Tuesday, May 23, 2017

The Flash Episode Guide: Season 3, Episode 23 - Finish Line

For a summary of the episode guide layout & categories, click here.


The Speed Force Bazooka has failed and Iris West is dead. Now, Team Flash struggles to move past their grief to find some way of stopping Savitar before he kills again.


The Flash: Terminal Velocity (Savitar, The Flash trying to save the life of the woman he loves after witnessing a dark future), The Flash: Out Of Time (The Flash fighting a corrupted future version of himself), The Flash: Lightning Strikes Twice (the Speed Force storms at the end of the episode) and Doctor Who (general wibbly-wobbly timey-wimey shenanigans and the use of the phrase Reverse The Polarity Of The Neutron Flow)


Why didn't Savitar go chasing after HR and Iris himself? Even without the armor, he's got to be faster than Killer Frost.

Why doesn't Barry try to run HR to the hospital? If he's hanging on long enough to explain what he did and say his goodbyes, there's plenty of time for the Fastest Man Alive to get him to the ER.

How is it that everybody except HR forgets that Barry knowing about their plans is a bad thing?

Given the relative eternity Savitar had to hone his powers and become The God Of Speed, why didn't he also take the time to develop the skills he needed to build a quantum splicer himself?

Harry's speech to Tracy, while well-delivered, turns out to be completely pointless since Tracy doesn't wind up having to do anything for the rest of the episode except be heart-broken.

With Savitar having been removed from existence thanks to Iris not dying, shouldn't The Speed Force trap that contained Savitar also have blinked out of existence since there was no need for it ever to be made?

The one thing missing from this episode?  Jesse Quick. We really needed her to show up again to make this tribute to Season 3 feel complete.


It's hard to say who does a better job playing multiple versions of the same character here - Grant Gustin or Tom Tom Cavanagh,

After being given precious little to do this season, Candice Patton makes up for it here.


The image of Barry outrunning the exploding Philosopher's Stone while carrying Iris is a striking one.

Flash Facts

Barry makes reference to begging his parents to take him to a science expo in Midway City as a child.  In the DC Comics Universe, Midway City was home to the Silver Age Hawkman and Hawkwoman. Depending on the story, it was either in Illinois and was based on Chicago (in much the same way Metropolis was based on New York City) or was located in Michigan, near Sault Ste. Marie.

Savitar makes reference to a villain named Devoe that Barry has yet to face, whose defeat required the use of a cerebral inhibitor. This is likely a reference to Cliff Devoe a.k.a. The Thinker - a Golden Age super-villain and enemy of the Jay Garrick Flash. Devoe was the District Attorney of Keystone City and - frustrated with his inability to put a major crime-boss away -  decided to switch sides. He offered his skills as a strategist to other criminals, eventually coming to head his own gang. He also took possession of a device he called The Thinking Cap, which further enhanced his intelligence and gave him the powers of telepathy and telekinesis.

In assessing the damage at STAR Labs, Cisco asks Wally to "reverse the polarity on the neutron flow". This is close to a stock phrase, "Reverse the polarity of the neutron flow", which was used in a good deal of science-fiction television.

The phrase was first used in the original Doctor Who series and was said by The Third Doctor actor Jon Pertwee. Writer Terrence Dicks recalled that Pertwee had trouble remembering some of the technobabble the writers came up with but he did like the line "reverse the polarity" and asked Dicks to use the line more often. Dicks obliged. Curiously, while The Third Doctor often said "reverse the polarity", he only uttered the full phrase "reverse the polarity of the neutron flow" twice in the show's history. Future Doctors, however, did make use of the full phrase.


Julian - with the help of Caitlin's mother - develops an experimental gene therapy that will rewrite Caitlin's meta-DNA and restore her to normal.

Savitar asks Vibe to turn the Speed Force Bazooka into a intradimensonal quantum splicer. This device, once connected to The Speed Force, will allow Savitar to splice himself across all of time, existing at every possible moment.

Savitar refers to a device called a cerebral inhibitor that was used to stop a villain named Devoe.

By changing the polarity of the climbing arc on The Speed Force Bazooka, Cisco changed it into a Speed Force Skeleton Key which retrieved Jay Garrick from the prison in The Speed Force.

Cisco asks Wally, in trying to access the damage at STAR Labs following the Earthquake, to reverse the polarity on the neutron flow.

The earthquakes recorded by Central City University measured 6.6 and 7.2 on the Richter Scale.

Dialogue Triumphs

(Barry pulls up the future newspaper image in the Time Vault. It has changed back to how it originally was, with Iris-West Allen writing the story about The Flash's disappearance.)
Iris: Iris West-Allen.
Barry: It changed back!
(Iris gasps as the two hug. Joe looks at the image in disbelief.)
Joe: Does that mean what I think it means?
Barry: Yeah, Joe. The future is ours again.
(Barry pulls Joe into a group hug with Iris.)

(Savitar staggers as he has flashes of new memories. He begins to slowly and uneasily walk away from where Killer Frost has Vibe pinned down.)
Killer Frost:
Savitar: (frantically) Something's...wrong!
Killer Frost: What is it?
Savitar: She's... not dead.
(Vibe looks up, hope starting to fill his face.)
Killer Frost:
How is that possible?
Savitar: HR!  He took her place!
Vibe: (softly) HR...
Killer Frost: I- I thought you said HR lived?
Savitar: Not anymore!
Killer Frost: (thoughtfully) If Iris doesn't die...
Vibe: ... that means the future's changing.
Savitar: (moving towards Vibe) So is yours!

Barry: I wasn't sure you'd come. Must be an odd sensation? Getting new memories? You having an uncertain future.
Savitar: What do you want? I'm busy.
Barry: (laughs) Doing what? Getting erased from existence?
Savitar: We'll see which one of us gets erased.
Barry: Are you still planning on becoming a god?
Savitar: Cisco and Caitlin are still alive. If that's what you're worried about.
Barry: Oh, I know. You need them, right? To pull off your grand ascension?
Savitar: Look, Barry - if I wanted to talk to myself, I could have done that back at my lair. What do you want?
Barry: I want to help you.
Savitar: (scoffs) Really?
Barry: You don't have much time before the paradox reaches you. Come back to STAR Labs. Let Cisco and Caitlin go and let us figure out a way to save you.
Savitar: You really think I'd trust you?
Barry: You showed up. So you remember me coming here. Did I have any tricks up my sleeve? Was I.. was I planning on blindsiding you?
Savitar: I dunno, Barry. Maybe I get off on watching you grovel.
Barry: No, I don't think that's it. I think you're hearing me. I'm still in there. Deep down, buried beneath the scars and the pain, that part of you that... it must feel so lonely. But it also knows what it's like to have a family. To have friends. You can have all that back.We can stop hurting each other.
(There is a long pause as Savitar seems to consider this. Barry finally speaks again.)
Barry: I remember when I was six, and ah...I begged Mom and Dad to let me go to the science expo in Midway. And uh, well. we got a flat tire on that dirt road, no spare, so we were towed to that garage in a tiny little one-street town. Of course we were stuck there all day. And we got ice cream. And French fries with gravy at that little diner. And then that night we watched the local fireworks show.  Actually turned out to be a great day. And it's my favorite memory of Mom and Dad. What was the name of that town?
Savitar: (quietly) ... Masonville.
Barry: I'm still in there. Come home.

(Tracy is in her lab space at STAR Labs. Harry Wells enters behind her. Tracy sees his reflection, and spins around, gasping.)
Harry: I - uh, I'm not HR. My name is Harrison Wells. I'm from a different Earth.. in the Multiverse... how to explain this?
Tracy: ... you're his doppelganger?
Harry: ... yeah. Something like that. Look - these people? They're good people. And they need your help.
Tracy: By helping the bad guy that I spent weeks trying to stop? No! I won't do it. The only reason I agreed was because of HR.
Harry: HR needs your help.
Tracy: HR is dead!
Harry: That's why you need to stay! Because of what Savitar took from you! Because of what Savitar took from HR! Everything! HR paid the price that he did because he loved these people. Because he loved you. And because when the moment came, HR didn't run.

(Killer Frost blasts Savitar with the gun that Cisco made. Energy arcs between the gun, Savitar and the portal into The Speed Force. Suddenly, the energy shifts and Savitar, who momentarily seemed to be splitting into infinite versions of himself, is suddenly quite solid and held by the beam.)
Savitar: What?! No!
(Suddenly, a streak of yellow lightning comes from the portal and circles around, knocking Savitar down. Killer Frost drops the gun in shock as Jay Garrick - The Flash of Earth Three - comes to a stop before her, smiling.)
Jay Garrick: I've been waiting a long time to do that.
Savitar: Garrick?!  How did you-
Vibe: He didn't. I did.
(Vibe enters the scene with The Flash, Kid Flash and Gypsy. Vibe is holding Jay Garrick's helmet, which he tosses to him.) 
Vibe: By changing the polarity of the climbing arc, I changed your Speed Force Splicer into a Speed Force Skeleton Key. Didn't think I was actually going to let you become a god now, did you?

(Savitar charges at Barry, whose back is turned to him as he approaches Caitlin and Cisco. Suddenly, a shot rings out as Savitar falls to the ground. Everyone turns to see Iris West, holding a gun. Savitar stars to crumble into nothing as everyone looks at his body. Barry then moves to Iris, who hugs him.)
Iris: All these months you were trying to save me from him. Look at that - I saved you.

(Iris reaches to one side of the couch and pulls up a box.)
Iris: I can officially mail these.
Barry: What are these?
Iris: Save The Date cards for our wedding. On one of my braver days, I filled them out. I never mailed them not knowing if I would live to see the.ceremony... but now, I guess, it's safe to -
(There's a sudden rush of air as Barry disappears along with the box of invitations. He arrives back two seconds later, smiling widely.)
Barry: Delivered.
Iris: (slapping his shoulder) I wasted a lot of money on stamps, thank you very much!


After Iris was captured, HR used the piece of Savitar's armor they still had from 316 to track him and find where Iris was being held. He then used his hologram generator to make himself look like Iris, and vice-versa, allowing Iris to escape while HR was captured in her place.

Before he dies, HR asks Barry to tell Cisco something for him. He also tells Tracy that he loves her and that her future will be glorious.

Barry confirms that the future newspaper story about his disappearing on April 25, 2024 is once again written by Iris West-Allen.

Julian is revealed to have been working on a cure for Caitlin with Caitlin's mother.

Savitar reveals that his Plan B was using Cisco to build a device that would allow him to spread himself across the whole of time. His claims his reason for kidnapping Caitlin was to use her as leverage in getting Cisco to work for him.

Harry Wells is retrieved from Earth Two to convince Tracy to help save Savitar.

Savitar refers to the medical lab at STAR Labs as being the place where they thought up the cerebral inhibitor they used against a villain named Devoe. He then states that they haven't gotten to that point yet.

Gypsy sensed that Cisco was in danger from across the Multiverse because they are connected.

The one thing The Black Flash cannot fight, according to Savitar, is cold. This is the true reason why Savitar kept Killer Frost around - to kill The Black Flash before it could stop him.

Vibe ultimately shows Killer Frost mercy and offers her the cure to her condition. Killer Frost then saves Vibe when Savitar is about to kill him for ruining his plan.

Barry is able to vibrate through Savitar's armor and knock him out of it, taking control of it. When Barry is in the armor, it glows red rather than blue.

Barry destroys Savitar's armor by vibrating through it.

Savitar is ultimately killed by Iris, who shoots him as he is about to try and kill Barry.

HR is buried with a tombstone with a statement that is often mistakenly attributed to Mark Twain - "The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why." (Thanks to JeffRo for pointing out that Mark Twain never said this.)

Barry, Wally, Joe, Iris, Tracy, Jay, Harry, Julian, Cisco and Gypsy all attend HR's funeral.

Iris tells a story about John Lennon at HR's funeral. The story goes that, as a child, Lennon was asked by a teacher to write down what he wanted to be when he grew up. Lennon wrote a single word. "Happy." The teacher told Lennon that he didn't understand the assignment. Lennon told the teacher that they didn't understand life.  HR Wells, Iris concludes, did understand life. (It is worth mentioning that there is no evidence that John Lennon ever said this. Thanks to JeffRo for pointing this out.)

Cisco leaves HR's drumsticks on his grave.

At HR's funeral, Barry tells Cisco what HR's message to him was "That doing this took strength that he gave to me."

Caitlin shows up at the end of the funeral. She returns the cure to Julian, saying that she's not Caitlin Snow or Killer Frost and she needs time alone to figure out who or what she is now.

Iris refers to the song Barry sang to her in 317 and they agree it should be the song for their first dance as husband and wife at their wedding.

Central City does not experience earthquakes.

Jay and Barry realize that the storms causing the Earthquakes are being caused by the release of the energy from The Speed Force Trap. Someone has to go back into it to balance the energy and - it is revealed - The Speed Force wants Barry.

The Speed Force manifests to Barry in the form of his mother.

Barry asks Wally to carry on for him as The Flash.

HR agrees to stay on Earth One to help out.

Julian agrees to stick with Team Flash as well.

Barry says Cisco will have to be the one to lead the team now.

The Fridge Factor

Averted hardcore, with Iris being the one to save Barry from Savitar after a season of being the damsel in distress.

The Bottom Line

Much like Season 3 itself, it's a mixed bag made more tolerable by some fantastic performances. The most vexing part is the lack of some of the best bits of the season (i.e. Danielle Pannabaker as Killer Frost is largely sidelined for most of the episode and Jesse Quick is completely absent) while bits that didn't really work at all (i.e. Gypsy's "romance" with Cisco) are given a prominence that doesn't feel deserved.

I may stand alone on this, but I felt more grieved by the loss of Tracy and HR's love than I did Barry and Iris' separation at the end of this episode. Is that because we know that this loss is temporary and that Barry has to return, if only because we have a newspaper from the future that says so?  Maybe.  Either way, this season finale wasn't bad but it could have been a lot better.

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