Catching Up: The Flash Episode 319, "The Once and Future Flash"

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Flash 319 Once and Future Flash

Just like time travel is supposed to work, not a second has passed for Team Flash since we last saw them (Episode 318, "Abra Kadabra").  Barry Allen (GRANT GUSTIN) is figuring out that he needs to run to 2024 and find out from his future self how he stopped Savitar, while over at S.T.A.R. Labs, Caitlyn Snow (DANIELLE PANABAKER) has gone full Killer Frost and is preparing to make frozen dinners out of Cisco (CARLOS VALDES), Julian (TOM FELTON) and H.R. (TOM CAVANAGH).

As fast as Barry is, Killer Frost still manages to get out of the building, on foot, and elude him. That's gotta sting. So while the team is trying to locate her, Barry decides now is a really good time to run to the future. Even Joe West (JESSE L MARTIN) questions this decision, but Barry says he can be back like he never left. But he's going to need help from Wally (KEIYNAN LONSDALE) to harness enough speed to open a portal to the future.

The future, it turns out, is not bright. No need to wear shades.

Barry arrives in an alley strewn with discarded newspapers. That's the thing about time travel, you know you're always going to land in an alley with newspapers so you can find out the date. Because it's always today's newspaper flying past, not one from the recycling center.  Why he didn't arrive in the future in the S.T.A.R. Labs speed facility is anyone's guess. Anyway, I digress. It's February 3, 2024. He's in the right year (albeit 3 months before Flash goes missing in a Crisis, per the headlines of the show's regularly seen Macguffin).

Before he can go looking for answers, however, he runs smack into two super villains -- Mirror Master (GREY DAMON) and The Top (ASHLEY RICKARDS). Surprised by their appearance, they get the drop on him and he barely escapes with his life, running off to his old apartment, which is in severe need of a cleaning (as well as some new windows). As he's digging through the rubble, he hears a familiar voice: Cisco Ramon, who felt him arrive, and recognizes the suit as the 2017 edition. Cisco takes him to S.T.A.R. Labs, where Barry 2024 is. It's also a wreck, because when Iris died, Barry 2024 shut everything down, including Team Flash.  He's also gone totally emo, growing his hair over his eyes. He's not happy to see Barry 2017, either, telling him that he didn't learn Savitar's identity and that Barry 2017 ran to the future for nothing.

Dejected, Barry 2017 prepares to return to the past, over Cisco's pleadings to stay. But no matter how fast he runs, he can't open up a portal. He's stuck in the future.

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With Barry 2017 back by his side, Cisco wants to try to get Team Flash back together. He reveals that Killer Frost took away more than Caitlyn from the team, and in a flash back we see Vibe and Killer Frost in battle, as she freezes his arms up to the elbow until they shatter. He's using prosthetic arms now. But without hands, he has no powers. (I guess he can't "see" with his powers either, which seemed to be something he could do without his hands before, but let's not analyze it too deeply.) Cisco takes him to see Julian, who realizes this is Barry from the past. He also has no answers on Savitar, but his prisoner -- Killer Frost -- does. She sided with Savitar to help him, and she knows who he is. But she's not telling. She does hint that Barry needs to go see his old protégé, which sends him to see how Wally is doing.

The answer is: not well. Wally is catatonic, and in a wheelchair. He went into a rage the night Iris (CANDICE PATTON) was killed, and decided to go after Savitar alone. He was found the next day with his spine shattered, and unable to speak about what he had seen. (Still sticking by our theory that Savitar is Wally West; seeing yourself as an evil villain who just murdered your sister could definitely wreck your psyche.)

Barry 2017 then goes to see Joe, who is at the cemetery laying fresh flowers for Iris. Joe never turns, so he doesn't realize he's talking to the past Barry. But Barry learns that he broke his promise to Iris, the promise that no matter what happens to her on the fateful day, Barry would be there for Joe. Barry wasn't, and Joe couldn't keep it together, losing his daughter and both sons.

Barry does get one answer, though: Why he can't run back to the past. Cisco was so determined and hopeful that Barry 2017 was the key to getting Team Flash back together that he set up a resonance disrupter thingamabob that prevented Flash from opening a portal. He dismantles it, resigned that Barry 2017 is not going to stick around. But Barry cannot leave things the way he has found them, and says he'll help make the future a better place.

In typical Flash fashion, Barry 2017 whisks away with Julian, Joe, and H.R. (who is doing a book reading of his latest superhero romance, "The Streak vs. Mr. Reflecto" to a rapt crowd of women who want him), bringing them all to S.T.A.R. Labs and do what needs to be done. And just in time, because Mirror Master and Top are back at it.

Flash 2017 runs off to confront the villains, who once again get the better of him. Cisco's disrupter plot device could help by disrupting both the villains' powers, but how can they get it to Flash fast enough? Flash 2024 has the answer. He's been watching, and been inspired to get back into the fight.

Villains get foiled, friends get reunited...and even though Flash 2024 trapped Savitar in the Speed Force, he had to have help from a physicist named Tracy Brandt, who developed the technology needed to pull it off -- four years after Iris died. But Barry 2024 does give Barry 2017 her notes (on a futuristic looking thumb drive; hope it's backward compatible to 2017 software drivers), with the hope that maybe he can find her early and she can figure out what she did. (Hey here's a thought: Why not give Flash 2017 the completed technology, or at least the completed notes so she doesn't have to retrace her steps!)

Barry returns to 2017, to the exact moment he left. So exactly, in fact, that the team isn't even sure he left. He explains that he didn't get Savitar's identity, but that he knows what he has to do.

Meanwhile...

Outside the city, Killer Frost encounters Savitar. He's been waiting for her, and offers her salvation. Not a cure for Killer Frost, but a cure to keep Caitlyn Snow from ever returning. When Killer Frost asks why she should trust him, he gets on all fours and his armor starts to slip away in pieces, allowing the man within to step out. He says nothing, but Killer Frost looks up at him and says, "What do you need me to do?" Which begs the question: Would a vision of future Wally West be someone Killer Frost would be obedient to? Or is it a time remnant of Zoom -- Hunter Zolomon (played by Teddy Sears) -- with whom she had a romantic relation as Caitlyn and who was Killer Frost of Earth 2's boss? Nah, I'm sticking with Wally, because Killer Frost 2024 told Flash 2017: "You're going to be so surprised."

Grade: 
4.0 / 5.0