Well folks, ‘The Flash’ has crossed the “Finish Line” of its third season. In what can only be described as a rollercoaster ride of another twenty-three episodes, our hero Barry Allen(Grant Gustin) was sent on a journey filled with regret, uncertainty and fear after one of his boldest decisions yet also turned out to be his worst when he ran back in time at the end of season 2 and created “Flashpoint”.
One of the most pivotal Flash comic stories, “Flashpoint” kicked off the season in a very interesting place. Those familiar with the storyline know that “Flashpoint” is the result of Barry going back in time, saving his mother from being killed by his arch nemesis, Eobard Thawne/The Reverse Flash(Matt Letscher) and essentially creating a world where he never became “The Fastest Man Alive”. Now usually the first episode of a season sets a tone, not always expected to the great but good enough to give you a direction for where the season could or is headed in. In a timeline where Barry never entered their lives, Team Flash was set off into completely different directions than what fans had come to know and it was refreshing as a viewer and I’m sure it allowed the actors to stretch their acting legs sort to speak as well. It was also heartwarming to see Barry finally get to live a life with Henry(John Wesley Shipp) and Nora Allen(Michelle Harris) alive and well.
On top of that you had the great perspective of Barry and Iris West(Candice Patton) seemingly falling in love for the first time without all the aspects of the trials they went through in the first two seasons. It was fresh and genuine, almost to the point of being more endearing than the story in the other timeline. But what eclipsed even that was the episode’s exchanges between Barry and Eobard Thawne. One of, if not my favorite parts of the entire season, Gustin and Letscher delivered such a visceral scene that perfectly framed the utter malice these two characters have for one another, and Thawne gifted us with the essential line of the season, one that twenty-two episodes later would become tragically ironic “Now who’s the villain Flash? Now who’s the villain?”
“Flashpoint” was a great kickoff point. However, just how it impacted the remainder of the season, the episode itself could’ve and should’ve been two parts. By him being months into this new timeline part 1 could’ve had Barry start his romance with Iris, with more scenes and follow with him observing his former team mates and maybe even rogues from a far. With Wally West/Kid Flash (Keiynan Lonsdale) being the hero, Barry would still sit back and enjoy his freedom from the sidelines until Kid gets into a situation where he needs a hand, and Barry being the inherent hero would give a blind assist whether that’s bringing down a villain or speeding civilians to safety. This of course happens at the end of the episode where as a result of his heroics the final moments see Barry fall to his knees as his memories start fading asking “what’s happening to me?” Part two basically gives us the second part of the “Flashpoint” episode that we got where Barry goes to Thawne, puts the team Flash back together before he and Wally confront a rogue or whoever and then Barry has to reluctantly get Thawne to finish what he started and return them both to their rightful place in time.
As for the rest of the season, well that’s where the rollercaoster part comes in at. We then go down the proverbial rabbit whole of “Barry messed up everyone’s lives”, a plot point that went on way too long if you ask me. And while we got some elements that made the first season so captivating, season three was mostly season two with an even more somber journey for our titular hero. So let’s get into my more definitive highlights and low-lights of season three shall we.
Jesse Quick and Kid Flash: The additions of Jesse Quick/Jesse Wells(Violett Beane) and certainly Kid Flash added a vibrant element that was needed during dreary times. Kid Flash is a fan favorite and with the ever mounting threats, and times where Barry has looked incapable because the plot demands so, Kid is an ace up the sleeve of the show that should develop even more in coming seasons.
Classic Flash: Jay Garrick(John Wesley Shipp) is classic in every sense and makes any episode he’s in go up in value. Shipp is as commanding as a hero as he was influential as a father and the show has greatly benefited from using him in the right amount in the right spots.
VFX: It goes without saying that the effects for this show have been incredible for a tv budget but what Armen Kevorkian and that team did with Gorilla Grodd and Gorilla City, as well as season three finale is truly commendable.
Joe West’s love connection: Allowing everyone’s favorite tv dad, Joe West(Jesse L. Martin) to develop a genuine romantic relationship with the lovely Cecile Horton(Danielle Nicolet) was well earned is hopefully grows in seasons to come.
Infinite Wells: Tom Cavanagh’s multiple iterations of Harrison Wells, specifically H.R.(RIP), who was one of the best parts of season three can get nothing but a standing ovation as Cavanagh continues to be a pillar(much like Shipp and Martin) of this show, and when you look at the amount of times this guy in some form or another has been killed off and is yet still around proves that.
Multiple Barry Allens: Speaking of multiple versions of a character, Grant Gustin has enough on his plate playing the Barry Allen we’ve come to know for three seasons, but this time around we got the deeply distraught and defeated Future Barry Allen, amneisa Barry, and of course the season’s villain, Savitar, added on after last season’s gloriously entertaining Barry form Earth-2. The fact that like Cavanagh, Gustin has the ability to play different versions of this character that at times feels effortless, play against himself, and portray all of said versions with distinct looks, mannerisms, and emotional beats that make them all unique, not only speaks to his great acting ability but also his never wavering commitment as this show’s lead to give maximum effort(thanks Deadpool) to every single contribution he delivers.
Savitar Reveal: Remember Thawne’s quote? Well it went from a metaphor to a living entity when Savitar revealed himself to be a evil future version of Barry. The scene itself was one of the coolest of the season and show, and it was the literal manifestation of all the regret, hate and anger Barry had been struggling with since the night his mother died which was truly compelling( at least for that moment). #TimeRemnantsLivesMatter
West-Allen: The foundation and true heart of the series, West-Allen. When all else fails on this show, the chemistry between Gustin and Patton’s Barry and Iris never does. And as someone who has never met but adores Patton, I admittedly live through Gustin playing her man on this show. Some guys have all the luck.
Bitch-co Ramon: Cisco Ramon/Vibe(Carlos Valdes) exhausting early season crying, moaning, complaining, and just plain vitriol to and at Barry about “Flashpoint” was simply overkill. The fact that Barry’s decision cost Ramon his brother is not to be thrown to the wayside, but honestly the audience was never given any flushed out reason to actually care enough about his brother to cover the amount of time Cisco remained in his funk. And considering the fact that Cisco himself was widely touted as a fan favorite in the first two seasons, he definitely lost some major points as a result, despite them rebuilding him as the season progressed.
The Killer Frost conundrum: That brings me to brilliant scientist and sweetheart turned ice queen, Dr. Caitlin Snow/Killer Frost (Danielle Panabaker). Panabaker has shined in her performance as Frost going all the way back to when we initially met her in season two. Allowing someone like Panabaker to use more tools in her acting belt outside of Snow, who usually hits repeated beats has put a deserved spotlight on the actress. And while Frost got upgraded this year, the whole “powers make me evil” storyline was one of the more disappointing aspects of the entire season. Much like “the connection” we were suppose to have to Cisco’s brother, the execution for Frost’s dramatics came off as unnecessary. I was never convinced Snow couldn’t control her powers. She switched back and forth between her alter ego several times and just felt like will power was all that was lacking. And sure thing after all of the back-and-forth my theory was proven right in the finale where she ultimately chose to save her friends and fight Savitar, afterwards turning down a potential cure showing she was in control the entire time. If you didn’t feel this way than you must have been watching something else.
Execution of Savitar post reveal: Savitar’s reveal had the potential to lead to many great things to close out the season with. Unfortunately because it came so close to the finale, most of the potential was either rushed, mishandled or just ignored all together. Episode twenty entitled “I Know Who You Are” we got Savitar’s origins and reasoning for his actions, which while convoluted were interesting. We also got two even more intriguing visuals, one being the burned side of Savitar’s face and his suit which we saw could move on it’s on in a great sequence to cap off the scene. What happened with these interesting elements? Nothing because we never learned how his face got that way and no further explanation as to the origin and workings of the suit were even attempted. Another classic case of the show delivering a great moment that ultimately went nowhere. And sadly when you go back through the season, specifically the finale I think that is ultimately what Savitar as a whole ended up being.
Reasons…..For Reasons Sake: Three seasons in this show is certainly no stranger to being over the top or being down right ridiculous. And while that can be expected from a show that centers around a man that has super speed, the problems come in when it’s just too much or not needed at all. Two prime examples that come to mind is the poorly handled Music Meister in “Duet” and Savitar’s infinite loop existence theory. This has been a consistent problem, displayed heavily this season. I try not to be a nit picky guy, mostly because perfection is illogical but also because a twenty-three episode season is no small task to pull off. But as the seasons go on I’m finding it harder and harder to overlook or excuse some of the downright overly contrived execution and explanations of plot points. Most to the solutions to problems will be literally be up the street and instead of the logical route, they will go three streets over, get on the highway and still take the back road to get to the answer. This brings the show down and honestly makes it hard to watch at times. If they need to dial back on some of the “cooler” elements no matter how jaw dropping they may be to get back to simple flushed out stories than that’s what needs to happen.
Final thoughts: Overall season three of ‘The Flash’ felt very similar to season four of ‘Arrow’ with the overarching “who’s in the grave” device. The set up was interesting and bold but as the season went on it became more mundane. As dynamic of a villain as Damien Darhk(Neil McDonough) was, the magical elements(while cool) that character brought took the show took away from it’s gritty ground level, hand-to-hand combat romp that made the show stand out. By the time we got to the end the concert didn’t feel like it was worth the full price of admission. At least for me.
The difference with Flash is we knew who was in the grave we were just counting down with a huge clock for mostly, being reminded at every possible chance in very annoying ways that Iris was going to die and hope for a different result was futile. Add on the fact that besides her romance with Barry, Iris was seemingly just hanging around most times appearing to be useful but in reality begin the total opposite hurt a character that has shown and has the potential for much more than that. Barry having to take his place within the speed force for the finale certainly allows for an interesting opening and direction for season four and hopefully the show runners will use the opportunity and do what ‘Arrow’ did with its season five in course correcting by getting back to some basics that made the show great in the first place. As someone who loves all the DCTV shows, specifically ‘The Flash’ that’s all I want.