It’s time for the Fastest Man Alive to go back to the future … except further than before and … you know what, this might get confusing.
With all due respect to The Rock, finally, The Flash has come back to Tuesdays! It’s been almost a month since the last new episode so let’s quickly catch up.
Team Flash hasn’t been able to figure out a way to prevent Iris West from dying at the hands of Savitar. Barry Allen is convinced that a trip to the future to learn the villain’s true identity is the only hope. And Caitlin Snow has become Killer Frost, perhaps for good.
That’s not a good set of circumstances, but “The Once and Future Flash” should be compelling with Tom Cavanagh directing and our first real glimpse of the future. Let’s not wait any longer.
The Flash season 3, episode 19 recap: “The Once and Future Flash”
It’s snowing in Central City, and Barry is trying to figure out how far into the future to travel. Seems 2024 will do it. Iris wants him to promise that he will make sure Joe and Wally West are alright if she ends up dying. Grim but understandable.
An alert from S.T.A.R. Labs comes through, and oh yeah, Killer Frost is loose. Vibe saves Julian Albert from an icy kiss, but Flash might be needed to truly turn the tables. Good thing he’s here. Killer Frost buys herself time to escape and disappears.
Cisco takes Julian to task for unleashing Caitlin’s powers, forcing Barry to play peacemaker. For some reason, Barry decides it will be smart to take his trip to the future right now. And he’ll need help from Kid Flash to do it. It works, as Wally literally pushes Barry to 2024.
Just Barry’s luck to run into Rogues right away. Top and Mirror Master, I presume? Looks like they’ve been running Central City in Flash’s absence, and all Barry can do is run away relatively unscathed.
At least Future Cisco is happy to see Barry. He seems a little off, though he correctly guesses the mission is about Savitar.
S.T.A.R. Labs is basically shut down, as is Team Flash by Barry’s doing. And Future Barry is a recluse, which seems fun. No, the opposite of that. At least hire a maintenance guy or something.
When Future Barry arrives, he obviously needs a barber. But he claims he can’t say who Savitar is because he doesn’t know. To Present Barry’s dismay, all he says is to return and spend as much time with Iris as possible.
Future Cisco asks Barry to stay and lend a hand, but he says he needs to go home. One problem: he can’t go back, as the portal won’t open.
(Quick aside: he needed Wally’s help to get to the future, why did he think he could return on his own?)
Since he can always return to the exact moment he left, maybe Barry can stick around for a bit. Cisco reveals that he lost his hands in a battle with Killer Frost, but what about everyone else? Julian doesn’t seem super thrilled to see him, nor does Killer Frost, who Julian has locked up. She’s a real ray of sunshine, taunting him about Savitar and how she helped him. Naturally, she won’t give up his identity either, suggesting he visit Wally.
Things are somehow even worse for Wally, if that’s possible. He’s in a wheelchair and possibly catatonic as well. He tried to take on Savitar alone and paid quite the price.
How about Joe? At the most depressing possible place: Iris’ grave. Joe accuses Barry of running away when he needed him, meaning he must have reneged on his promise to Iris.
After that bummer of a trip, Barry finds Future Barry in the time vault and has an argument with himself. Future Barry insists Iris will die and that he will be broken as a result. Apparently, Barry becomes so obsessed with vengeance that he’ll forget everything and everyone else.
Back at the ruins of S.T.A.R. Labs, there’s one more surprise: Cisco prevented Barry from being able to return to the present. Cue the music: “Should I stay or should I go?” Barry agrees to get the team back together — even H.R., who is using his status as a best-selling writer to get women. And Barry gathers the team in very literal fashion.
Mission “Restore Hope to the Future” has to start with stopping the Top and Mirror Master. Alas, Flash blunders right into the Top’s powers, and she combines them with Mirror Master’s portals to really put the whammy on him. There’s a tech-babble solution, naturally, but someone will have to bring it to him. Someone like, Future Flash (complete with an even spiffier suit!). The villains split up, but the two Flashes make quick work of them.
Will this smack some sense into Future Barry? Looks like it. Now someone cut his hair, please. Everyone says they are in, and the two Barrys are left to talk one last time. Future Barry says a physicist helped him trap Savitar in the Speed Force but didn’t come up with the technology until four years after Iris’ death.
Of course, Future Barry gives him the woman’s info and work and tells him to try finding her in 2017. Present Barry tells Future Cisco he’ll do something to prevent him from losing his hands, and just like that, he returns to now. Or just then. It’s like that scene from Spaceballs.
His astounded teammates say they need to track down Caitlin since they’re concerned about Barry’s report that she teams with Savitar. Barry hugs it out with Joe, promising to be there for him. And Barry tells Iris he’ll keep his promise to her as well.
Time for an ominous final scene: Killer Frost meets up with Savitar, who says he’ll make sure Caitlin never returns. She asks why she should trust him, and Savitar’s armor opens up and … OH MAN THEY’RE GOING TO MAKE US WAIT UNTIL NEXT WEEK TO SHOW US WHO IT IS.
Darn you Flash writers.
He probably can’t since he’s a busy guy, but I’d be okay with Tom Cavanagh directing most episodes if they are going to turn out like this one. It was an entertaining time travel tale that succeeded because it didn’t get too bogged down in the details and focused on the characters. If it seemed to tie up a little too neatly in the future, it was only because it only had an hour with which to work.
Not sure if introducing another character into the meta-story so close to the end of season 3 is a smart move, but maybe the physicist turns out to be a red herring. In any case, “The Once and Future Flash” made me care about a plot line I didn’t care about before — namely, who’s in the Savitar armor — so it should be considered a success on that basis alone.