WARNING: This article contains SPOILERS for The Flash Season 3, Episode 22
The death of Iris West was heartbreaking, but The Flash may have changed the game when nobody was watching - meaning fans may be mourning the death of H.R. Wells come the season finale. First things first: no, it's not denial or desperation to see 'WestAllen' remain intact that has us spinning the theory, but evidence in the "Infantino Street" episode itself. The clues are there for every viewer to spot, and we're positive that some will have put the pieces together the first time around. But if you were left crushed and upset that Barry Allen failed to save his beloved Iris, things may not be as devastating as they appear.
The second-to-last episode of The Flash Season 3 ended with Iris West's body held in Barry's arms, but we're confident he's about to receive some good news... followed immediately after by some other bad news. Watch the teaser trailer for the 'Finish Line' finale and you'll notice that aside from Savitar's victorious claims of ascending to godhood, not a whole lot is shown of our heroes more than a few moments after Iris's 'death.' That means fans may not have to wait long to see the cover pulled off this mystery, and witness the death of the second Harrison Wells to call Central City his final home (the more beloved of the two, we're willing to wager).
Not convinced that H.R. Wells made a heroic sacrifice and took Iris's place on Savitar's blade? Then sit back, relax, and let us break down our theory. We guarantee after reading through the clues and evidence, you'll never see the episode the same way again.
[UPDATE: The Flash season finale has shown our theory to be accurate - Iris West LIVES!]
How It Looked To The Audience
The events of the episode may be fresh in the audience's memory (and for some, one unforgettable sequence of heartbreak after another. But just to make sure everyone is on the same page, let's break down the exact plan that Team Flash tried to launch to keep Iris out of harm's way - even as they realized it was likely impossible. Barry knew that there was nowhere she could be kept safe from Savitar, but Joe and Wally West still made an effort, leaping through the breach to Earth-2 with Iris beside them, surprising Harry with a sudden life-or-death scenario.
Barry's words proved prophetic, as all the evil future time remnant Barry had to do was come sprinting in to S.T.A.R. Labs with the damaged side of his face concealed, and H.R. Wells gave up Iris's location immediately. With that, he made for the breach, seeking out his sacrifice. Wally tried his best to stop Savitar but only managed to damage his armored suit before collapsing from his injuries. And while Joe and Harry both tried their best to stand between Savitar and Iris, there was never any real hope.
After trying to get through to this tortured Barry from the past and future, Iris accepts that there's just no resisting any longer. In a heartbeat, Savitar Barry scoops up Iris and his armor, and heads back to their native Earth with just minutes to spare. From there... well, things play out just as we all knew they most certainly would.
The Speed Force Bazooka built years ahead of time by Tracy Brand - with some inspiration and support from H.R., her newfound crush - worked exactly as designed, even though Barry had difficulties targeting his enemy with the unwieldy device (a career with the Ghostbuster is definitely not in his future). Once he managed to deliver a full powered blast to Savitar, every member of Team Flash realized it was all for naught. Having been bested by such technology once before, Savitar had learned how to keep it from happening again. With the Philosopher's Stone in his hand, no Speed Force prison could hold him.
Fortunately, the rest of Iris's friends and family only have a handful of seconds to dread the inevitable, as the scene of her execution moves forward as it had in Barry's original vision. Aside from Joe on the rooftop instead of Harry Wells, it's a beat for beat replay: Barry does his best to reach Iris before she is pierced by Savitar's metallic finger - and fails. Savitar leaves the scene instantly, claiming that his job is done. Barry will now be emotionally destroyed, push his friends away, and irresponsibly create the Barry time remnant who becomes Savitar.
And so the cycle will continue, forever, and ever, and ever... But before we move on, it's worth remembering the one character who played a major role in the story to this point, and who is noticeably absent from the final encounter.
It's hard not to feel your heart break for H.R. as Cisco attempts to soothe his guilty conscience. He may have given up the secret location of Iris West (which was intentionally kept from Barry, so his future self wouldn't know either), but Cisco attempts to calm him, stating that any member of their team could have made the mistake. Savitar is the only person they have to blame for Iris's imminent death, not any friend who did their best to stop it from happening.
Nevertheless, H.R. drives on, revealing that he knows exactly how much he has contributed to the team so far - and it amounts to zero. That's being a little harsh, since he has unintentionally or indirectly sparked inspiration or problem solving among Team Flash. But yes, as an enthusiastic novelist lacking any real grasp of scientific reasoning or knowledge, H.R. probably has contributed the least amount of energy to the task of foiling Savitar's murderous mission. And that alone weighs on his chest enough to crush him.
As he says his somber goodbye to Cisco, both his friend and the audience seem to know there's more to it than usual... and after looking at the clues, it looks like that was H.R. Wells's final farewell.