[Review] The Flash (2014) Episode 3×19: “The Once and Future Flash”

A possible major VFX error gives George a coronary in this week’s recap of CW’s The Flash.

This week starts with Barry figuring out that he needs to travel to 2024 to get his answers. Iris is in the room with him, but she’s distant. She makes Barry promise that if Savitar does kill her, that he’ll be there for Joe. Barry promises, but then the alarm at S.T.A.R. Labs cuts the conversation off.

Spoilers under the cut.

At the lab, we pick up right where we left off last week, with Killer Frost wreaking havoc. H.R., Cisco and Julian manage to get away and try to hide in a containment cell. But H.R. and Cisco decide now is a good time to sing a song to calm their nerves, forgetting that A) Killer Frost can hear them and B) Caitlin’s palm scan still works.

Before she can kill them, Barry charges in and stops her. She creates an ice wall between them and somehow runs away before Barry, traveling at superspeed and barely fazed by the ice wall, can stop her. Barry gets through the wall literally two seconds after she scampers off, so he’d still have seen her slowly running towards the exit. I can’t tell if this was an oversight of writing, directing, editing, or all three. I want there to be a deleted scene that shows her evading Barry somehow, because this was bad.

After the title card, Team Flash goes looking for Killer Frost. They can’t find her because there’s a blizzard in Central City right now. Julian and Cisco snipe at each other because of Julian’s actions, and Barry suggests everyone take five. In the meantime, he grabs Wally and explains the plan. Wally will run as fast as he can in the pipeline with Barry, then propel Barry into the future. There’s a wonderful little scene here where Barry boosts Wally’s confidence by telling Wally he’ll try and keep up with him. Anyway, the plan works and Barry is in the future…and runs directly into Mirror Master and the Top.

Barry gets away, and runs home…or what was home. He finds the loft abandoned, with for Iris’ old photo album among the wreckage. Future Cisco shows up and deduces why Barry is there. Cisco takes Barry to S.T.A.R. Labs, which is just as much of a wreck as the loft. According to Cisco, Barry pushed everyone away and shut down after Iris’ death, but Cisco is hoping that a visit from the ghost of Christmas past might get through to future Barry.

Unfortunately, future Barry is so unhelpful that our Barry decides he has to leave (and honestly, that wig on future Barry is so horrible that I can’t really blame him). Barry says goodbye to Cisco and tries to go back, but he can’t get a portal to open.

Cisco assures Barry that he should be able go back to the exact same point from whence he came, and tells him that maybe they can get the team together to help. Barry wonders why Cisco hasn’t tried to do that before now, but Cisco tells him he did try. Cisco then shows Barry that Killer Frost froze his hands and shattered them clean off. He has robotic prostheses now, but he’s no longer able to vibe.

Cisco takes Barry to Iron Heights, where they talk to Julian and Killer Frost. She tells Barry that after she escaped, Savitar found her and they teamed up. Barry figures out that she knows who Savitar is, but Killer Frost just taunts him and tells him to find Wally.

When Cisco and Barry visit the old West household, Barry finds that Wally is catatonic and paralyzed. After Iris died, Wally flew into a rage and went after Savitar. Barry asks where Joe is, and the answer turns out to be at Iris’ grave. Joe is a real mess, losing all his children in basically a twenty-four-hour period. He doesn’t know this Barry is from 2017, and tells him forcefully to leave, not even being able to look at him.

Barry goes back to S.T.A.R. Labs to confront himself, and his future self tosses out a clue about time remnants. But he is so utterly broken that he refuses to even leave the lab. Barry asks Cisco if he’s figured out how he can get home, and Cisco wants him to stay. Barry figures out that Cisco is the one keeping him here, and Cisco says it’s because he wants his friends back. Barry eventually decides not to leave, and he and Cisco begin putting the band back together.

They start with H.R., who is now an author and currently at a book reading. Barry grabs H.R. before he can finalize putting together a threesome, then fetches Joe and Julian. He apologizes for the mistakes he’s going to make, and he tries to convince them to be a team again.

Mirror Master and the Top trip the metahuman app and Barry rushes off to try and stop them. Barry calls them stupid, which is funny because he keeps on making the exact same mistake with the Top: talking too much and letting her use her powers on him when he looks at her. Protip to any future writers using the Top/Mirror Master combination: use Mirror Master’s powers to reflect the Top’s gaze back at your hero. It’s a workaround that makes your hero look far less stupid.

Back at S.T.A.R. Labs, Team Flash try to put together a counter to the power combo about to kill Barry, but they have no way to deliver the solution. Enter future Barry, who saw what they were doing from the Time Vault. He offers to take the device to Barry and runs off. He arrives in next season’s suit and technobabbles an explanation for how they’re countering the villains’ powers. And…and…what… the…fuck…?

Sweet baby Moses, who was in fucking charge here?! How the fuck do you greenscreen two Barry Allens together and not notice one is six inches taller than the other?! I–

Okay, I’m back. I just needed a few minutes. So, the villains split up, and the two Flashes easily chase them down. Back at S.T.A.R. Labs, Team Flash watches the news of the Flash’s return. Future Barry apologizes and wants to have another go at being a family again. Joe hugs him and everyone is on board. Future Barry tells past Barry to cherish every moment with Iris, and gives him technical details on the science that was used to capture Savitar. It was created four years after Iris’ death by a scientist named Tracy Brand. Future Barry tells our Barry that maybe he can find her before Iris is murdered and have her translate the schematics for him early.

Barry returns to the past and tells the crew what he learned. Meanwhile, Savitar finds Killer Frost out in the woods and offers her a place at his side in exchange for killing Caitlin Snow for good. Frost asks how she can trust him, and he reveals his true identity to her out of the viewers’ sight. She’s momentarily shocked, and then asks what he needs her to do.

Holy crap, this was frustrating. There’re some good moments here, great character stuff, but my god every time a villain is onscreen the creative team somehow forgets how to logic. Thankfully, we finally get to the end of the Savitar mystery next week. Hallelujah.

You can find George on Twitter at @Raeseti, standing next to himself at the same height.

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