Fear is the root of all evil and team dysfunction on 'The Flash' as Savitar's prophecy finally comes true
“The Wrath of Savitar” may be this already dark season’s darkest hour yet as we learn that fear is the root of all evil. Savitar’s renewed presence in Team Flash’s life, via Wally’s mind, stirs up a lot of fear that only heightens Team Flash’s dysfunction. While the episode is filled with several great performances and intriguing twists, it never quite comes together because Savitar is a pretty boring villain so far, and because the show keeps repeating the same old tricks to lesser effect.
The first redundant story beat arrives in the episode’s opening moments, which reveal that Wally has yet to tell Barry, Jesse, and the rest of Team Flash about his Savitar visions. Didn’t we just go down this “keeping secrets” route with Barry a few weeks ago? To be fair, the episode doesn’t wait too long for everyone on the team to find out, but in the show’s time, Wally’s kept this secret for a week. That’s ridiculous given everything they’ve been through this season when it comes to secrets. The Flash is in its third season and one would hope that the writers would come up with different ways of creating intra-team conflict.
After the morning training session, Barry and Iris gather everyone in the Cortex to share the big news about their engagement. Everyone is excited, and Joe gets misty eyed at the thought of his daughter marrying the best man that he knows. However, his excitement is slightly tempered by the fact that Barry didn’t ask his permission to propose to Iris even though he knew how important that was to Joe. Barry says the proposal was impulsive, but there’s definitely a hint that there’s more to it than that. But that discussion will have to wait because Barry and Wally get called to stop a fire (Jesse hangs back because she’s too distracted by Iris’ ring, which doesn’t make sense and is kind of insulting to the character. In what world would Jesse choose starring at Iris’ ring over being a hero?).
Barry and Wally never make it to the fire because Savitar tackles Wally, and Barry watches as Wally is thrown around an alley by an invisible force. So, Wally finally comes clean to everyone about his visions. Naturally, Barry is pissed that Wally kept this a secret and benches him because he’s worried that Savitar might be using Wally’s mind to spy on them.
Realizing they need to know what Savitar is up to, Barry guilts Julian into strapping back into the gizmo that allows Savitar to speak through him, and we’re treated to another scene in which Savitar threatens to kill Team Flash via Julian’s body. Although this encounter with Savitar scares Team Flash, I didn’t find it that frightening because we’ve been here before. In this latest round of threatening ramblings, Savitar reveals that he’s very close to escaping his prison, which has pushed his sanity to its limits, and warns Barry that he won’t be able to change the future. This scene was a good reminder of why Savitar isn’t a compelling villain yet. He’s all talk and hasn’t come anywhere close to rivaling Eobard Thawne/Harrison Wells’ villainy, despite the fact that he thinks he has.
Meanwhile, Wally, who is having a serious confidence crisis, convinces Cisco to vibe the future and show him how Iris dies. On this trip to the future, Wally notices Iris’ ring finger is empty, which leads him to figure out that Barry only proposed to Iris to change the future.
Barry isn’t the only one, however, who is acting out of fear. Caitlin reveals to Julian and the rest of the team that she’s been hiding a piece of the Philosopher’s Stone that broke off when Barry threw the box into the Speed Force — which might fulfill the “one will betray you” part of Savitar’s prophecy—because she, too, hasn’t learned the “secrets, secrets are no fun” lesson. Caitlin was hoping to use the stone to get rid of her powers, and Julian, who kissed her earlier in the episode, feels especially betrayed because he thinks that’s the only reason she asked him to be on the team.
After taking some time to herself to think, Iris meets with Barry to discuss their problematic proposal and the other impulsive things Barry has done out of fear since seeing the future. “I want to be your wife, Barry. I don’t want to be someone you’re trying to save for the rest of eternity,” she says, adding that their relationship has been tainted because of this. If Barry ever proposes again, how will she know that he’s not acting out of fear? That’s definitely a valid question, but Barry doesn’t answer it because he has an epiphany.
Barry and Iris return to STAR Labs because Barry has figured out that Future Barry trapped Savitar inside the Speed Force. That explains why Savitar can only appear in our plane for a few second. But this comes with a frightening epiphany, too: By throwing the Philosopher’s Stone into the Speed Force in the midseason finale, they basically gave Savitar the key to his freedom. Luckily, Caitlin’s piece of the Philosopher’s Stone has prevented him from escaping, which means her betrayal is actually kind of a godsend — or rather it would be, were it not for Wally.
While all of this is going on, Wally has a moving as hell reunion with his mother, who appears to him in his time of need and says he’s not alone. It’s an incredibly heartbreaking scene, especially due to Lonsdale’s performance. But, the moment doesn’t last because Jesse helps Wally realize that it’s actually Savitar messing with his mind again. Wally stupidly decides it’s time for him to handle this on his own and get rid of that last piece of the stone — which is the last thing he should do.
By this point, Wally is so driven by fear that he doesn’t even realize he’s playing right into Savitar’s hands. He steals Caitlin’s piece of the stone and Savitar goads him into opening a portal to the Speed Force and throwing the Philosopher’s Stone inside of it, which frees Savitar from his prison. But there’s yet another twist: Wally gets sucked into the Speed Force to take Savitar’s place — thereby fulfilling the “one will suffer a fate worse than death” part of Savitar’s prophecy. Barry arrives in time to witness this and for some reason just stands there as the Speed Force destroys Wally’s costume instead of trying anything to save him.
The newly freed Savitar explains that he got the idea to have Wally take his place inside the Speed Force when Barry created Flashpoint — which is the gift that just keeps on giving — and he orchestrated everything to make Wally fast enough to do so. Angrier than he’s ever been, Barry attacks Savitar, who stabs him in the chest with a blade but allows Barry to live so that he can watch him destroy Central City. The episode ends with Barry waking up in the STAR Labs infirmary with the remaining members of Team Flash barely able to look at him. It’s another heartbreaking moment courtesy of strong performances from the cast, especially Grant Gustin, who allows a single tear to fall from his cheek as he watches Iris walk away from him.
It’s clear from this episode and the season so far that the writers are very interested in exploring how Barry’s flaws cause trouble for the rest of the team. In many ways, it’s reminiscent of Arrow season 3, which saw Oliver become one of the villains of the season. The same thing happens here, too. Sure, Savitar is the season’s Big Bad (who is just as lame of a villain as Ra’s al Ghul was), but Team Flash’s biggest foe seems to be Barry, who sometimes falls prey to his demons, which are motivated by past pain and fear. This subtext becomes text in tonight’s episode when Savitar literally calls Barry the Big Bad. I can understand why the writers felt the need to do this — Barry will emerge from this story line a better hero — but it still makes for a frustrating watch because the show keeps having Barry make the same mistakes.
What’s somewhat interesting is how this season is also interested in the way Barry’s fear is contagious. In this episode, we found out that Caitlin gave into her fears and watched Wally as he succumbed to his, which brings ruin upon the team. As this tragic episode ends, Team Flash is in the worst state it’s ever been in, and it’s going to take a lot of team building exercises to repair this broken family.
Wall of Weird:
- Before Barry’s secret came out, Cisco had agreed to be his best man, which was cute and represented how far these two have come since the beginning of the season.
- Did you cry when Joe said, “I can’t lost Wally, Barry,” at the end of the episode? Because I did.
- Also, the episode reintroduced questions about Savitar’s identity. Who do you think it is? Future Wally West? Eddie Thawne? Eobard Thawne again?
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