This article contains spoilers for The Flash Season 3.
On the Season 3 finale of The Flash, Barry Allen is set to take on his deadliest adversary yet: himself. The Scarlet Speedster's own time remnant from the future destroyed Barry's life by killing Iris West right in front of him. And that just pretty much sums up this entire season — Savitar has always been miles ahead of our favorite team of #superheroes.
But we can't help but wonder: has the unstoppable threat of Savitar helped The Flash or did the whole depressing storyline just make for an extremely dull season?
As Season 3 prepares to speed into the sunset once and for all, let's take a look back at everything it had to offer, and see if we can figure out if the season was a win or a loss for The Flash.
From Flashpoint To Future Flash
Season 3 of The Flash began with the repercussions of Barry's actions in the Season 2 finale, in which the Scarlet Speedster traveled back in time and saved his mother, creating the Flashpoint timeline. While the finale excited fans about the possibilities to come, the result in Season 3 ended up being a little disappointing.
What we initially thought would be the live-action, season-long adaptation of one of DC's greatest comic book storylines only lasted for a single episode — and Season 3 instead ended up turning into nearly 20 episodes of "Who Is Savitar?" In the end, the mysterious Big Bad was an all-too familiar plot device in the #Arrowverse shows that many fans had just grown tired of.
As a fan of the show, I can appreciate the producers' desire to steer clear from the global effects of Flashpoint — which would mean changes for the entire Arrowverse, which would just be changed back in a year when Barry eventually undid it. But Season 3 ended up taking us down a route that, in many ways, we had already seen before.
Was Savitar The Right Villain?
Despite our initial apprehension surrounding the fact that Season 3 would feature yet another speedster as the Big Bad, the subsequent promise that Savitar would be the baddest yet made it seem all the more worthwhile. And that's exactly what the "God of Speed" turned out to be — Savitar had all the cunning of Season 1's Reverse-Flash and the ruthlessness of Season 2's Zoom, which made him perhaps the most diabolical villain the #Arrowverse had ever seen.
As next season's main threat will not be a speedster, you could claim that the creative team did indeed save the deadliest speedster for last. But did Savitar actually improve the show?
On one hand, while his existence may have been the result of a convoluted storyline, it made complete sense given Barry's arc over the season. On the other hand, we have already seen the Scarlet Speedster toyed with by two speedsters who were faster than him — did we really need a third?
However, the reveal that it was Future Flash behind the metallic mask may have just solidified the "God of Speed" as the Flash's greatest nemesis. After all, nobody knew Barry Allen better than he knew himself. While this explained Savitar's unbelievable ability to always remain one step ahead, it also ensured that this season would remain gloomy, as our very own superheroes were unable to overcome evil.
While this may make for an even more compelling finale, it just seemed like a very long slog before we finally got here.
A Character Journey
Both the "Flashpoint" and Savitar sagas raised a lot questions about Barry Allen. The idea of our selfless superhero resetting the timeline for his own gain really alienated a large portion of the fans. The kindhearted, passionate Barry had suddenly started manipulating the greatest force in the Arrowverse for selfish reasons.
While he did indeed have understandable motives, it didn't make it seem any less out-of-character. As a result of Barry's hopeless decision, we ended up getting the most hopeless season of the series yet.
As a character, the Flash certainly developed a lot this year. But that's not necessarily a good thing. From the constant manipulation of the timeline to realizing he had the potential for evil, Season 3 changed Barry, and not for the better. Suddenly, our unstoppable hero ended up on the losing side of every major development within the show. And as each loss pushed him further into darkness, he began considering taking villainous lives just to end the madness. While he ultimately decided against it, Season 3 reminded us that it just takes one bad day to separate Barry from Savitar.
But it didn't stop there, as virtually none of the characters were safe from the post-Flashpoint universe. Cisco had lost his brother Dante and as a result, spent the first half of the season blaming Barry. Moreover, Caitlin was on the verge of becoming Killer Frost while newcomer Julian was wrestling with his inner Dr. Alchemy. All of these are great storylines that added a tremendous amount of depth to each character, but the issue was that they simply all arrived at the same time, making for a rather gloomy iteration of our beloved Team Flash.
Can The Flash Win Back Its Fans Like Arrow Did?
While it's easy to claim that this season's depressing storyline caused a lot of tuning out, that's not necessarily true. When the show returned for Season 3, the premiere episode saw a significant ratings decrease compared to Season 2's, so we can't exactly blame the subsequent episodes. But that doesn't change the fact that this season simply wasn't met with the same level of acclaim as its previous two. And the main reason for this was down to the dull tone of the series.
Ironically, the same thing happened to parent show Arrow when its third season was bogged down with melodramatic storylines in which the most comedic characters were constantly crying instead. Season 4 not only heightened this aspect, it killed off the iconic Black Canary. While Arrow thankfully turned things around with a stronger fifth season, its ratings never totally recovered from Laurel Lance's death.
But now that The Flash has also capped off its depressing season with a beloved comic character's death (Iris), will it be able to recover?
The answer is simple: yes. The series is still the highest-viewed show on The CW, with only fellow Arrowverse show Supergirl coming close in terms of viewership. It's still extremely popular, and fans are well aware of the fact that Savitar is responsible for the melodrama this season. And unlike the source of Arrow's issues, Savitar will likely be gone next season. Moreover, it's highly likely that Iris will also return, bringing the dark season to a much-needed close.
Looking back, Season 3 of The Flash certainly provided us with a number of outstanding moments — most notably the four-show "Invasion!" crossover, the Savitar reveal and the unforgettable musical crossover with Supergirl — but as a whole, the series became bogged down with a downbeat tone that in many ways hindered it. The unbeatable Big Bad kept winning, and just when it seemed like the Flash would finally find a way, Savitar struck again and took the woman that Barry loves away from him. That just sums up this season of hopelessness.
However, there may be light at the end of the tunnel with the upcoming season finale: Barry will (probably!) finally defeat Savitar, and Iris (possibly!) will not be dead forever. We will see a brand new non-speedster villain next season, so all of this may just be enough to bring The Flash back to where it needs to be. Perhaps Season 4 will breathe some much-needed new life into the Scarlet Speedster.
The Flash's season finale will air on Tuesday at 8/7c on The CW.
Have you enjoyed The Flash Season 3? Let us know in the comments below!