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THE FLASH Recap: Barry Gives Iris “The Present” for Christmas

THE FLASH Recap: Barry Gives Iris “The Present” for Christmas

Editor’s note: This post contains spoilers for the latest episode of The Flash! Proceed with caution, speedsters. For reals, if you haven’t yet watched this week’s episode, “The Present,” we highly suggest you do so before proceeding. Okay? We good? Let’s go.

It’s Christmastime again in Central City. Of course, since this is The Flash‘s third season, we shouldn’t expect things to be any less angst-ridden than they have so far this year. Fortunately, there’s at least some holiday magic to be found in the midseason finale “The Present.”

While The Flash would seem to be the perfect show with which to do a Dickensian pastiche (what with its time-travel component and penchant for homespun moralizing), “The Present” merely nods to A Christmas Carol in its rush to wrap up some of season 3.0’s lingering plot threads and introduce a few new ones for 3.5. But we do get versions of the Ghosts of Christmas Past (in Cisco’s brother Dante), Present (via Jay Garrick and his advice on the here-and-now to Barry), and Future (the grim, masked Savitar).

Starting with a flashback to the Indus Valley four years ago, we learn how Julian became linked to Savitar, the first meta with speed, and took on the role of his herald, Doctor Alchemy. Team Flash also discovers Julian’s secret, after Barry enlists Jay’s services to stop the diabolical duo. Our first look at Earth-Three offers a stocking stuffer many Flash fans have long wanted: the chance to see John Wesley Shipp battle his former TV arch-enemy, Mark Hamill’s Trickster.

Marketing materials for this episode made it appear as though we’d be getting a lot more of the Trickster than we actually do, but what we get of him is pretty choice. An Earth-Three makeover makes him appear much more like the Joker than Earth-One’s Trickster. It’s worth noting that the Joker was definitively voiced by Hamill in Batman: The Animated Series, yet the actor’s turn on the original Flash series predated his Clown Price of Crime; and he clearly incorporated his Trickster into his Mr. J. All of which is to say that the brief glimpse we get of him here takes things full circle.

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Once Jay arrives on our Earth, things really start cooking, in an even more fleet-footed episode than usual. Savitar runs off with Jay while Barry confronts Alchemy, and learns that by closing the box containing the Philosopher’s Stone he can temporarily imprison Savitar. But then Julian is brought to STAR Labs and Savitar tricks Cisco into believing he can bring back his late brother by reopening the box. With Savitar set free once more, he immediately proceeds to kick Barry and Wally’s asses.

eeOnly Caitlin’s pleading with Cisco to close the box saves their lives. Jay and Barry then decide to throw the stone into the Speed Force, a move which accidentally hurls Barry several months into the future (right around the time of this season’s finale, I’ll wager). There, he sees Savitar slay Iris before his and his future self’s eyes. Before he succumbs to grief, however, Jay tells him the future hasn’t been written yet, that it’s always changing, and that he must focus on the present.

Introducing the death of Iris—once a major turning point for the Bronze Age 1980s Flash—is an interesting move in that it gives her a more integral role for the remainder of this season (even if, on one level, it’s that of a McGuffin). At the same time, the show’s already so defined Barry by loss that the thought of him losing yet another family member to a homicidal maniac, or even the potential he could lose someone this way, weighs heavily on a series we’ve long been told is a sunnier alternative to the grim goings-on over at Arrow.

In any case, at least we have HR to bring us some yuletide cheer. Tom Cavanagh has never been funnier than he is in this episode, relishing the opportunity to play comic relief as “the fake Wells” instead of crank. It’s ironic that the darkest character in the show’s first season (or at least a variation thereof) has emerged as the one reliable source of levity this year. It’s no wonder he’s taken a shine to Wally, who’s at long last emerged as the bright sidekick he was always intended to be. One who’s as excited to be almost killed by Savitar as the rest of Team Flash is horrified.

It’s a good thing. Because something tells me Barry will need all the help he can get from both Wally and Jay as he faces an uncertain 2017. Though for the time being at least, we’ll have to take some comfort from the fact that he’s able to face it in a new life with the woman he loves.

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Accelerated Particles

— Sexiest “nog off” ever.

— I love that Tom Felton came to fame in a movie called Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. (Even if it was retitled for Americans.)

— I understand why Barry felt he needed to reveal his identity to Julian, but at this point, is there anyone left in Central City who doesn’t know he’s the Flash?

— Any takers on who will “betray” Team Flash? How about who “will suffer a fate worst than death”?

— “That…was so…scary! I mean that was…was it not truly frightening, what with the voice and the prophecy… I’m gonna go have a mint tea and a coffee and a lay-down.”

— Nice nod to the greatest Flash artist of all time when Barry wakes up on [Carmine] Infantino Street.

— “Caroling in the rain? That sucks!”

— “Hey, Joe, I saw you kiss her. Good job!” Drunk HR is almost as much fun as drunk Caitlin.

What did you think of this week’s episode? Let me know in the comments below or on Twitter (@JMaCabre).

Images: CW

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