“I know who you are.”
We knew it was coming this week but still, the Savitar lead-up and ensuing reveal was worth the wait.
Taking place over a sixteen hour period where Wally’s gallivanting across Earth-3 with Jesse, “I Know Who You Are” deals with the future (obviously) and the core tenant of Barry Allen’s life love. Yes, the driving force is Killer Frost’s mission to eliminate Tracy Brand — the scientist who will, years from now, invent the technology that traps Savitar in the Speed Force, but the episode’s true core is the idea of love and its impact on our lives. Towards the end of the show, when the craziness has settled down and Team Flash has saved both Tracy and Cecile from Killer Frost, Joe sits on the couch with his family and muses on love. “Love’s the only thing we got in this world,” he says, “and without it, nothing really matters. And who knows what we become if we didn’t have it.”
Branching off into the first character vein, Joe and Cecile’s relationship has progressed quite well, enough where she lets slip the L word. Her confession throws Joe off and puts him in the position of re-evaluating his life. His conversations with Barry, where the latter tells Joe that, sooner or later, the detective will need to come clean with Cecile lest he lose her forever. Initially he takes the easy way out—that good and established (and wholly ineffective) superhero trope of “I didn’t tell you because I wanted to protect you”. It’s not surprising that, as soon as he takes that road, it’s quickly commandeered by Killer Frost. Using Cecile as a bargaining chip, Frost forces the gang to put Tracy in harm’s way or let Cecile die.
While I’m not sure if Tracy Brand will be a recurring character past this season, but her introduction gave a nice infusion of quirk into Team Flash. Sure, ‘quirky’ is a hallmark of the team but Tracy’s combines both intensity and bubbly perk that no one else truly captures. While others characters are fighting for love in one way or another, Tracy’s own battle is one with future expectations. Once Barry and the gang rescue her from Killer Frost’s first attempt on her life, the team reveals to Tracy her own future. Compared to where she is now, that future is a million miles away and a thoroughly intimidating prospect for the woman, especially when a bunch of strangers are depending on you to save one of their own. But Tracy doesn’t run from it. H.R.’s no longer surprising ability to reach the depths of a person’s fears once again comes into play as he gives Tracy the courage to stands tall and meet the great expectations laid out by her future self.
Whereas Savitar is relegated to a background role, Killer Frost is front and center, displaying her powers like she’s never done. During the second attempt on Tracy’s life, she goes full-on Bobby Drake, ice surfing through Central City on her own frost slide. Though the effects here vary between cool and a bit too rushed, the concept itself hits all the notes but it’s not the visuals that sell the action with Caitlin’s Frost. It’s Cisco’s relationship with his best friend. On two separate occasions the team is able to save Tracy despite Mr. Ramon freezing up (pun not intended) when he had the drop on Killer Frost. He faces the tried and true white hat dilemma when one of your own switches hats: he’s afraid that, in the adrenalin of the fight, he’ll kill Caitlin. Flashing back to last season, we know from Reverb, Cisco’s evil doppleganger from Earth-2 that his vibe powers are off the chart. But power like that needs refinement and Cisco doesn’t believe he has the control necessary to take her down. It’s Julian, who doesn’t allow his love for Caitlin to blind him to what needs to be done. He offers Cisco the necessary pep talk (there were quite a few of these throughout the hour) and Vibe does his thing, taking Frost down and getting a sample of her blood to potentially develop a cure for her…
And then Savitar arrives.
Though the speed god could have taken the team by surprise, he instead rescues Frost, leaving Barry with the cryptic words: “My ascension is nearly at hand, Flash. As I rise, you will fall.”
It’s here that we get to the grand reveal. As mentioned earlier, Joe’s comments on love and its importance in our lives strikes a chord with Barry and he’s suddenly putting the pieces together like a meta Sherlock Holmes. It all makes sense to him and Barry calls out Savitar. He lists all the ways Savitar has been one step ahead of them, an idea that goes beyond someone that knows the future, but someone that actually lived it.
Barry says the words and then Savitar steps out of his futuristic armor to reveal himself as an older, scarred Barry Allen.
“Like I told you from the beginning,” he says, “I am the Future Flash.”
Now that was fun!
Though speculation has run rampant for weeks and many had correctly assumed that Savitar was a future version of Barry, that truth took nothing away from the big reveal, at least not for me. Though there are a depth of villains for the Flash to face, none will ever be as personal and as jarring as facing an evil version of yourself. Sure, Cisco and the others have met their rogue dopplegangers but there is a fundamental difference between facing a version of yourself from a different Earth versus a you molded into a Savitar based on future events that twist your heart and mind to the point of becoming the opposite of everything you believe in. That is an emotional punch that any hero would be hard-pressed to face. But face it Barry must and or he will succumb to the future Savitar wishes to come to pass.
The Flash: “I Know Who You Are”