The Flash: Season 3 Episode 19 review – The Once and Future Flash
This review contains spoilers.
The Flash returned from its Easter hiatus with far more refinery than Supergirl managed. This episode being directed by Tom Cavanagh (HR Wells) and titled ‘The Once and Future Flash’, it was always going to be something special, and it mostly lived up to that expectation.
Despite a couple of opening jokes like HR and Cisco singing ‘Swing Low Sweet Chariot’ to stem their fear of Killer Frost, the majority of the episode was rather sombre and dark. I love the show’s capacity to go into that darker space, without fear of it deterring viewers.
The future (2024, which Barry kept saying was 8 years away from 2017, but by my count it is 7 years away) is presented from a dystopian perspective, when it comes to the current state of our characters and of Team Flash. Wally is wheelchair-bound (his spine broken by Savitar), Joe feels failed by Barry, Caitlin is not only still Killer Frost but she is fully aligned with Savitar, Barry is fully defeated (sporting emo hair) and Cisco is desperately clinging for some thread of hope (with metal hands).
The only member of Team Flash who seemed to be thriving was HR, who appeared to be a successful romance author (‘his latest steamy novel’ was seen on the posters), with women falling over one another to be with him. It’s a charming outcome for this quirky character and it makes sense that not everyone who end up with their lives sunken by Savitar.
The New Rogues returning as the villains of this 2024 future wasn’t ideal. I never found them to be strong villains in their self-titled episode (which is no slight on Damon and Rickards), which was actually the episode that I rated the lowest (2 stars) throughout this entire season. But I understand the need for a threat, so that Barry and future Barry have a reason to team up.
Watching this crumbled group gather together once more under the leadership of our Barry was heartening. Cisco’s face at the reunion, as he dusted off Star Labs equipment, was worth it alone. The warm reunion was still absent of two members, however; Iris and Wally – one dead and one as good as. So as merry as he left it, this future is still one to that will hopefully be abolished entirely, before our timeline reaches it.
The episode closed out with a truly excruciating tease. This was Savitar (in the present) stepping out of his suit and revealing his identity to Killer Frost. But his face was shown to her only, not to viewers. Many expected a full identity reveal for this unique episode, so it’s a bit of a slap in the face for fans, but hopefully it means we’re not far away at all now from his identity being shared with us too.
Future Killer Frost teased “you are gonna be so surprised” when Barry learns the identity of Savitar. This is of course a statement directed at viewers also. The current fan favourite theory is that Savitar is in fact a far future (beyond 2024) version of Barry. The state of Barry in 2024 was certainly indicative of him heading down a dark road. If Barry is Savitar, then I’m curious why Killer Frost swore fealty to him simply due to viewing his face; if she simply saw Barry, I don’t think she would react in this way.
Even though this episode failed to reveal what we’re all eager to learn, it was still an impressively dark and bereft voyage into a future that Barry is trying so desperately to avoid. At this late stage in Season 3, it’s nice to see that strong episodes like this are still being churned out and this bodes well for what lays ahead. Something tells me the finale will be dark and I hope that’s the case.
Massive credit to Tom Cavanagh too, for doing a great job of directing this episode. The scenes in which Top projected distortion and vertigo onto Barry couldn’t have been easy to film, as a director, before the effects were layered over. Technically this was Tom’s third directorial outing, having directed three episodes of a show called Ed, but this was his first directorial outing on The Flash.
This being a future episode, there are bound to be many slyly placed easter eggs for fans to find, which may give further hints about the state of the world in 2024. I didn’t spot any myself, but please do use the comments section below to let us know if you caught any of these and let us know what you think they might mean.
Image credits: The CW