‘The Flash’ Season 3 Finale Recap: Episode 23, Finish Line

The Flash season 3 episode 23 Grant Gustin
Grant Gustin as Barry Allen and Grant Gustin as Savitar (Photo © 2017 The CW Network)

The CW’s The Flash season three finale kicks off right where episode 22 left off, with Iris (Candice Patton) dying in Barry’s arms after Savitar stabbed her. Poor Joe (Jesse L. Martin) is both shocked and distraught, and H.R. arrives where Joe is perched grabbing Joe’s gun and prepared to shoot Savitar. Unfortunately, it’s too late.

Barry (Grant Gustin) cries as he cradles Iris’s body, but then he sees H.R.’s drumsticks fall to the ground. Iris gasps for breath and uses the transmogrifier device to reveal H.R. (Tom Cavanagh) posing as Iris! Up on the roof, H.R. transforms back into Iris and tells Joe she’s okay, and Joe’s both surprised and relieved by this development. Barry asks how H.R. did this and it’s revealed in flashbacks that after Cisco (Carlos Valdes) left he used the piece of armor Barry cut off Savitar to track him to his lair. Once there, he was able to free Iris.


Unfortunately, the armor piece reattached itself to the suit causing Savitar and Killer Frost (Danielle Panabaker) to see them trying to escape. Realizing they can’t outrun them, H.R. takes Iris’s place using the transmogrifier. Just as Iris is trying to protest, she – now looking like H.R. – gets knocked out by a cold blast from Killer Frost.

Once more in the present, Tracy (Anne Dudek) runs to H.R., crying. He tells her it’s okay, that he had to prove he wasn’t a coward, he knows she’s going to be brilliant, and that he loves her. H.R. calls out to Barry and Barry pulls him close. H.R. asks him to tell Cisco something for him. He whispers into Barry’s ear and then after telling him to go stop Savitar, H.R. dies.

Out in the woods, Killer Frost says “Bye-bye, Vibe” as she’s about to kill Cisco. Savitar shows up and commands her to stop, informing her he needs Cisco alive to build something. The evil speedster reacts to new memories and Killer Frost asks him what’s wrong. He tells her Iris is alive and that H.R. took her place. “But you said H.R. lives,” says Frost. Cisco adds, “That means the future is changing.”

Back at S.T.A.R. Labs, Julian (Tom Felton) is being brought up to speed on H.R.’s death. Joe asks what will happen now since Savitar failed to kill Iris, and Barry and Julian explain that since Iris is alive Barry won’t go down the dark path and create all those time remnants to stop him. The Time Paradox will eventually catch up to Savitar and he’ll be erased from existence. Joe asks how long that takes to happen and Barry says it could be a few hours, but reminds everyone that Savitar has been planning this for centuries. Since he took the speed force bazooka and Cisco, he’s going to have a back-up plan. Joe asks for some good news and Julian tells everyone he found a cure for Caitlin, with her mother’s help.

Savitar brings both Killer Frost and Cisco to his lair and tells Cisco he wants him to alter the speed force gun and make it a quantum splicer so he can fragment himself throughout time. That way the time paradox won’t be able to reach him. Cisco refuses to do it, saying he’ll just wait for him to evaporate.

Savitar gets close to Cisco and makes his arm vibrate. “That’s your plan? You’re going to Reverse Flash me if I don’t help?” asks Cisco in a smart aleck tone. “Not you..her,” replies Savitar, pointing to Killer Frost who’s out of earshot. Savitar tells Cisco he just received a new memory and that Julian is at S.T.A.R. Labs now with a cure for Caitlin. He can have her back, but not if she’s dead.

At S.T.A.R. Labs, Barry’s taking a break and considering the situation when Iris joins him to talk about stopping Savitar. (So happy the heroes seem to think they have enough time for a chat while Cisco and Caitlin are still in grave danger!) Barry reveals Snart said something about The Flash staying a hero that has stayed with him and that maybe this time to defeat their enemy it’s not about being stronger or faster or using anger. Maybe it’s time to try another approach.

Barry meets up with Savitar at an old garage and tries to reach out to whatever part of him is still in Savitar. He reminds Savitar about a childhood memory of his parents when they were taking him to a science fair and the car got a flat tire in this small one-road town. They ended up stuck there all day and spent the time eating fries and ice cream at a diner and later that night watched the local fireworks. It’s the happiest memory he has of being with his parents. He asks Savitar what the name of the town is and he remembers. “I’m still in there. Come home,” says Barry to his time remnant.

Savitar and Barry return to S.T.A.R. Labs and Team Flash is surprised and upset to see him. Iris slowly walks over and touches Savitar’s scarred face, softly assuring him they will help him. Savitar won’t reveal where he has Caitlin and Cisco until they come up with a plan to save him from the time paradox. Everyone agrees their best bet is for Tracy to come up with an idea, except she refuses because Savitar killed H.R. who she loved. Iris tells everyone she thinks she knows who can get through to her and in the next scene Harry (Tom Cavanagh) from Earth-2 shows up to talk to Tracy. He tells her H.R. sacrificed himself for these people because he loved them and if she doesn’t help them, his death will be in vain.

Savitar confesses to Barry and Iris how it’s weird being back at S.T.A.R. Labs and questions where he will fit into their lives. Iris assures him they’ll figure it all out, and Barry backs her up. Savitar finally agrees to go and get Caitlin and Cisco. Seconds after he races out, they hear alarms and Harry and Julian check the monitor to see a surging power in the breach room. Julian realizes it’s the Philosopher’s Stone and Barry and Wally (Keiynan Lonsdale) race everyone out before it explodes.

Back at Savitar’s lair, Killer Frost asks if Cisco has finished altering the speed force gun and he says yes. She’s pleased but not for long because Cisco tells her Savitar is just using her and when he doesn’t need her anymore, he’ll turn on her. Frost says he won’t, but her eyes show doubt.

Savitar returns and Frost asks him how it went. Savitar admits it was what he expected and that he was able to get rid of a few problems. Cisco grows concerned and asks what he did. Savitar ignores him and asks Killer Frost if the speed force gun is ready. Savitar tells Frost to kill Cisco and as she prepares ready to freeze him, Cisco once again says Savitar will betray her. Just then Gypsy (Jessica Camacho) portals in and saves Cisco from Frost’s cold blast.

Gypsy creates a portal for them to escape through and Cisco yells, “No!” but it’s too late. She takes them back to Barry’s apartment all while Cisco’s yelling that he was getting through to Caitlin. She yells right back, saying this is the thanks she gets for saving his ungrateful rear end. He asks her how she knew he was in trouble and Gypsy tells him they’re connected. Cisco realizes where they are and tells Team Flash he knows what Savitar plans to do.

The Flash season 3 episode 22
Danielle Panabaker as Killer Frost and Grant Gustin as Savitar (Photo: The CW © 2017 The CW Network)

Savitar and Killer Frost travel to an open field where he opens a time portal. He tells Frost to kill the Black Flash when he comes out after Savitar. She does saying, “See ya around, Hunter,” after Black Flash freezes and breaks into pieces. Savitar has Frost shoot him with the speed force bazooka while standing in front of the time portal. It doesn’t work and instead it frees Jay Garrick from his prison in the speed force.

Team Flash arrive to confront Savitar. Cisco taunts the evil speedster, telling him there was no way he would make something to help him. Instead, he made a skeleton key which just freed Garrick.

The battle’s on with Barry, Wally, and Jay chasing Savitar with some extremely impressive CGI effects and Killer Frost fighting Vibe and Gypsy. Savitar manages to wound Wally and Jay and knocks the wind out of Barry. Cisco gets the upperhand and knocks Frost to the ground in their fight. He walks up to her and puts out his hand to give her a deadly vibe hit. She looks up at him and tells him to go ahead and go bad. “Never,” he replies and tosses her the cure that Julian and her mother came up. Cisco tells her he’s giving her a choice to be Caitlin again. As he walks away, Savitar races up knocking Gypsy to the ground and grabbing Cisco, declaring he’s going to pay for what he’s done.

Frost looks at Cisco, helpless in Savitar’s grasp, and her blue crystal eyes turn back to brown. Savitar raises up his arm to kill Cisco when he gets hit with a strong cold blast and slammed into a tree. Caitlin saved Cisco! She walks over and gives him a hand getting up. Savitar approaches Cisco and Caitlin telling her he knew she didn’t have it in her. Barry speeds over and is about to hit Savitar but gets pinned down by him. Savitar warns Barry if he’s going to die, he’ll kill everyone Barry loves before he goes. Enraged, Barry vibrates his way into Savitar’s suit and forces evil Barry out of it.

Barry and evil Barry fight with Barry in the Savitar suit knocking evil Barry to the ground. Barry pulls out the blade in Savitar’s suit to kill evil Barry, and Caitlin and Cisco look on concerned their friend is about to become a killer. “Do it! You kill me, you become me. Either way I live,” says evil Barry. Barry retracts the blade and vibrates, destroying the suit from the inside and making both Caitlin and Cisco smile. Barry delivers a knock-out punch to his evil time remnant after telling him, “I will never let the pain and the darkness determine who I am. I will never be you.”


Barry looks at Caitlin and Cisco who are smiling at him and he begins to walk over to join them. As he does, evil Barry gets up and starts to run toward Barry to deliver a killing blow. A shot is heard and evil Barry falls to the ground, his body almost instantly evaporating into the speed force. Iris shot and killed Savitar. Barry hugs Iris who says, “All these months you were trying to save me from him. Look at that, I saved you.”

The scene changes to the funeral for H.R. Iris delivers a short but meaningful speech on how H.R. was there when they needed him most and that he’s her hero. Barry pulls Cisco aside and tells him what H.R. whispered in his ear as he was dying. “This took strength, and he [Cisco] gave it to me,” says Barry.

Cisco, Barry, and Julian see Caitlin standing nearby. They join her and she says she’s sorry about H.R. Cisco asks her if she’s ready to come home and Caitlin replies, “I don’t have a home.” Julian tells her she always has a home with her friends – and with him – but Caitlin, looking sad, gives Julian back the cure Cisco gave her and says, “I’m sorry, Julian. I’m not Caitlin anymore.” “You’re not Killer Frost,” says Barry. “No, I’m not. I’m something else and I need to figure out what that is on my own,” answers Caitlin. “Hey,” says Cisco as he starts to move toward her but Caitlin looks at Cisco with pleading eyes and says in a desperate voice “Cisco, let me go.” As Caitlin walks away, Cisco, Barry, and Julian watch her leave, looking sad and feeling as though they still failed her.

At their apartment, Barry and Iris are talking about wedding plans when what feels like an earthquake hits. They notice lightning strikes over the city and reach out to Cisco to get to S.T.A.R. Labs. Once there, Team flash tries to figure out what’s happening and after a few minutes Wally and Cisco are able to get a fix on a power source. Jay and Barry realize it’s the Speed Force which has become unstable. Cisco freed Jay from the prison Barry created so now it needs someone to take his place.

The team heads outside and Barry says he has to stabilize it by running into it. This of course upsets everyone, especially Iris who says there has to be another way and tells him that Central City needs The Flash. Barry walks over to Wally and says it will have one, telling him he’s ready. Barry says his goodbyes to Julian and Harry who he asks to stick around and Harry replies, “Anything for you.”

The Speed Force appears in the form of Barry’s mother and tells a very upset Iris that Barry, like all runners, has reached his finish line. His race is over. Iris pleads that she can’t take him with her, but Barry tells Iris she isn’t taking him; he has to go. All of this started with his mistake, with being selfish and creating Flashpoint. “This is my penance. This is my redemption,” says Barry, finally taking responsibility for what he has done.

“My beautiful boy, it’s time to rest,” says the Speed Force. Barry tells Cisco not to mess up what he has with Gypsy and that they’ll be looking to him now to lead. “I’m not a hero like you,” replies Cisco. “You’ve always been my hero,” replies Barry as he gives his best friend one last hug. Barry then says his goodbyes to Joe, hugging his surrogate father and thanking him for saving him when he was 11 by taking him in and giving him a home and so much love. Barry next approaches Iris who says through her tears they were supposed to have their happy ending. Barry tells her she needs to keep living her life to keep growing and loving and to keep running for him. He makes her promise to keep running, which she does. With one last kiss, Barry walks away and takes his mother’s hand as his friends and family watch. Barry turns to look back and smiles at all of them as he enters the Speed Force which closes behind him. The storm is over and the Speed Force is once again in balance.

The Flash Season 3 Episode 23 Review:

Action-packed, suspenseful, and heartbreaking, episode 23 titled “Finish Line” ends season three of The Flash with the most emotional and saddest cliffhanger of the series to date, leaving two main characters lost from Team Flash quite possibly for good.

There are so many stand-out performances in this episode it’s hard to know where to start. Grant Gustin does an amazing job of bringing to life the evil version of Barry with true eeriness and malice. Gustin created a villain who will haunt the series from this point on. His emotional performance at the end of the episode as Barry says goodbye to his loved ones before going into the Speed Force is one of the most powerful scenes emotionally in the show and Grant nails it.

Candice Patton once again is terrific as she conveys relief after she’s saved from her foretold death and reunited with Barry. That transforms to loss when she realizes there will be no happy ending for her and Barry as he has to sacrifice himself to save the city and maybe the world. The final scene is truly compelling.

The cast member who has had the best storyline this season has to be Danielle Panabaker. Her battle to stay Caitlin Snow before eventually becoming Killer Frost was entertaining to watch unfold, and Panabaker shines once again as she captured the struggle inside her characters when Caitlin finally emerges and regains control to save Cisco from Savitar and help Team Flash win the day. The scene at the funeral where she stays back not feeling as though she has a right to be there and admits to Barry, Cisco, and Julian that she doesn’t have a home and isn’t Caitlin anymore was truly heartbreaking.

With Caitlin lost and trying to discover who she is and Barry sacrificing himself to the Speed Force to find redemption, here’s hoping season four will find the new Team Flash able to find a way to bring both Barry and Caitlin back home where they belong.

GRADE: B+

More on The Flash:
The Flash Season 3 Episode 22 Infantino Street Recap
The Flash Season 3 Episode 21 Cause and Effect Recap
The Flash Season 3 Episode 20 I Know Who You Are Recap
The Flash Season 3 Episode 19 The Once and Future Flash Recap
The Flash Season 3 Episode 18 Abra Kadabra Recap