It always takes a while for the Flash to find out exactly who his big bad is, but the season 3 reveal might have hit closer to home than ever before.
Time is a recurring theme on The Flash. That happens when you have a hero who is fast enough to travel to the past or future (with a little help for the latter).
The problem in season 3 is that Barry Allen and friends have been up against Savitar, a villain who has more of a handle on time travel and the cause and effect involved than they do. Or at least that’s how it’s seemed heading into episode 20 tonight, titled “I Know Who You Are” because Barry is finally going to say that to his arch-foe.
Now the only question is who he’ll see when the armor comes off — and why Killer Frost trusts this person enough to work with him or her. The most popular fan theory is that it’s an evil version of Barry himself from the future, which would follow recent comic book precedent but also require some ‘splaining, as Ricky Ricardo might say.
Let’s find out.
The Flash season 3, episode 20 recap: “I Know Who You Are”
Peter Griffin would be proud, because Barry says the name of this episode in the very first scene. We’ll obviously be coming back to that.
Things seem to be going well for Joe and Cecile, and she drops the ‘L’ word without giving it a lot of thought. Joe is saved by a phone call anyway.
And it’s about Tracy Brand, the woman who will figure out a way to trap Savitar. Four years from now. Mobilize and find her, Team Flash! Julian Albert asks the obvious question about searching for Caitlin Snow, but apparently they’ve been looking a lot. Julian and Cisco get into it a bit about why she’s Killer Frost in the first place. Oh, and Ms. Brand is still a grad student.
She also isn’t very confident in her own research, saying she’s going to end up working at Big Belly Burger if she doesn’t improve. She might never get a chance, because Killer Frost bursts in and tries blasting Brand. Barry gets Tracy clear and Cisco almost gets frozen, but Barry uses an improvised flamethrower to chase off Caitlin.
As they regroup the next day at the precinct, Cecile is suspicious about their supposed lack of leads (when it’s obvious they are protecting Caitlin). She also talks to Joe about their previous convo and he assures her they’re good.
Brand doesn’t believe Killer Frost is after her specifically even though we know better. Killer Frost has to report back to a disappointed Savitar, who insinuates that there’s still too much Caitlin in her.
Someone has to keep an eye on Tracy, though, and H.R. takes it upon himself to talk to her. Ah, he’s getting coaching from Cisco via an earpiece. Julian asks Cisco if he passed up on a clear shot when fighting Killer Frost, but he obviously doesn’t want to talk about it.
Even with the highest stakes, The Flash still gives Joe and Barry time to talk about Cecile. Barry gives his blessing to Joe to fill Cecile in on Team Flash if he feels the need.
At Jitters, Tracy reveals that she’s got an idea on how to control the Speed Force. Alas, H.R. finds his coffee frozen and they walk out the door to find an ice bolt headed right at Tracy’s face.
Good thing the hero on this show has super-speed. Unfortunately, Killer Forst has learned how to make like Iceman with some ice slides to get around fast. Special effects budget blown as she and Flash have a chase through the streets while Cisco gets his Vibe goggles on. But his memories of Caitlin prevent him from doing what needs to be done, forcing Barry to have to bail him out. Killer Frost stabs Flash in the leg before leaving.
Tracy gets the TL;DR version of season 3 events back at S.T.A.R. Labs, including the role she plays (not the right character from The Terminator, though). She’s pretty pleased to see she wins a Nobel Prize. Except they’re probably going to change that future, so … Brand does less well when told that if she doesn’t build the trap, someone will die, but H.R. goes after her.
Meanwhile, Julian confronts Cisco again. The issue is fear: Cisco doesn’t have fine enough control of his powers to assure he won’t kill Caitlin.
Time for another Barry-Joe talk? Sure, why not? This one ends when H.R. arrives and announces that Tracy is gone.
To find her, they look through her holographic pics from the future. H.R., really earning his pay this week, tracks her down with coffee. She apologizes for ditching and shares her lack of confidence in her own genius. In turn, H.R. says he’s sorry for misleading her earlier and gives her a nice pep talk. Atta boy.
The West house is the site of the inevitable Joe-Cecile discussion. He explains how complicated their lives would be if he comes clean and ends up telling her they should not see each other. She’s so not alright with that … and she soon might not be alright at all since Killer Frost has her at icicle-point outside. Tracy for Cecile is the deal, it seems.
As a plan is formed to get Cecile back, Julian tells Cisco he believes in him. Lot of that going around tonight. Also, H.R. tells Tracy her part of the plan is dangerous.
The time for the trade arrives, and Flash makes one more plea to Killer Frost’s humanity, with her noting, “You two are more alike than you think.” Um … foreshadowing much? Barry’s only plan to save Joe and Cecile from ice blasts is to throw himself in front of them, but Vibe steps up and matches his friend blast for blast. Who’s more powerful? Vibe, when he turns up the juice. He didn’t kill her, and he barely manages to get a sample of her blood when Savitar arrives. Except all he does is taunt Barry, take Killer Frost and take off.
How was Caitlin able to know the exact words Barry would say during the showdown? Curious, eh? At least Julian says he can start working on a cure for Killer Frost. Tracy thinks Savitar’s suit is all that protects him from building up a ridiculous static charge and the good guys might be able to use his own velocity against him.
Holy crap there’s still time for Joe and Cecile to talk again! This is either brilliant writing or the complete opposite. In any case, Joe tells Cecile he loves her and apologizes for keeping secrets. Hey, Joe deserves some happiness.
Wally West returns from visiting Jesse on Earth-3 just in time to hear Joe tell all his kids about what is going on. Joe says something that hits Barry hard: “If we didn’t have love, who knows what we’d become?” Oh man, this looks like the worst case scenario for poor Barry, who tells the Wests he’ll be right back.
As Flash, he heads off to confront the villain. It’s the scene from the beginning again, except it’s going a step further. Ah crap, it’s evil future Barry. complete with a face that’s all scarred up. Darn it all.
Well, that was the reveal that most people expected, though there’s certainly more story that needs to be told. Namely, why would Savitar kill the love of his own life? And what happened to his face (though maybe Tracy suggested the reason with her friction/static theory)? We’ll have to give the creative team the chance to see the season out before rendering a final judgment.
While the clues were perhaps a bit on the nose, what really struck me about this episode is that it had a number of great character moments thrown in, especially for H.R. and Cisco. And while I teased about it, Joe’s love life was woven in effectively as well. When The Flash is on point, it does those things effortlessly, and “I Know Who You Are” managed to have that feel much of the time.