Catching Up: The Flash, Episode 309, "The Present"

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Flash Episode 309, The Present

When Christmas is near, it's only natural that I want to hear a really exciting story about a man in a red suit who can travel the whole breadth of the world so quickly that he can do it all in a night.

Okay, so Barry Allen (GRANT GUSTIN) isn't sporting a white beard just yet, but we do get a somewhat grizzled Jay Garrick (JOHN WESLEY SHIPP) in this special Christmas episode that brings the mystery of Alchemy and Savitar to a head -- and sets the stage for an even more chilling storyline for the second half of this season!

With the Invasion! of the Dominator aliens behind them, The Flash returns his focus once more to Alchemy and the threat of Savitar, the self-proclaimed god of motion. Cisco (CARLOS VALDEZ) has researched the stone that Alchemy has been using, and has found references to it being something in Hindu mythology that gave humans powers beyond those of ordinary mortals -- and the first of those was the power of speed, meaning the stone created Savitar.

Seeking advice from someone closer to the Speed Force, Barry travels to Earth-3 to speak with Jay Garrick, whom he finds in superheroic battle with that Earth's Trickster (MARK HAMILL), a much darker, more Tim Burton Penguin-ish version of the villain. It's a nice momentary meeting of these two actors from the original 1990s THE FLASH series. Jay has heard myths of Savitar but not much more than that. He says that if Barry is running into him, then he must have grown powerful enough to attract Savitar's attention and that Savitar perceives him as a threat.

Meanwhile, Wally (KEIYNAN LONSDALE) has been secretly training with H.R. Wells (TOM CAVANAGH), and his tests show that he's much faster than Barry was at the same point in his development. Some might say that is a good sign, that Wally is someone to take over for The Flash if something happens, but I think this ever-escalating speed is a phenomenon of the Philosopher's Stone, and that Wally may be approaching Terminal Velocity at some point in the near future.

When Team Flash is alerted to the energies of Alchemy's stone being used, Flash is there and takes him down, with Jay's help when Savitar appears. While Savitar is beating the crap out of Jay, Barry easily subdues Alchemy -- and when he boxes up the stone, Savitar disappears. The real shock (to Team Flash) however comes when Flash unmasks Alchemy and reveals it to be his former CSI lab partner, Julian Albert (TOM FELTON).

Locked away in the Pipeline, Julian is indignant, and accuses The Flash of depriving him of his rights and his liberty. He also denies any knowledge of Alchemy; and he's right. When Julian's backstory is revealed, we learn that Savitar has been taking Julian over as a puppet, pushing Julian's consciousness to the background.

Meanwhile, as Cisco studies the box that is the containment for the stone, he sees a ghost -- his dead brother, Dante (NICHOLAS GONZALEZ), who convinces him he can be reanimated if Cisco would just open the box. Grief-stricken, Cisco opens it, freeing Savitar who immediately goes after Barry again. The only key to survival is for Wally to demonstrate his training and go in to double-team Savitar, while Caitlin (DANIELLE PANABAKER) pleads to get through to Cisco to close the box. That works, and just in time.

Realizing that Julian was telling the truth, they need to earn his trust to learn all they can about Savitar -- so Barry unmasks in front of him. (At this point, his identity is probably better known than Jay Garrick's.) Using some quickly-cobbled together comic book science, they hook electrodes to Julian's head and the box to "speak" to Savitar through Julian, who rants about his revenge against The Flash for what the Flash will do to him in the future. So Barry is once again dealin with a situation where a speedster's hatred of him is based on reverse causal relationships, leaving Barry just as in the dark as ever. Before Savitar is shut down, he delivers some chilling prophecies, demonstrating knowledge of everyone in the room -- calling out that one will die, and another will betray.

Realizing they need to permanently dispose of the box, Jay suggest they throw it into the Speed Force. Racing with Barry in the supercollider, he lets Barry siphon off his speed when they've achieved the right velocity so he can throw the box into the Speed Force. However, when Barry does so, there's an equal and opposite reaction, and Barry is also thrown...somewhere.

For a few moments, Barry sees himself, facing Savitar, and a captive Iris (CANDICE PATTON). And at a crucial moment, Jay Garrick arrives and pulls him back to the present, leaving Barry agape at the horror that awaits him. For a bit, it's Ebenezer Scrooge bargaining with the Ghost of Christmases Yet To Be, and Jay arguing that there are as infinitely many futures as there are Earths in the multiverse; nothing is set in stone. And it better not be, because if it is, Iris West is doomed to die in a few months.

It's not all gloom and doom, however. At the West family Christmas party, H.R. and Joe West (JESSE L. MARTIN) give Wally a special present: a certain yellow leather speed suit, and the official moniker of Kid Flash.

It's going to be a long mid-season hiatus.

5.0 / 5.0