Come for the (boring) Savitar unmasking. Stay for Killer Frost and Tracy Brand.
After 19 episodes, The Flash has finally deigned to reveal Savitar’s identity. Did it come too late in the season to have much of an impact? Definitely yes. The writers drew out this mystery for far too long — to the point that I didn’t really care who it was under the mask because it wouldn’t matter that much. However, the meh-ness of the reveal, which we’ll talk about more later on, doesn’t detract from this episode, which is actually the strongest episode of this less-than-great season.
Written by Bronwen Clark and Joshua V. Gilbert, “I Know Who You Are” works in spite of everything that’s been off about this season. It’s powerful, poignant, and dark, but unlike previous episodes, it earns that darkness and doesn’t wallow in it. If you’ve been reading these recaps, you know I haven’t liked how the show has been handling Killer Frost this season, but based on this episode, it turns out that turning Caitlin evil and pitting her against Team Flash is exactly what I (and hopefully we) needed to start caring about this makeshift family again.
“I Know Who You Are” lets you know that Savitar’s identity will finally be revealed from the moment it begins, because it opens with Barry declaring, “I know who you are” to Savitar. And then the episode jumps back 16 hours, where we find Joe and Cecile returning home after their run. This couple is super cute. However, Joe ruins that cuteness when he fails to respond appropriately when Cecile let slip that she loves him. Thankfully, Joe is summoned to S.T.A.R. Labs and runs off before having to deal with that landmine.
In the wake of Barry’s trip to the future, Team Flash has decided they need to find Tracy Brand (Anne Dudek) and help her make Savitar’s prison four years earlier than she does. Barry, Cisco, and H.R. head to Central City University to see Tracy, who has just failed her dissertation because her theories about the Speed Force are far too advanced. Dudek is delightful in this role. Tracy is charming and quirky, and she’s getting ready to quit school when the boys show up to talk to her. But that will have to wait because Killer Frost, sporting a new costume like a badass, rudely interrupts their chat by trying to kill her. Cisco freezes in the moment, but Barry is quick enough to save everyone. It wasn’t until this episode that I realized how much I love how campy and over the top Danielle Panabaker is as Killer Frost.
Following that terrible first encounter, Team Flash tries a different approach and sends H.R. to talk to Tracy on his own. Let me confess that H.R. developing a crush on Tracy was one of my favorite parts of this episode. The humor and charm provided a nice counterbalance to the melodrama. With Cisco talking to him via an earpiece, H.R. pretends to be a genius who understands Tracy’s work. While that goes down, Barry talks to Joe about his relationship troubles — Joe enjoys the fact that Cecile is normal and ain’t about this superhero life — and Julian tries to talk to Cisco about the fact that he froze when Killer Frost showed up at the university.
Obviously, Killer Frost shows up at Jitters and tries to kill Tracy Brand again. Thankfully, the whole team is there to save her. Barry and Cisco spring into action — and by that I mean Barry chases after Killer Frost, who causes mayhem as she ice-surfs around Central City, while Cisco remains frozen in his metaphorical seat like a streetlight choking in the heat. I’m happy to say that the Flash-versus-Killer Frost fight here is the best battle of the season. It’s a thrilling emotional roller coaster. Because it’s Caitlin, it has stakes and feels immensely personal despite the fact that it’s just a flurry of CGI.
Eobard Thawne/Harrison Wells remains the show’s best villain because of how much his betrayal hurt the team, and us. Family is very important to Team Flash, so it makes sense that Cailtin finally going full villain would be incredibly powerful, too. Cisco fails to do his part, so Killer Frost manages to escape — but not before stabbing Barry in the leg once again.
After the battle, Team Flash returns to S.T.A.R. Labs and informs Tracy about her glorious future, which, as you’d expect, puts a lot of pressure on her, and she runs off. Let’s be honest: Telling Tracy about her future in this manner wasn’t Team Flash’s smartest move, especially given the fact that Present Tracy seems like she’s pretty far off from her Nobel Prize-winning destiny. A smitten H.R. runs after her to have “the pep-up chat,” but he loses her. After some future cyber stalking, H.R. finds Tracy contemplating, well, everything as she sits in front of a bust of Galileo in a Central City park.
I’m sure many of differ on how we feel about Tom Cavanagh as H.R. this season, but if there’s one thing we can’t deny, it’s that Cavanagh is a great actor — especially in this scene he shares with Dudek. Cavanagh’s eyes are expressive and alight; you believe that H.R. genuinely believes in Tracy. It’s clear he’s not only crushing on her but truly inspired by her. It’s a very touching scene.
Cecile shows up unannounced at Joe’s home since he’s been dodging her calls and texts. Worried about dragging her into all of this superhero nonsense, Joe decides to break things off, because this show can’t help but ruin nice things by having its characters lie for stupid reasons. Heartbroken, Cecile rushes out of his home, but reenters moments later with Killer Frost holding a knife to her neck. Either Joe hands over Tracy in the next few hours, or Cecile dies.
This isn’t Team Flash’s first kidnapping, so it doesn’t take them too long to come up with a plan. But before they head out into the field, Julian confronts Cisco, who admitted earlier that he’s been freezing in the field because he doesn’t know how to control his powers and is afraid of hurting his best friend. It’s been very easy to lose sight of this season, but Cisco and Caitlin’s friendship is a thing of beauty. It’s platonic and familial. It makes sense that Cisco would hesitate when he goes up against her. Thankfully, Julian’s there to give him the pep talk he needs. He tells Cisco he’s confident he won’t kill Caitlin because his powers come from a place of love. Guys, this is the kind of cheesiness that the show has been missing all season.
So, Barry, Joe, and Tracy show up at the meeting spot, where Killer Frost has Cecile tied up. Killer Frost is prepared for their plan because Savitar, who knows the future, told her how this would all go down, including Barry’s entire speech and the fact that Cisco is hiding in the rafters. The moment where Killer Frost repeats exactly what Barry’s going to say to her feels like the first time the show is actually having fun with the future. Anyway, Killer Frost briefly gets the upper hand, but Cisco knocks her out long enough to save Barry and draw some blood. Naturally, Savitar shows up right before they take her back to S.T.A.R. Labs. “My ascension is nearly at hand,” says Savitar before speeding off with Caitlin.
Witnessing Savitar in action is the inspiration Tracy needs to start figuring out how to stop him. And Barry has a similar eureka moment at the end of the episode when he starts reflecting on every encounter with Savitar and realizes he knows who he is. Barry runs off to confront Savitar, who reveals himself to be Future Barry Allen with a scarred face, because that’s how you know he’s evil. “Like I told you in the beginning, I am the future Flash,” says Evil Barry Allen.
Whereas Arrow symbolically turned Oliver into a villain in season 3 — some of his character traits caused an immense about of tension in the group — The Flash has gone one step further and turned Barry into an actual villain. And this reveal definitely makes sense. This Barry is clearly one who lost Iris and never recovered from that. In fact, Barry deduced Savitar’s identity after Joe wondered what they would become if none of them had love in this world. To be fair, the show tipped its hand twice early in the episode. The first time was when Savitar said to Caitlin, “You and I could both be gods, free of the pain and suffering of man,” and then Barry tells Joe that love makes the fight worth it. However, that’s not the reason this reveal kind of falls flat.
The big reveal is the least interesting part of the episode because it came so late in the season. At this point, Savitar’s identity doesn’t even matter, and I’m skeptical that the next three episodes will do much in the way of making him a compelling villain. Having Barry fight the worst version of himself is interesting, especially in a season that has focused on Barry’s flaws, but it doesn’t feel personal because this has been so drawn out. In fact, Killer Frost’s presence in the episode offers the best explanation for why Savitar doesn’t work. The threat Killer Frost poses to Team Flash feels immediate and visceral in a way that Savitar doesn’t because his motives have been so vague up until this point.
But the Savitar reveal is a small part of this very interesting episode that gives me hope that The Flash‘s best days aren’t behind it.
Wall of Weird:
- Make sure you read my colleague Natalie Abrams’ postmortem on the episode.
- At the end of the episode, Joe tells Cecile everything and says he loves her, too.
- Wally spent the entire episode off on Earth-3 visiting his girlfriend because the show needed to save money to pull off those sick Killer Frost effects.
- Okay, show of hands: Who else thinks Joe’s days are numbered after this episode? I do!
- I can’t stress how much I enjoyed Dudek’s performance here and the prospect of an H.R.-Tracy coupling.
- Honestly, we should’ve known Savitar was Future Flash because he looked like the Future Flash in the comics.
- The other thing that annoyed about this episode is how small Iris’ role on the show has become in recent weeks. It’s her life on the line, and yet she’s been relegated to the sidelines. #JusticeforIris