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The Flash: Season 3, Episode 23 "Finish Line" Review


The Flash: Season 3, Episode 23 “Finish Line” Review

Season 3’s been the series’ weakest thus far. They seemed to mostly abandon the massive consequences of Flashpoint fairly quickly, wasted our time with Alchemy before introducing the season’s true major villain, yet another mysterious and uninspired speedster with a murky agenda who’s hiding in our midst. Caitlin became evil without any real motivation to justify it when her powers develop, stripping the character of her agency, even though no other character’s powers work that way on the show.

But then there have also been the highlights of the season:  Wally becoming Kid Flash; guest appearances by Jesse Quick; H.R., a Wells who isn’t a genius but rather a mere pretender, slowly and humorously discovering his value to the team; the four-series crossover event; the musical; and finally, the last few episodes where we finally got to understand who Savitar is and what he wants–better late than never.

And thankfully, this season finale gave us more exploration into Savitar.

The Old Switcheroo

Boy, I knew there was very little chance Iris West was going to stay dead, but the writers really hit the ground running, not wasting any time maintaining that illusion.

One prominent fan theory proved true as, indeed, the return of H.R.’s facial transmogrifier last week was intended to keep it fresh in our minds for when it came back into play this week when yes, quite improbably, Savitar only killed H.R. disguised as Iris (I thought it just changed the face?). If he’d lived, maybe H.R. would have made a great Faceless Man on Game of Thrones.

Savitar didn’t stick around to see the reveal, however, instead grabbing the Speed Force Bazooka and rendezvousing with Killer Frost to capture Cisco.

But now Savitar’s got a problem. Failing to kill Iris created a paradox that will eventually catch up to him in the form of the Speed Force’s Black Flash as it did Reverse Flash in sister show Legends of Tomorrow‘s season finale. Not ready to give up, Savitar intends to use Team Flash’s own weapon against them by forcing Cisco to switch it from a device intended to trap Savitar in the Speed Force into one that splices him across all time, allowing him to be everywhen at once.

Barry and Savitar, Best Friends Forever…or Not

Now that Savitar’s desperate, Barry makes another appeal to his humanity, which Savitar is suddenly more receptive to. Barry brings Savitar back with him to S.T.A.R. Labs and promises to help him survive. But Tracy is their best and she refuses because Savitar just killed H.R., like, five minutes ago.

The Flash: Season 3, Episode 23 "Finish Line" Review

While the two Barrys reminisce about their shared history as well as future history our Barry hasn’t experienced yet, Earth-2’s Harry Wells encourages Tracy to trust the team because it’s what H.R. would have wanted.

But, as hard as Barry and Iris try to welcome Savitar Barry into their lives, he doesn’t see his place in their lives. He remembers proposing to Iris; how can he watch her marry a different Barry? Of course it’s all a ruse though and Savitar does some serious damage to S.T.A.R. Labs. Guess that Barry/Iris/Barry threesome is off the table.

Killer Frost is just about to put Cisco on ice when — I called it last week — Gypsy returns from a breach portal and saves him, warping them both directly to the rest of Team Flash.

Final Showdown

Savitar confronts Black Flash, whom Killer Frost freezes and shatters to bits just before it scoops up Savitar for good. But, as she fulfills her other role of shooting Savitar with the newly altered bazooka, it backfires. Cisco fixed it so that the bazooka freed Jay Garrick from his Speed Force prison instead.

The Flash: Season 3, Episode 23 "Finish Line" Review

The rest of Team Flash arrive and epic fighting ensues. Cisco still can’t bring himself to fight Killer Frost and finally restoring some agency to the character, hands her the cure that will restore her to her previous de-powered Caitlin self, leaving the decision to take it up to her. Killer Frost returns the favor by saving Cisco from Savitar.

Barry vibrates himself into Savitar’s armor, pushing his time remnant double out. He’s ready to kill Savitar with his own sharp blade but his good nature prevails. Barry vibrates the armor until it shatters into pieces. But, once he turns his back on his evil double, Savitar charges him. He doesn’t get far because Iris shoots him in the back.

Weddings and Funerals

At H.R.’s funeral, Iris eulogizes that H.R. wasn’t a genius, nor did he have superpowers, but he was a hero because he was there when they needed him. Cisco learns he gave H.R. the strength to make his sacrifice. Barry acknowledges the father-son relationship Cisco has had with all the Welles and the unique relationship he had with this one.

Killer Frost came to the funeral too. She gives back the unused cure and says she’s neither Killer Frost nor Caitlin. She leaves again to find out who she really is.

And just as Barry and Iris are starting to think again about their upcoming wedding plans, Central City is rocked by some kind of natural disaster. Now that Jay is free, the Speed Force is unbalanced. Another speedster needs to take his place. Appearing in the form of Barry’s mother, the Scarlet Speedster accepts this is his penance for the trouble he caused with Flashpoint. He says his final goodbyes to everyone and takes his mother’s hand as they disappear into the Speed Force forever…or until Season 4…whichever comes first.

The Verdict

It was interesting to see the villain lose his edge in the very beginning and then revise his plan out of desperation when backed into a corner. And it was nice seeing Barry still trying to find a peaceful solution. I just wish Savitar wasn’t pretending and really did try to make it work before something drove him back to villainy.

So Iris lived. No surprise there. I’d predicted Joe would die, but he didn’t. I’m sorry to see H.R. go but hopefully Earth-2’s Harry Wells will stick around this time instead of the show giving us a fourth Wells. But, as expected, H.R. proved his mettle and the series took a moment to honor both his unique relationship with Cisco as well as Cisco’s relationships with all the Wellses.

Early in the season, I thought for sure Julian was a goner by season’s end, so I’m pleasantly surprised he’ll be sticking around. Now that H.R. is gone, I don’t know how Tracy will factor into next season.

I’d predicted the season would end with Barry somehow locking Iris away in the Speed Force to protect her, but I got it backwards. Killer Frost is set up for a nice journey of self-discovery when we return.

Finally, I totally called Gypsy coming back. Hopefully, she’ll stick around as a permanent addition to the team as well.

Perhaps my biggest problem with the episode was the awkwardness of the sudden Speed Force imbalance crisis emerging. It felt lazily tacked on out of an unnecessary need to create a cliffhanger. We’re coming back anyway, Flash writers. You don’t need to introduce a convoluted new crisis at the last moment just to keep us coming back for more.

The Flash: Season 3, Episode 23 "Finish Line" Review
Finish Line
R. ruins Savitar's Plan A and almost single-handedly defeats him
Barry trying the peaceful solution first
A lot of promise for Caitlin's Season 4 arc
Would rather they revealed H.R. was the dead one last week rather than at the top of this week's show
Forced unnecessary cliffhanger that will inevitably be solved immediately next season
Why didn't Jay just return to the Speed Force since he's not in his prime anymore anyway?
No more H.R.

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