The Flash Season 3 Episode 19 Review: The Once and Future Flash

Barry heads to the future to figure out how to save Iris in "The Once and Future Flash."

This The Flash review contains spoilers.

The Flash Season 3 Episode 19

“The Once and Future Flash” is a nice way for the show to come back from its spring hiatus. I didn’t even realize how much I had missed this season until things kicked off, when suddenly I was reminded that, oh yes, The Flash Season 3 has been very good.

By this time last year, the warning signs were everywhere, and it was right about now that I started to really skewer this show for what I considered to be some cheap shots and easy ways out. With just a handful of episodes to go until that May 23 deadline (which also marks the actual season finale date), I’m hard pressed at the moment to think of ways this show could really blow it as monumentally as it did last year. Every reveal, every twist, has been executed so well that I have no choice but to put my absolute faith in everyone involved.

But with all that, and all the fireworks that we know are coming in the final showdown with Savitar (and, it appears, with Killer Frost), “The Once and Future Flash” was a surprisingly understated episode. The Top and Mirror Master were almost set dressing, here to add a little Rogue-y flavor to the Central City of the future (I really dug the special effects they used for them this week, too), but this was purely character driven, with the bulk of it falling on Grant Gustin (who was terrific as both regular Barry and…ahem…Emo Barry, as Twitter has dubbed him) and Carlos Valdez (who once again proves that he is this show’s secret weapon).

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Setting this episode seven years in the future not only makes sense from a story standpoint (it’s the date on the headline from the newspaper in the first episode), it also frees the show from having to do any silly gymnastics to over-age its cast. Any of that would have just distracted from a solid hour with (most) of the core cast, using their future, broken selves to remind audiences why we love them so much when they’re fully functioning.

So with that in mind, we know that even when Barry saves Iris on May 23, the universe is going to extract its toll. Somebody isn’t making it out of this season, and I’m more convinced than ever that it’s Joe West. Joe is, in fact, the last person I want to see take the ol’ Central City dirt nap, but I just feel like we’re going to see some kind of parallel via Iris with what we saw with the Joe of 2024. 

Unfortunately, I also feel that the fate of Caitlin Snow that we saw teased here is also set in stone. Perhaps we’ll be starting The Flash Season 4 with a very different looking team. I think, overall, Caitlin’s heel turn has been handled brilliantly, but at some point it has to stick. If they keep see-sawing her over the next few years, it’s going to lose it’s impact. If I’m wrong, and she is brought back from the brink before season’s end, they can’t play that card again. I also hope that when it does finally stick they find a better balance for her dialogue, which veers a little too far into “I’m eeeeevil now” for my taste, considering that the rest of this story has played out in such a balanced fashion.

But that Caitlin/Savitar cliffhanger. Holy moley. This scene was perhaps the best visual we’ve had on the show in a while. It really just looked terrific, and Savitar’s eerie blue glow against that snowscape with Caitlin was a really nice touch. For a moment, I thought they were gonna give us the “full Savitar reveal” but alas, I was wrong.

I am excited to finally learn Savitar’s identity. The way this has been teased all season has been enough to keep my interest, but it also hasn’t exactly been keeping me awake at night. But suddenly, knowing that the actual reveal is imminent has changed things.

So who the hell is he?

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Caitlin’s reaction obviously indicates it’s somebody she knows quite well and would do anything for. That points the finger at Ronnie Raymond, and considering how he croaked at the end of season one, I suppose ending up with Speed Force armor isn’t the most out there possibility. But the problem is: why would the audience care that it’s Ronnie? But that whole death thing might explain why he needs this armor. The other possibility is Eddie Thawne, who also vanished into the Speed Force, albeit after he was already quite dead (or on his way there). 

I know there has been some speculation that it’s Jay Garrick, which I refuse to really get into, mostly because I can’t be objective about anything involving Jay Garrick and this would break my heart. And would Caitlin really have that much reason to unquestioningly do whatever Jay says? This may rule him out. I might also be in denial, but give me this, please.

Of course, this leaves Julian…or some version of him. Or some version of Wally. Or…well, I dunno. I’m out of ideas, and I’m sure all of them are quite wrong.

Flash Facts!

Nothing of note jumped out at me in terms of DC Comics stuff this week, which is, perhaps, for the best. We don’t need a stack of easter eggs at this point in the season. BUT…I will say this much:

That future Flash suit needs to become the present Flash suit ASAP. That is an absolutely killer design, with the brighter red, more room for gold, and the boot highlights that are probably the closest we’re ever going to get to the proper yellow boots of the comics. That thing is sharp, and one of the best superhero costume designs we’ve seen on any of these shows so far. Luckily, Barry has a habit of adopting these tweaks shortly after we see them in other timelines, so I expect we’ll see it by season’s end.

In fact, he has a perfect excuse. It’s one more thing to change before he takes on Savitar. The glimpses we’ve seen of Iris’ death, Barry is wearing his current suit, not the future one. There’s no reason for him not to try and change every little thing he can here. In short: I need that costume on my screen every week!

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– I also need a prop copy of The Streak vs. Mr. Reflecto ASAP. 

– Tom Cavanagh directed this episode, and I think he did a fine job, don’t you?

Hit me with your Savitar theories and Flash costume design notes on Twitter!


4 out of 5