“The Present” brought us to midseason, and while it was a typically watchable episode, it didn’t do what I expected it to do. For weeks now, Kyle and I have been waiting for the proverbial “other shoe” to drop. That’s to say, we’ve been waiting for Barry to go back in time again and restore the old status quo. Ordinarily, I’d be glad the show didn’t do what I expected, because predictability is dull. In this case, I think the predictability would have been a relief. At least then we could sit back and say, “That’s done, now let’s see where it goes from here.”
Since I said last week I was exhausted with alternate timelines and parallel universes, I can’t let it slip this week that the bulk of the episode hung on Barry paying a visit to Earth 3. Flash desperately needs to cut back on those story mechanics, but seeing Mark Hamill reprise his role as Trickster did give this episode a nice dose of fun.
I don’t know if Julian and the sorcerer’s/philosopher’s stone thing was a deliberate reference to Harry Potter (the actor played Draco Malfoy in the series), but I have a sinking feeling it was. Julian’s been an interesting character addition this season, and having him revealed as Alchemy, even an unwilling/unwitting Alchemy, cheapens him for me.
We’re in for my time-nonsense in the back half of the season, it would seem. With the reveal that Savitar is someone from Flash’s future, this is a lot more of exactly what the show doesn’t need. What’s worse is I have a sneaking suspicion Savitar might be Wally. It seems obvious, but so did Julian as Alchemy.
Mark Hamill’s Trickster was fun but we got more of a half dose; he was in “The Present” for two minutes. By the way, why did an episode titled “The Present” start in the past and dip its toe into the future? That was a little silly. Anyway, I agree with Jim that Flash didn’t get to where it should’ve been by the midseason break—Barry fixing the past—and I’m tired of the alternate timelines, too. Some might argue Barry traveled to the future instead of the past, but that’s just another curious breeze from a familiar landfill.
Tom Felton as Alchemy (and his link to the sorcerer’s/philosopher’s stone) was a deliberate reference to Harry Potter for the same reason Mark Hamill made a brief appearance this week: marketing. The last time Hamill made an appearance on Flash was a week before Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ release. Guess what? “The Present” aired a week before Star Wars: Rogue One’s release, and Felton’s reveal (as Alchemy) occurred a week before Fantastic Beasts. If that isn’t a shrewd marketing technique, Flash knows where to find Fantastic Coincidences.
Even with that “The Present” was a watchable episode. I enjoyed it, but the show keeps running in place. Before it was revealed that Alchemy was a lackey for Savitar, he represented the first major Flash villain to not be a speedster. Now we’re stuck with another speedster who can’t kill Barry because his timeline will get messed up if he does, so all he does is make Barry’s life miserable. And unless someone else on Team Flash develops super speed, Wally is the most likely Savitar candidate. But I said Wally might’ve been Zoom last season, so what do I know?
This next part will be hard to do without a spoiler alert, so if you haven’t seen “The Present,” you may want to avert your eyes.
I wanted more from “The Present.” Jay Garrick telling Barry to not mess with time (the past or the future) isn’t a good enough deterrent for Barry not to fix time, especially when Savitar kills Iris in the not-so-distant future. For all we know Savitar wouldn’t exist without Barry’s Flashpoint gaff, so he could fix the pains in the past and future with one trip. Seriously, Flash is sitting on the toilet with a Cling-On or dangler if you prefer dangler. Drop it the bowl already.
(End of Spoiler)
It’s easy to overlook most of “The Present’s” shortcomings. Sure, Alchemy was stripped of his cool factor, and Savitar is nothing more than a reworking of Zoom and Reverse-Flash, but the worst offense is how Flash’s midseason ended. Flash pressured us to care about one of its least interesting storylines: Iris and Barry’s romance. Flash needs to develop Baris more than just showing ubiquitous dates cut short by superhero work and mild disapproval from Joe. The wrinkle present at the midseason break is another comic book cliché. Hopefully, Flash will shake things up after the break.
Thanks for reading.