It’s been an interesting ride for The CW’s The Flash series. Season 1 was marked by a stunning commitment to some of the more gleefully insane elements of the comic source material. Season 2 was largely a continuation of that, but ended up riding straight off the rails in service of that goal. Much of that diversion related to a misuse of the time travel elements that had originally worked so well in early episodes. In order to get us to Season 3’s “Flashpoint” storyline though, things got a little … strange.
The first nail in the coffin was struck when it was revealed that who we thought was Jay Garrick was actually a “time remnant” of the evil speedster, Zoom. After that time remnant was killed, Zoom then attempted to open up a hole in the fabric of the universe. He was eventually stopped by another time remnant, this time belonging to the Flash. Great, the bad guy was vanquished, everyone was happy, hip hip hooray. Then Barry Allen (the Flash) did a profoundly stupid thing in the 11th hour of the finale by traveling back in time to the day his mother died, and stopping the Reverse-Flash.
The problem here is two-fold: The first time the Flash went back in time to stop his mother from dying it was a selfish, poorly thought-out plan that never should have happened, making it that much more of a relief when Barry didn’t go through with it in the end. Second, a successful execution of the plan retcons the entire series as we know it. And because Barry finally got it done in Season 2, we have a potential season’s worth of fallout to deal with now. Thankfully, there may be a sliver of saving grace on tap, coming to us in the form of not one, but two new villains set to join the fray.
As it is with most superheroes, a story is only as good as its villain. A bad guy should challenge our hero in a way that makes them question their moral compass on a ground level, while also acting as a formidable foil that poses a genuine threat to the survival of our main characters. Reverse-Flash did a wonderful job of that in Season 1, and for the most part, Zoom accomplished the same in Season 2 (albeit with a really dumb twist in latter run of episodes). Season 3’s villains represent a different kind of challenge for the Flash, brought by the likes of Doctor Alchemy and Savitar.
Doctor Alchemy is exactly what his name suggests, he’s an alchemist with the ability to change one element into another. In the comics, he possesses the Philosopher’s Stone (known in lore as belonging to Merlin himself), which is capable of transmuting any element into whatever he desires. It’s a power so considerable, that in the past the good doctor has even changed the Flash into a being made up entirely of water vapor. That ability also serves as an intriguing parallel for Barry’s own experience, described by Executive Producer Aaron Helbing in an interview with Collider.
He can take X and turn it into Y. That mirrors what happened with Barry when Barry was just this normal CSI who was happy go lucky, and then he got struck by lightening with the dark matter from the Particle Accelerator. That was almost a form of alchemy, where it changed him into the Flash. We can really explore alchemy, in that manner of being able to take X and turn it into Y, and see how that mirrors what actually happened to the Flash and all of the meta-humans in Central City.
The second villain will be another speedster, but with a twist. His name is Savitar, and while he traditionally hasn’t been a major bad guy in the comics, that may play to his favor on The Flash. Teasing at him in an interview with IGN, Helbing cryptically notes that “everything about this guy is different.” How exactly will a third villainous speedster change things up though? By digging into his comic book origins, we start to get a solid understanding.
When Savitar first appeared in 1995, it was as a Cold War pilot whose super-sonic plane was struck by lightning, granting him Flash-like speed. The one catch though was that his speed wasn’t rooted in the Speed Force, granting him a slightly different set of abilities. Savitar (named after the Hindu god of motion) could protect himself in a nigh impenetrable force field, and could even grant super-speed to both people and objects. His ultimate goal revolved around connecting to the Speed Force, before getting physically trapped in it by Wally West.
It’s certainly a different take on the evil speedster motif we’ve seen in the first two seasons, and with Spartacus’s Todd Lasance playing Savitar, we should be in for a treat. There will, of course, be plenty of obstacles to ensure a well-told story. The show’s creators have already promised a full-blown musical episode, and pulling off the iconic (and profoundly confusing) “Flashpoint” storyline will be a tall order.
The hope is that bringing in two unique villains that challenge our hero in markedly different ways will ultimately carry the dramatic weight of Season 3. There’s a lot of work to be done in fixing the myriad of issues that cropped up last year for the show. Even so, none of those problems are unfixable. It’s just a matter of bringing in the right bad guys to salve the thematic wounds of The Flash.
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