be Barry’s wife. But she doesn’t want to be someone he’s always trying to save for eternity.
“There’s always going to be a part of us that’s tainted.”
Bravo, Iris! I love Westallen with all of my heart, but ultimately I care about the journey. Much like Olicity has been tampered with since the middle of last season, I don’t want to see the same happen to Barry and Iris. If Barry’s intentions weren’t noble, then Iris needs to do what’s hard but right for herself and walk away.
Now, given what happened at the end of this episode – when Iris was by Barry’s side when he woke up, sans engagement ring – I don’t know where the two stand. But given what we saw – Iris walking away from Barry – I think we can assume that at the very least the engagement is off. Is their relationship on hold? Well, I guess we’ll have to see.
This decision sucked in so many ways. But it was the right decision. Iris decided what was right for her, and she did it. Barry isn’t the only hero to mess up a beautiful relationship with his true love. His buddy Oliver continues to live it. But once again, Barry needs to learn that there are consequences for his actions. He needs to realize that the decisions he makes ultimately affects the people around him. Even a decision like this that isn’t necessarily life or death. Barry needs to respect Iris’ decision.
I’m curious as to how this storyline will play out. On the one hand, I don’t want this to be solved quickly. Barry needs to learn his lesson. But at the same point, I don’t want The Flash to drag this out the way Arrow has with Olicity. It’s funny because there are so many parallels between Olicity and Westallen that I swear I could’ve seen this coming. Only I hope that The Flash learns better than to listen to the call for more action and less romance. See what good that does you.
Barry the “Big Bad”
Maybe I’m the minority (I doubt it), but I prefer to actually like my superheroes. But The Flash has made it incredibly difficult to like Barry Allen after this season and the season finale last year. Barry, who used to be a noble, self-sacrificing hero, has morphed into a selfish hero that cares more about himself (like those he cares about) than the people he’s supposed to be saving. He’s unrecognizable. And I hate it.
Dating back to last season, Barry Allen has been the villain of his own story. Sure, he’s faced some baddies throughout, but no one person has harmed him more than himself. He’s the cause for the turmoil he’s faced dating back to last season.
It’s a really strange feeling when you’re on the side of the villains (Savitar in Flash’s case and Prometheus in Arrow’s case.) But when the heroes act more like the villains than the villains, it’s hard to side with our “heroes.”
The thing that separates a hero from a villain is the choices they make. Villains are driven by their own selfish desires. They often believe that what they’re doing is the right thing. Only they’re clouded by that judgment of what is right by their needs. A hero recognizes that they can’t be selfish. They have to put others well being before their own, no matter the cost. It’s what makes them heroes. They’re willing to do the thing that most people would struggle to do.
Since the Flashpoint mess, Barry has continued to remain a selfish hero. Sorry, a villain. Sure, he has his best interests at heart, but that’s not what a hero does. A hero needs to look out for those that need someone like him to help them. And that’s not really something we’ve seen Barry do a lot of this season. I’m just realizing that. We haven’t seen Barry saving innocents like we used to. It’s more saving those closest to him. Not that that isn’t important (it is), but I’m going to need more heroism from my so-called hero.
It’s so incredibly frustrating because Barry used to be my favorite character on The Flash. I admired his optimism, his own unique heroism, and how he was able to make difficult decisions even when they hurt. Where did that guy go?
Until Barry is able to put others before himself, he’s going to continue to be the villain of his own story. And interestingly enough, as Savitar told him, Barry is the big bad in his book. And I can’t say I disagree.
Savitar is Free!
I have to admit, I’m seriously underestimating the big bads this season across the DCTV board. They’re incredibly calculating and surprising and impressive in their tactics. Savitar is one that snuck up on me. The God of Speed, who claims to be an even greater nemesis than Reverse Flash or Zoom, is someone who has been setting the events of this episode for awhile.
Savitar recognized a need to create a failsafe of sorts in regards to Barry’s prison that was created as a result of Flashpoint. Savitar gave Wally his speed as a way to manipulate him into getting fast enough so that he could switch places with him.
You see, Savitar was being held prisoner. But if there was someone to take his place, then that would free him. So Savitar planned giving Wally his speed. He knew Barry would groom him. He knew Wally would become fast enough so that Savitar could break free.
And that’s exactly what happened.
Savitar played us all. Here we were wondering how Savitar would break free and become a viable threat again, and it turns out it was Barry that helped free him. Barry, the one that created Flashpoint because of his selfish decision (still not over that, never going to over that), was the one ultimately responsible for Savitar and, in the end, ultimately responsible for Wally’s imprisonment.
Now that Savitar is free, I can’t help but wonder why Savitar is ultimately going to wait so long to attack Barry? Is it to make him suffer? Or is it because of the obvious season finale implications? (This has to go down in the season finale – it’s rules.) Regardless, I’m interested to see how this story plays out over these final eight episodes of the season.
- Say it with me…F*** You, Barry! Just when I thought I was beginning to slowly start to forgive Barry. Not only did Barry lie about wanting to propose to Iris and move in with her (he did it save her, sure, but it wasn’t genuine). But he was also responsible for what happened to Wally getting stuck in a speed force prison thanks to Barry’s Flashpoint mess. #FYB
- THANK YOU. THANK YOU. THANK YOU for Iris getting up the courage to walk out on Barry after what he did to her. I’m seriously getting Olicity vibes from their relationship, guys. Just like Felicity walked out on Oliver for lying to her. This is something that our OTPs have to go through. When the hero is the idiot, our female heroine needs to have the courage to stand up for what’s right and what she believes in.
- The Flash killed me with Wally West feels. Not only was the scene where Wally watched Iris die an emotional brilliance of a scene, but you add to that the scene where Wally saw his mother and I was dead. The emotion elicited from those scenes was enough to fill a bowl with tears.
- Even though I didn’t agree with Barry and Iris getting engaged so quickly, what Joe said about Barry killed me. “You’re marrying the best man I know.” Now, I don’t agree with the statement, but my Joe/Barry feels are enough to make me feel feels at this point. More of these please!
- What’s stopping Savitar from ending all of this right now? Now that Savitar has escaped and is free once more, why is Savitar waiting to strike at Barry? I mean apart from the obvious “season finale” reasoning. Unless, like Arrow’s Prometheus, he’s enjoying making Barry suffer.