(spoilers beyond the jump)
I will say this right off the bat: not only was this one of this seasons strongest episodes, in terms of writing and acting, but it was also pretty decently Iris-centric, which is a nice change of pace. Well, kind of. Read on to find out that maybe it is best to keep her in the background after all.
But before we get to that, there's Wally. HR has secretly been training him, and the kid is totally gifted! Joe and Iris continue to treat Wally like he's... well a kid. It's really, really obnoxious and I'm so glad it finally came to a head in this episode. Wally can't keep his excitement in check, and part of the way into the episode, despite HR's recommendation that he remain quiet about their training, Wally spills the beans, and Joe is pretty pissed. Pissed enough that even Iris is like, woah.
Luckily, this silly plot thread resolves itself at the end!
Barry is desperate enough to seek some advice from a more experienced speedster on how to defeat Savitar, so he dashes off to Earth-3 to talk to dear-old-dad's doppelganger, Jay Garrick. Through Jay, we learn that Savitar was the first speedster ever, and over time he's gained so much power, he thinks of himself as a god. Jay believes that if Savitar is after Barry, it's because Barry has become powerful enough to be a threat to him.
We learn that as long as the philosopher's stone is locked away in its fancy box, Savitar can't bug them. So just keep the box closed, right??
|Take a page from Pandora, and keep that closed...|
Sure. That'll happen.
This is the episode where Barry learns that Julian is Alchemy and Julian learns that Barry is the Flash. Julian doesn't even know he's being possessed and controlled, but once he finally accepts that, he helps the team out.
Sidenote: while I really think Tom Felton has been underused this season, it has been a real pleasure to have him here. And this episode in particular gave him the chance to actually grow his character. I will miss him when he's gone.
Okay so Iris, right? Well when the team is able to talk to Savitar, the ol' speedster drops a nasty prophecy: someone on the team will betray them, someone on the team will die, and someone on the team will suffer a fate worse than death. Cheerful, fellow, this one! Well later, when trying to drop the philosopher's stone into the speedforce to disappear it and Savitar, Barry accidentally gets shoved into the future. Five months into the future, in fact, where he witnesses Savitar killing Iris.
I think what bothers me about this plotline is that even if they don't actually kill Iris, the writers have devised that the only use for her is to motivate Barry. Whether that happens in the capacity of serving as his emotional rock, his personal counselor, his cheerleader, or the macguffin he has to save today... Iris's only function appears to be completely centered around Barry. I get that the comic books kind of already do this (as they do with Lois Lane and Superman), but I expect better from a tv show and a shared multiverse that has already shown a penchant from stepping away from the source material when it pleases them. I don't and never have accepted the narrative that Iris West's only useful function is to motivate Barry Allen. She doesn't even need super powers. It is possible to write compelling stories and give a headstrong and brave young woman the agency to be useful to that story, even if that story involves superheroes and metahumans. If you can find a use for Joe West, or freaking HR Wells (a writer, for pete's sake), then you can find a good story use for Iris West.
/steps off soapbox.
Okay, despite my ranting on this, I stand by what I said earlier. This was the best episode, in terms of writing and story, of this season. For once everything felt cohesive, it advanced the main plot and finally shed its coyness about Julian, and I felt like we were getting somewhere with Savitar.
Even the West family Christmas, which included Julian as a guest because he felt particularly alone after finding out he'd been Savitar's puppet all this time, was great. I truly feel the love between Barry and Iris. I ship it hard, and Grant Gustin and Candice Patton sell it. In the end, Barry's Christmas gift to her is the keys to their new apartment, and Iris' hurried and guilty "I just got you a wallet!" was perfection.
You know who else got an awesome Christmas gift, though?
|Best Christmas EVER!|
We've just got tomorrow's Arrow to look forward to, then everyone is on holiday break!