Spoilers ahead for "The Once and Future Flash," the latest episode of The CW's Flash!
The short version: Barry heads to 2024 to try and learn Savitar's true identity, but his Future self doesn't know it. Everything sucks. So he sticks around to help get Future Team Flash back together, and brings back some intel that could stop Savitar. Oh, and Killer Frost is on the loose and meeting with Savitar (who shows his true face, which we don't see. Grr).
The good: The future, Emo Barry, the framing, the fights, and THAT SUIT
It's always fun to get a peek at the future, and this one let us kick around for a whole hour in a very broken version of 2024. Cisco has lost his hands, Wally is crippled and catatonic, Joe and Future Barry haven't spoken in years, and Killer Frost has fully replaced Caitlin. Yay future? Look, it obviously doesn't turn out this way — mostly because that'd make for one hella-depressing show, right? — but giving Barry a front-row seat at what happens if he fails and spirals into his own self-pity should be one heck of a wake-up call.
It was great to see the friendship between Cisco and Barry stretch across the timeline, and the little flourishes were great. Of course H.R. is a novelist/coffeehouse owner; and seeing a broken version of Barry Allen was actually pretty stark. Though, ahem, it's hard to get past that Emo Barry hair. Dude looks like he should be singing lead for My Chemical Romance, not shutting down metahumans.
To that end, they framed the story almost like A Christmas Carol, with Barry visiting the "ghosts" of his friends as he sees the ways everything goes wrong. Cisco loses his hands, the conduit to his power. Wally loses his legs, speed and mind (a small part of the story, but dang, positively brutal). The guy who loves speed the most, never able to run again. Caitlin is seemingly lost forever to the dark side. Joe is bitter at Barry for abandoning him. Julian is, well, still Julian. And H.R. is still a big goofball (who has to find those drum sticks, y'all). Letting Barry visit these players in what basically equated to vignettes, with Future Cisco as his tour guide, was an excellent framing device to tell this type of story.
Giving Barry a few foes to fight in the future was also a nice touch, and it's been too long since Barry Allen got a chance to actually be a hero — unencumbered by the weight of being the guy who screwed up all of time. Barry sees that the future is a wreck and wants to help fix it, even if his real plan is to stop that future from existing in the first place. He sees bad, and wants to stop it. That's the heart of this character, and it's great to see them getting back to it. Plus, Top and Mirror Master are fun villains. Great to see them again.
Last, but certainly not least: How long do we have to wait to see that future suit. Right?! The trim, the layering, the everything. That suit makes Barry's current suit look like a dumpster fire. Cisco needs to build this thing, pronto. I want to see it every week. You know, just without a version of Barry Allen sporting an emo-mop.
The bad: The plot holes and contrivances inherent with time travel
When you decide to let your time traveling hero start mucking around in the future to fix his problems, you open yourself up to a whole host of problems. And that's pretty much what happened here. So, Barry travel to 2024 to try and learn Savitar's real identity. No one other than Killer Frost knows it, but she ain't talking. So, that's a bust. Then, Barry asks Emo Barry how he eventually defeated Savitar after everything is ruined, and learns a scientist builds the tech in the years after Savitar killed Iris. So, umm, he's time traveling, right? He's in the future where this tech has existed, right?
Why not travel to 2021 and get the trap once it's built, and use it in 2017? You've already wrecked the time stream by trying to "cheat" and get some intel, so why not just pull out the play from the playbook you literally know will work, and run it? Yes, Barry gets the files from his future self and brings them back, but did he not even consider just making a pit stop in 2021 and grabbing the device? Or contacting the doctor in 2024, and asking her to build another trap to take back? These all seem like obvious moves, if you've already established you're not afraid to screw around with time to solve this problem.
Lines of the night
"It will break you." - Future Barry
"We should, threesome, do some, something else." - HR
Barry brought back the intel on the Speed Force trap, so it stands to reason that will factor heavily into the finale. We'd look for the team to track down this doctor pronto.
Who is Savitar? We got to see him actually step out of his suit this time around, though we don't actually see his face. Best bets? A prevailing theory is that it could be some far future version of Barry himself, and Killer Frost's reaction certainly lends itself to that being an option. She obviously recognized whoever crawled out of that super suit ...
Could this be some screwed up Barry from an alternate future? He's made it clear he's "lived" this before. Could it be because he's literally on Team Flash? If not Barry, then it obviously seems to be someone we know, right? Maybe an Evil Future Cisco? That'd be a surprising juxtaposition, especially after they bro'd out in the future. They've set this one up in a big way, and the pressure is on to pay it off meaningfully. No pressure, Team Flash.
Next week: Savitar revealed?! Apparently?!