Feel The Rain On Your Skin
The Flash, heart and soul of the Arrowverse in my opinion, had been in a bit of a holding pattern this season. Certain story elements felt like retreads, while others felt largely inconsequential. Part of that is on the audience. I’d find myself getting bored of personal drama because it wasn’t addressing Flashpoint enough, then it would dawn on me that THAT was the point. Barry was trying to tie his life back together. Accepting any sense of normalcy he can get while catching small reminders that he altered space and time. The cross-over event addressed this more than Flash proper, but “The Present” brought it back to the forefront, in an episode so good, you almost forget that Mark Hamill basically makes a cameo as The Joker.
No, Hamill didn’t actually reprise his role as the Clown Prince of Crime in a live action form, but Earth-3’s version of The Trickster was probably as close as we’ll ever get, and it was nice to see him lean on an old favorite for this interpretation of the character. Also, the running tradition of Trickster appearances on Christmas episodes has to keep going now. We demand it. For the culture.
What was Barry doing in Earth-3 you ask, well he needed Jay Garret’s help dealing with Savitar back on Earth-1, and since no one else can see the speed demon, Barry needed the assistance of another speedster, and maybe a little awkward parental advice. The Flash hasn’t shied away from how uncomfortable it is for Barry and Jay during their interactions, with certain turns of phrase and lingering looks dredge up the death of his father, but both men recognize how their relationship has altered due to the fact that Jay looks like Barry’s father. Joe may be the constant surrogate, but Jay can play the doppelganger.
The reveal that Julian was Alchemy all along, while a little weak, did earn some points with my by not having Julian be an obvious mustache twirler. Yes, he has his issues with Barry and Meta’s, but they’re just personal gripes, and he’s still a decent guy by all accords. Just kind of a prick. Hey, it happens. So when we’re shown that he’s not actually in control of Alchemy, and actually blacks out during those moments, it gave him an out, and allowed for the chilling monologue with Alchemy’s disembodied voice echoing through STAR Labs. This scene could have come off as hokey, or silly, but the cast, as they always do, committed to it, making it much easier for me to accept just how ridiculous the whole thing was.
Elsewhere in “The Present”, Barry and Jay decided to throw Savitar’s gem directly into the Speed Force, leaving it a state of purgatory that seemingly no one else to find; which of course wasn’t true. In the process of tossing the stone, Barry was sent forward in time witnessed Iris being stabbed by Savitar, only five months in the future. Completely shifting this season from a reactive, and reeling affair, to a aggressive attempt to course correct. Jay reassured him that the future is unwritten, and that every decision made can either affirm or undo what he’s seen. Barry has a time and a location, but not a how or why. It’s still very possible that Iris will end up somewhere near the end of that blade, and it will more than likely be Barry’s fault, dude just can’t help himself, but there were enough seeds of doubt planted, especially when it came to Team Flash, that Barry’s involvement may not be directly needed.
Luckily for us, the last image of “The Present” was a joyful one, as the full family was together for Christmas, and Barry made a huge jump in his relationship with Iris. Bringing her to their new apartment. I mean, if you got it, flaunt it. But this show of emotion could be chalked up to him either fully committing to their relationship, or living each day like it’s her last. I’m willing to bet on the former. I just hope Barry’s learned his lesson about trying to play Time Lord.