“Caitlin, you can fight this!” says Barry (Grant Gustin). “I know, but I don’t want to,” replies Killer Frost (Danielle Panabaker) as The Flash stops her from attacking Cisco (Carlos Valdes), Julian (Tom Felton), and H.R. (Tom Cavanagh) in season three episode 19 of The CW’s The Flash.
As the episode begins, snow falls in Central City and Barry and Iris are in their apartment deciding what year he should travel to in the future. They come up with the year 2024, realizing through his notes, calculations and the newspaper that there aren’t any mentions of Savitar, meaning he had already trapped Savitar in the speed force by that point. Iris (Candice Patton) is distracted and when Barry asks her what’s on her mind, she makes him promise that if Savitar does kill her – which Barry strongly argues won’t happen – that he takes care of her dad and will be there for him. Seeing the concern on her face, Barry promises and then immediately gets an alert on his phone from S.T.A.R. Labs.
Killer Frost is shooting up the medical bay at S.T.A.R. Labs with icy cold bursts and deadly large icicles. Cisco and H.R. are her targets and they make a run for the other room as Julian tries to retrieve the power-reducing necklace. Unfortunately, Killer Frost destroys it with a cold blast. “Should have made it out of carbonite…rookie mistake,” says Frost to a scared Julian.
Julian tries to reach Caitlin, telling her she doesn’t want to hurt him and that she cares for him. Killer Frost suggests he show her and moves in to give Julian her deadly kiss. Luckily, Cisco hits her with one of his Vibe power blasts and knocks her across the room. The three men make a run for it and hide in the pipeline. As H.R. and Cisco softly sing “Swing Low Sweet Chariot,” the door to the pipeline opens and the three trapped men see Killer Frost standing there. “Hey dummies, my palm scan still works,” she reminds them, preparing to blast them. The Flash rushes in and gets in between Killer Frost and the guys, warning her to stop. Realizing she’s not going to, The Flash speeds into her and slams her into the back wall. Once again, Barry tries to reach Caitlin who seems to be completely dormant inside Frost. It doesn’t work and Frost creates an ice wall to slow down The Flash so she can get away. When Barry makes it outside, he finds it’s snowing even harder and tells the guys she’s nowhere to be seen. (Seriously, The Flash is the 2nd fastest man alive and he can’t catch a barefoot Frost before she leaves S.T.A.R. Labs?! That’s weak.)
Cisco and Julian argue about trying to save Caitlin by removing her necklace and turning her into Killer Frost. It begins to get heated and Barry tells everyone to take five. As a very upset Cisco and Julian walk off in different directions, Barry tells Joe (Jesse L. Martin), Iris, and Wally (Keiynan Lonsdale) he’s going to the future right now to find out who Savitar is. Both Joe and Iris tell him he needs to go after Caitlin, but Barry says they are running out of time and he reminds them he can return basically one second after the leaves thus not losing any time at all. Barry tells Wally he needs him to help open the portal by using their combined speed. They run and the portal opens, with Wally giving Barry a shove, sending him through the portal and where he arrives on February 3, 2024.
To Barry’s surprise he’s attacked by Mirror Master (Grey Damon) and his girlfriend, Top (Ashley Rickards), who comment how it’s been so long since they saw him and how they’ll “kick his ass” like they used to in the old days. After taking a few hits, Barry uses his speed to knock Mirror Master and Top off their feet and speeds away.
Barry next arrives at what used to be his apartment but is now an abandoned mess. He sees broken furniture and old shattered photos. Barry turns to see the 2024 version of Cisco standing there, obviously happy to see his old friend. Cisco is wearing gloves and seems to be a meeker version of himself. He asks Barry why he’s here and Barry hesitates to tell him, not wanting to mess with the future more than he has to. Cisco knows Barry is from 2017, recognizing the suit he created and deduces it’s about Savitar. Barry tells Cisco he needs to talk to the 2024 version of himself. Cisco takes him to S.T.A.R. Labs which is also abandoned and rundown. Cisco tells him to find out what he needs to know and then make sure to stop and say goodbye before he returns to his own time.
Barry’s looking around at the deserted lab when he hears his own voice ask, “Why are you here?” Barry turns to see his 2024 counterpart who looks terrible, with long, scraggly hair and a sullen expression on his face. “I need your help,” answers Barry. 2024 Barry realizes that his younger self has come to try to save Iris and tells him that he can’t help him because he doesn’t know who Savitar is. He also tells him to go back and enjoy what little time he has with Iris because he won’t save Iris.
Barry heads back to the pipeline and gets ready to go back to 2017, realizing he’s not going to learn what he wanted here. Cisco asks him to stay and try to get the team back together, but Barry says he can’t and that he needs to get back to his own time. He tries to create enough speed to open a portal but for some reason it’s not working. He asks Cisco what’s wrong, realizing he’s stuck in 2024 for now. He begins to get concerned but Cisco assures him they’ll figure it out and for him to remember he can always travel back to the time he left from.
Barry asks Cisco why he hasn’t gotten the team back together and Cisco says he tried but he doesn’t have his powers anymore, showing him mechanical hands under the gloves. Seems he lost his hands in a fight he had with Killer Frost after she hit him with a cold blast that made his hands freeze and disintegrate. (The flashback scene of this happening is truly disturbing). Cisco takes Barry to see Julian who now works at Iron Heights where he watches over an imprisoned Killer Frost.
Barry wants to see Killer Frost and they let him. Frost immediately realizes it’s Barry from the past, telling him the hate is not yet in his eyes. Barry, feeling terrible and guilty, apologizes again to Caitlin for doing this to her but Frost tells him she’s happy he did because it made her who she truly is. Barry reveals he’s going to go back and fix all of this which causes her to give him an eerie smile. She tells him that very soon back in his time she teams up with Savitar and helps him kill Iris. Barry, shocked, asks why she would join Savitar and she tells him he accepted her with her cold powers. Barry suddenly realizes she knows who Savitar is. He pleads with her to tell him who Savitar is, but she says she’ll never tell. “You are going to be so surprised when you find out,” says Frost to Barry. She suggests that maybe his protégé can help him, so Barry heads off to visit Wally.
To his horror, Barry arrives at the West house and discovers Wally is now in a wheelchair. He asks Cisco what happened and Cisco explains Wally went after Savitar alone after he killed iris and during their fight Savitar shattered Wally’s spine. He’s been catatonic ever since. Barry asks where Joe is and Cisco takes him to Iris’ grave. Barry asks Joe what happened to them and Joe, not turning around to face Barry, tells him that after he lost Iris and Wally, Barry left him all alone to deal with it. Joe doesn’t know he’s talking to 2017 Barry. It appears Barry went back on the promise he made to Iris.
A very angry Barry goes to see his 2024 counterpart and calls him out for breaking his word to Iris. 2024 Barry tells 2017 Barry that no matter what he does Savitar still kills Iris and that it broke him and he’ll see how that feels soon enough. 2024 Barry goes on to say that it isn’t until later he figured out a way to trap Savitar in the speed force but by then it was already too late. Savitar had already destroyed everyone Barry cared about.
Barry asks Cisco if he figured out a way for him to get back to 2017, and Cisco encourages him to try to fix Team Flash here in 2024. Barry realizes Cisco is the one keeping him here in the future; it seems Cisco created a little device that messes with Barry’s speed powers just enough to keep him from opening a portal. Cisco, feeling defeated, gives it to him and assures Barry that this time he won’t try and stop him from returning to 2017.
Barry realizes he can’t leave this future like this, so he speeds Julian, Joe, and H.R. – who in 2024 is a popular romance novelist – back to S.T.A.R. Labs with he and Cisco. Barry admits everything that’s happened is his fault and even though he can’t promise to fix everything when he goes back, no matter what he will not abandon them. Iris wouldn’t want that. An alarm goes off and Cisco says Mirror Master and Top are robbing another bank. “You ready for Team Flash to take down the bad guys again?” asks Barry to the gang. The reunited team place their hands on top of each other and give a cheer, indicating the team (minus Caitlin, Wally and Iris) is back together.
Barry speeds off and takes on Mirror Master and Top but without a plan and soon finds himself under attack from their combined powers. (The scene features very cool visual effects with buildings and mirrors bending and coming down at Barry.) Cisco comes up with tweaking the device he used to keep Barry in 2024 so that Mirror Master and Top’s powers will have no effect on him. But, there’s a problem…they need to get the device to Barry in a hurry. Barry 2024 steps up and offers to race it to him. The two Flashes work together to take down the villains, which is almost too easy.
Back at S.T.A.R. Labs, 2024 Barry thanks his counterpart and agrees that his Team Flash needs to continue their work together. As the old team go off to celebrate, 2024 Barry apologizes to 2017 Barry saying he wishes he could help him save Iris but he doesn’t know how. It’s then that the older Barry gives 2017 Barry the name of a physicist who developed the technology to trap Savitar in the speed force four years after Iris died. He gives Barry the flashdrive in the hopes of maybe finding Tracy sooner and creating the device in time. He reminds Barry to make memories with Iris, just in case it doesn’t work. Barry says goodbye to 2024 Cisco and tells him he’s going to find a way to fix it so he doesn’t lose his hands to Killer Frost. “You’re too good of a superhero to lose those powers,” says Barry just before he races off through the open portal.
Barry arrives back at S.T.A.R. Labs in 2017 and everyone wonders when he’s going to travel to the future. He tells them he’s already been to the future and even though he didn’t find out the identity of Savitar, he now has a lead. Julian asks about Caitlin and Barry tells the gang she will join Savitar and fight against them. Wally asks why she would do that and Barry tells him he doesn’t know but they need to find her soon before they lose her forever. As Joe leaves to put out a BOLO with the CCPD, Barry goes after him and gives him a hug. Barry promises him that no matter what happens, he’ll be there for him.
The last scene shows a barefoot Killer Frost walking through the woods. She comes across Savitar who reveals he’s been waiting for her and can give her the salvation she seeks. She asks, in a mean tone, if he wants to cure her and turn her back into Caitlin Snow again. Savitar surprises her, saying he wants to make sure Caitlin never returns. Frost asks why she should believe him and Savitar removes his body armor and steps out revealing himself to Frost but not the audience. Frost’s expression changes to surprise and nearly smiling she becomes acquiescent and says, “What do you need me to do?”
The Flash Season 3 Episode 19 Review:
Dark, haunting, and mostly tragic, episode 19 titled “The Once and Future Flash” finds Barry in perhaps the worst timeline yet with a future that is more than tragic for him and everyone he loves. Yet the main theme of the episode is once again hope, which is a core theme throughout the series. It’s the hope Barry from 2017 gives his friends and his future self that’s key for them to start healing and become a family again.
There were multiple stand-out performances in this episode. The first mention goes to Grant Gustin as he delivers two performances as the Scarlet Speedster. The brooding, disheveled, and badly in need of a haircut 2024 Flash is a Barry who has lost himself and has driven everyone he loved away. It’s HIS overwhelming grief and loss of hope that has devastated all the others and led them all to being lost. Even with the bad wig (make-up and costume should do a little better next time), Grant conveys the disgust and emptiness 2024 Barry is consumed by perfectly. One of the best scenes features 2017 Barry trying to yell some sense into 2024 Barry about abandoning his family only to realize his future self is too overwhelmed by grief and loss to listen.
The second outstanding performance mention goes to Carlos Valdes as 2024 Cisco who even though he’s sad and severely wounded still hopes to get Team Flash back together and get back to work with the help of the time-traveling younger Barry Allen. Valdes subtly conveys how wounded and heavy everything that has happened to him and his friends weighs on his spirit, yet hope still remains. Cisco is the heart and soul of future Team Flash with Caitlin being lost to Killer Frost.
The third performance deserving mentioning was delivered by Danielle Panabaker as Killer Frost who seems to hate all of Caitlin’s teammates and loved ones, mostly because they love Caitlin and want her back. The opening sequence with her going after Cisco, Julian, and H.R. is both terrifying and humorous with Cisco and H.R. singing “Swing Low Sweet Chariot” as they hide in the pipeline and Frost using her palm scan to open the door. The special effects are extremely impressive!
Tom Cavanagh stepped into the director’s chair for this episode and delivered a top-notch job, most notably with the quieter and emotional scenes. Especially powerful is the graveyard scene between Barry and Joe where Barry learns he abandoned Joe to deal with his grief after losing Iris, breaking his promise to the woman he loves. Here’s hoping Cavanagh gets a chance to direct a few more episodes in season four.
With Barry now knowing who he needs to get to help make the trap for Savitar and Killer Frost teaming up with Savitar, it seems time is starting to run out for Team Flash to save Iris and bring back their beloved Caitlin from her evil alter ego.