FLASH SPOILER Review: Episode 3x09 - "The Present"

The Flash (3x09) - "The Present"
Written by:         Lauren Certo
Story by:              Aaron & Todd Helbing
Directed by:       Rachel Talalay

We open somewhere in India and this is either the cold open to Stargate SG-1 or a flashback to how Julian became Alchemy. Then we’re in STAR Labs where HR has decorated to the point that somewhere someone at Central City Power has noticed.  Gotta give it to the Flash in the era of “Happy Holidays” they actually go all in with the “Merry Christmas.”

So, after the gang recaps what they have on Savitar, zilch for those of you keeping score, Barry decides that maybe they should chase down information of Alchemy’s magic stone.  Cisco decides to do a Bing search (He’s saving up points for a $5 Dollar Xbox Live card!) and after he has a creepy vision of Dante, he finds a dissertation on the rock by Julian.  So Barry visits Julian and asks him for some information and Julian obliges him. He explains that he wasted a lot of his father’s money but came up empty handed in the end.  Now isn’t that just convenient? (They call it “The Philosopher’s Stone.”  The Philosopher’s Stone!  I promised not to do Draco Malfoy jokes and this is how they repay me?)  

Julian then kicks Barry out but Barry plays the “one more question” card by asking about Savitar and even though he gets a bit tense, Julian doesn’t know anything about it. Julian would not do well at the poker tables. After Barry leaves, Julian hears Savitar’s call and he suits up for some evil.  Meanwhile, downstairs Joe and Cecile are flirting with each other while discussing last week’s alien stuff and the fallout.  They then challenge each other to an alcoholic egg nog competition.

Then it’s over to Earth 3 for some Jay Garrick-Flash vs Trickster (nice to see you, Mark Hamill.) 

But the day is saved by Barry, he needs some info on Savitar.  We then start to get the impression that while Barry is busy with the TV show that all the other Speedsters have weekly meetups at Pietro Maximoff’s Bar and Grille in the Speed Force.  Jay tells Barry that according to legend, Savitar was the first human to ever connect to the Speed Force and if he’s after Barry it’s because Barry is powerful enough to be a threat.  However, before he shows up he sends a sidekick, like Alchemy, to that Earth to make it ready.

Barry goes into obsessive research mode but Jay urges him to spend time with loved one, Iris specifically.  Cisco is researching how to fight Savitar but he keeps seeing Dante.  I’m sure it doesn’t mean anything ominous.  Yeah, it’ll be fine.

At the West Home, Barry meets up with Iris fresh off a Christmas shopping spree but after relaxing on the couch Iris reveals she did some research herself and learned about that dig in India Julian went on.  Turns out everyone else was killed mysteriously, what a weird thing to happen!  Certainly not even more ominous than Cisco randomly seeing his dead brother all over the place!

Even more good news!  Alchemy’s doing something across town and it’s time for some Flash of Two Worlds action.  Jay and Barry go into action but Savitar shows up so Jay distracts Savitar (by getting stomped down) while Barry fights Alchemy.  Barry has a much easier time, subduing Alchemy and securing the Stone in Julian’s little stone box.  Which allows us and the Team to learn something cool: The Box can keep Savitar contained.  Barry also unmasks Alchemy.

Which means it’s time to visit the Pipeline for some questioning.  So, Barry’s been through this before.  The whole, “this guy who suddenly shows up in town turns out to secretly be my enemy” you’re not going to tread any new ground here, pal!  Except, surprise!  Julian doesn’t know he’s Alchemy.  He has blackouts, then Savitar does things while he’s out.

That’s potentially something new, meanwhile Cisco has learned that the box is made out of something he can’t figure out at all, it doesn’t yield any information to scientific testing.  What they need is a really good looking woman with a love of fishnets, talking backwards and founding members of the Justice League…

Unfortunately they don’t have that so they’re stumped.  So let’s go see what HR and the Wests are up?  That’s right!  Joe’s learned HR was helping Wally train so he’s gone to at least a “You wrecked the family car on a joyride!” on the fatherly rage scale.  When Joe mentions his problems with Wally to Barry that gives him a “Dr. House moment” and he goes to Julian to try and get his help reaching out to Savitar through him.

Meanwhile, Cisco gets another visit from Dante and as bad as a potential psychotic break can be, Dante wants Cisco to open the box so “he can be reborn.”  Cisco, of course, opens the box so Barry has to deal with Savitar’s return by himself.  At least until Wally decides to jump into the fight.

Caitlin, meanwhile, has the equally difficult task of talking Cisco into closing the box.

So, Cisco and Caitlin whip a device to use Julian to talk to Savitar and after they convince Julian to co-operate they get a visit from Savitar and while he promises to make them all Kneel Before Zod he implies that much like Thawne Barry and Savitar’s history is part of Barry’s future and he’s looking for revenge for something Barry does in the future.  So he gives them a taste of the future: “One shall betray you, one shall fall and one will suffer a fate far worse than death.”

Jay and Barry come up with a plan, they can’t destroy the stone, they can’t bury but they can cast it into the Speed Force.  It will require some Dale Earnhardt Jr-style drafting to combine their speed but they would lose the box forever that way.  The plan seems to go off without a hitch but as he casts the Stones into the fires of Mount Doom Barry is thrown out of time and sees himself and Savitar facing off.  To make matters worse, Savitar has Iris and he kills her.  It’s only then that Jay finds Barry and brings him back to the present.  Barry then learns that what he saw was five months into the future, some place he’s never been able to go.

Barry tries to figure out how to stop this future but Jay reminds him of the time traveler’s paradox, that by trying to change the future he could very well make things play out that way, before trying to convince him to put that future out of his mind and try to live his life in the moment.  Jay then returns home while the Team tries to put this latest disaster behind them and celebrate Christmas with Cecile.  While Cecile steps out to talk to her daughter on the phone Joe and HR give Wally a gift from the Team: His very own speedster suit.  Welcome to the Team, Kid Flash!

Julian stops by the party to beat back his loneliness and give Barry the gift of his old job back.  Later Barry takes Iris to show her his Christmas gift to her, their own apartment.  Big romantic gesture or Barry in denial of what he’s just seen? We’ll have to wait until January to find out.

So I hope that you might remember that I closed LAST WEEK’s review with “they are in desperate need of a great episode at this point.  Here’s hoping they fix that with the mid-season finale.  So the first question should be, did they get that done?  I am going to say yes.  This was a great episode, it moved the plot forward, answered some important questions, brought in some beloved friends and gave us all new questions for the second half of the season.  Hell, they even managed some Speed Force lore and introduced my favorite Speedster thing, the Speedster community.

The last half of the episode is where the money is too, particularly the good old Time Traveler’s Paradox.  Here’s the problem with knowing the future, you don’t know how it came to be so if you attempt to subvert that future you can unwittingly cause it.  Think 12 Monkeys.

Barry now knows that sometime in the next five months Savitar returns and on the night he visits Iris is murdered.  The problem is he doesn’t know how any of that will happen so he doesn’t know which threads to unravel and which to leave so if anything he’s now in a more dangerous place than he would have been without that knowledge.

Bringing in Jay was a great move, I can now say that something that originally felt like a stunt has added a lot of opportunity and flavor to the show.  Played by Shipp, Garrick is not both a confidant and a mentor for Barry which Barry was sorely in need of.

The downside of a great episode is this case is the following date: January 17th, 2017.  That’s six weeks away.  That really sucks.

Things We Learned This Week:

1)      Savitar was not only the first speedster but perhaps the first meta-human.
2)      Savitar is a villain from Barry’s future.
3)      Sometime in the next five months, Savitar will escape the Speed Force and kill Iris.
4)      Wally has joined the team as Kid Flash.

Three Four Questions:

1)      Who will “betray” Barry and is this a permanent betrayal or an unintentional one?
2)      Who “will fall?” And does that mean death or a more philosophical fall?
3)      Who “will suffer a fate far worse than death” and what would that mean?
4)      Can Barry save Iris?
5)      What will Julian do with his knowledge of Barry and the Team?
6)      Did Alchemy awaken any of the other metas?
7)      Who is Plunder?
8)      Is it possible that Flashpoint allowed Savitar to escape the Speed Force?

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