For the last few months, we’ve all been wondering how Iris West—doomed to die at the hands of Savitar—would be saved. In that time, Barry and Team Flash have pulled out all the stops: tweaking small things, breaking the time travel rules, and even asking 64th century criminals for help. Desperation was sinking in within the team and, at the end of last week’s episode, it looked as if Barry Allen just didn’t have what it took to save the woman he loved. He just wasn’t fast enough.
H.R., on the other hand, was plenty fast.
In a move that had been theorized this past week, H.R. Wells made the ultimate sacrifice, taking Iris’s place (thanks to the transmogrification device) as Savitar’s victim. The heroism of his sacrifice went beyond saving Iris. Flowing and yet fixed, the delay created a chain reaction that would be the end of the speed god. Of course, Savitar had other plans, kidnapping Cisco and taking the Speed Force bazooka to ensure his ascension into godhood. Basically, he wanted to be blasted into every second of the Speed Force and time, in effect becoming the immortal god he had prophesized. Unfortunately for Savitar, things didn’t end up as he’d like.
And the up-and-down nature of “Finish Line” muddled what could have been a fantastic finale.
Have you ever been to a movie that, despite enjoying the finished product, you said to yourself “a few tweaks here and there and it could’ve been fantastic”? I’ve used those exact words in back-to-back fantasy summer epics (last year’s “Warcraft” and this month’s “King Arthur”). Like those movies, The Flash finale would have been much better with an extra 20-30 minutes tacked on. After a quick flashback showing how H.R. switched places with Iris, events play out about a half step too fast. We never get to morn H.R. in the way his sacrifice deserved, the final fight between Savitar, Barry, Wally, and—surprise, surprise, Jay Garrick—was a blip that deserved at least 4 minutes itself (mayhap King Shark’s appearance last week as well as Gorilla Grodd’s reappearance may have snatched that budget). Even Barry and Iris never really get a chance to embrace their second chance. It’s initially because Savitar still needs to be stopped (more on that in a moment) but also because of an ending that had been hinted at since Jay Garrick took Wally’s place in the Speed Force.
Now, these gripes don’t take away the fact that one part of “Finish Line” that worked on all levels was Barry’s attempt to help Savitar. I’m sure many people had the same reactions as Team Flash when the speed god moseyed into S.T.A.R. Labs but, when you really think about it, the move made sense. If Barry knows someone, it’s himself and despite the vast differences, he knew there was a chance, however slight, to turn Savitar from the dark side. And for a few fleeting moments, it seemed as if Barry Allen’s compassion would break through the eternity of grief and rage that had fueled his time remnant’s quest to truly become a god. Of course, it couldn’t be that easy, with Savitar using the drop in Team Flash’s guard to plant the Philosopher’s Stone in the lab as a bomb. With that act, Savitar sealed his fate. Even Killer Frost turns on him at the end and, after being ejected from his suit by Barry Allen reminding us all just how much of a bad arse he is, Savitar is killed by the unlikeliest of people: Iris West.
So, about those final moments for our Barry.
With so many ardent Flash fans out there and storytelling intuition, Barry’s journey back into the Speed Force didn’t come as a surprise. His fate was sealed the moment Jay Garrick came out to play during that final confrontation. What I did not expect was for the Speed Force to appear as Nora Allen, promising an Enoch-like translation into Heaven. Barry’s reaction as well was one who was at peace with his decision, as if meeting the darker part of himself in Savitar made it easier to give up the ghost, so to speak. Now Central City is Wally’s to protect but not as Kid Flash. No, he’s the one now. The Flash.
Well, at least until Season 4 comes back around.
- One of my favorite developments throughout this season has been Caitlin’s struggle with her inner Killer. Similar to Snart’s advice to Barry to be who you truly are, so too, it seems, that Caitlin found common ground with the Killer Frost aspect of her persona. It would have been easy for the writers to have her take the cure Julian devised but now, Caitlin accepting her new iteration adds a greater development to her character instead of the do-over.
- Bravo Gypsy! Coming in with the save for her not-boyfriend Cisco. While it was cool seeing her in action, her line to Cisco about them being connected opens up all sorts of cool storyline doors for next season.
- Speaking of next season, how will Tracy Brand figure into it? Will she have a recurring role or become a main cast member? With Harry now standing in for H.R., I’d assume it be tough for her to see the face of the man she loves but not every day. If she is in a recurring status, maybe that will give her reason to walk away.
- There is a treasure trove of discussion points I could make but then this would be 7 pages long. But I could not end this without speaking to the man, the myth, the true hero of the night—H.R. Wells. Early on he was a punchline but, as the season progressed, somehow he always seemed to say exactly what a person needed to hear. He may not have had superpowers or a genius intellect but H.R. was as special as anyone on Team Flash. While Iris may be Barry’s heart, H.R. proved by words and deed that he was, in fact, the heart of this season’s Team Flash. Vaya con Dios, H.R. Vaya con Dios.
The Flash: “Finish Line”: