The Flash: Season 3 Episode 9 review – The Present
The Heroes Vs Aliens arc ended on Legends of Tomorrow and The Flash is now back to its usual state of play. Last week we pointed out that ‘Invasion!’ was the best episode of The Flash this season (even if the crossover kind of went nowhere after that), which marked a strong improvement on what was a rocky season. This week maintained that renewed quality, providing an all round charming Christmas episode that also held important Savitar and Alchemy developments. Below you’ll find our spoiler-heavy review of this week’s episode, which is also the last episode of The Flash before the Christmas hiatus.
Up until this point, this season showed both Savitar and Alchemy as prominent threats, without giving any real context as to where they come from or who they are. This holiday season finale corrected that by providing some backstory to Savitar, as well as what state he exists in now, as well as bringing the identity of Alchemy into firmer focus. It was previously revealed that Julian is Alchemy, but this week explored how Julian is unaware when Alchemy overtakes him and therefore isn’t complicit in Alchemy’s wicked deeds.
Learning more abut these two antagonists was critical at this point – before we all part ways for the holiday hiatus – and through it we’ve actually grown to like Savitar a little bit more than we did. Although we’re not overly fond of him being an ephemeral spirit who’s contained inside a box (which reminded us of Enchantress and her heart in Suicide Squad, which is one of the film’s poorer aspects), but like Savitar pointed out: it is (future) Barry who made him that way. He wasn’t always in that form and was once a man (which was confirmed by the flashback shot we saw of him from behind).
Certainly the most interesting Savitar moment was his prophecy, which stated: “I know your destinies… one shall betray you, one shall fall, one of you will suffer a fate far worse than death. This is the knowledge I have for you.” This throws a whole barrel of intense mystery into the season, if, of course, Savitar isn’t lying (which is unlikely, given what followed with Iris) and if, of course, the future that he’s talking about isn’t deviated from before we reach it. If we do reach it, then it’s going to be superb to witness.
Essentially Savitar is revealing that one member of the team will turn on the rest (which is different to the times when villains have been undercover in the team, pretending to be someone else, because this will be a genuine friend betraying them), that another member will die and that a third will suffer a fate worse than death (we’re betting trapped within the speed force, or erased from existence, or something of that ilk). It’s a true spanner in the works that could equate to nothing, but it’s one that we’re already salivating over.
As if to reinforce the truth of weight and truth of Savitar’s words the writers immediately hurled Barry into the future, where he was forced to witness the murder of Iris at Savitar’s own hands. This means the show has already answered one of its three mysteries, pretty much straight away after proposing them, which is that “one shall fall” means that Iris will die. Regarding who might betray them, we’re guessing maybe Caitlin by becoming full Killer Frost, or Cisco due to his pain around his brother (which was tempted in true LOST-fashion this week, with Savitar appearing as the dead). As to who will suffer the fate worse than death we’re guessing this will be Wally, due to what happened with his character in the comics in the run up to Rebirth.
Holiday spirit was pivotal to this episode and it really came across in spades. Mostly through the efforts of a jolly H.R., who proved his worth as a strong comedic addition to the team once more (and an honourable friend who didn’t point the finger at Wally when being accosted by Joe). His bonding with Wally is adorable and although the sub-plot of Wally throwing himself into danger despite Joe protesting and Wally getting hurt in the process has been played out too often now, seeing Wally unwrap the Kid Flash suit at the episode’s close was a pleasing sight.
No matter how many times the show has Julian soften a little to Barry then revert back to being mean again, we still love watching Julian’s spiky exterior retract. And never more so then this week, when Julian decided to take up Cailtin’s invitation after first refusing. Watching him shamble through the door in his smart little Christmas suit, with a grin on his face, was a pleasure to behold. Let’s hope, with the gesture that was the abolishment of Barry’s resignation, that Julian will get on with Barry for good now.
All round this was a merry yet terrifying close to the first chunk of Season 3 and for the most part we loved it. The show has pulled up from its nose dive and continues to remain aloft for now. We’re hoping that the 2017 return will bring misery and chaos, as Savitar promised, because this show is often at its best when the situation is dire and the loss is severe. If the writers lean into that prophecy with the same weight that they did the man in the iron mask mystery, then we’re likely to be captivated and forever guessing the outcomes. There was no better way to close out this part way finale of sorts than with an exceptional gift from Barry and a romantic kiss, all the while with Barry knowing that his love’s time is nigh.
Image credits: The CW