The Flash, Season 3, Episode 19, “The Once and Future Flash”
If the Flashpoint timeline established at the beginning of this season is the mopiest timeline, then the point in 2024 that Barry travels to this week is by far the most depressing way-station on that journey.
It’s the setup of The Flash‘s return from spring break, and to the end of the season, where we’ll finally get the showdown between Savitar and Barry with Iris’ life hanging in the balance. Before we get there, though, Barry has to go against everything every speedster has ever told him, and go to the future to see if he can find out any information about Savitar, specifically who he is.
Despite a newly minted Killer Frost running loose in STAR Labs, Barry decided to make that jump forward in time. You can tell right away that this timeline is super-depressing because Central City’s normally spotless back alleys are all strewn with paper and trash.
Barry has a run in with Mirror Master and Top as soon as he sets foot in this new time. He survives the encounter, but is jarred by the state of everything. It doesn’t get much better once inside the labs. Barry learns that Team Flash broke up after Iris’ death (because Iris is obviously the glue holding that group together). Now everyone is a mess: Cisco has no hands and never takes off his bathrobe, Wally is in a vegetative state after a battle with Savitar; Julian is trying to cure a captured Caitlin; H.R. is a highly successful author of erotic superhero fiction; Joe is in a perpetual state of mourning and Barry grew out his hair, and we can only assume does nothing but listen to The Cure all day, every day.
Of course, Barry doesn’t find all this out all at once because he has to make a Dickensian trip around Central City, with Cisco acting as his spirit guide. He finds out that no one but Killer Frost knows who Savitar is, and she ain’t talking. Barry decides the trip is a bust and tries to go home.
Cisco – sad, lonely Cisco – uses a gizmo to dampen Barry’s powers enough to keep the time portal from opening up. Cisco’s theory is that 2017 Barry can do some good and reunite Team Flash in the future first, then return to the exact moment he left, because EmoBarry isn’t leaving the basement.
Barry’s guilt get the better of him, so he kidnaps his old team members and puts a plan in motion to stop Top and Mirror Master. This surge of activity lifts everyone’s spirits, and even EmoBarry gets his suit out of mothballs to lend a hand. With things set right and Barry making promises that he won’t let this future happen, no matter what, EmoBarry gives Barry the name of the scientist he worked with to create the Speedforce trap. It’s not what Barry was looking for, but it’s at least a lead.
Barry returns home to make a lot of promises, tells everyone he loves them, and plans to meet a scientist about a trap. Meanwhile, Killer Frost meets Savitar in the woods, exits his armor, and reveals himself to be someone that Killer Frost knows, commanding immediate loyalty.
The episode was par for the course for this season. It was nice to see different spins on established characters (other shows are doing that better), but in the end it was a lot of brooding for not a lot of payoff, or forward plot momentum.