Wednesday, May 10, 2017

The Flash - Cause and Effect

"Cause and Effect" offers an explanation for last week's reveal that Barry Allen (Grant Gustin) is Savitar. It turns out he is and he isn't. The Barry inside the Savitar armor is a remnant, a speed duplicate left over from one of the Flash's fights against Savitar years from now. I still think there were more interesting options for the villain's true identity, but this at least adds some context to the reveal and help explain how a version of Barry (a flawed duplicate created during a time of hopelessness) might become a super-villain.

After dealing with the truth of Savitar is short order, the meat of the episode focuses on the unintended side effects of Cisco (Carlos Valdes) and the team trying to prevent a future version of Barry learning what they have planned. Accidentally wiping all of Barry's memories, the character spends nearly the entire episode unaware of the responsibility he shoulders and the dark events of his past (and future) that led him to this moment. Without a doubt, it's one of the season's best episodes. With that brooding weight lifted we see a far sunnier version of the character. While the team works overtime to fix their error, with the help of Killer Frost (Danielle Panabaker), there's a moment in the episode where Iris (Candice Patton) hypothesizes that Barry might be better off to remain like this. It's a question which could be asked about the show as well.

Eventually Team Flash restore their hero's memories to fight an arsonist and stop him from burning down a skyrise with himself in it (good plan). With Barry and his future self both fighting amnesia, explaining why Killer Frost would help restore Barry's memories, Wally (Keiynan Lonsdale) is left powerless. While there's an argument for Barry to get his memories back and save the hundreds of people in danger, other than Iris none of the characters ever seriously consider not restoring Barry's memories. Other than making him a happier and more content character, the move would also strip Savitar of his reason for existence (and maybe also eventually cause the character to phase out entirely). How many people does he kill in the years it takes Barry to stop him? And how many die because Barry stops being the Flash in the future we witnessed? There's a good argument to allow one building to burn to save Iris and the future. Of course there's never a moment the writers actually considered this, and it does provide some strong emotional moments for Iris to do what may be best for Central City in the short-term but perhaps not for either herself or her fiance in the days to come.

From a clueless Barry being forced to testify at a trial he's completely unprepared for to his shock at everything around him, the show is just plain fun. Even the show's quirky B-story turns out to be enjoyable. Teased a bit in her introduction, the episode continues to play on the obvious chemistry between Tracy (Anne Dudek) and H.R. (Tom Cavanagh) that is not only adorable but also serves that plot as it helps Tracy build a prototype weapon to fight Savitar years before she could have done so alone. Needing a reliable power source for the Speed Bazooka means the return of a few fan-favorite villains next week in an episode I'm looking forward to.

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