NOTE: This article contains SPOILERS for The Flash
Fans of The CW’s gallery of DC Comics superheroes know to come into a season premiere, finale, or midseason finale expecting some serious bombshells, and the fan following of The Flash means more eyes typically watch Barry Allen’s twists and turns than any other. Surprisingly, the most recent midseason finale didn’t include any jaw-dropping changes to the status quo, or even the character deaths of the past. What it did include, however, has given fans some serious questions to ponder in the coming months beginning with the most obvious: how much can Savitar really know?
While previous episodes had limited Barry Allen’s interactions with his new nemesis to brief threats or super-speed beatings, the finale brought a full, expository conversation. Blaming Barry for his imprisonment in a timeless nightmare, Savitar vowed to exercise his authority over the life and death of the entire show’s cast. Not only that, but the self-titled ‘god of speed’ used his knowledge of the future to state the team’s destiny as an unavoidable fact.
The question now is whether Savitar’s claims are exactly as they seem… and who may be the most likely candidates, if they are.
“One Shall Betray You”
With Julian strapped to a chair and rigged up to act as microphone and speaker for Savitar, the villain claims – somewhat nonchalantly – that the destinies of Barry’s friends is already known to him, having seen the future that awaits them. While he doesn’t name names, he begins by stating that “one shall betray you,” but his words (and the character shown as he utters the words) requires a closer dissection. For starters, it’s Wally West upon whom the camera focuses as the claim of an impending betrayal is made. Although the most immediate interpretation of the words and image is obvious, two things stand out: the “you” being betrayed isn’t explicitly stated… and if we’re keeping track, Wally West has kind of betrayed the team already.
Now assuming that Wally won’t actually betray Barry in a truly cowardly, cunning, or deceitful fashion, the term “betray” – and what it could mean to a villain who believes himself a god – is more vague than one might assume. If we’re defining it as characters sharing knowledge they shouldn’t, aiding an enemy through manipulation or succumbing to pressure, or believing they know better, then again, nearly every major cast member is guilty of the charge.
Also worth mentioning is the fact that Savitar (through Julian) refers to each of the present company by name, but calls the Wells doppelganger from Earth-19 as “the fake Wells.” Since the alternate universe Wells would still be a legitimate Wells, is Savitar hinting at a deceiver in the team’s ranks already? We would dock the writers points for making yet another Wells betray his friends for a secret purpose, but… well, we wouldn’t be shocked, either.
“One Shall Fall”
Savitar is just as cryptic and ambiguous with his second bit of prophecy, as the claim that someone present will “fall” actually reveals a lot less than what it first implies. Taken at its most direct, it would seem to suggest that a main cast member will be killed by something in the future – and with the camera trained squarely on Cisco, it looks like the youngest Ramon will once again cement his place in the timeline with a memorable death (the last one having been reversed). The idea that someone among the S.T.A.R. Labs team will give their life before this chapter of Barry’s career is over isn’t staggering – only troubling – since his parents have already both been killed by villainous speedsters. And while fans can place bets on the most likely to be offed, we would remind everyone to consider that a “fall” doesn’t necessarily mean a death.
Could Savitar instead be hinting that a currently-heroic character will descend into darkness, duplicity, or even villainy – thus constituting their “fall”? And before fans argue that such a symbolic reading is using a bit too much imagination, this season has already followed one character’s decent into the darker side of metahuman police work. When Cisco and Barry got an eyeful of Killer Frost on Earth-2, they raised the specter of such villainous future being possible for their own Caitlin Snow – and the prospect hung over their collective heads ever since.
Until that very story began to play out following Barry’s messing with the timeline, and dropping Caitlin into rage, violence, and metahuman superpowers. Her friends managed to stop the descent before she was completely lost, but should Caitlin’s power-dampening cuffs break, or her composure be challenged, then the predicted “fall” may be less of a shock than even the aforementioned betrayal. Either that, or the camera pointing at Cisco is a sign that he’ll be transformed into his Earth-2 counterpart – a “fall” that’s as ironic as it would be tragic.
“…A Fate Far Worse Than Death”
Now you would think that in an episode which leapt forward, showing the murder of our hero’s significant other at the hands of his nemesis would be the headlining shocker… but even Barry’s accidental trip to such a grisly future pales in comparison to one destiny teased by Savitar. Sure, one future may see Iris killed at the speed god’s hand… but according to that same villain, one member of our cast will be forced to “suffer a fate far worse than death.” If this future is just one of infinite possibilities, as Jay Garrick claims, then Savitar may not have seen it coming at all. But if he’s as powerful as all evidence suggests, then it wasn’t actually Iris he was referring to as the one doomed to a worse fate.
First things first: a fate worse than death is an idea that can be defined differently by everyone who considers it. What’s worse than dying in pursuit of a better world? Being forgotten? Being written out of existence altogether? Or, perhaps, it’s becoming the villain yourself? We also can’t tell if these destinies refer to three different people (the camera falls to Caitlin, then Iris), or if a fall, a betrayal, and a fate worse than death all await the same person. That’s obviously the point, but if an inciting incident is needed to trigger these tragic fates, then the impending death of Iris West may be just what’s needed.
Surely, Barry wouldn’t attempt to change history yet again… right? Only time will tell, but the writers of The Flash have succeeded in delivering as puzzling and restrained a finale as is likely possible. Rather than wondering “what happens next,” fans everywhere must now speculate on how Barry will handle the known challenges and twists as they come – and just how heartbreaking these destinies will be when they rear their heads.
The Flash returns to The CW in January 2017.