The Flash Season 3 Recap And Review – Episode 21: ‘Cause And Effect’
I may sound like a broken record, but the reason why The Flash works as a character is that he’s a hopeful figure. In a universe of dark, sullen, and brooding superheroes he’s always been a particularly bright oasis from, what has been affectionately dubbed, “the grimdark”. I think that’s why an episode like this week’s “Cause and Effect” is such a good time. In a season that has been bogged down by guilt, betrayals, and murder, a lighthearted adventure stands out against the patina of dark moodiness.
On the upside, “Cause and Effect” acknowledged the show running afoul of dark and muddy waters that have buried us in 50 shades of Emo Barry. It was refreshing to see the production team take one on the chin and trend towards a happier, optimistic view of Barry – even if it was just a filler episode. I hope this is a sign that going forward the show will find it’s way back to the fun, whimsical adventures that makes the Flash so much fun while still diving into some meaty drama. If they get lost, they only need to look over to Legends of Tomorrow for a few tips.
Back to the episode at hand though, “Cause and Effect” was a fun romp that easily falls into my top 5 favorite episodes of the season, despite being filler. Even so, the romp did serve a purpose. At this moment in time, Team Flash is trying to do everything within their power to stop the future. In their attempt to undo the once and future Flash (aka Savitar), they decided to give Barry temporary amnesia, specifically to prevent him from forming new memories.
Unfortunately they did a full factory reset and Barry went blank slate. This caused a temporary problem, but was fixed by the end of the hour leaving our team right back at square one. What does that all mean? That Barry can’t escape this future. There is simply no way for Barry to avoid becoming the God of Speed, which means that Iris is toast. It’s another brick in the Flashpoint road that will lead us back to the beginning as a wiser Barry goes back to fix his time traveling mistakes.
Of course, none of that really matters for the moment as a blank slate Barry “aka Bart” proved to be a fun distraction. It was a lot of fun to see Grant Gustin play up some hilarious moments that would do the Three Stooges proud, while also depicting a very convincing set of multiple versions of the Fastest Man Alive. If we wanted to pick nits, I would say that “Bart” was far more convincing than “Dark Barry,” who is way to close to our Barry these days. In fact, that comparison right there is a the perfect summation as to why the Flash doesn’t work as a sullen, moody jerk. You can’t tell him apart from the bad guys.
Regardless, watching Bart adjust to this insane world that Team Flash lives in proved to be one of the more entertaining aspects of this week. From the initial moments of consciousness where he thinks he’s been abducted for sinister alien experiments to Bart’s discovery of super speed, it was a delight to see our hero walk around with a smile on his face. Essentially, a happy Barry makes for good TV and we need to get back to that, cause it was simply charming.
As the story continued though, we hit upon a really interest conundrum for Iris, and the resolution felt incredibly satisfying. Over the course of the season, Candice Patton and Grant Gustin have really cemented their relationship as a romantic couple. Even so, it’s no surprise that Iris liked seeing her fiance unburdened of excessive slices of broodiness and guilt. So it only makes sense that when Barry needed to have his memory jump started that it was Iris who had to make the bittersweet sacrifice of laying those moments back on Barry’s shoulders.
Honestly, it was pitch perfect as it reminded us that while Barry can never escape his past, he doesn’t have to be a character exclusively definied by tragedy. You see, unlike Batman, The Flash has the opportunity to change his past and has tampered with it on more than one occasion. He’s seen result of tampering with timelines and how that can affect others. Despite his own incredible loss, Barry has been able to revisit the death of his Mother multiple times. He’s been (or will soon be) able to reach a sense of closure, something the Caped Crusader has never experienced. It also shows us that while Barry will always have these traumas he will will also have happiness in his life and if my predictions hold true, this will be a massive shift in the show’s tone for Season Four.
However, that means we have to finish out the current Savitar story line. I did like the subtle twist that fleshed out Savitar’s motivations. Technically the God of Speed isn’t Barry Allen, but a time remnant, that survived where the real Barry died. Rejected by his friends, Savitar is the direct manifestation of Barry’s time traveling tour: past, present and future. This guy is the literal manifestation of the cardinal rule of time travel: don’t do it. That said, I did love Savitar’s quip about abusing time travel. The more you use it, the less the rules apply. It’s a nice loophole that gives us just enough rope so we can squint our way through any paradoxes or plot holes.
Even so there are some real, tangible consequences to all of this time travel: Caitlin’s devolution to Killer Frost. Up until now, it seemed that Killer Frost was an entirely separate personality from Caitlin Snow. That may not be the case though as Cisco was able to pull up memories that clearly connected Frost and Snow. It’s an interesting twist that seems to indicated that Frost may not be a separate personality per se, so much as the powers may alter her brain chemistry in some kind of way. I mentioned it before, but her powers may literally bring a psychotic after effect along for the ride. Getting confirmation of that is a fun easter egg that seems to be setting up a big pay off for the season finale.
Before we get there though, we get a chance to have a little more fun as next week brings back a fan favorite: King Shark. Why? I have no idea. Really, I can’t explain it. All I know is that he’s in a sewer and he seems to be guarding a glowing red device that’s hotter than the sun.
No, seriously. How can that not be fun?