Staggering across the "Finish Line," - The Flash Season Three Finale

Whew! I don't know about you guys, but after this season of The Flash, I am exhausted! I feel like I ran a marathon and I'm just now staggering across the "Finish Line," which not incidentally, is the name of the season three finale.

So let's wrap up The Flash, and now that you've seen the finale (or read about it here), also be sure to head on over to check me out as I step up on my soapbox about superheroes never getting a happy ending, and how that trope kills the marginalized.

But first... the finale.

Spoilers beyond the fold.

"Finish Line" doesn't leave us guessing on the fate of Iris West for long. I'll be honest: while I didn't really think they would kill her off, there was a part of me that had my doubts. Call it the cynic in me, because as I noted in my soapbox piece, the trope about superheroes never getting a happy ending usually results in women and people of color being killed off. Iris is both of these, so she was in danger of falling into the trap of this trope.

Thankfully, the Berlantiverse may have learned from the fan rage after Arrow killed off Katie Cassidy's Canary last season. As we learn immediately, HR used his Earth-19 face magic thingie to turn himself into Iris. We actually see a flashback of him using the piece of Savitar's armor to find the secret lair, turn himself into Iris and Iris into himself, and then Savitar recapturing "Iris." So when Savitar gets stabby, he's actually stabbing HR.

No, HR. You are not a coward.

HR has not, by any means, been my favorite Wells. But I admit to feeling sadness at his fate, if only because he proved that he loved this team and that he had a hero's heart all along, even though he scanned as a coward for a good part of the season. However, I am perfectly ready for Tom Cavanagh to come back next season as an all new Wells. Or maybe just return to Harry from Earth-2, since it appears Harry will be sticking around for a bit after this episode. Also, I'd like to point out that this sort of falls into that whole annoying "no happy endings allowed!" trope I'm going on about today. HR and Tracy had just fallen in love, so it seems kind of crappy to rip them apart.

But anyway, Savitar prevents Killer Frost from killing Cisco, because he needs Cisco to go all sciencey and modify the speedforce cannon. Back at base, Barry remembers that Leonard Snart told him that the key to defeating Savitar once and for all is for Barry to not stoop to Savitar's level and to always remain the hero. Thus, Barry calls for Savitar to meet up with him, and offers him the chance to be saved from the impending time anomaly that will result in Savitar's being erased from existence, since HR effectively managed to change the course of time by saving Iris.

Yeah baby, caress my burns...

Despite apparently being touched by Iris' kindness, Savitar/Evil!Barry doesn't really buy into it. This scene is notable only for the fact that Devoe, aka The Thinker, is name dropped for the second time this season. So, definitely the big bad for season 4. Thank Dog it's not another speedster!

Also of note here, Julian appears after being absent for a while, and reveals that he and Caitlin's mom developed a gene therapy cure to bring Caitlin back for good as the non-meta she's always wanted to be. This was actually the moment that I knew we wouldn't be getting human Caitlin back and that we were most likely looking at Frost (aka, the metahuman that isn't evil like Killer Frost). I'm actually quite happy about this, because I never accepted the narrative that Caitlin was incapable of both being a hero and a metahuman. The idea that cold powers make you cold inside is silly.

Guys! I made a thing!

Anyway, Savitar knows that time is catching up with him, so he makes Cisco modify the speedforce canon to do some major pseudo-science technobabble-laced nonsense. Something about splitting Savitar into an infinite number of himself, so that he can exist in every moment in time and truly be a god, and truly be above time anomalies and other such banal concerns. Whatever. I can't believe Evil!Barry fell for the idea that Cisco might actually help him do something like that.  When Savitar uses the speedforce canon, it instead somehow pops Jay Garrick out of the speedforce prison, along with more technobabble nonsense about how that happened. Reversing polarities on something or other is a Star Trek thing, guys! Get your own technobabble!

Also of note: Gypsy showed up to save Cisco's life, because he somehow vibed his distressed across the multiverse. They make a cute couple, not gonna lie.

After Garrick pops out of the prison, what follows is a pretty awesome CGI sequence that suggests the CW has been investing money in this show. Savitar getting chased by Barry, Wally, and Jay is a really cool sequence, and one of the most enjoyable parts of the episode. It was over way too quickly.

No foolin', one of the coolest fight scenes I've seen on this show, ever

When this chase is over, Barry and Savitar face off, and Barry has had it! He, much like the audience, is sick of it all. He does a really cool move where he races and phases into the Savitar armor, shoving Evil!Barry right out of it. The armor actually changes color, and if you want my opinion, it looks a lot more menacing when Good!Barry is in it. Also, cooler.

I'm not actually sure how the hell this happened, but it was super cool. 

Barry ultimately shatters the armor and lets his evil remnant live, because the time anomaly is about to finally catch up and erase him anyway. Evil!Barry knows his time is up, so he makes one last push to get his vengeance: his bumrushes Barry, who like an idiot had his back turned.

Then the show's real hero shows up.

That's right, bitches. The real badass has been hidden in plain sight the whoooole time

Iris, honey, if you could do this all along, why the hell haven't you been your own hero?

Not gonna lie, it was really satisfying for Iris to be the one to save Barry, for once. Interestingly, they don't bother with any emotional fallout for Iris, considering she just shot a version of him in the back. Back at the apartment after he's just delivered their save-the-date notices, Barry asks her if she's okay with what she just did. Iris says she's sure it will hit her later. But for the moment, she's totally fine. She has zero angst about killing, despite the fact that Barry has wrestled with this moral question time and again for all three seasons.

For just a glimmering moment in time, we had a version of Iris that wasn't a helpless victim. It was nice, and I really want to see more of it. I have always lamented that the really badass version of her is the cop Iris on Earth-2, and she seemed to embody that doppelganger here. Can we keep her? Please?

Happily, not only did a black woman not get fridged for a white man's journey through mainpain (a rare occurrence, to be sure), but she was also given the opportunity to be a hero.

Caitlin has become someone else... something else (#sorrynotsorry)

Caitlin has decided not to use Julian's gene therapy to become non-meta. She gives it back to him, and says that she needs time to figure out who she is now. For the moment, she has exited off of Team Flash, but I doubt she will be gone for long. Like I said earlier, I'm pretty giddy about having Frost now, so I'm looking forward to her return.

So, all's well that ends well, right?

Oh, sweet summer child.

Of course not! This here is a superhero story, and remember... superheroes can never be happy! There are no happy endings! Thus, when Iris and Barry are trying to settle down and think about wedding stuff, the speedforce erupts into Central City, because the forced expelling of Jay Garrick out of the speedforce prison means there's an imbalance in the Force, or something. No one took Jay's place, so the gaping hole means the speedforce is going to wreck Central City in return.

Barry accepts his fate: he created this problem when he created Flashpoint, so now he must pay the price. Of course, that means Iris pays the price as well.

I'm not cryin', you're... oh hell, fine, I'm cryin'

The romantic in me cried, but the rest of me was pretty angry. Once again, trumped-up drama is used to deny a happy ending. Never mind Barry, none of this is fair to Iris, who apparently must also pay the price for Barry's boneheaded decisions.

I mean, I know, and you know, and everyone knows, that Grant Gustin is way too popular to be exited off this show. So look for Barry to come back in episode one of season four, or episode two TOPS. I would be really surprised if they dragged this on any further than that.

But until then, Kid Flash, Harry Wells, Cisco, Joe, Iris, and possibly Tracy will have to be the Team Flash that keeps Central City in one piece.

A Mark Twain quote seems particularly appropriate for HR

Thanks for sticking with Critical Writ for your Arrowverse reviews, and tune in tomorrow for Arrow season five's finale. Iris West wasn't fridged, so here's hoping Felicity Smoak won't be either.

See you in the fall for The Flash's return.

Ivonne Martin is a writer, gamer, and avid consumer of all things geek—and is probably entirely too verbose for her own good.