'The Flash' 3×20 Review: 'I Know Who You Are'

In a season of The Flash where Barry Allen had become the villain of his own story, ironically that proved to be true in terms of storytelling, as well.

After the long, dragged out process of dangling Savitar’s identity in front of us like a tasteless bone, The Flash finally revealed Savitar’s true identity in “I Know Who You Are.” And, wait for it…

It’s Barry Allen from the future.

See, Barry really is the villain this season!

Thinking back to when Savitar was first introduced in the midseason finale, one of my earlier guesses as to Savitar’s identity was a future version of Barry. It’s a theory that has been popular among the masses. Yet it was this universal truth that had gone unacknowledged until the big reveal, which definitely was a shock for those not paying attention. I like the idea of Barry fighting a villain that is him from the future.

But at this point I don’t know if this is misjudged hype or lazy storytelling? Really? Savitar is Barry?

I mean, I’m trying to accept this idea. Sure, it’s cool. Sure, it gives us a haunting look at what Barry’s future entails should Team Flash happen not to rescue Iris (which isn’t going to happen – she will survive). But there wasn’t anyone better? This is the same show that brought us Reverse Flash in a season that still goes down as one of my favorites not only among comic book shows but television in general.

This season of The Flash has been hit and miss with me. The season premiere and season 3A that followed, for the most part, was a huge disappointment. It felt like it was relying too much on the comic book canon from which it was created. The thing with these comic book shows is that the comics are the starting point. You expand upon storylines, you don’t rewrite them for television.

It’s funny – well, by funny I mean frustrating – that every week is a new story. Just last week, for example, I was praising The Flash for being the show I loved again. And while I didn’t hate this episode, the big reveal that Future Barry is Savitar wasn’t something that I felt was worthy of this year’s big bad.

Maybe it was the execution. Because, honestly, the idea of a future version of Barry being the bad guy and present-day Barry being forced to take him down, sounds pretty cool. But this just feels like The Flash came up with the idea somewhere in the middle of this current season.

Maybe it was the fact that this whole “Who Is Savitar?” thing had been dragged on far longer than it should’ve, and when the reveal finally happened it was more relief than hype.

But we still have three episodes remaining this season. Three episodes to deal with this revelation. Three episodes to deal with Iris’ fate. Three episodes for growth and redemption.

Who knows, maybe The Flash will deal with this storyline in a way that’ll satisfy me? Because I don’t know how this will play out. I can only go week by week. And this week, I’m left feeling underwhelmed by the reveal but excited for the closure.

Let’s break this down:

Cisco Isn’t Fighting Against Killer Frost, But For Caitlin

If you were to ask me what one of the most underutilized elements of The Flash is, I’d immediately respond with Cisco and Caitlin’s friendship. It’s something that has existed even before The Flash’s pilot aired – as the pair guest starred on Arrow before The Flash debuted the next season.

Cisco and Caitlin’s friendship is something that has always been something that has been more sidelined than in focus. We’ve gotten little moments, sure. But it’s storylines like this where you see just how amazing this dynamic is from both sides of the moral line.

In “I Know Who You Are,” the title obviously refers to Barry knowing Savitar’s true identity. But it also has to do with Cisco knowing who Killer Frost really is deep inside – she’s Caitlin Snow.

This episode found Cisco struggling with the reality that his best friend had become the very thing she feared the most, Killer Frost. Sure, he wanted to stop Killer Frost, but he also wanted to get his Caitlin back. It was the reason why he was so hesitant when confronted by her. Everything should be telling him to attack, but he held back in fear of hurting her.

Despite us knowing how the future plays out – well, as of now – there’s still this possibility of changing things. It’s what Team Flash has been working to do all season. While Iris’ fate remains at the forefront of the mission, the team is also focused on getting Caitlin back from her icy alter ego. In a way, it appeared as if Cisco couldn’t differentiate between Caitlin and Killer Frost, which could’ve been and might prove to be his downfall. He cares too much. It’s too personal. She’s his best friend. He’d rather hurt than hurt her.

As Cisco dabbles in discovering the extent of his abilities, he finds himself questioning what happens if he loses control. Because if Killer Frost is threatening Barry or someone he cares about, he won’t hesitate to take her out. And how can he manage to do that without killing Caitlin?

Killing Caitlin Snow is not an option. Stopping Killer Frost is the only option.

So, Cisco continues to fight to save Caitlin versus fighting against Killer Frost. He believes his best friend is still inside of that icy villain. So, he’s going to do whatever it takes. While Savitar snatched Killer Frost at the last minute, Cisco managed to get a sample of her blood that Julian says might be a way to cure Caitlin.

Until then, Cisco will continue to fight for Caitlin.

Killer Frost is the Villain I’ve Been Waiting For

Now, speaking of villains that I actually love. While I love Caitlin Snow with all of my heart, I have to admit that Killer Frost is the badass female villain I’ve been waiting for in the DC universe.

Can I have them both?

Obviously, I know the answer is no. But perhaps the tail end of season 3 is our Killer Frost focus. Because hopefully Team Flash will find a way to get Caitlin back. But right now it’s enjoyable to have gotten both Caitlin and Killer Frost in the same season and enjoy them as individuals.

There’s a personal connection here that makes Killer Frost more relevant as a villain than all of the other villains The Flash has faced in quite some time. Killer Frost isn’t a newbie that showed up to wreak havoc because it was convenient. Killer Frost has been groomed from the start.

By having Caitlin Snow be a part of The Flash universe, they set up the potential for her villainous future. But they didn’t rush it. They alluded to it, of course. We even saw a doppelganger in season 2. But it wasn’t until season 3 when they really dove into it.

Killer Frost is one of those villains who is actually funny in her delivery while also simultaneously terrifying as hell. It’s difficult to pull off, but Killer Frost does it well. She’s a villain that while, yes, she has her personal demons, is a villain that just wants to have fun. And it shows. It brings that lighthearted nature that has been severely lacking from The Flash this season. But it also makes Killer Frost this fresh villain that doesn’t always have to be super serious.

Can we also talk about the fact that Killer Frost is the first major female villain in the DC universe? Sure, there have been other villains. But they haven’t been as significant as Killer Frost. While I’d certainly like Caitlin back this season, I wouldn’t mind her being set-up for potentially being a Big Bad down the road. She’s that good.

I have to admit that I love how Killer Frost (Caitlin) and Savitar (future Barry) teamed up because it proves that love and trust is the basis of these relationships. Barry and Caitlin have always had a beautiful friendship. So, it makes complete sense that Savitar would come to Killer Frost to team-up. Despite the villainous people they have become, there’s still that innate need to be partners like they always have. I thought that was pretty cool.

Also, how awesome would it be if it was present-day Barry and Caitlin teamed up to take out Savitar and Killer Frost? I see the makings of an amazing parallel. Do it, Flash.

Joe West Hates the “I Pushed You Away to Keep You Safe” Trope As Much As Us

I’d like to thank God and also Jesus for giving Joe West a focal storyline in an episode. Joe West has been a character that has spent most of his time on the sidelines. But three seasons in and he’s finally getting a storyline that is all about him.

Joe’s relationship with Cecile has been something that has been simmering for some time just long enough for this episode to happen. After Cecile told Joe she loves him, Joe was forced to consider the implications of taking that next step in their relationship.

Taking that next step – after the mutual “I love yous” – Joe knew that would involve him opening up about his connection to the speedsters and metas in Central City, as well as the fact that his sons are the Flash and Kid Flash, respectively. But that also meant involving her in a dangerous world that has taken too many people already.

But instead of Joe going to Cecile and talking it through – and giving her the chance to agree or disagree to diving deeper – Joe decided to break up with her and once again promote the cliched and ridiculous “I’m pushing you away to keep you safe” trope.

Been there, done that.

But when Killer Frost takes Cecile hostage, suddenly she found herself a part of this world. So it took almost losing her and her learning the truth for Joe to decide to fully come clean. And then there was finally the “I love you” from Joe, which made me smile.

Here’s the thing, I don’t understand where these people get the idea that keeping the truth from someone you care for keeps them safe. Honestly, it puts them in even greater danger. At least they know what to expect versus being completely clueless and eventually blindsided. The truth will set you free. But the truth will also protect you.

Can we finally agree to finally stop this ridiculous trend? For some reason it’s gained this reputation as being chivalrous when in fact it’s cowardly. Honesty is chivalrous. Can we get more of that, please?

Five Things

  1. While we all totally saw it coming a mile away, Savitar is Future Barry. I mean I have so many questions – like why would any kind of Barry kill Iris? Also, how was Future Barry as Savitar created in the first place if Savitar didn’t kill Iris? See, questions.
  2. Can we stop with the whole “I’m pushing you away to protect you” crap? Seriously, it’s as overused as “Against All Odds” on American Idol. Keeping the truth from the ones you care about isn’t heroic, it’s dangerous. Like, come on. And why’d you have to make Joe be the latest one to do it?
  3. Cisco and Caitlin’s friendship and the new present had me sobbing. “She’s my best friend.” That alone did it. But this episode was all about showcasing the strength of the bond between Cisco and Caitlin and how, ultimately, that might be the very thing that brings Caitlin back from the edge.
  4. I’m actually loving this Tracy Brand character. This was the one that was advertised as “inspired by Felicity Smoak,” which was immediately off-putting. But once again, it goes to show you how that’s a load of crap. Tracy is her own character – even though she’s a woman in STEM – and we can all agree that there’s no replicating Felicity Smoak.
  5. Killer Frost is the badass female villain I’ve been waiting for. Don’t get me wrong, I miss Caitlin Snow. But you have to admit that Killer Frost is bringing it as the ultimate big bad. There’s an emotional connection. There’s a badass superpower. And there’s a badass lady taking names. Not to mention those one-liners.

The Flash airs Tuesdays at 8/7c on The CW.

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