‘The Flash’ Season 3 Episode 9 Recap and Review: The Present

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The Flash Season 3 Episode 9 Jesse L Martin, Danielle Panabaker, Carlos Valdes

Jesse L. Martin as Detective Joe West, Danielle Panabaker as Caitlin Snow and Carlos Valdes as Cisco Ramon in ‘The Flash’ (Photo: Katie Yu © 2016 The CW Network)

“If Savitar has come for you once, he’ll be back,” says Jay Garrick (John Wesley Shipp). “And I’ll be ready,” answers Barry Allen (Grant Gustin). “We’ll be ready,” replies the older speedster to his young friend in episode 9 of season three of The CW’s comic-book inspired fantasy action series, The Flash.

The episode begins with a flashback to a few years prior and Julian (Tom Felton) is in India writing in his journal. He’s jotting down notes about something he’s looking for at a dig he financed and fearing it will never be found. One of his companions interrupts to tell him they’ve found it. Julian heads to the dig and pulls out a dirt-covered weird-looking box. Before anyone can try to talk him out of it, he opens the mysterious box and a bright light beams out of it as he screams.

Back in present day Central City, Christmas is just days away and H.R. (Tom Cavanagh) is going all out decorating S.T.A.R. Labs and humming Christmas tunes. Iris (Candice Patton) is pleased to see H.R. in the spirit and is excited to spend this Christmas with Barry as her boyfriend. Barry tells Iris he wants their Christmas together to be perfect, but he has to focus on Alchemy and Savitar. She takes off to go Christmas shopping while Barry, Cisco (Carlos Valdes), and Caitlin (Danielle Panabaker) start going over what they know and have found out about their enemies. It seems Cisco found an article written by Julian about a mysterious stone that can give humans powers that transform them into metahumans. Barry decides it’s time to pay Julian a visit at the CCPD.

Barry asks Julian what he knows about the stone and Julian tells Barry, in order to get rid of him, that he wasted his family’s inheritance looking for the stone in India but never found it. Barry asks if he has ever heard the name Savitar to which Julian asks him where he heard it. Barry responds by saying he’s been doing some research of his own. Julian tells Barry he heard that Savitar was the very first speedster and that’s all he knows. As Barry leaves, Julian hears Savitar’s voice and gets his mask that he wears when he’s Dr. Alchemy.

Over on Earth-3, the Trickster (Mark Hamill) has just robbed a bank and is about to kill everyone inside when Garrick shows up and stops him. Unfortunately, what he doesn’t realize is that the trickster has a bomb strapped to his chest and it’s about to go off. That’s when Earth-1’s The Flash speeds up and disarms the bomb, wrapping the Trickster up for the police to take away. Garrick thanks Barry but asks why he’s really here on his Earth. Barry asks him what he knows about a speedster called Savitar. Garrick accompanies Barry back to his Earth and the two friends sit and talk about the evil speedster. It seems that he was the first human to get super-speed and eventually became the “God of Motion,” according to speed force myths and rumors. Barry asks why Savitar has targeted him and Garrick tells him it’s because Barry must be a threat to his power. Garrick then tells Barry the two of them together will team up to take on Savitar.

Deep in S.T.A.R. Labs, Cisco is trying to figure out a way to track or find Dr. Alchemy when he keeps seeing his dead brother, Dante. Caitlin arrives and tells Cisco Jay has an idea how to find the stone and she notices Cisco seems almost in a trance. She snaps him out of it and he admits he keeps seeing Dante everywhere. She sympathizes, telling him it’s his first Christmas without his brother. Cisco remembers his favorite Christmas and tells Caitlin about it. He and Dante were young and always fought but this one Christmas they didn’t fight and actually got along and enjoyed each other’s company. This gets Caitlin thinking about her last Christmas with her dad before he died and how it was snowing really hard so they stayed in and watched old movies together. “It was magical,” says the now slightly sad Caitlin. (It’s a great scene showing the acting talents of Valdes and Panabaker and their solid chemistry.)

Barry heads home and finds Iris, who went a little overboard with all the Christmas shopping, happy and looking forward to spending Christmas with him. She looks at Barry and sees a strange look in his eyes. “You did get me a present, right?” asks a curious Iris. Barry responds with a yes but admits he hasn’t had time to wrap it. (Hello…you’re The Flash – the fastest man alive. Not really a good excuse, Barry.) Iris then tells Barry she did some research into Julian’s story about the dig and discovered that everyone else on that dig died mysteriously.

Barry speeds to S.TA.R. Labs and tells the gang what Iris learned, saying he thinks Julian is working with Alchemy. Cisco uses a computer program that detects and tracks down the energy coming from the Philosopher’s Stone. With a target in mind, Barry and Jay speed off after telling Wally (Keiynan Lonsdale) he can’t join in the fight after he lets slip he’s been secretly training with H.R.. The two speedsters find Alchemy, with a handful of his followers standing by, as he’s once again about to use the power from the stone to try to give everyone who had powers in Flashpoint their powers back. Savitar also shows up and Barry, a littled worried, says to Jay, “Please tell me you can see him.” “Oh I can see him,” replies the senior speedster. Barry wants them to take on Savitar together but Jay decides he’ll handle the “God of Motion” while Barry gets the stone away from Alchemy. Savitar speeds off with Jay, carrying him as if he was a limp toy and begins to brutally give Jay a beating similar to the one he gave Barry a few weeks prior.

Barry takes on Alchemy who’s no match for The Flash and soon he’s knocked out. Barry picks up the stone and carefully puts it back in its weird box and closes it. When he does, Savitar -who was just about to kill Jay with his big metallic blade – disappears. Barry takes off Alchemy’s mask to discover it’s really Julian.

Julian wakes up in the pipeline wondering why The Flash has put him there. The Flash tells Julian he knows he’is Alchemy and shows him the mask. Julian says he’s never seen it before and is being framed. He then asks for his phone call as Barry closes the door to his cell.


Barry asks Cisco and Caitlin what they think and both agree he comes across as if he really doesn’t know he’s Alchemy. Cisco also tells Barry that he’s run tests on the box containing the stone and it’s nothing. “I think it’s something,” says Barry, and Cisco explains that the material it’s made of is undefinable.

Joe (Jesse L. Martin), who has been busy yelling at Wally for training in secret, tells Barry it’s like sometimes Wally’s brain just switches off. Barry gets an idea and goes back into the pipeline to talk to Julian. “Have you been having blackouts?” asks The Flash. “No, now let me out of here,” responds Julian. The Flash then tells Julian that he’s trying to help him but he needs to trust him. “Says the man wearing a mask,” replies the British CSI. In order to get him to trust him, The Flash takes off his mask to show Julian who he is. Julian kicks himself for not figuring it out before, but realizes that Barry is trying to help him and admits to having blackouts. He tells Barry it started during the India trip after he found the box containing the stone and opened it.

Cisco’s in his lab looking at the box and he once again sees his dead brother. Dante speaks to Cisco this time and tells him if he opens the box, he’ll be reborn. Cisco at first thinks he’s seeing things and calls for Caitlin, but Dante tells him if he doesn’t open the box he’ll be gone forever. “Help me, my brother,” begs the fake mirage. Cisco, wanting to believe so badly, opens the box. He turns, looking for Dante who has disappeared, and behind Cisco Savitar appears.

Barry’s still talking to Julian when he hears the alarm go off and presses the intercom asking what’s going on. Caitlin tells him something is wrong in Cisco’s lab. Barry races there to see Savitar behind Cisco. The giant silver speedster races off, grabbing Barry and leaving Cisco holding the box open and looking at the image of his brother. Caitlin runs in telling Cisco that Dante is gone and that she’s so sorry for his pain but he needs to give her the box. Cisco tells Caitlin he won’t lose his brother again and looks at her angrily, raising his hand as if he’s about to use his Vibe powers to hurt her. Caitlin backs off a little and looks surprised and sad.

Meanwhile, Barry is being thrown around the training facility by Savitar and the rest of the team is just watching helplessly on the monitor from the main room. (REALLY!! How about grabbing a few weapons and meta-restraints and running in to help save Barry!) Wally does rush in with H.R.’s support and distracts the silver giant for a minute or two, but doesn’t have the training yet as a fighter to be effective. Caitlin pleads with Cisco that if he doesn’t close the box Barry and Wally will die. She gives him a look that snaps Cisco out of his trance and he realizes what’s really happening. Cisco closes the box and once again Savitar disappears.

Barry, Cisco and the rest of the gang realize that Savitar isn’t fully himself yet and needs a human to bring him out of the box and to work through, similar to how a demon possesses a person. The group decides to use Julian and the box to try to talk to Savitar via brainwaves, and of course Cisco is able to create some do0dad that will help. It works, and Savitar speaks through Julian to Team Flash. It seems Savitar is upset with Barry from the future for trapping him somewhere he can’t escape from…at least not yet. He then reveals a disturbing prophecy: ”One will betray you, one will fall, and one will suffer a fate worse than death,” says Savitar through Julian. After having heard enough and noticing how upset his friends are, Barry disconnects the do0dad and Julian comes to, asking if it worked.

Determined to stop Savitar’s prophecy from happening, Barry and the team start thinking about ways to destroy the box and the stone. Julian says it can’t be destroyed so Jay, who had been recovering from his last fight with Savitar, suggests they hurl it into the Speed Force. Jay helps Barry run fast enough to open a portal and throw the box containing the stone into it. He does, but gets blasted by the energy and Barry ends up going through another portal.

Barry finds himself on a street and hears a TV news reporter talking about the Mirror Master being sentenced, and then he hears a familiar voice yelling. Barry looks at a street sign that says Infantino Street as he goes towards the yelling. He stops when he sees himself pleading with Savitar not to do it. To both Barrys’ horror, they see Savitar holding Iris in his giant hand while she tells Barry she loves him. “You lose, Flash,” says the silver giant as he stabs Iris with his big blade. Future Barry screams no and races to Iris, picking up her lifeless body and cradling her in his arms. “No! Please, no!” yells the future Barry and this is when Jay grabs him and pulls Barry back to the present. Barry asks what just happened and what he saw, and Jay tells him it’s one possible future. Barry is extremely upset and wants to know how it could have happened with the box and stone in the Speed Force, telling Jay he can’t let iris die. Jay tells his young friend he shouldn’t have seen that and it may not come to be because the future isn’t set, it’s forever changing. He reminds Barry to focus on the here and now.

Barry decides Jay is right and tells everyone that the big Christmas Eve party at the West house is still on. Julian is ready to leave when Caitlin stops him and invites him to the party, but he says he would rather be alone for Christmas.

That night at the party at Joe’s house, Cisco thanks Caitlin for having his back earlier and she reminds him he did the same for her. H.R. is having way too much eggnog and Wally is given his Christmas present…his new Kid Flash suit with Barry welcoming him officially to the team. The doorbell rings and Barry answers it to see Julian who has reconsidered and wants to spend Christmas with his new friends. He gives Barry his Christmas present – his ID badge – and tells him the CCPD hadn’t put through the paper work in his resignation so he can have his job back if he’s willing to share the lab with him. Barry smiles and agrees. Caitlin gives Julian some eggnog and Iris asks when she can open her present. Barry tells her to grab her coat and he’ll give her his present now. As they leave, Christmas carolers arrive outside the door and H.R. says, “Singing in the rain…that sucks.” Caitlin walks over to a window and takes off the power-weakening cuffs. Cisco quickly rushes over and asks what she’s doing. “Relax, I’ve got this,” replies Caitlin, using her powers to turn the rain into snow. “At least we can have a white Christmas,” says Caitlin with a big smile on her face.

The final scene takes place in a big new apartment with Barry showing Iris their new home. He tells her he couldn’t sleep on Cisco’s couch forever and her place is too small, so this is now home. Iris says it’s a big step but Barry says he’s ready and just wants to spend the time they have together. The young couple begin kissing as the snow falls outside.

The Flash Season 3 Episode 9 Review:

Revealing and heartfelt, episode nine titled “The Present” closed the chapter on the mystery of Alchemy and why he was aiding Savitar, but sadly warned of a terrifying prophecy that foreshadows the tearing apart of Team Flash and the possible death of Iris – if Savitar has his way. All the performances were strong and some of the best scenes were with Grant Gustin and John Wesley Shipp as Barry and Jay working together to stop Savitar. The two actors have solid chemistry together and bring a real sense of comradery to the two superheroes. The other two scene-stealers in this episode were Danielle Panabaker and Carlos Valdes, and the scene in which their characters share the last happy Christmas they spent with loved ones now gone forever was genuinely moving. It was touching and sweet without overdoing it. The episode also had a nice, warm ending (for once) as Team Flash was able to relax and enjoy each other’s company during a holiday celebration.

With a dreadful prophecy looming in the future and Savitar gone for the moment but sure to return, here’s hoping this Christmas Eve won’t be the last one our heroes spend together as a family.

GRADE: B

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Kevin Finnerty

Professional film critic since 2003 and a member of the San Diego Film Critics Society. Host of “The Movie Guys” radio film review show from 2007 through 2013. Film and television critic for Showbizjunkies.com and a movie buff since 1973.
Kevin Finnerty
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