The Flash S3E9, Review – The Present

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With the unexpected alien invasion out of the way, Team Flash is ready to take on Savitar and bring peace to Central City! If you haven’t watched the four show cross over, at least watch The Flash and Legends of Tomorrow portions. While it seems nothing was affected, there was character development that won’t be touched upon otherwise.

We now know Julian is Doctor Alchemy, the forensic scientist who is so against meta-humans… is actually helping them realize their potential. The episode opens up to an expedition in India that Julian spearheaded. It seems a voice drove him there and assisted in finding a box that unleashed a strange purple haze.

It’s all we’re given before we head back to Star Labs where H.R. is decorating for Christmas. I’ve always enjoyed when the holidays plays a part in an episode, and seeing Star Labs all lit up makes it homier. Maybe it’s the holiday spirit that has Cisco talking directly to Barry– or one would assume if they didn’t catch the Legends of Tomorrow episode of Invasion. Together they realize a major clue; an extensive paper is written by none other than Julian. How strange after all the talk of Doctor Alchemy he would never mention it.

It prompts Barry to visit Julian at CCPD regarding the stone Doctor Alchemy holds. At first, Julian is hesitant to speak of what he knows but soon gives into Barry’s pestering. While he is well versed in the philosopher’s stone (ha), he actually never found it on his expedition and asks Barry to leave. Neither Barry nor the viewers can believe a half-hearted lie, especially when Savitar calls out to Julian the moment Barry leaves. It seems as if they are preparing for a big battle against Team Flash the closer they grow to discovering his identity.

Barry may not know Doctor Alchemy’s true identity just yet, but he knows he needs help. He seeks out Jay Garrick of Earth-3, and wouldn’t you know it– Jay knows all about Savitar. It seems Barry’s strength has called out to Savitar as a challenge and Savitar is ready. With his sight specifically on Barry, who cannot keep up, how is he suppose to stand a chance?

Wally seems like the best Speedster to assist Barry in the impending Savitar battle. With H.R. training him, it looks as if he’s becoming exponentially stronger every day. It’s only a matter of time before his strength matches Barry’s.

Without having a lead on who Doctor Alchemy is, which makes it difficult to locate Savitar, Barry is encouraged by Jay to spend time with Iris. He’s been ignoring her, instead of cherishing her and their time together. While Barry takes his advice, his bonding moment with Iris is interrupted by her news of Julian. She’s investigated him, and his expedition four years ago. It resulted in the death of four scientists. A detail Julian left out in his visit with Barry. So much for cherishing your loved ones– the news is enough to set Barry back out to Star Labs. He better have an amazing gift to make up for his quick departure.

The information is enough to have the team piece it together; Julian is Doctor Alchemy and he has the philosopher’s stone. Now that they have his identity, it brings them one step closer to Savitar. The beans are also spilled about Wally’s training with H.R., ad while there is a lame attempt to cover it up, it does little to quell Joe’s anger as it starts to bubble.

The team makes fast work of Julian’s location, but their quick discovery means little when Savitar goes after Barry. Jay interferes and gets his ass handed to him in the process. I wish the fight had been just a little longer, but Jay is no match to Savitar. Before he loses his life, Barry manages to conceal the Philosopher’s in its original stone casing and successfully seals Savitar as well. That was incredibly easy.

Back at Star Labs, with Julian locked up and seemingly confused as ever, it hardly seems like a victory even with no lives lost in the process. Barry keeps up his Flash persona around Julian until he realizes Julian was not conscious while Doctor Alchemy was in control. It’s then he reveals himself to his former college and the trust begins. Julian admits he had been blacking out since he first discovered the stone. A voice had guided him to it, one he thought to be his deceased sister, with the promise his sister would return alive and well. After he retrieved the stone his sister never returned, and he was burdened with the four deaths; he subsequently escaped to America.

All the while, Cisco has been seeing very real visions of Dante around Star Labs. At first it seems as if his grief is causing them, but after listening to Julian’s experience it turns out to be much more serious. Once Cisco is in possession of the box containing the stone, Dante appears to entice him to open it and bring him back to life. There is no hesitation on Cisco’s part:  he opens the box, letting Savitar free.

At Caitlin’s panicked call, the team comes together to try and stop Savitar immediately. The fight is over before it begins;  Jay can’t fight, Barry’s knocked off his feet nearly immediately, and Wally fares no better. His distraction, however, does provide enough time for Caitlin to talk Cisco down from the ledge and close the box to seal off Savitar and save the speedsters. Cisco is half dazed, half upset; having his brother there has thrown him for a loop but it’s quickly realized Savitar took advantage of his brainwaves to convince him to open the box. Taking advantage of his emotions is what sealed the deal, as Savitar preyed on his most emotional memory.

With Wally stepping in to fight once again, Joe teeters over the edge and goes after H.R. for helping the newest Speedster train. At this point, there is no stopping Wally, and Joe’s protective approach isn’t backed up by Iris. H.R. sees what we all see: if Wally doesn’t receive guidance from one of them, he will look elsewhere. While Wally is immature and too headstrong to handle fighting on his own, he has plenty of mentors to guide him– whether Joe is comfortable with it or not.

While digging up an enemy’s’ motive is a good plan, messing with Savitar is just asking for trouble. When the team decides to use Julian as a medium to talk to Savitar, they find out a few things that were better left unsaid.

“One shall betray you, one shall fall, one shall suffer a fate worse than death.”

Savitar’s threat wouldn’t have merit if he didn’t have so much information on the team. He is from the future and he wants everything Barry took from him. He promises to take it back and destroy Barry. The threat is enough to send H.R. for a latte and nap, leaving the team mostly speechless.

Jay is the voice of reason through the despair, and they decide to take the box and throw it into the speed force. This doesn’t seem like a good idea, but the team goes along with it. Almost immediately something is wrong– Barry manages to run into the future. Six months from now there is Savitar, killing Iris. It’s all we see before Barry is pulled back into the present.

While the future isn’t set in stone, the scene is chilling and not a good sign of things to come.

The episode wraps up quietly with a Christmas shared between Team Flash. Even Julian visits the West home after initially rejecting the offer. His gift to Barry is his job back, providing one positive light in his future. The joy is spread when Wally gets to partake in an awesome gift as well; a costume of his own from the West family. He will be Kid Flash!

It’s Barry’s gift to Iris that has me worried; a shared loft apartment with both of their names on the lease. It’s similar to Oliver’s, large and modern. Was Barry scared by the future to take such a drastic step forward? It’s a perfect end, which will more than likely serve as one of the last happy moments for the team.

I was expecting a heart pounding cliffhanger mid-season finale rather than a quiet end. It wasn’t unwelcome as seeing the team come together after fighting so long is needed. Watching Barry fight to his full potential is always exciting, seeing his ass kicked, not so much. I will anxiously be waiting for the series to return to find out just how much of the future comes true.

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