This The Flash review contains spoilers.
The Flash Season 3 Episode 22
Holy moley. They really did it.
I have been operating under the assumption for the entire second half of this season that when the time came to drive that spike through Iris West, they’d find a way out of it. This isn’t how it’s supposed to end for Barry and Iris, right? The only mystery was in who else the show would break our hearts with, but it certainly wouldn’t be Iris.
Look, there’s an entire episode left, and as we’ve learned time and time again on The Flash, reality is a fairly malleable concept. Of course, the bigger heartbreak may simply be when Barry knows that even though he can change the past again, he absolutely shouldn’t. So if there is a way out of putting Iris West in the ground at the conclusion of next week’s episode, it can’t come via Barry, it’s going to have to come from something else (the Philosopher’s Stone?). Or someone else. Then again, if these events are somehow undone, it puts a crimp in future stories, because I feel like it removes the potential of danger from Iris down the road.
Those final minutes were as tense as anything I think I’ve ever seen on this show. It’s all the more remarkable because they spelled it all out for us three months ago. It’s somehow all the more powerful for it.
It’s amazing that I’ve devoted paragraphs to this already, because just a few minutes at the very end managed to overshadow what was already a tremendous episode of The Flash.
I know there are those of you, perhaps rightly, who aren’t satisfied with the Barry/Savitar/Time Remnant explanation (although I am genuinely fascinated by the whole “ethics of Time Remnants” questions that were raised by this), and adding a version of Cold from season one of Legends of Tomorrow to the mix probably isn’t helping with that. I long ago stopped demanding that any of the time travel rules on either of these shows (or anywhere else for that matter) make any form of sense whatsoever. My one and only criteria is that it matter to the story, and have emotional weight. To that end, I am satisfied with Savitar’s origin, and I’ll accept any of the other weirdness in stride. And regular readers know, I am not an apologist for this show or its flaws…but you also know that I have bought this season, top to bottom. “Infantino Street” is one of the best examples of this.
In fact, “Infantino Street” might just be the encapsulation of everything I’ve praised this season for. You certainly can’t level the “low stakes” accusation against this season. There’s no shortage of superheroic (and supervillainous) action. It has embraced every aspect of what has made Flash concepts so appealing for so many decades: legacy characters, time travel, the multiverse, and the strongest rogues’ gallery this side of Gotham City.
But from a purely structural standpoint, this season has also been a wonder. We’ve been treated to the fewest number of filler episodes, and for the most part (particularly in the crucial second half), any villain of the week has managed to not step on the bigger problems to solve. Why am I recapping this yet again? Because under ordinary circumstances, “Infantino Street” would have been something of a gimmick episode. “Barry recruits a version of Snart from the past to help him break into an ARGUS facility to steal a McGuffin from the season’s big crossover with three other shows” sounds like a fan-service set up, and a way to kill time. It wasn’t.
It’s good to be reminded, though, that as much fun as Wentworth Miller was on Legends of Tomorrow, he really belongs on The Flash. It’s amazing, isn’t it? At this point, Captain Cold is better known for Legends of Tomorrow than he is for The Flash, but it’s that particular energy he brings to this world, with this supporting cast, that made him special in the first place. I hope they find a way to make this work in the future (not that I’m going to complain regardless of where Mr. Miller turns up in the DC TV Multiverse). The first five star review I ever gave this show was for the episode that introduced Wentworth Miller as Captain Cold. It’s appropriate that his triumphant return to this show earns another five stars (do I have to give spoiler warnings for my own reviews?).
All of this overshadows the smaller moments in the episode, which was wonderfully paced on top of everything else. Was Killer Frost manipulating Savitar and trying to get him to lose his nerve to kill Iris? How great was the HR/Cisco moment (by the way, Carlos Valdes was brilliant again tonight, wasn’t he? Never let me sleep on that…Cisco is this show’s secret weapon) with poor HR beating himself up over this turn of events? And what does this mean for HR’s fate?
In fact, “Infantino Street” was so well crafted that it makes me wonder that the one incongruous moment, where HR basically tells the audience that Tracy Brand will be a series regular next year, was planted there to throw us off balance. I’ve always pegged Tracy as our Caitlin replacement, but what if HR had already made up his mind (before his big screw up) that he was willing to do anything for his friends? His outpouring to Cisco isn’t something that just comes in the immediate aftermath of something like that, it’s clearly something that has been eating at him for a long time. And whatever that meaningful look at Savitar’s armor fragment was, well, I need to know.
I’m honestly not sure that, even at its best, any episode of The Flash has ever left me desperate for answers and wondering how I’m going to pass the next seven days. This one did it. I guess there’s still time to screw this up, but I feel like we have been led perfectly to this moment. I’m just not sure that the finale will be able to live up to the tension in this episode’s final moments, and I hope that whatever solution they choose (assuming there’s a solution at all), it hits as hard as what we just got.
– The title of this episode is “Infantino Street” which is a tribute to all-time great comic book artist, editor, and Barry Allen/Captain Cold co-creator, Carmine Infantino. Seriously, so much of what you see on this show you owe to Carmine Infantino. If this is the only Flash Fact you ever take away from any/all of these, please make it this one. Fun fact: the very first Flash comic I ever read was drawn by Carmine Infantino late in his career.
– In the ARGUS “Suicide Squad” bunker we get Grodd (no surprise), Cupid (the most irritating character in the history of all four of these shows), and…Cheetah. A Wonder Woman villain. Certainly convenient given that there’s a movie coming out, but I just need to know that Themyscira is somewhere out there in this world.
– Captain Cold has “a particular set of skills” just like Liam Neeson. And come to think of it, I could totally have seen Liam Neeson as Captain Cold if a Flash movie had been made in the ’90s or early 2000s (several almost were, and I could tell you all about them, but I’m on a tight schedule this week).
– Just to be clear, this is Snart from midway through season one of Legends of Tomorrow, right? Help me out.
– Snart’s four point plan basically describes my DoG management style.
– The fact that Joe snuck off to see Junior Walker is amazing. Junior Walker and the All-Stars are best known for the guaranteed party starter, “Shotgun” which you should just listen to for the rest of the night…
…and the song he sings to Iris is another awesome Junior Walker tune…
– So, King Shark first appeared in a 1994 issue of Superboy, and Snart’s crack about not being a marine biologist is, if you squint a little, lines up with that, as one of the supporting characters in that book was indeed a marine biologist. This is probably unintentional, but it’s just something I remembered and I figure you need another reason to make fun of me.
– All in all, I felt the ties to Arrow were pretty organic: the text from Felicity, the use of ARGUS. This, to me, is where all the world-building in these shows pays off, even more than in the big crossovers.
Spot anything I missed? That’s what the comments are for! Or Twitter. Twitter works, too. Help me get through the next week, please!