The Flash “The Present” Review

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Posted December 7, 2016 by John Patterson in Nerdy Bits

I’ve always felt weird about CW’s pseudo Christmas specials. They always seem to come, technically, at Christmas time but the shows go off so early in December that the Christmas tone feels kind of out of place. It, also rarely ever adds to the story. This episode falls into that at some moments and then, during other moments, the Christmas aspect works in its favor. But I think, ultimately, like all the other Christmas episodes on the CW, the Christmas aspect is going to be the most forgettable part of the episode.

Where the episode fails as a Christmas episode, it succeeds as a midseason finale. “The Present” wrapped up a couple storylines while also setting up a few more that will kick us into the rest of the season. The show really knows how to set up storylines, let them build, and pay them off quickly and well. We’re only 9 episodes in and we and the team know that Julian is/was alchemy, JULIAN knows he is/was alchemy, Wally got his speed and his Kid Flash costume, and we know a bit more about Savitar.

The main storyline this episode was Barry trying to find Savitar, learn more about him, and possibly stop him, and to accomplish this he seeks out the help of Jay Garrick, played, again, by John Wesley Shipp. Shipp’s portrayal of Garrick testament to his acting ability. He seems like a completely different character to Henry Allen. He’s able to sell the moments where he’s being a mentor and teaching Barry about the speed force, as well as the campier moments, like the scene he had with the Earth-3 trickster, also played by Mark Hamill. I’m sure it was a nice little treat for fans of the 90’s Flash series to see John as the Flash fighting Mark Hamill as the Trickster once again.

jay-garrick-and-the-trickster

Jay gives Barry the information he has on Savitar, which isn’t a lot and is based off of myths and legends he’s heard throughout the speed force. This was a great way to inform both the team and the audience about Savitar while still keeping a lot of who and what he is a mystery. We learn that he was the first person ever to be granted speed and is the fastest of all speedster, which is exhibited again when he ragdolls Jay in a similar way he did Barry a couple episodes ago and when he catches Wally like he’s nothing. We learn that he goes from world to world to fight speedster who threaten him and his power, and he prepares that world by sending an “Alchemy.” And we also learn that he’s not fully connected to this world and the only way he can communicate is by using Alchemy as a voice box. The team uses Julian to communicate with Savitar, and it’s revealed that the person who trapped Savitar in the philosopher’s stone is actually Barry from the future.

Because of this Savitar knows the team’s future and reveals that one of them will betray the rest of the team, one will die, and one will suffer a fate worse than death. This was just enough information to get us interested in the second half of the season but not too much to make the wait agonizing.

jay-garrick

Because he’s not fully connected to Earth-1, Savitar can only appear when the philosopher’s stone  is outside of a box that seems to negate it’s signal. When the team figures this out, they make a plan to throw the stone into the speed force to prevent Savitar from ever coming back to their world. This gives us a cool scene where Jay and Barry run together to create a portal to the speed force and then Barry chucks the box into the speed force but the feedback from stone entering the portal catapults Barry five months into the future. This, along with the scene earlier in the episode where the team talks to Savitar, kicks off a couple storylines that will drive the second half of the series.

While in the future, Barry sees himself in the park pleading to Savitar who has captured Iris. The end result is Savitar stabbing Iris and Barry not being fast enough to stop it. Barry witnesses his future self cradling Iris’s body before Jay grabs him and pulls him back to the present. Barry informs Jay of this and Jay tells Barry not to worry to much about it and that the future is not set in stone but the big thing Barry takes away from this talk is that he can stop it from happening, which is probably going to be a big storyline throughout the rest of the season until we get to that moment in May. Savitar also tells the team that one will betray them and another will face a fate worse than death. As for the betraying, I believe it will either be Wally, Cisco, or HR. I think it’s way too obvious for it to be Caitlin who betrays the team especially since we had that huge Killer Frost episode a couple week ago. Both Wally and Cisco could fall under Savitar’s mind control and betray the team or HR could be an agent for Savitar and be gaining intel on the team. We already saw Cisco fall for Savitar’s tricks this episode so it could happen again. And Wally has his powers because of Savitar so that could link those two together. As for the fate worse than death, that’s a bit more ambiguous and I’m exited to see how both these storylines play out.

jay-and-barry-vs-savitar

Another big storyline we got this episode was HR training Wally and Wally wanting to help Jay and Barry fight Savitar. When he makes the suggestion Joe is still vehemently against it and that results in Wally outing that HR has been training him. Joe is extremely unhappy about this and calls HR out on it. It gets even worse when Savitar uses Cisco to show up at Star Labs and attacks Barry and Wally goes to help him. Joe reprimands Wally and HR hard but HR tells Joe that Wally has so much potential and holding him back from it will only result in him looking for another way to reach it. This helps Joe come around and give Wally his Kid Flash costume for Christmas. It’s good that we’ve gotten that storyline out of the way and we can look forward to some real Flash and Kid Flash action for the second part of the season.

We also learn a little bit more about Julian this episode. We learned how he became Alchemy. It all started with him seeing his sister after her death and her telling him about the Philosopher’s stone and convincing him that it was the only way they could be together again. We also learn that he had no knowledge of being  Alchemy and that whenever he becomes Alchemy he loses time. Barry also reveals to Julian that he is the Flash and it helps Julian piece together why Barry is always absent and running out of work. It also results in Julian making a completely 180 and getting Barry his position at CCPD back. I assume this storyline was suppose to make Julian a bit more likable but it fell a bit flat for me. Julian said about 10 minutes before he got Barry his job back that he still does not like Barry or his friends, so the fact that he goes over Joe’s house and is very happy and nice towards Barry felt disingenuous to me.

Overall the episode was a good mid-season finale. It has me excited for the rest of the season but I feel satisfied with how this half of the season ended.


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John Patterson