The Flash: 3.19 The Once and Future Flash
In the life of a superhero, a trip to the future is rarely rainbows and puppies and while the Central City of 2024 was no Days of Future Past, it was certainly a bleak place. It was a strong episode to return to after a few weeks break and set up the final run of episodes for The Flash season three in style. The Once and Future Flash opened with a thrilling action sequence, which saw Killer Frost unleashed and the team running for their lives. There was a great Indiana Jones moment as JR slid under the closing door and grabbed his drumstick and a brutal showdown with the Flash. The stakes were raised from the first moment.
As soon as Barry entered the future in search of answers to defeat Savitar, it was obvious something wasn't right. There was an element of TV budget in play in the grimy streets of Star City and the b-list villains in Mirror Master and Top. But I think the bleak, uninspiring future actually worked. Only being eight years from the present, there was no need for flying cars or modern technology; insteads this was a place where villains had free rein and team Flash had been disbanded in the wake of the events of 2017.
Despair and grief was the theme of 2024; Iris was dead, emo Barry was hiding in the remnants of Star Labs, Wally was a human vegetable following a revenge-fuelled encounter with Savitar that left his spine broken and Julian watched over an imprisoned Killer Frost in her cell. And poor Cisco was a cardigan-wearing former shell of himself, his hands replaced with robotic implants after a battle with Killer Frost in his past saw his hands frozen and destroyed and his metahuman powers with them.
The story wasn't the most original but it was certainly believable and raises the stakes for the battle in the present. Suddenly it is not just Iris's death that needs to be averted but the fates of everyone, particularly Wally, Cisco and Barry himself. And while it would have been easy for Barry to learn Savitar's identity and the means to defeat him, there was still a sense of progression with future Barry giving him a device built in 2020 to trap Savitar in the speed force. The as of yet unseen ally who helped future Barry defeat the big bad also adds to the mission statement for the final four episodes. Most significantly , Barry knows the fate of Cisco after his battle with Killer Frost glimpsed earlier this season.
As for Caitlin / Killer Frost herself? I'm starting to have doubts that she can be saved. Barry learned in the future that his former friend allied herself with Savitar and the final scene in the present confirmed it, with the big bad revealing his true identity to her. Of course, the audience didn't see it, teasing who Savitar is for at least another week. I hope the big reveal pays off because it certainly has been built up.
Coming back after a short break, I noticed just how well paced this season has been; last year, the battle to defeat Zoom after his initial, shocking debut, felt dragged out and tired by the season's end. Fortunately season three has learned from these mistakes and with Killer Frost finally in the mix too, I'm excited to see how this season ends.
Oh and how amazing was future Flash's suit? Can he have this one please?