A Speedster Must Take His Place
Warning: Full Spoilers for season 3, episode 16 (Into the Speed Force) of The Flash follow. If you have not watched the episode, read on at your own risk.
Barry, Barry, Barry
A friend text me during the episode tonight and asked if I thought Barry was, in a way, the villain of season three. Honestly, it’s hard for me to say that he’s not. This episode only made that more apparent. Now, I need to say something before explaining myself. Into the Speed Force was, in all regards, nowhere near the level of The Runaway Dinosaur. Last season’s episode long trip into the speed force is still arguably one of the best episodes the show has ever given us. Into the Speed Force was a good episode, but not great. That said, it absolutely made you question almost every action that Barry has taken this season.
I do not think it is Barry’s fault that Wally is trapped in the speed force. Wally had a lot of people trying to guide him in the right direction, and he just did not listen. He should have never made Cisco take him to the future. Cisco even told him that. Still, it is Barry’s fault that Jay Garrick is now trapped in Wally’s place. I think this season is, largely, gearing Barry up to become the hero he is in the future.
It’s extremely clear that, as of right now, Barry is not even remotely close to challenging Savitar. Savitar, by the way, may be even more powerful than we realized. Tonight, we saw him throw Jesse’s lighting back at her with ease. Jesse, by the way, slightly annoyed me. There is no way that Jesse could have realistically believed that she could take on Savitar. Barry and Wally both failed, and her skill level is drastically below the two of them. It was smart of her to leave at the end of the episode, but it also made her decision to stay, a decision she made only a few episodes prior, feel cheap.
The Great and Future Barry
Now, I want to explain why it is so hard for me to say that Barry is not a villain this season. Let’s start with all the problems that he has caused. This episode really went out of it’s way to point them out. Flashpoint happened, and even if it’s not talked about much, it is still a big deal. Barry changed people’s lives, and most often for the worse. Still, Savitar has talked a lot about Barry in the future. Reverse-Flash used to talk about Barry in the future. Barry, in the future, sounds like the ultimate hero. He sounds like a champion of the people. He sounds powerful. Barry in the present is a shell of those things. I’m not saying that he does not possess those qualities, only that he possesses them in small amounts.
In a way, I see this season breaking Barry down so that he can become the hero of the future. It makes sense that he would make some decisions that work out terribly before becoming the symbol of heroism that the future Barry seems to be. In a way I suppose that I’m saying Barry has to fail before he can truly succeed. Flashpoint was his failure, now he’s rebuilding himself. Barry is fast enough to beat Savitar, he just doesn’t know it yet.
Speaking of Savitar, he sure is patient. I suppose that knowledge of the future makes that easy. It just seems odd that he is taking his sweet time to make a move. Why not make it now, when he can easily overpower Team Flash? He’s faster, stronger, and still a step ahead. Instead, he’s just out doing Savitar stuff in Central City, like waiting for Jesse to come and get beat up. I’m sure there’s a reason for it. Savitar has to have a weakness just like every other villain. Maybe his is that he desires to cause Barry as much emotional pain as possible before taking him out. That sounds like something a villain would want. Look, I like Savitar but not very much. He’s a far cry from Zoom, and an even farther cry from Eobard Thawne. A big twist could change all of that.
Right now, it seems as if H.R. and Wally are the two biggest suspects behind Savitar’s identity. I think H.R. would be less meaningful and more predictable, so I’m leaning towards Wally. If it is Wally, then that changes the show’s dynamic in a tragic way. It would be interesting to see though. I’m surprised that we have not been given more reason to care who Savitar is. We are sixteen episodes in to season three. We know Savitar kills Iris in the future, but the chances of that actually happening are slim. What that means is that, even though we now Savvy is extremely powerful, we don’t have any fear of him. He hasn’t given us a reason to worry. Into the Speed Force really did not do anything to change that.
Embrace the Future
Tonight’s episode really was more about Barry though. It was about him coming to the realization that he has to be the one to save Iris. He has to be fast enough. We know that he’s fast enough in the future to trap Savitar in the speed force, so we know he can be fast enough now. Barry is a hero. He is going to rise to the occasion. This episode was a step towards the summit. Barry himself realized this. I’m glad that he no longer wants to change the events leading to the future. Instead, he wants to embrace the future, and become the hero he needs to be in order to save it.
Into the Speed Force – In Conclusion
Into the Speed Force showed us that Barry, and only Barry, can save Iris. Yes, he rescued Wally. Yes, it seems like Wally will be faster and more powerful than Barry. Wally can’t do it though. This episode took a step towards Flash becoming the hero that he needs to be to change the future. It wasn’t as good as the last trip in to the speed force, but it got things moving towards the culmination of season three. Also, Jay Garrick showed up.