‘The Flash’ 3.15 “The Wrath of Savitar” Review – Fear Drives Actions

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“Attack on Central City” ended on such a high note, but it quickly went to hell in a hand basket in this week’s “The Wrath of Savitar.” You know, because we can’t have nice things. But despite the tough situations some of the characters found themselves in by episode’s end, “The Wrath of Savitar” was a strong episode that pushed the show’s mythology forward, introduced a new predicament involving the speed force, and integrated the plot along with all of the character developments.

Photo: Bettina Strauss/The CW

Photo: Bettina Strauss/The CW

Caitlin’s actions frustrated me the most because, while I’ve understood the fear she has of her powers and what she could become, at this point it’s just wearing down her character. Paired with the lazy writing her arc has received, all Caitlin has left is her fear, but it’s no longer enough to garner any sympathy. This week, that fear caused her to jeopardize everyone’s lives. She doesn’t want to turn into Killer Frost and risk killing her friends, but then she keeps a stone that will lead to Savitar ultimately killing her friends? It makes no sense. Worst of all, she didn’t really face any consequences for her actions. Most everyone on this show has done incredibly selfish things at one point or another. Barry being the most obvious and biggest offender after having gone back in time to save his mother, creating Flashpoint, and jeopardizing the timeline and his loved ones. But he got dragged for it during the entire first half of season three and he’s still facing the consequences of his actions in this episode in many ways.

Barry was incredibly harsh on Wally for not telling him about seeing Savitar for a week, but Caitlin keeping the stone thinking it could help her get rid of her powers for two months, knowing Iris’ fate… gets a free pass? It’s incredibly hard, after having seen the episode twice now, to not see the apparent and frustrating double standard. Had we seen her struggling to get her powers under control, or working at S.T.A.R. Labs to at least try to get rid of them and failing would have been a different matter entirely. One can feel fear, but she’s a metahuman now and deep down, she knows full well that there’s probably no getting rid of her powers, so instead she should just face them head on. Practice how to control them, show her struggle, but do something that would be proactive. Her actions were a big deal because her keeping the stone to begin with set the stage for everything that’s happening right now and it absolutely angered me that she was let off the hook so easily without having to deal with the consequences for what she did.

Photo: Bettina Strauss/ The CW

Photo: Bettina Strauss/ The CW

The writers continue to ruin her story arc with each passing episode because of the flimsy way they’ve gone about it. They don’t really seem to care about it, so why do it at all, then? At this point in the narrative, her potential romance with Julian is more well-developed than her Killer Frost story and her hiding the stone was an incredibly selfish thing to do, knowing full well what’s at stake. This wasn’t even a Killer Frost ordeal, it was all Caitlin (just like it was Caitlin who chose to remove her cuffs and go after Julian in “Killer Frost”). She knew she was betraying the team and she did it anyway and didn’t tell anyone for two whole months. Let that sit with you for a moment. Here’s the thing: If the writers were even trying to get me and the rest of the audience to sympathize with her in this episode, they can consider it a massive fail.

“If you had the strength to end my life, you would have done it in the future. But Barry Allen doesn’t kill. He’s a good guy. The boy Joe raised, the man Iris loves. You have everything and deserve none of it. I’m going to destroy this city, like I did in the future. So you can see the truth, Barry. And then, you’ll treat me like a god.”

Moving past my deep irritation with that aspect of the episode, Wally got some good focus and Keiynan Lonsdale really delivered in his emotional scenes. I’ll pick the standout, which is his scene in the West house with Francine. Even though the entire ordeal was tainted by Savitar, it felt so genuine and emotionally moving. Wally expressed his love for his mother and told her he misses her. He’s in distress and it’s clear in every movement he makes towards her; and heartache is in his eyes when he says that her being proud of him is all he’s ever wanted to hear. It was a beautiful scene even though it wasn’t the real Francine. It bizarrely felt like some kind of closure that he needed and Savitar provided it just so he could push him over the edge and into the speed force’s waiting arms.

Photo: Katie Yu/The CW

Photo: Katie Yu/The CW

With Wally, his struggle with Savitar’s visions were very palpable. His deteriorating state was evident and came to a head after hallucinating Francine. He tried to ground himself by asking Cisco to show him the future where Iris dies, but that only made matters worse. Do I think he should have told everyone that he was seeing Savitar sooner? Yes, especially after the team promised that they’d all be honest with each other. His actions at the end of the episode were rash, but understandable given his state of mind. He wanted to try and fix what he thought he messed up and it was gut-wrenching. Being pushed away from Team Flash and distrusted by Barry didn’t help matters at all. The speedster god played them all and got away with it, too. With all that’s happened, Barry’s fear caused him to take it out on Wally; going so far as to remove him from S.T.A.R. Labs, however, was pushing it and this partially drove Wally’s actions for the rest of the episode. 

A few reviews ago, I mentioned that Barry’s confidence in saving Iris was beginning to wane and the cracks in his armor were starting to show. This is clearly on display in “The Wrath of Savitar.” He is approaching desperation to the point where his proposal was out of hope he’d somehow change the future and save Iris’ life. Barry let fear dictate his actions and it cost him. It was sad that such a nice moment has lost a bit of its shine, but given that it was so last minute (Joe was annoyed that Barry didn’t come to him about it) and happened mid-way through the season, something was bound to happen, right? Iris is understandably upset after she finds out because she obviously assumed that it was from a place of genuine love and not just fear of the future. I don’t doubt for a second that Barry wants to marry her and loves her “more than anything,” but he wasn’t exactly in the right state of mind when making that decision. Iris still wants to marry him, but not like this, not when the future is too much of a driving force on the present.

“I’m not angry at you. I understand that you want to keep me safe and us getting engaged could change the future. I get all of that. Barry, when you proposed to me I said yes because I love you more than anything and I want to be your wife. But I thought that you were asking me purely out of love, not fear. And Barry, whether you realize it or not there’s always going to be a part of us that’s tainted.”

“Iris, I’m trying to save your life.”

“I know and that’s the problem. I want to be your wife, Barry. I don’t want to be someone that you’re trying to save for the rest of eternity.”

The apartment conversation in particular was just wonderful. It was painful, but well-played. One of the things I greatly appreciate about Barry and Iris is that, regardless of obstacles or any hurt feelings, they react to each other in such a mature and thoughtful way without having to resort to child-like behavior. Their situation could have easily gone the melodramatic route, with Iris choosing to end their relationship before stomping off. Thankfully, that didn’t happen and their relationship continues to break superhero genre tropes. Iris got to give her perspective on the matter and told Barry that his fear and “being caught up in the moment” ruined what was supposed to be a beautiful thing, which is why she was struggling with it. Candice Patton delivered that speech so well and did it with so much emotional nuance.

Photo: Bettina Strauss/ The CW

Photo: Bettina Strauss/ The CW

Barry, on the brink of losing it, knows he messed up and is remorseful. He and Iris reiterate how much they love each other and it proves that their foundation is strong and solid, even when they’re faced with a situation that isn’t. After the immense happiness they started the episode with, Barry and Iris were both a little heartbroken by the end of it, but I like the way it was handled. Grant Gustin’s anguished and tear-filled eyes and Patton’s slight shake of her head as he brokenly whispers “I’m sorry” was one of the most emotionally moving moments of the episode.

“The Wrath of Savitar” had a lot of information to swallow. Information that might take another few days to fully absorb. Savitar has vowed to kill Iris and his personal vendetta against Barry, paired with his insistence on having him watch Iris die, proves very threatening moving forward. Pulling Wally into the speed force the way he did, along with all the episode’s events, only elevated that final scene where Barry realizes that his fear was the driving force behind a lot of what happened. The drama and tension felt immense and warranted and I liked that the theme of fear touched all of the characters in a way that affected everyone on the team. Although a lot of it was painful to watch (painful in a good way), I felt it was handled pretty well, with certain exceptions, of course.

Next week, Barry heads back into the speed force!

Random Thoughts: 

  • Savitar keeps calling H.R. “pretender” or “fake Wells.” So, what is the truth?
  • “Trust me, I know what I’m doing.” Do you, Barry? DO YOU?
  • Savitar sounds like a bitter child who never got what he thought he deserved and is taking it out on Barry.
  • After this episode, I’m positive Barry will propose again. Only this time he’ll do it after coming back from “war” and it’ll be the “right time,” just like the story he told last week. I will bet on it, I’m that positive.
  • Joe’s heart can only take so much and his face at the end while holding Wally’s torn suit…. *cries*
  • Cisco already wants that plus one for the wedding, wink wink.
  • I know the engagement ended, but that scene where they told everyone brought me immense joy. My precious children were so happy and they couldn’t stop smiling. I’m in pain now.
  • It has been confirmed that Cisco will be the best man at Barry and Iris’ wedding.
  • Poor Jesse. That scene where she’s crying and H.R. goes to comfort her was so sad. Obviously I was sad a lot during this episode.
  • Run, Barry, run! But it’s cool, just, you know, stand there while Wally is being SUCKED INTO THE SPEED FORCE.
  • I actually felt really bad for Julian. He didn’t ask for any of this and he was right to be mad at Caitlin.
  • Upon Julian’s arrival back in Central City, we can all assume that all is right in the Wizarding World and breathe a sigh of relief.
  • “This cuteness right here. I cannot!” Cisco is all of us.
  • “I’m the future Flash.” Savitar said this without pausing. No comma, no breath. Is he really a future version of Flash? Has this been staring us in the face the whole time? I need answers!
  • The way Wally just sold Barry out in front of everyone, though. Part of it came from being hurt by what Barry did earlier, but damn that was a good scene. The tension!
  • Joe’s face when he’s telling Iris and Barry that they bring him so much joy made me emotional. It was such a nice moment.
  • “Did you miss the point?” Yes, Joe, Barry did miss the point of that story.
  • Oh, Barry. You went and messed up again. Always self-sabotaging himself.
  • “Fear makes us do a lot of things we shouldn’t. My fear is the reason for all of this.”
  • “Barry, you’ve had to suffer worse than anyone. You’ve endured pain your whole life. Your mother. Your father. Trust me, you’ll never get over this.” It’s true, though. A Barry without Iris would be a scary thing.
  • When did Caitlin even have time to grab a piece of the stone? Ugh. Was that Savitar’s “big plan” for her like that acolyte had mentioned?
  • Wally having to witness Iris’ death was so painful. I don’t know how many times can watch that scene without feeling emotionally compromised.
  • I loved the Joe/Iris scene so much! They haven’t had a chat in a while.
  • Is H.R. still on the roof in the future?
  • H.R. called Julian “James.” It’s the little things that make me laugh.
  • I haven’t been this mad at any character in a long, long time. Maybe since the end of season one when Barry and Joe’s lies to Iris kept getting more ridiculous and annoying. But at least they got yelled at, even if was only for one episode.
  • That Savitar and Flash fight at the end? Loved it!
  • Does anyone think Savitar could be Eddie? Thoughts?
  • When Barry realizes Iris isn’t wearing the engagement ring. *cries*
  • I weep for Wally. But I’m intrigued to see what the speed force conjures up for him and Barry in next week’s episode.
80%
80%
Great

The drama and tension felt immense and warranted and I liked that the theme of fear touched all of the characters in a way that affected everyone on the team. Although a lot of it was painful to watch (painful in a good way), I felt it was handled pretty well, with certain exceptions, of course.

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About Author

Mae is a Washington, DC-based film critic, entertainment journalist and Weekend Editor at Heroic Hollywood. A member of the Washington, DC Area Film Critics Association (WAFCA), she's a geek who loves discussing movies and TV. She is also a voting member of the Black Reel Awards. If she's not at the movies, she's catching up on her superhero TV-watching, usually with a glass of wine in hand.

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