WARNING: This article contains MASSIVE SPOILERS for The Flash Season 3, Episode 22
Well, you can't say the makers of The Flash didn't warn us to expect Iris West's death. But after months spent hatching a plan to keep it from happening, the penultimate episode ended with Savitar succeeding, and killing Iris West. At least, that's how it appears... you never really know when it comes to The Flash and its appearance-altering technology, time remnants, and ability to rewrite history whenever Barry Allen deems it necessary.
The heroes spent months trying to change small details about the future in hopes that doing so could send dominoes falling towards a different future. But in recent weeks, as more of the secrets behind the torment and loss that turns Barry Allen into Savitar were revealed... Iris's chances looked worse and worse. The writers managed to close most of the lingering plot threads leading up to the moment of truth, confirming that Savitar was always destined to kill Iris West... hatching a plan of his own that ensured Barry's attempts would be for nothing.
No, He Didn't Save Iris West
In the defense of Barry Allen and Team Flash, they really did everything within their power to foil Savitar's plan. They worked with Tracy Brand to inspire her Speed Force Bazooka/trap years ahead of when she normally would have, and even acquired the Dominator power source able to power it (with help from Lyla Michaels). Fans hoping that Barry and Iris's engagement meant that the future could be changed - since she wasn't wearing an engagement ring in Barry and Cisco's original Savitar vision - saw that sorted by Iris entrusting the ring to her father, Joe. Meaning Barry and Iris may have been fated to have come so close to marriage this entire time (for whatever solace that offers to fans).
Unfortunately - and with Joe West taking the sniper position originally intended for a Harrison Wells - the weapon worked as intended... but Savitar remained one step ahead of his past selves. He held in his hand the Philosopher's Stone that Barry Allen had so responsibly thrown into the Speed Force to keep it from... well, winding up in Savitar's hand. Since it was built from concentrated Speed Force, it apparently kept the Bazooka from functioning as expected. Allowing Savitar to remain free, and execute Iris West just as he had the first time Barry Allen glimpsed her fate.
But for fans reeling from the heartbreak, and in need of some serious hope, there may be reason to stop the tears for a spell... because in the world of The Flash, even the past can be changed, if you cook up the right plan.
How Things Could Still Be Changed
The most obvious lifeline to cling to is that the purpose Savitar had reserved for Killer Frost is still a complete mystery. She was sent to battle Cisco in the forest as he had seen in his vibes, sure. But was that truly her mission? It seems a little light for such a foreshadowed role, and as hard as it might be for Killer Frost to kill her former friends, there's no obvious reason she would "need" to in order for Savitar's plan to work. Barry's trip to the future showed that Killer Frost would simply freeze off Cisco's hands, but the options that removes from Team Flash's arsenal - and whether they are what Savitar is trying to avoid - are up for debate.
As Savitar explained to The Flash (after revealing Savitar was a Barry Allen time remnant), there was more he had to do to ensure he would be created than just killing Iris:
"I only need two more things: for Iris to die so that you are driven so far into the dark that I can be born… it may sound ironic given who I’m talking to, but I’ll keep [the other] to myself.”
So what was the other task? Could it be that not only must Savitar kill Iris, but keep Barry Allen from changing the past to a better outcome? By traveling back in time to do something as simple as, we don't know, not turning over the Philosopher's Stone? We know that the Season 3 finale is going to have bigger and better action than this second-to-last episode, so what will Barry's next move be?
There's always the most obvious solution, that the victim of Savitar's spear only looked like Iris West, cluing in the audience with the sudden use of H.R.'s "transmogrifier." But with the Dominator power source now spent... trapping Savitar at all might be easier said than done. Unless the heroes can simply stand back, and wait for a changed future catch up to him once and for all.
The Flash finale airs next Tuesday @8pm on The CW.