Thursday, May 25, 2017

The Flash 3x23 Review: "Finish Line" (Finale, Finally) [Contributor: Deborah MacArthur]

"Finish Line"
Original Airdate: May 23, 2017 

This week’s episode is aptly named, as the “Save Iris from Savitar” story comes to an official end. We’re at the finish line, people! So, the months and months of build-up, the hours of filler episodes, the angst, the non-mysteries, the apparent death of our leading lady — has it all been worth it? Did The Flash wrap up this convoluted plot in an amazing, perfect finale that wowed and impressed?


Don’t get me wrong, “Finish Line” isn’t a bad episode. It had moments that made me laugh, moments that made me sad, moments that made me cheer — all things that a show wants in its season finale. But it lacked oomph, maybe because the wind had been taken out of the sails of this plot a long time ago, and only an epic, intricate, unpredictable finale could have impressed me enough to forgive the utter drag that was the Savitar storyline. “Finish Line” was a satisfactory end to the season, but it was nowhere near epic, intricate, or unpredictable.


We learn that Iris isn’t dead like, immediately and — called it! — it was H.R. using the face-changer in Iris’s place. This means that fun, goofy, drumming H.R. got stabbed through the chest by Savitar. I’m just relieved that Joe is the first to find out that Iris is alive and doesn’t have to spend very long thinking she’s dead. Barry also finds out pretty early, when H.R. switches from his Iris Face while Barry’s sobbing over what he thinks is his fiancĂ©’s corpse. Awkward?

In all the chaos, Savitar got away with the Speed Force Bazooka, though we don’t yet know what he wants to do with it. On a related note, the Killer Frost vs. Cisco battle in the woods that happened last episode is halted, as Savitar needs Cisco’s technical know-how to turn the Speed Force Bazooka into whatever evil device he wants it to be. On the plus side, this both stops Cisco from being killed and gives us more Cisco/Killer Frost interaction. Like I’ve said before, the dynamic between Cisco and Caitlin is a strong one that isn’t focused on nearly enough, and the Killer Frost plot allows a lot of those BFF feelings to come to the surface more. Cisco is, more than anyone else on the team, the most likely to pull Caitlin over from the dark side. (Not that the show has adequately explained why she’s on the dark side in the first place.)

Back at S.T.A.R Labs, the remaining Team Flash have a chat about the lovely new paradox they’ve created. For some reason, Savitar has a few hours left before he disappears. What, does the universe have to refresh its cache in order to register the changes or something? Either way, it means that Savitar has a few hours left to mess things up for the team and they must be on their guard!

... Or Barry can meet up with Savitar, feed him a nice little story about their shared childhood memories, and let him right into S.T.A.R Labs like it’s no big deal. I swear, Barry, you are so naive. It’s like that thing where coyotes will pretend to play with puppies to lure them away from their mother and some other coyotes are waiting to attack the puppy when it’s far enough away, except it’s worse because Barry is literally being tricked by himself. And, well, I guess Iris is also being tricked — she falls for Savitar’s sad sack routine too — but at least she has the excuse of being blinded by her love for all Barrys, even the ones with differentiating facial scars.

By the way, Grant Gustin is still fantastic as Savitar and I continue to lament the fact that we didn’t get a lot more of him. He’s great in the manipulative scenes, doubly great in the emotional ones, and triply great when he gets all snarky. He asks where he’ll be seated at Barry and Iris’s wedding! It’s hilarious. But, of course, Savitar has rigged the Lab to laser itself to death and everything — including his moments of well-acted sensitivity — was a ruse. Shocker.

Savitar returns to his lair just in time to hear that the bazooka’s modifications have been completed and orders Killer Frost to kill Cisco, who has not exactly been a model prisoner (Cisco’s snark levels were up to eleven). The reasoning behind Killer Frost’s loyalty to Savitar is on a long list of things this finale fails to adequately explain. He’s rude to her, openly admits that he keeps her around as a bargaining chip, and uses her as a tool to kill the people he doesn’t like. There appears to be zero incentive in Killer Frost staying with Savitar. Anyway, Cisco is saved by the sudden appearance of Gypsy, because they apparently share a connection through the multiverse? Are Cisco and Gypsy soulmates? That’s adorable!

The plan for the modified bazooka is to open the Speed Force and generate time remnants of Savitar that go one for eternity and make him immortal. I think. I don’t know, man, I’ve made it very clear that I checked out of this story a long, long time ago. Savitar. Speed Force. Time Remnants. But wait! Black Flash shows up... and is frozen by Killer Frost. More Speed Force. Blasty lights. Yawning. Hey, it’s Jay Garrick! He slipped out of the Speed Force prison while Savitar was messing around with it and manages to knock him down and stop whatever progress he was making on his evil plan.

When Barry shows up, Savitar tells him that he’s going to use the last of his minutes of existence to kill Joe, Iris, and Wally and, by destroying Barry’s family, will ensure his own survival. This is the wrong thing to say to Barry, who is just more motivated to stop Savitar with the knowledge that his family could be in danger, and — in a move cool enough to wake me from my Savitar boredom — pushes Savitar out of his armor and whooshes in to take his place. Then Barry, like, speed-flexes his speed-muscles and the armor falls to pieces. Pretty neat.

But the thing that really wakes me up is moments later, when Barry is walking away and we see Savitar rise to attack our hero from behind. Shots ring out! Savitar falls, revealing Iris West holding a gun, having killed the evil version of her beloved to save the nicer one with the more symmetrical face. (As one does.) After all these months of Barry trying to save Iris, it’s Iris who saves him in the end and, yeah, I cheered at that. It’s probably the saving grace of this whole plot, which has been painfully lacking in Iris’s autonomy, her feelings about dying, her growth as a character facing death. We’ve gotten glimmers here and there, but not nearly as much as I would have liked, especially since Candice Patton has been absolutely perfect with every crumb of plot she’s been given.

With Savitar dead, everything is winding down and the team attends H.R.’s funeral. Caitlin/Killer Frost shows up just to tell them that she needs time to figure out her identity, since she did save Cisco earlier in the episode and that means she’s not all bad. But she’s not all good, either.

Iris and Barry are breathing sighs of relief about being able to look forward to a future together, and we have several minutes left in the episode so you just know something terrible is going to happen. Sure enough, a red and yellow lightning storm starts tearing the city apart and Barry figures out that it’s the Speed Force, and it’s got a hankerin’ for some Speedster! Someone must be a prisoner in the Speed Force or else everything will implode or something, so Barry makes the sacrifice.

Well, uh, our hero just went into another dimension, folks. So... I guess that’s it!

Other Things:
  • I genuinely have no theories on how they’re going to get Barry out of the Speed Force Prison. Fashion a Barry effigy out of straw and hope for the best?
  • This show legit used "Can you reverse the polarity of the neutron flow?" and I love it.


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