Yay! For once, I’m not emotionally traumatized by a midseason finale. Thank you, Rachel Talalay! On a more serious note, though, Team Flash did receive a grim warning from the Ghost of Christmas Future or, as he’s known in Central City, Savitar. Barry and his friends have a lot they have to try to prevent going into the back half of Season 3. For now, though, grab some of Grandma Esther’s (or Grandma Millie’s) eggnog and take a seat by the fire. It’s time to unwrap ‘The Present’.
The episode opens in the Indus Valley four years ago. Julian (Tom Felton) is writing in his journal about how his attempts to find the Philosopher’s Stone have failed but is interrupted by his assistant who believes that they might have found it. Him and his team arrive in the ruins of an underground temple and Julian sees that, after six months, they have indeed located it. He cuts the box it’s encased in out of the wall and opens it…unleashing some powerful force.
We head back to the present where H.R. (Tom Cavanagh) has decorated the entire cortex (even Barry’s suit) for Christmas. Barry (Grant Gustin) asks Caitlin (Danielle Panabaker) if they have any more info on Savitar. Knowing that Alchemy serves Savitar and gets his power from the stone, he tells the team that they need to know more about it to figure out how to stop them. Walking to his computer, Cisco (Carlos Valdes) sees Dante (Nicholas Gonzalez) in the hallway. He then disappears. Barry tells Iris (Candice Patton) that he wants their first Christmas as a couple together to be perfect but lets her know that they need to focus on the Big Bads. Cisco finds an article about the stone from Oxford University and sees that it’s written by “J. Albert Desmond”–Julian. (For those keeping score, Albert Desmond is Dr. Alchemy’s real name in the comics.)
Barry goes to the crime lab to ask Julian about it. He reveals that it’s the first object to ever grant a human being superpowers. He became obsessed with it, researched it, and used his inheritance to fund an expedition to find it. He says he never did. Barry asks him if he’s ever heard the name Savitar. Julian tells him that all he knows is that he’s the world’s first speedster. When Barry leaves, Julian hears Savitar calling him. He opens his cabinet with Alchemy’s mask and the stone in it.
Downstairs, Joe (Jesse L. Martin) hands Cecile (Danielle Nicolet) all of the alien reports. (“Glasses” covered up the arrival of the Dominators.) He then invites her to the annual West family Christmas party. She suggests bringing her Grandma Millie’s famous eggnog and Joe challenges her to a “nog-off”.
On Earth-3, The Trickster (Mark Hamill) has just robbed a bank and killed everyone inside. Jay Garrick (John Wesley Shipp) arrives to stop him. When Jesse cuffs himself to Jay and reveals the bomb strapped to his stomach, Barry speeds in and restrains Jesse, allowing the police to arrest him. (A) The nostalgia! B) Mark Hamill is always a joy to watch during the holiday season! Let’s make this a tradition!) When Jay asks why he’s here, Barry tells him he needs his help with Savitar.
They head back to Earth-1 together and Jay tells Barry that he’s grown powerful enough to challenge him. He also tells him that he’s never seen him himself and that Barry’s the first speedster he knows of who has. He’s the fastest speedster in all of history and before he arrives on any Earth, he sends a predecessor (Alchemy) to prepare for his arrival. (As Jay’s speaking, we see footage of the Philosopher’s Stone giving Savitar his metal exoskeleton…but we don’t see a face.) Jay says that he’s preparing for a battle with Barry because he’s threatening his power and he offers to help when he returns.
In a park in Central City, H.R. is training Wally (Keiynan Lonsdale). He reveals that Wally’s currently faster than Barry was when he first started. They celebrate with the most awkward, hilarious dance party I’ve ever seen. When Wally suggests telling everyone, H.R. quashes the idea–reminding him that Iris and Joe won’t be happy. In the cortex, Barry finishes speed reading several different Hindu mythology textbooks but can’t find anything about Savitar. Jay tells him to be patient and spend time with his loved ones while he still can.
In his workshop, Cisco sees Dante once again. Caitlin arrives and tells him that Jay might’ve figured out a way to find the stone. He tells her that he’s been seeing his brother and Caitlin reminds him that this is his first Christmas without him. He recounts the story of one Christmas where they didn’t fight–where they truly felt like brothers. Caitlin recounts the story of the last Christmas she spent with her dad before he died. She says that the snowfall that night was magical. Cisco asks if they’re going to be Grinches this year.
Barry arrives at the West house to find Iris putting dozens of presents under the tree. She asks Barry if he’s as excited as she is to exchange presents. He acts strange and when asked by Iris if he’s lying, he just says that he hasn’t wrapped it yet. Iris then tells Barry that she started doing some research and found out that four scientists were killed during an excavation headed by Julian in India.
Barry speeds into the cortex and tells everyone that Julian lied about the stone. Joe tries calling him and he doesn’t answer. H.R. and Wally enter and Barry tells them that Julian is connected to Alchemy. Cisco sees a surge of energy pop up on the satellite–the Philosopher’s Stone. Jay and Barry are about to leave when Wally suggests that he go, as well. He spills the beans about H.R. training him and Joe and Barry tell him they’ll talk about it later.
Jay and Barry arrive at the Shults Building where Alchemy is using the building’s energy to power the stone and return every Flashpoint meta-human’s powers to them. He says that they will serve Savitar. The speed god arrives and Jay tells Barry to grab the stone while he takes on Savitar. Savitar grabs Jay and starts crushing him…badly. Barry hurls lightning at Alchemy, getting the stone out of his hand. Savitar’s about to kill Jay when Barry knocks Alchemy out and puts the stone back in its box–making Savitar disappear. Barry unmasks Alchemy and finds an unconscious Julian.
Julian wakes up in the pipeline and asks The Flash why he’s locked up in his secret prison. When Barry tells him that he knows he’s Alchemy, Julian is more than confused. Barry shows him the mask he caught him wearing and Julian figures that he’s framing him. Unable to hear any more lies, Barry closes the door on him. Barry checks up on Jay who’s in Caitlin’s lab, healing. Barry says it was nice having him out there with him and Jay jokes that Barry’s his sidekick. He then says that his dad would’ve been proud of him.
Barry then meets up with Cisco and Caitlin in the cortex. Caitlin states the obvious: every bad guy they’ve faced has played nice. Cisco says that Julian’s believing the heck out of his own lie. When Barry asks about the box, Cisco reveals that he’s run every test possible on it and gotten zero readings from it. Essentially, the box doesn’t exist.
In the speed lab, Joe is reprimanding Wally, telling him that he can’t take his son running into danger. Iris and H.R. tell him to lay off. He then starts going off on H.R., telling him that one day he’s trusting Joe’s instincts and the next day he’s going against them. Wally tells his dad that he pushed H.R. to train him because no one else was willing to do it. Joe meets up with Barry in the hallway. He tells him that Wally’s mind sometimes just goes to sleep and someone else takes over.
Barry opens the pipeline and asks Julian if he’s been blacking out. He says no and when Barry tells him that he’s trying to help him and needs him to trust him, Julian wonders why he should trust a man in a mask. Understanding that logic, Barry unmasks himself. Julian hates himself for not seeing it but realizes that everything now makes sense. When Barry asks again, Julian tells him that he has been blacking out. He reveals that his sister, Emma, died when he was twenty and it tore his family apart. One day, though, he saw her and she told him where to find the stone and that it would bring them back together again. He mounted an expedition to India and found it. The next thing he knew he woke up in his hotel room and heard on the news that his team had been killed. Fearing he’d be blamed, he escaped to America. Barry asks him how the black outs start and Julian says he hears Savitar’s voice.
Back in his workshop, Cisco’s still running tests on the box when he sees Dante one more time. Cisco knows that he’s a hallucination but when he turns to leave, Dante says that if he does, he’ll never see him again. In the pipeline, Julian is having a hard time accepting that he’s the man who’s been terrorizing innocent people.
Dante tells Cisco to open the box and release the stone–that it’ll allow them to be together again. He says that, after all, Christmas is the time of miracles. Wanting his brother back more than anything (and after hearing Dante tell him that he loves him), Cisco opens the box. Suddenly, Dante disappears and Savitar takes his place.
Caitlin informs Barry over the comms that Cisco released Savitar. Savitar grabs Barry and begins pummeling him in the speed lab. With Jay too hurt to help him, H.R. tells Wally to intervene. He speeds into the lab and Savitar begins throwing him around, as well. Caitlin runs into Cisco’s workshop and begs him to close the box. Dante’s back and Cisco tells her he’s going to save him. Caitlin says that it’s Savitar using his memories against him. Unwilling to lose Dante again, Cisco raises his hand and is about to blast Caitlin. She tells him that while he can’t save Dante, he can save Barry and Wally by closing by the box. Savitar’s about to kill the two speedsters when Cisco apologizes to his brother and closes it. Dante and Savitar disappear and Barry thanks Wally.
In the cortex, Barry tells Cisco that, with them unable to use the box, Julian’s their only link to Savitar. Cisco says he has a plan to contact Savitar based on the box’s ability to mess with brainwaves. When everyone leaves, Joe blames H.R. for putting Wally in danger again and H.R. reveals that he helps Wally because he sees his potential and, if that potential goes untapped, he’ll find outlets elsewhere.
In the speed lab, Cisco has Julian hooked up to an EEG machine that will sync his brain with the stone. Barry tells him that Alchemy and Savitar have the same voice and so he believes that Savitar is speaking through him. They’re going to attempt to recreate that effect. Julian reminds Barry that he doesn’t like him but agrees to the “seance”. Cisco turns the machine on and Julian instantly becomes possessed by Savitar.
He tells everyone that they should be bowing before him. Barry tells him that he’s not a god and Savitar says that he is as he holds the power of life and death over them. He reveals that he knows the entire team “better than they know themselves”. He then gives an ominous prophecy: One of them will betray each other (the camera points to Wally), one of them will fall (the camera points to Cisco), and one of them will suffer a fate worse than death (the camera points to Caitlin and Iris). He tells Barry that he is the future and wants back everything he took from him. Barry asks him why he hasn’t killed them already and he says that Barry’s future self trapped him in eternity. He says that everyone will feel his wrath and Barry unplugs Julian.
In the cortex, Cisco and Caitlin wonder whether Savitar’s right about their futures. Barry tells them that he’s never escaping. Jay, Barry, and Iris theorize that they need to destroy the stone to defeat Savitar and Julian tells them that it’s impossible. Wally asks why they don’t bury it and Cisco and Joe tell him that someone will no doubt find it again. Jay says that the only option is to have Barry siphon off some of his speed and throw the box into the Speed Force.
The two speedsters race around the pipeline and when Barry reaches optimum speed, he throws the box into the Speed Force–never to see the light of day again. The wormhole collapses and knocks Barry out onto some street. Barry sees a news report on TV that says that Jared Morillo, aka Plunder, was found guilty after The Flash had apprehended him for robbing the Central City Museum earlier in the year. He then turns around to see…himself…begging Savitar not to kill Iris. Savitar says that he’s finally free and Iris tells Barry that she loves him. He pulls out his blade and Barry runs toward her…but he’s too slow. He stabs her straight through the heart.
Jay grabs Barry and pulls him back to STAR Labs. He tells Barry that he was in the future. Barry reveals that he’s never been to the future before. He tells Jay that Savitar kills Iris five months from now. (Season finale, anyone?) Barry’s confused as to how Savitar could’ve escaped since they sent the stone into the Speed Force. He then realizes that this is why the article from 2024 isn’t written by Iris anymore. Jay assures Barry that the future he saw was one of an infinite amount of possibilities. Barry suggests saving her and Jay tells him he can’t go back to the future. Barry then says he’ll figure out how that ending happens and do everything he can to prevent it. Jay echoes Thawne in Season 1 and tells him that speedsters don’t go to the future because no one should know too much about their own. He says that the future isn’t written yet and every choice you make alters it. He tells Barry he needs to focus on the present.
Barry heads back into the cortex and tells everyone that Jay went back to Earth-3. He also assures everyone that the stone is gone for good. Cisco says that the last thing he wants to do is celebrate Christmas after what went down but H.R. tells them that what they need is some Christmas spirit. Barry agrees. Julian starts to leave but Caitlin stops him and invites him to the West’s house, telling him he shouldn’t be alone. He says that he prefers to be alone.
It’s raining but the party’s still on. Cisco thanks Caitlin for talking him off the ledge. She reminds him that he did the same for her. H.R. interrupts their conversation and is clearly drunk off eggnog. Iris notices that Barry’s looking a little down and reminds him that they defeated the bad guy. Joe and Cecile try each other’s eggnog and agree that it’s a tie. Despite them not being under mistletoe, they kiss. Wally and Iris express their incredible approval over #Joecile. Cecile’s daughter then calls her. H.R. drunkenly congratulates Joe. Barry, Iris, Joe, and H.R. then give Wally his present: his suit. Barry welcomes Kid Flash to the team. Wally asks if they’re actually using that name and Iris says they are. Suddenly, there’s a knock at the door and Barry answers it to find Julian. He tells Barry that Singh (Patrick Sabongui) hadn’t finished the paperwork and offers Barry his job back. Caitlin gets him some eggnog. Carolers then arrive at the door and Caitlin feels bad that they’re singing in the rain. She takes off her cuffs and turns the rain into snow. Iris asks Barry when they’re going to exchange presents and Barry tells her to follow him.
He leads her, eyes closed, through a door and tells her to open them when he turns on the light. She sees that they’re standing in the middle of a spacious, beautiful, empty apartment. Barry tells her that they’re “home”. He says that he couldn’t sleep on Cisco’s couch anymore and her apartment is too small, so he signed a lease under both of their names. She embarrasingly admits that she got him a wallet and tells him that it’s a big step. He says it isn’t for him. He tells her that he doesn’t know what the future holds and wants to spend every moment he can with her. She kisses him. They tell each other that they love each other and kiss again…as the snow magically falls outside.
In the midseason premiere, Wally will suit up for the first time and the STAR Labs Museum will officially open. Tune in to ‘Borrowing Problems from the Future’ on January 24th at 8pm…immediately followed by the midseason premiere of Legends of Tomorrow. Happy holidays, everyone. I’ll see you in the new year.