When Team Flash imprisoned Savitar in the Speed Force at the end of “The Flash” mid-season finale, it seemed as though the terrifying speedster was gone for good — that is, until Barry accidentally landed in the future and witnessed the murder of Iris West at Savitar’s hand. In “The Wrath of Savitar,” last week’s episode, this nasty prophecy began to come true when Wally accidentally freed Savitar from the Speed Force, only to become a prisoner there himself. Subsequently, Barry and Savitar sparred, and Savitar let slip some key information about himself — all of which seems to suggest that Savitar is Barry Allen from future.
If that sounds familiar, that’s because we at CBR have talked a little bit about this before. Let’s recap: in 2015, DC Comics ran a “Flash” storyline called “Out of Time.” Created by Robert Venditti, Van Jensen, Brett Booth, Norm Rapmund and Andrew Dalhouse, the story arc followed present day Barry Allen as well as his disillusioned future self. Twenty years into the future, Barry Allen realized the Speed Force was hemorrhaging and went into his past in order to heal it, but his method involved killing his younger self to seal the tear.
“Out of Time” begs comparison with the current storyline on “The Flash” for several reasons. For one, the show’s Savitar looks much more like “Out of Time’s” future Barry than he does the comic book version of the character. In “Out of Time,” Flash’s constant time travel was also reason for the Speed Force decay he so desperately wanted to fix. Further, his guilt over Wally West’s death ultimately drove him to try and kill his younger self in an effort to heal the Speed Force.
Of course, there’s plenty more to that theory, but — for the sake of brevity — we’re going to focus on the events of “The Wrath of Savitar” here, particularly Savitar’s last exchange with Barry. For one, Savitar talks about the future a lot; he rarely mentions anything else, as if his sole purpose is to remind Barry that Savitar is the future; there is nothing beyond him. Additionally, aside from one key moment, Savitar only refers to Barry by his first name — not as Flash, but as Barry. This implies some intimacy, or at least the fact that there is a point at which Barry ends and Flash begins, that they are two separate entities. In fact, the only time at which Savitar refers to Barry by his codename is in this interesting line of dialogue: “I am the future, Flash.” The way the line is delivered almost sounds as though Savitar is saying “future Flash,” rather than directly addressing Barry.
But let’s switch tracks and focus more on the details rather than the implications. In one of his statements, Savitar echoes Barry’s intensely personal feelings: “Barry Allen doesn’t kill. He’s the good guy, the boy Joe raised, the man Iris loves. You have everything and deserve none of it!” Here, Savitar drives home the guilt that Barry feels in the wake of the trouble he has caused the people he loves. Savitar spits back what the other members of Team Flash told Barry when he considered killing Grodd: everyone else looks up to Barry precisely because he doesn’t kill. Seeing as only a handful of people were privy to that conversation, it significantly lowers the chances of Savitar being a satellite or recurring character. That is to say, Savitar has startlingly intimate knowledge of Barry’s life, and this exchange further proves that.
Additionally, Savitar told Barry that he can’t kill him — at least, not yet. “I want so badly to kill you, and I will, but you have to live a little while longer, long enough to see Iris die,” he hissed at Barry in the episode. As such, it’s important to Savitar that Barry watch Iris die. While Iris’ death would certainly cause Barry to suffer, we must also take into consideration the fact that Iris’ death could be the one thing to “break” Barry. Iris is Barry’s future; she is the one thing he has clung to since Season 1. When he discovered that 2024 newspaper with the byline from “Iris Allen-West,” he built his life around the fact that they would one day be together. By removing that prospect, Barry Allen no longer has the future he thought was set in stone, and thus he loses all hope. This could be the crucial moment where Barry Allen dies and “Savitar” arrives. Iris’ death could very well prevent Barry from evolving into the hero he was once destined to become, and instead send him down a much darker path.
What’s more, Savitar suggested that Barry had a chance to kill him in the future. “If you had the strength to end my life, you would have done it in the future,” he said. This implies that Barry had a shot to stop Savitar before Savitar became so powerful, which again suggests that Savitar is a known entity to Barry. Further, if Savitar truly is Barry from the future, then Barry may begin to realize that he is transforming into Savitar before Savitar fully takes control. This is supported by Barry’s message from the future, which was revealed during The CW’s four-part “Arrow”-verse crossover. During this crossover, Firestorm played a message from Barry Allen that hailed from 40 years in the future:
A war is coming, Captain Hunter, and at some point you’re going to be called back to Central City to fight it, so you need to know that — while you and your team have been in the temporal zone — I made a choice that affected the timeline. As you know, whenever you alter the past, those changes affect the present and get compounded in the future. When you return, you will be in a new timeline I created, where everyone’s past and everyone’s future has been affected, including yours. When you come back, don’t trust anything or anyone, not even me.
Here, Barry casts doubt on himself. Whatever has happened — whatever changed the timeline — has impacted him in a major way. In fact, the change that has taken place has made this future Barry Allen untrustworthy, even to his allies. Even realizing this, Barry may not be “strong” enough to end his own life to stop his transformation, at least according to Savitar. This would also explain why Savitar won’t kill Barry, as Barry needs to be alive in order for Savitar to emerge. What’s more, this may also explain how Savitar came to be trapped in the Speed Force in the first place; unable to kill himself, Barry may have imprisoned himself in the Speed Force just before he became Savitar in order to spare the world from Savitar’s wrath.
As “The Flash” Season 3 speeds towards its conclusion, the show continues to deepen the mystery surrounding Savitar’s identity. Considering the clues provided by “The Wrath of Savitar,” though, it seems more likely than ever that Savitar is truly Barry Allen from the future. However, we’ll have to wait and see, even as Iris hovers on death’s doorway.
Starring Grant Gustin as the Scarlet Speedster, “The Flash” airs Tuesdays at 8 pm ET/PT on The CW. The series also stars Jesse L. Martin, Tom Cavanagh, Carlos Valdes, Candice Patton, Danielle Panabaker, Keiynan Lonsdale and more.