'The Flash' 3×23 Review: 'Finish Line'

All season long, I’ve been criticizing Barry – rightfully so – for his selfish decision to create Flashpoint and subsequently affect everything in its wake.
While Barry has surely had to deal with a few consequences of Flashpoint – including nearly losing the love of his life and Caitlin becoming Killer Frost – it still didn’t feel like Barry had really paid his dues for the implications of Flashpoint.
Until the Speed Force welcomed him in the final moments of the season finale, where Barry had met his “Finish Line.”
Finally, a consequence that is worthy of everything that has happened as a result of Flashpoint. A consequence worthy of his selfish mistake messing with time.
I should feel sad that Barry is gone. And I do. I feel sad for the people in Barry’s life, that have already been through so much this season and seasons past, and have to deal with losing Barry. Trust me, I shed real tears during Barry and Joe’s goodbye. God, that relationship will always bring me to my knees. But this is something that Barry deserves. It’s time that he finally face his penance and truly learn that just because you have the ability to change time doesn’t mean you should.

Honestly, I haven’t really liked Barry this entire season. At all. I’ve been angry. I’ve been critical. I’ve been so over the circumstances of his changing time and still managing to get a happy ending. You know, the good ol’, F**k you, Barry!
But I’ve never come to the point where I’ve given up on Barry Allen as a hero. He’s not beyond redemption. No one is. It’s not something that’ll come easy. But it’s always been something that’s definitely attainable in a universe where redemption is the name of the game. It’s just, I haven’t really seen Barry actually try to redeem himself for Flashpoint. Mostly, he’s been dealing with trying to prevent one of the consequences – a consequence that threatened someone else’s life instead of his own – in preventing Iris’ death.
But when is it Barry’s turn to suffer at the hands of his selfishness?
As the season finale title suggests, Barry has reached his “Finish Line.” Finish line sounds so final. Like it’s the end of the road for Barry Allen. But let’s be honest, wherever Barry is going within the Speed Force, it’s not going to be permanent. At worst, it’ll last until episode 8 of season 4, where we’ll have the mega crossover event. So, there’s that.
Let’s get one thing clear, yes, it was honorable of Barry to sacrifice his happiness and protect the world from consequences brought on by him – by entering the Speed Force. But that doesn’t mean he’s redeemed yet. This is the first step. An important first step. A step that Barry needed to take if he was going to get back to the point of redemption.
Honestly, I feel like this is exactly what The Flash needs to do in order to redeem Barry Allen. But they have to do it right. This can’t be something that lasts a single episode. We need to see Barry paying his dues. We need to see him fighting to be better. We need to see the fight that defines him as a hero. And hopefully whatever awaits him in the Speed Force will give that to him.
The Flash’s season finale was an episode that, honestly, early on paled in comparison to its penultimate episode. It felt underwhelming when compared to “Infantino Street,” which had all of the emotion that a great hour of television should have. But it wasn’t until the end when “Finish Line” really began to come together. Where it brought season 3 full circle.
“Finish Line” managed to wrap up this current season while also teasing what’s sure to be a complicated and emotional fourth season. Sure, Central City is saved. But, what happens to Barry inside the Speed Force? Are we going to get to see paralleling looks between both Central City and inside the Speed Force? The Speed Force said that where Barry going wasn’t hell. So, what does that place look like? What does Central City look like without The Flash? Will Barry Allen be redeemed? So many questions, so much time to wait and speculate.
Let’s break down this season finale!

Iris West Lives!

The sheer fact that The Flash took less than 60 seconds to reveal that Iris West wasn’t actually dead says all you need to know: Iris West is not going anywhere. She’s here to stay. And we couldn’t be more thankful.
Despite knowing that Iris didn’t actually die in last week’s penultimate episode, it didn’t erase the pain and emotion that came with watching that scene play out. It was one of the best scenes in The Flash’s history because it was so beautifully shot, acted, and written. The result sucked, but the scene itself was truly powerful.
So, when we learned immediately that it wasn’t Iris that had died but H.R. Wells, it was more of an “I told you so” moment than a sigh of relief. Because there was never any way that Iris West was going to die on this show.
She represents and has so much influence on everything in this show. And I’m not just talking as a love interest. Iris West is so much more than a love interest. She’s a powerhouse that fights to get what she wants. She fights for justice. She fights for truth. She fights for those that cannot fight for themselves. Iris West is the epitome of a hero.
There was never any way that Iris was going to die on this show.
Much like we expected, Iris’ being alive is all because of H.R. Wells, who sacrificed himself to save Iris’ life. There was an immense amount of guilt he was suffering after being the one to reveal to Savitar where Iris was being hidden. H.R. has never really felt like he contributed anything to the team. But this was his way of contributing.

“He was a hero. He was my hero.”

H.R. might not have been your typical hero. He might’ve been mostly annoying and inconvenient with his moments of brilliance. But when all was said and done, there’s no way that you mention H.R.’s name without uttering the word hero.
Sure, he felt guilty about putting Iris’ life in danger. But that wasn’t the only thing that pushed him to do what he did – disguise himself as Iris and take the blow. What H.R. did required a lot of courage something that a lot of us might not have. It’s the kind of courage and strength that only a hero can possess. So while H.R. might not have felt like a hero with Team Flash, he certainly became one in the end.

The Flash — “Finish Line” — FLA323c_0028.jpg — Pictured (L-R): Danielle Panabaker as Killer Frost and Carlos Valdes as Cisco Ramon — Photo: The CW — © 2017 The CW Network, LLC. All rights reserved.

Redemption for Killer Frost

While Barry facing himself, aka Savitar, was the big focus of The Flash’s finale, there was another character that was battling two sides of herself as she faced an uncertain future.
Caitlin Snow has had quite the journey this season. She’s gone from sweet scientist to icy metahuman because, what else, of Flashpoint. We finally got a glimpse of Caitlin as Killer Frost on Earth-1. And it was definitely an interesting and emotional journey.
When your destiny tells you you’re meant to be evil, it can something really difficult to face. So much so for Caitlin that when she became Killer Frost, I always got this feeling that she was begin evil because she felt that was her new path. Caitlin Snow has always been with Killer Frost, but she’s been choosing to suppress that side of herself in order to live up to the reputation of her “killer” name.
But as we saw in “Finish Line” – and have seen since she’s become Killer Frost – Caitlin Frost still exists within that persona. And honestly, this is something that really goes with my previous section about “can a villain ever be saved?” The answer is, obviously, yes. It’s all about locking on that humanity that exists within. It might’ve been too late for Savitar, but it wasn’t too late for Killer Frost.
While Killer Frost was so intent on living up to her reputation to the point where she was a blind slave to Savitar, all it took was watching her best friend’s life in jeopardy to wake her up.
When Savitar was about to kill Cisco, that event called upon Killer Frost’s humanity and she acted instantaneously saving Cisco and fighting Savitar.
But just because Killer Frost redeemed herself doesn’t mean that she can go back to the way things were. As she told Barry and Cisco, she’s not Killer Frost anymore. But she’s also not Caitlin Snow either. She’s someone else. Someone else that she’s not sure of yet. But that’s definitely going to be her journey as we head into season 4. She needs to figure out where she stands and what she stands for. And I couldn’t be more excited for that.

The Flash — “Finish Line” — FLA323c_0003.jpg — Pictured: Grant Gustin as Savitar — Photo: The CW — © 2017 The CW Network, LLC. All rights reserved.

Can a Villain Ever Be Saved?

While I understand that Savitar was never someone that was meant to be saved, there was something interesting that The Flash set up with “Finish Line.” It was the idea that when it comes to defeating the villain, does that always mean the villain must be defeated by being taken out? Or is it possible that defeating a Big Bad can be done by saving them from themselves?
I have to admit, the idea really intrigued me. It made me sit up a little straighter in my seat. Was it possible that Savitar’s greatest weakness was the fact that he used to be Barry Allen, a kind, loving young man that has never been associated with the word “evil.”
Barry realized that this entire time they’ve been fighting Savitar with hate rather than love. Barry decided, hey, why not treat him like a person rather than a monster? Why not use that humanity that still exists deep within Savitar as a way to salvage him? When it comes to defeating a villain, who says you have to kill them or banish them or lock them up? Why not save them instead?
Well, I was thinking that might be the case with Savitar until Savitar did a very Savitar thing – he conned Barry and Team Flash into believing he wanted salvation when really he just wanted to destroy STAR Labs. Shame on me.
But even though Savitar wasn’t able to be saved, it still made me wonder if it’s ever truly possible for a villain to be “saved” instead of “destroyed?”
Think about it, villains aren’t born, they’re created. Whether it’s someone’s upbringing or a terrible tragedy that has befallen them or a lack of a support system around them, villains are created because of their circumstances. More than that, they believe what they’re doing, what they’re fighting for is right. In their eyes they’re the hero. So it’s not entirely plausible to say that a villain is irredeemable. Think about it, Oliver Queen in flashbacks used to be a villain. Now look at him. He’s a hero. It circles back to having a support system to get you there.
So why can’t these other villains possibly get there? Despite all the bad they’ve done, it’s still possible for them to do the right thing. It doesn’t excuse anything they’ve done, but it does show that at least they’re trying.
And what’s the way to try to communicate with these villains? Communicate with their humanity. Lock in on what makes them human. No matter how deep it’s buried. If you can lock into that part of a person, it’s entirely plausible to be able to bring someone back from the edge.
While Barry and Iris attempted that with Savitar and it didn’t ultimately work, I swear that they were getting close to Savitar’s humanity. Barry was using their family. Iris was using their love. They were both trying to break through the wall to Savitar’s humanity. If you notice, Savitar pulled away right when he felt the humanity flooding through him again. I’m still convinced that they might’ve been able to pull it off. But then again, what fun would the finale be?

The Flash — “Finish Line” — FLA323b_0155b.jpg — Pictured (L-R): Jesse L. Martin as Detective Joe West and Grant Gustin as Barry Allen — Photo: Katie Yu /The CW — © 2017 The CW Network, LLC. All rights reserved.

So What Next?

That’s the big question, right? Now that Barry has given himself over to the Speed Force and reached his proverbial “Finish Line,” what awaits Barry on the other side? Better yet, what awaits Central City in The Flash’s absence?
This is something that we can only speculate about until around the time of Comic-Con, where we’ll get the first details about what awaits us in season 4. So, let’s speculate.
Given Barry isn’t necessarily going to hell in the Speed Force, where is he going exactly? It could be good, sure. But it could also be worse. Is this place going to resemble Flashpoint to the degree that Barry knows it isn’t real? Is he going to be forced to live the life he would’ve led had it not been for Joe and Iris West? Think about the justice in Barry being trapped in a nightmarish Flashpoint after creating a Flashpoint where everyone was trapped.
Perhaps when Team Flash figures out a way to get Barry out of the Speed Force – which at most should take 7 episodes, which is right before the big crossover event – maybe Barry doesn’t remember his life on Earth? Maybe he’ll be forced to get reacquainted to Earth? Or better yet, what if when Barry returns no one knows who he is? It’s all about Barry facing the consequences of messing with time. What if we get a sort of reversed Flashpoint?

The Flash — “Finish Line” — FLA323c_0017.jpg — Pictured (L-R): Danielle Panabaker as Killer Frost and Grant Gustin as Savitar — Photo: The CW — © 2017 The CW Network, LLC. All rights reserved.

Seven Things

  1. I love how Iris West was dead for less than a minute. Because this show could never truly kill her. And let’s be honest, no one actually believed she was dead. It was also like the show didn’t even want to entertain the idea that Iris could ever be dead, so they wrapped that up in less than 60 seconds.
  2. FINALLY BARRY IS FACING PENANCE. I’m sorry, but after the shitshow that was Flashpoint, it’s about damn time that Barry Allen finally faced a significant consequence that didn’t put anyone in danger like the other consequences had. This is Barry’s chance at redemption. Hopefully this will be the thing that’ll help return Barry to the selfless hero we knew in season 1.
  3. For a second there, Savitar had me fooled that he wanted to be redeemed. It was interesting because I found myself thinking how interesting it would be for once that our hero doesn’t defeat the villain by ending him but by saving him. So much for that theory.
  4. Westallen keeps it going with the OTP pain this week. Just when Barry and Iris’ future was finally back on track, it was ripped away from both of them. While I know Barry is doing the right thing, it doesn’t make it any less painful as a Westallen shipper. Iris might want to go collect those Save the Dates *sobs in corner*
  5. So is Killer Frost just Frost now? Killer Frost is no more. But then again, Caitlin Snow is no more, either. So who is Caitlin now? Is she someone straddling the line of hero and villain, like a Leonard Snart and Mick Rory? Can she ever truly become Caitlin Snow again? Or will we see her truly become something else…Caitlin Frost has a nice ring to it.
  6. Now that Harry Wells is back on Earth-1 for the foreseeable future, please tell me that we actually get to keep him. He’s easily my favorite of the three Harrison Wells, and if getting Harry back means losing H.R., I can deal with that.
  7. What awaits Barry in the Speed Force? The Speed Force told him that it wasn’t hell that awaited him. So what is it? Something nice? Something worse than hell? An alternate reality where he’ll live not knowing that he’s living a lie? A place where, once he returns, will have no memory of who he used to be on Earth-1?

The Flash returns Tuesdays this fall on The CW.

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