The Flash, Season 3, Episode 22, “Finish Line”
An entire season’s worth of buildup and concern about the fate of Iris was undone before the finale’s title card showed – a development completely in line with the aggravating nature of The Flash‘s third season.
So yes, it didn’t take long for the scenario speculated about last week to come to fruition. It was in fact HR that got stabbed by Savitar instead of Iris, and it was all due to a daring rescue attempt and his flashlight disguise gizmo.
While the team mourned the loss of their pal (but not too long since there are millions of Wellses in the multiverse), they discover that this switcheroo was enough to change history, and thereby set in motion a chain of events that breaks the loop of Savitar’s existence.
With his time short, Savitar captures Cisco and forces him to modify the speed force bazooka in such a way that it will blast him into enough pieces, he will exist in every moment in time all at once, giving him the godhood he so desperately craves.
Instead of trying to stall Savitar long enough for nature to take its course, Barry offers an olive branch to FutureBarry. Let them work together to save FutureBarry from oblivion. FutureBarry humors them long enough for him to use the Philosopher’s Stone to blow up STAR Labs (again), and start his evil endgame.
Of course FutureBarry is still a Barry, and makes a dunderheaded mistake by not checking Cisco’s work. Cisco modified the bazooka, not to scatter Savitar across existence, but to allow Jay Garrick to escape the speed force prison and join the fight against Savitar. We’re treated to an exciting four-speedster chase, Barry forcing his way into the Savitar armor, Caitlin overcoming her Killer Frost side to save Cisco, and Iris shooting Savitar in the back to save Barry.
With the timeline restored, the team takes a moment for a funeral for HR, where Caitlin shows she didn’t take the cure that they made for her, and that she is a new person who is not entirely Caitlin nor Killer Frost. She wanders off, presumably to find herself at the same spa Thea Queen goes to when she takes breaks on Arrow.
Barry and Iris are allowed about 30 seconds of happiness before crap hits the fan again. Despite the fact the Speed Force Prison isn’t supposed to be invented for another four years, and there’s no need for it to be invented because, no Savitar, it’s still a thing that exists. What’s worse is that it needs a speedster in it at all times to remain stable, and to prevent it from ripping the multiverse apart.
After figuring out what is going on, Barry realizes what he must do. It doesn’t hurt that the speed force manifests itself in the form of Barry’s mother. Barry chooses to enter the prison as penance, and seemingly spend eternity with this mommy, which is the exact same decision that got us into this whole Flashpoint mess in the first place.
Barry pays a tearful goodbye to his friends and an especially gobsmacked Iris, and vanishes from existence.
While it would have been nice if The Flash would have somehow stretched the HR reveal beyond the first two minutes, if just to show if Barry would start down the same emo path that created Savitar, this finale hit enough of the right character notes to overshadow the at times incomprehensible plotting of the episode. This was an occasionally messy hour that was an appropriate ending to a mostly messy season.
Sending Barry to the prison also opens up interesting some storytelling possibilities for Season 4, and may help put an end to the mopiest timeline. The villain is supposed to not be a speedster, which might eliminate a bunch of the time travel shenanigans that have bogged the last couple of seasons down.