“Finish Line” is probably one of the better titles for an episode of The Flash, and I’m so glad that it was used for the third season finale. Naming episodes is difficult and the traditions change from time to time. With this show in particular, a speed-related pun always appeals to me, and with the final scene of this finale episode hammering home the dual-meaning, I’ve come to appreciate it all the more.
Of course, “Finish Line” has obvious implications for the future time remnant of Barry Allen who became Savitar with his story coming to a complete close in the blink of an eye during this episode. From a very meta perspective, it was wholly satisfying to have Iris West be the one to end Savitar. She tends to be a passive character and has a bad habit of often needing saving by either the Flash or Kid Flash. To have her literally take her own fate in her hands and end all possibility of her dying at the hands of Savitar was great. This is something that she—and the rest of Team Flash—have been battling for an entire season, and it was a bold move to have Iris, who is not a metahuman, be the one to save the day. It also sends a powerful message to all of us watching that you don’t need a secret identity to be a hero.
This is a moment that Iris has needed on the show and will hopefully herald her taking more of an active role in future seasons of The Flash. This development also nicely lines up with her in-comics persona in which Iris often dives into danger and takes brave, bold chances to get things done with little regard for her own safety.
Yaaay, Iris! Let’s chat in the comments about how cool she was in “Finish Line.”
The Speed Force is a cruel mistress, huh? She’s been especially tough on our male speedsters this season. Jesse absolutely underwent suffering by proxy of having Wally being trapped there, though she herself was never held prisoner within. Wally and Jay Garrick (John Wesley Shipp) have found themselves taken hostage within the very source of their speed powers for long periods of time, always left to the devices of Barry Allen to bring them home to their respective Earths.
When you zoom out a bit and look at the bigger picture, the Speed Force could be blamed for Savitar—if not his creation, then certainly for the ease with which he travelled to the past and got the upper hand on Team Flash—which is the entire dramatic thrust of this season of the show. In the past we have seen single episodes where the Flash has gone into the Speed Force, usually to try and address some of his long term trauma with his mother. Likely as a result of this, when a need arises for the Speed Force to be personified, we see it as Nora Allen. This is a nice shorthand the creators behind-the-scenes have come up with so that it is easy for audiences to deduce what is going on when Nora Allen suddenly appears from a breach in the middle of Central City. We’ve seen Barry do a bunch of crazy things because he misses his mother and to have him be able to interact with her again, even in a strange and abstract way, always feels rewarding.
However, at the end of “Finish Line” we effectively have both Barry Allen and the Flash benched until such a time as Team Flash and everyone at S.T.A.R. Labs can go and retrieve him. This could present Kid Flash with an opportunity to step up and become his own hero, moving away from the long shadow that the Flash casts over him. It could also allow for Vibe and Killer Frost to learn how to work together the way they had previous done as scientists. Conversely, and coupled with the death of H.R. Wells, it could herald the team crumbling. (Though let’s hope not!)
Losing H.R. and then sacrificing Barry to the timestream is a devastating blow in the wake of saving Iris. It leaves The Flash in a very sad place until the show returns in the fall. I really like it in this place, though. It’s tremendous to have heroics pay off, bright colors wave back and forth and everyone celebrating a job well done. It makes me feel more when the plan only mostly works and the ending can only be described as bittersweet. This also leaves fertile ground to be tilled in the season four premiere. Get ready to cry!
I want to know what everyone thought of “Finish Line,” so hop down to the comments and let me know!
Well, folks, we've come to the end of The Flash Season 3 and I have had such a blast writing these #DCTV Couch Club posts. Thank you so much for everyone who ran this race alongside me through musical episodes, multiverse Wells-es and future time remnants. It's been a blast reading your comments each and every week. Hopefully, you'll stick around and read the other things I write for the DC site (I reviewed The Flash Vol. 2 right here) and that we can all meet back up at CC: Jitters on our way to S.T.A.R. Labs in the fall for more #DCTV Couch Club where we'll get a chance to explore more of the Speed Force together!
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.