Thursday, 4 May 2017

Review - 'The Flash', S03E20 - 'I Know Who You Are'

Barry's trip to the future, in the previous episode, may not have gone quite as smoothly as he would have hoped, but it did still provide him with one very important piece of information – a way to trap Savitar in the Speed Force, thanks to the theories of Tracy Brand (Anne Dudek). The only problem, though, is that the device capable of trapping Savitar is not actually invented for another four years, much too late to save Iris. In the present, Tracy is still just a graduate student – one whose theories and ideas have been dismissed as fantasy by her professors, and who is currently considering abandoning her academic pursuits entirely, in favour of a career as a barista.

The solution to this current dilemma seems straight-forward enough, of course – with Barry already in possession of the results of the future scientists research, it becomes a simple matter of convincing the grad student to take on the challenge of developing the technology four years ahead of schedule. But, of course, Savitar is also aware of Tracy's existence – and, with Killer Frost now firmly committed to supporting the villainous speedster's plans, it becomes a race against time to protect Tracy, so that she can develop the trap to finally stop Savitar.

One lingering issue I have had, throughout the third season, is that I have never been able to understand the reasoning behind the whole 'Killer Frost' story-line. The idea that Caitlin's powers would change her to such an extreme extent just never made sense to me. Are we meant to assume that the reasoning behind this whole situation is similar to what we had with Magenta, earlier in the season, with the change being the result of a split personality? Is it somehow related to Flashpoint, as so many other things seem to be this season? Or, is it that her frost-based powers really do just turn her evil (something which seems at odds with everything else we have seen from just about every other meta-human character)? Since we haven't been given any sort of clear answer regarding why this is happening to Caitlin, the whole thing has just felt a little muddled, to me.

That being said, though, I do have to admit that Danielle Panabaker does make a very entertaining villain. I may not have been able to understand the reasoning behind the whole story-line – but, now that Caitlin seems (however briefly) entirely committed to playing the part of a super-villain, she manages to come across as both very effective, and incredibly dangerous. The new display of her powers, that we see here, might not be all that original (for anyone familiar with characters like Iceman, from the X-Men franchise, or Frozone from The Incredibles) – but, it still serves as the basis for a visually impressive action sequence.

This episode would also have to be the first point at which I felt like I actually was able to invest in the drama of the situation – with Cisco and Julian sharing some strong scenes, as each attempted to come to terms with what had happened. Cisco, in particular, had some truly great moments of quiet character drama. Considering the fact that he has known Caitlin longer than anyone else, it makes sense that he would have the hardest time accepting this sudden change – and, the idea that he would be so reluctant to use his own powers against her, out of fear of hurting her, made perfect sense to me.

As the catalyst for so much of this episode's action, Tracy Brand seems to fit in very well. Sure, at a glance she does seem to be little more than another variation of the very familiar 'quirky and somewhat eccentric genius' archetype that we have already seen quite often, but Anne Dudek does play the part very well. Also, the hints of a possible romantic relationship adds an entertaining element to their time together. Similarly, Joe's own romantic difficulties, as he found himself feeling conflicted over who much of the truth to reveal to Cecile (Danielle Nicolette), added another interesting element of drama.

One other lingering issue I have had with the third season, so far, concerns the extent the which the writer's have chosen to drag out the mystery of who Savitar really is. Given how similar it had felt to the previous season's mystery, concerning the identity of Zoom, I just wasn't convinced that it would prove to be anything worthwhile. Given the circumstances, though, I suppose I can forgive the writer's for choosing the draw things out just a little bit longer, with the actual moment of revelation not coming until the very end of this episode.

Of all of the possible theories that I have seen tossed around by fans, over the past few months, I did definitely appreciate the fact that it was the one with the most dramatic potential which turned out to be true. It might not have been entirely unexpected (it was, after all, one of the many possible theories), but the reveal that Savitar is actually some future version of Barry Allen, himself, does offer some interesting dramatic possibilities for the next few episodes.

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