Review: ‘Flash’ Haunts Winter Finale With Three Twists of Christmas ‘Present’
Warning – FULL SPOILERS for Tonight’s Midseason Finale “The Present”:
It’s not my intent to check in on The Flash every week, but after a strong “Killer Frost” showing and the four-way “Invasion!” crossover understandably pulling focus, I thought it worth a closer look at the final outing of 2016. After all, Barry’s universe-hopping, alien-punching adventure barely garners mention within “The Present”; only fair given that “Invasion!” didn’t’ get a chance to check in on the big reveal between Savitar, Alchemy and Julian.
As such, the predictable twist that Julian was behind the Alchemy mask got its own predictable wrinkle; that Savitar himself was technically possessing Julian’s body, absolving him of the wrongdoing (or memory) of his actions. It’s tough to say if Tom Felton has any intent to remain with The Flash beyond Season 3 (and if Candice Patton or Tom Cavanagh are any indication of how the series treats extraneous characters, it may not be worth it), though I’m at least interested to see Julian move beyond his usual sneer with a full-fledged* integration into Team Flash.
*Of course, Julian only gets to join the team because Barry, being Barry, immediately resorted to sharing his secret identity as means to speed up Julian’s cooperation. It’s a popcorn-throwing twist on par with Cisco giving into the temptation to open Savitar’s box, though the stupidity of that decision is at least short-lived.
Still, with Alchemy’s identity explained and Savitar out in the open, “The Present” naturally moved to fill the void with a trio of puzzles to solve in the back half of Season 3, as a chat with Savitar teased a betrayal, a “fall,” and “a fate worse than death” in store for the group. I’ll say it 1000th time; I’m never crazy about Flash and Arrow’s tendency to lean on puzzles like identities (or now prophecies), but it’s at least worth noting that Barry’s trip to the future may immediately have crossed off the “fall” with Iris’ death (five months from now, because of course).
It certainly doesn’t’ seem like Flash has the capacity to kill off Iris West for good, but as we saw with Arrow’s Laurel (or Legends’ Hawks), the series do seem to recognize when they’ve exhausted all possibilities for a given character. The Flash in particular hasn’t the best track record of original thinking (not only is our Season 3 big bad another evil speedster, he apparently even has a grudge against Future-Barry), but it at least showed some growth that Barry would actually listen to Jay, and resist altering the timeline for events he couldn’t necessarily control.
It’s a heavy question to lead us into 2017, but the getting there was at least reasonably fun, between the involvement of Jay Garrick (with bonus Mark Hamill cameo!), or the shades of Indiana Jones coloring Julian’s relationship with Savitar; all under a Christmas-y umbrella. In earnest, my brain is still coming off ten weeks of Westworld, and I don’t quite imagine The Flash is up to the task of layering elaborate hints, but here’s hoping the three Twists of Christmas “Present” are enough to keep Season 3 running.
AND ANOTHER THING …
- Wally has his costume. Can we be done with petulant speedster training, now?
- I refuse to acknowledge Tom Felton talking about the Philosopher’s Stone until we address who played Draco in Earth-1 Harry Potter.
- Hamill’s Earth-3 Trickster was criminally short-lived, but I’m sure he and John Wesley Shipp appreciated the brief chance to reprise their ‘90s Flash dynamic.
- Jay definitely seemed a bit more paternal than previous, but … did Shipp not want to go grey this time?
- Granted they didn’t’ keep Julian locked up for long, does the team allow their super-criminals a phone call?
- Is there any reason we couldn’t tape up Savitar’s box, and drop it at the bottom of the ocean? I’m also reasonably confident S.T.A.R. Labs has the technology to shoot it into the sun.
- I’d imagine Wally has to fit one of the three prophecies, considering he hasn’t paid any price for taking back his Flashpoint powers.
- I know “Infinite Earths” is a general DC phrase, but does Flash subscribe to that, or the 52 model?
- Drunk H.R., and Caitlin’s snowy Christmas were both lovely in their own right.
- Let’s never speak of what Barry and Iris probably did on that apartment floor.
The Flash Season 3 will return in 2017, airing Tuesdays at 8:00 P.M. on The CW.
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