Before I even get started, I want you to know that we’re going THERE with tonight’s column. So if you haven’t watched this week’s Flash yet, get out of here until you do. Trust me, MAJOR SPOILER AHEAD.
Now for the rest of us, tonight’s aptly titled episode, “I Know Who You Are,” finally reveals to Barry and those of us watching at home who the big bad of Season Three has been and I, personally, was a bit shocked! Theories have flown around the internet suggesting every current or previous member of Team Flash as a potential culprit responsible for all of the ills that have been thrust upon our heroes. Of all the theories I’d come up with or heard about, the idea that Savitar could be a future version of Barry Allen struck me as the least likely option.
If you remember my piece from last week, I wrote at length about the pure goodness inside Barry and how that drives all of his actions through the series—whether on the surface they seem for good or ill—ultimately illustrating his great power as a metahuman and as a human being. Of all the heroes in the DC canon, the Flash is often a beacon of hope.
However, if you are familiar with a lot of the modern Flash comics (specifically the Barry Allen post-FLASHPOINT continuity), then you’ve probably read a few stories by Robert Venditti and Van Jensen. They have an arc popularly referred to as “The Future Flash” that features Bartholomew Allen—Barry Allen from 20 years in the future who blames himself for the death of Wally West (a rather recent event at the point in publication history when this storyline was written), and begins killing the Rogues in a twisted recompense for this loss.
Fun fact: You can buy a copy of this storyline!
So much of The Flash has strong touchstones back to pre-existing comic book characters and events that this definitely should have been a hypothesis. I do want to give mad credit to The Flash writers for keeping this reveal a secret for longer than any of the others that have come before.
The show differs a lot from that original instance of an evil future Barry Allen since it introduced the concept of time remnants at the end of Season Two. There we saw Barry create one only to have the duplicate sacrifice himself in order to save the world. The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few and all that. For me, personally, this has always left an uncomfortable question about Barry’s ethics and how comfortable he could be with sending someone to their death so cavalierly. Now the show has come back around to addressing this very question by presenting the time remnant Barry Allen that has refashioned himself into Savitar.
Although here it is Iris West’s death, in place of Wally’s, that has driven Barry to many of the extreme actions we’ve seen over the past few episodes. In the process, he created hundreds upon hundreds of time remnants. This is a pretty interesting detail, actually. It’s probably just meant to imply to the viewers how far Barry will someday go. How all-encompassing his grief has the potential to become. How far our hero will one day fall. From a plot standpoint it actually presents the possibility that Team Flash could be dealing with evil future Barrys for quite some time to come. Now, Savitar tells contemporary timeline Barry Allen that hundreds of time remnants died and he was the only one who got away, but that could just as easily be fixed by saying that a handful of them got away and hid. Maybe others survived? Perhaps alternate versions of Barry Allen from an unhappy future will return time after time to seek revenge on their progenitor.
There could be a well of stories for The Flash to tell, all springing from this single point of origin. Even if that doesn’t happen, we are still left with the uncomfortable question of what Barry—and Team Flash by association—is going to do to defeat Savitar. With Caitlin Snow by his side in her full glory as Killer Frost, Savitar is even more powerful than we thought. Combining the knowledge that Savitar is sure to have from living the same life as Barry Allen with Killer Frost’s rage and scientific genius seems like it has the potential to irrevocably alter the status quo as we know it.
What I think was really most exciting about “I Know Who You Are” wasn’t the reveal itself. Although I found it unexpected, we all knew that it had to be coming pretty soon. What I think is most thrilling is the number of possibilities for The Flash to tackle next year as the third season is winding down.
What did you think about the Savitar identity reveal? Let’s talk about it in the comments! Also, let me know what you’re looking forward to in the final few episodes!
Ashley V. Robinson covers The Flash as a part of the #DCTV Couch Club. You can find her on Twitter at @AshleyVRobinson and on the Jawiin YouTube channel. The Flash airs Tuesdays at 8 p.m. (7 p.m. CST) on The CW.