‘The Once and Future Flash’ Stretches the Savitar Mystery Way Too Far

The Flash — “The Once and Future Flash” Pictured (L-R): Ashley Rickards as Rosalind Rosa Dillion and Grey Damon as Sam Scudder — Photo: Katie Yu/The CW — © 2017 The CW Network, LLC. All rights reserved.

“The Once and Future Flash” was pretty good. Tom Cavanagh directed it well. The acting was slightly above the usual level expected from the team. The writing wasn’t bad either. Mirror Master’s new power looked cool. Top’s costume was interesting. Barry’s future wig was amazing. But all of this was secondary to the Savitar reveal we all thought we were getting.

Here’s the problem with the whole Savitar thing.

No one cares anymore.

Well, we do, but not the way they want us to.

We used to. This kind of thing used to really get Flash fans asking questions. And they weren’t just “Who is the mystery speedster?” either. They were also “Why is he evil?” and “What is he after?” and “How is Barry going to beat him?” There was more than just an identity at stake. There was a character.

This season is the opposite. We know why Savitar is evil. He was trapped in the Speedforce for a long time and he went crazy. We know what he’s after. He wants revenge. We know how Barry’s going to kill him. Barry will use a new serum created by the doctor we are about to meet, Savitar’s own armor, and the power of friendship to overpower Savitar and trap him in the Speedforce once again. All we are missing is a name. And that isn’t enough.

Let’s compare Savitar to the Reverse Flash, the show’s most successful villain so far. Episode 19 of Season 1 put us in a very different place. The team was just starting to unravel the story behind “Harrison Wells”. Barry found Wells’ body buried on the side of a road. Cisco revealed the “dream” he was having to the rest of the team. The audience knew Wellobard (as the fans called him) was training Barry to run faster so that he could get back to his own time. The grand had just discovered the time vault.

The Flash — “The Trap” –Pictured (L-R): Carlos Valdes as Cisco Ramon and Tom Cavanagh as Harrison Wells — Photo: Cate Cameron/The CW — © 2015 The CW Network, LLC. All rights reserved

And the audience knew even more. We were told Thawne was training Barry so that he could get home. We also knew that Thawne was many steps ahead of the team. The dramatic irony of the trap the team was about to set was delicious.It wasn’t clear exactly why he hated Barry so much. We got that information during the finale. We also didn’t know how Barry planned to stop Thawne. There was a lot left for the show to reveal.

Even by Episode 19 of Season 2, which wasn’t a great season, we still had the right balance of known and unknown. Zoom was revealed to be Hunter Zolomon, a crazy guy from Earth 2, and he was markedly faster than Barry. It wasn’t exactly clear what he wanted, even though he told Caitlin that he wanted to conquer the world. We still didn’t know what was going on with the masked man. And again, we didn’t know how Barry was planning on beating Zolomon.

It just feels like an unforced error. There is no reason why this season needed to do everything the previous seasons had done, but worse. The villain is less interesting. It will either be some emotionally tortured version of future Barry or Eddie who went crazy as a result of the breaches. It could be Ronnie too but I find that pretty unlikely/unsatisfying (although he does have the engineering expertise necessary to make a speed suit. Either way, the mystery has played out in a way that is boring me and a lot of the fanbase. You don’t have to look far through the subreddit to find fans complaining about the pace of the season and the depth of Savitar. And to their credit, the writers seem to understand that they need a non-speed, non-secret villain in the future (like DeVoe) but it seems like too little too late.

P.S. Why in heaven’s name didn’t Barry take the new suit with him? It’s so much better. I can’t go back to the dull leather Flash suit now. If this show is following the Arrow trajectory (and the quality is pretty close) we better get a new suit at the start of Season 4 and it better be the one we saw this week.

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Matthew Nando Kelly is the cool and tough Managing Editor of Pop Break who was allowed to write his own bio. Besides weekly Flash recaps, he has a podcast called Mad Bracket Status where he makes pop culture brackets with fellow writer DJ Chapman.