Flash Forward | The Flash “The Present” Review
The mid-season finale of The Flash did its due-diligence in tying up some loose ends as we lead into the winter break. From Cisco dealing with the loss of Dante, Caitlin coming to terms with her slow transition, Barry creating Flashpoint and so on, there were plenty of storylines that found some form of ending here, even if they were only temporary.
The big bad of the season, Savitar, was given quite a bit of screentime in this one; I wasn’t quite sold on all of his scenes though. It could be due to the fact that Zoom and Reverse Flash were such fantastically acted characters, Savitar just seems a bit lifeless. It could be the abundance of CGI just doesn’t translate perfectly for me, which makes all of his scenes with Barry seem very dream sequence-y. Having said that, it was nice learning the genesis of Savitar. Learning that he is the essence of speed and was the first speedster to have ever lived adds some gravitas for his mission of becoming the one and only speedster.
Likewise, it was also nice to finally delve further into Julian’s reasoning behind being part of the Alchemy plot. I thoroughly enjoyed that he wasn’t actually the one doing Savitar’s bidding, that instead he was actually just a puppet for Savitar. His back story is not that dissimilar to that of June Moon and her eventually becoming Enchantress. He was with a group of explorers looking for something called the “Philosopher’s Stone” (yes, we are still doing Harry Potter easter eggs).
Once opening the stone, a voice told him that by essentially releasing Savitar, his sister would come back to life. The way Savitar revels in the despair of others truly ups his evil persona. a The writer’s having Julian be a puppet versus an all out evil person certainly allowed him to still be a part of The Flash universe, versus being stuck in the pipeline as the various other villains are at the moment. Julian and Barry have a unique clashing chemistry that just seems to work perfectly. It would be sad to see him go if we do learn at a later date that Julian is more connected to the plot than it first seemed.
One of the more iffy storylines for me was the continual feud that Cisco has had with Barry. It completely makes sense for the hated to continue, but it puts a real damper on a show that plays off its emotional moments with some light-hearted ribbing. In this episode, Cisco is hearing and seeing Dante, and he keeps saying that all he has to do is open the stone and let Savitar free. It seems like this would be an obvious thing NOT to do, but the way Savitar plays on emotions is a strictly predatory affair and Cisco can’t resist.
This felt like one of those times where you would yell at the TV at the obviousness of the bad choice, but it’s easy to relate to Cisco in this exact moment. In the snap of a finger, a family member could be by your side. The moment nails down the fact that these are indeed people who just happen to be doing something extraordinary; all the flaws and emotional decisions are still present. This also aligns him a bit closer to Barry in the sense that he now feels how easy it is to make the wrong decision out of selfishness.
The main villain was Savitar, but we also got a brief scene with Mark Hamill reprising his role as Trickster, which was a nice. I wish there was a little bit more to it, but it was fun seeing Jay Garrick and Barry Allen team up, even if it was for a mere minute or two.
Ever since Jay Garrick went back to his world, the show has been missing that character with sage advice. Jay being the same character as Barry’s dad on his Earth makes every moment between the two that much more special.
The final big scene to close out the episode has Barry tossing Savitar into the Speedforce, but Barry just so happens to travel to the future as well. There, he finds that he was the one who essentially forced Savitar into this predicament, and Savitar exclaims that one person will betray you, one will die and one will suffer a fate worse than death. Things are going about par for Barry these days. The implications of these potential events will definitely have lasting effects as the season moves forward. Will Barry mess with the future and alter the past? Or, will he let it play out and see what he can change as the moments unfold?