Spoilers ahead for "Cause and Effect," the latest episode of The CW's Flash!
The short version: The gang decides to stop Barry from forming new memories to keep Savitar from knowing their next move, and instead erase all his memories (along with Savitar's memories, since he's future Barry). Oops. But what could've been a humdrum amnesia episode actually takes some poignant turns, and we even get some interesting development for Killer Frost, as she (briefly) rejoins the team to fix Savitar's broken brain (and Barry's, too).
The good: The gimmicky stuff, happy-go-lucky Barry, Killer Frost joins the team
Having your protagonist lose their memory is a cliche we've seen a time or two over the decades, but they actually managed to put a fairly fun spin on the old trope here. Yes, we got the silly stuff, with Barry epically failing to testify as an expert witness with literally no expertise (and Julian's hilariously inappropriate use of emojis). But they used that framework as a way to tell a really thoughtful story about how experiences shape and change us, nature vs. nurture, and the hard choices that come with being a hero.
This version of Barry was free of the angst, darkness and trauma that come from losing your parents to murder — not to mention the trials by fire of being a superhero. As Iris notes, it's a window into the man he could've been had his life gone differently. It feels almost like Season 1 Barry, just more unencumbered. Which, hey, why wouldn't he be happy? All he knows is that he's engaged to a beautiful, great woman and apparently has super powers. Who wouldn't want to wake up to that news? Seeing Barry explore his own life from the outside looking in was fascinating, and asked some real questions about how much our personality is defined by our experiences. Interestingly, Barry still seems to be Barry — he's just like a really sweet toddler version. With a black brother named Wally, which hilariously confused him.
Having Killer Frost help out the gang this week was a lot of fun, though her exit was positively brutal. As Cisco proved, there's still a piece of Caitlin buried under all that ice, and he almost reached a bit of it with his story about Ronnie (nice throwbacks in that story, by the way). We're still a bit in the dark on her real motivations, because all we really know Savitar has promised her is a full transformation from Caitlin into Killer Frost. But, with Savitar sidelined, she rejoins Team Flash to get both Barry and Savitar's memories back so the latter can fulfill his promise. But, umm, she still seems pretty conflicted about that, right? With the season winding down, I'm curious to see where Caitlin ends up when all is said and done.
Other cool stuff: That dual lightning bolt explosion was pretty great.
The bad: Time travel can make your brain hurt, take or leave H.R.'s love story
We learned a whole lot about Savitar's origin this week, but it's still insanely confusing. So, Savitar is a version of Barry created as a temporal duplicate and brought back by Flashpoint. Basically, a time aberration. He apparently joins in on the fight with Savitar at some point in the future (before he's evil) and survives the fight, leaving Team Flash with two Barrys. But when he's shunned by the team, he's broken and sad and decides to become a super villain and kill Iris? And bounce around through all of time to become a god? Even though he still has Barry's memories and personality of being "good," including his lifetime of love for Iris? Oh, and the Legends' message about an evil Barry they shouldn't trust was in reference to Savitar, as Cisco helpfully points out. Umm, okay? Couldn't Future Good Barry have made that a little clearer?
This is still insanely confusing. Making an evil Barry is a fun idea, but it's still hard to fathom Barry Allen ever becoming this. Maybe they should've gone with an alt-universe Barry, who instead of being raised by Joe was raised by, umm, Mick Rory, or something?
Also, aren't they changing the timeline anyway by Barry realizing he is Savitar, since the future team he met had no clue of his identity? And if that's true, then how can Savitar have these memories, anyway? Also, why would Wally lose his powers when Savitar got amnesia? Yes, it means he never awakened all the people from Flashpoint (apparently), but wouldn't that mean Savitar never got his suit? Or never created the legend of himself in the first place? If things he'd done as Savitar suddenly changed back? Ugh, my head hurts.
H.R. has made for some good comic relief this season, and his love story with Tracy really is sweet, but it felt like a bit of a tack-on with everything else going on. But dang, if they're not cute together. Hopefully this is going somewhere interesting, and it's not just a B-plot to eat up some minutes.
Lines of the night
"That's the thing short time travel, Barry. The more you do it, the less the rules matter to you." - Savitar
"Wanna cut it out with the emojis?" - Cisco
"Are you like a super villain?" - Barry
So, Barry has a plan! The Speed Force Cannon Bazooka Gun apparently works, they just need an insane amount of energy to run it. So, they're going to steal an alien power source (that piece of tech was left over from the Dominators, right?), which is being guarded by King Shark for some reason (probably because Argus just looooves to use villains on the payroll). It looks like we'll get a straight-up heist next week, as some version of Leonard Snart returns to help out Barry and the team (just guessing, but this seems to be a "better-ish" version of the character during his time helping out the Legends, but with time travel it's hard to tell).