The Flash: 3.21 Cause and Effect
This episode really shouldn't have worked. A comedy amnesia story two weeks off the finale, surely that's a recipe for a cringeworthy disaster? And yet, The Flash continued what has largely been a stellar run of episodes since it returned to finish off season three.
At this point, Cause and Effect was the comic breather we all needed. With Caitlin transformed into Killer Frost, Savitar revealed as a twisted, evil version of Barry Allen and Iris's death pending, there's not much higher the stakes can go. Instead, the episode was driven by the need to stop Savitar, resulting in 'hilarious' consequences as the plan to subvert Savitar's memories by removing Barry's went very wrong. In the same manner that Buffy The Vampire Slayer's season six episode Tabula Rasa was a fun chance to reexamine the core characters after the revelation that she has been torn out of Heaven (it's a 15 year old spoiler so please forgive me), this episode of The Flash served the same purpose; who is Barry Allen? Strip him of all his grief and traumatic memories and what kind of person is he?
A much more happy version it seems; without being saddled by the memories of his parents' horrific murders and the weight of the world on his shoulders, this was a Barry - or Bart - that could truly enjoy life again. It was lovely to watch and I completely understood why Iris considered him keeping him without his memories. After all, why would you want the person you love to be saddled with such darkness in their lives? But the episode also demonstrated how those memories have made him the hero we all know.
Getting to that point, the episode had a lot of fun, particularly the courtroom scene where Barry Allen CI was called on to testify against serial arsonist Lucius Coolidge / Heat Monger; without any of his knowledge, he was forced to rely on the messages being relayed to him through Cisco's glasses while Julian very unsubtly typed away the script on his laptop. Yes, it was a farce of a scene; the judge was oblivious and surely there was more evidence than Barry's testimony to convict him? There was also an amusing twist when Savitar lost his memories too. It was fun to see the grim, big, all-knowing bad all at a loss for the first time.
And let's talk about Savitar. So he's a future time remanent, created to fight Savitar in the future, who then became abandoned, embittered and transformed into the threat, by travelling back to the past to set up his legacy. Rightly so, the discussion of who came first - chicken or egg, Savitar or time remanent - became a central part of the mystery. I've watched enough sci-fi to know we're on full on paradox territory here, but it's probably best to take a page out of Legends of Tomorrow's book and just roll with it.
One of the biggest surprises this week was the return of Killer Frost, using her own agenda to work with team Flash to cure Barry and thus Savitar himself. It gave us that wonderful, heartfelt scene as Cisco tried to get through to his old friend by talking memories of the old days in Star Labs and Caitlin's old love Ronnie Raymond. Cisco telling her that Caitlin is at the heart of all his old memories even seemed to get through to her for a moment, but I wonder if she is just too far gone.
And yet again, we have the wonderful chemistry between HR Wells and Tracy Brand as they worked on the device to trap Savitar. I love watching these two together and Anne Dudek would be a welcome addition to the team next season, particularly if Tracy replaces Caitlin. Having created the Speed Force Bazooka, all they need now is a power source more powerful than the sun. The ending teased a device that might just do that...along with a surprise reveal of King Shark, last seen locked up by ARGUS? Are we going to see this organisation crossover to help Barry and team Flash next week? I certainly hope so.