Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Almost Every Betrayal Revealed: "The Wrath Of Savitar" Is A Lot Of Reversals.

The Good: Decent performances, Good special effects, Moments of character
The Bad: Light on genuine character development (tries to service far too many characters), A lot of reversals but very light on plot
The Basics: "The Wrath Of Savitar" is a bridge episode for The Flash, which has a number of characters outing their secrets . . . without actually having much of a story of its own.

With The Flash working so hard to incorporate so many characters, the show is now trying to find a balance in the various elements it has created. It is tough to service all of the characters on The Flash and the third season has not managed to do a lot with Wally West. Wally West is a character who has to be differentiated from both Barry Allen and other speedsters in order to be an effective character, now that he was given super-speed by Alchemy. Wally West on The Flash has been set up before "The Wrath Of Savitar" to be a prideful character who has only just begun a romantic relationship with Jesse Wells (Jesse Quick) from Earth-2.

"The Wrath Of Savitar" follows on "Attack On Central City" (reviewed here!), which climaxed with Barry proposing to Iris and Wally encountering Savitar. Wally was easily duped in "Attack On Central City" by Harrison Wells (from Earth-2) and "The Wrath Of Savitar" opens with the idea that The Flash might have managed to change some of the future he witnessed by minimizing the gorilla attack on Central City. Given that changes in the timeline are what initially attracted Savitar to Barry Allen on Earth-1, "The Wrath Of Savitar" opens with an appropriate level of menace that the season's Big Bad might be arriving in Central City pissed. Oddly, "The Wrath Of Savitar" does not continue where the prior episode left off.

Opening with Barry, Wally, and Jesse racing, Wally West runs fast enough to reach the point he would need to in order to save Iris in time, if Barry is correct. At the climax of the test, Wally sees Savitar atop a nearby building, but does not tell his companions about it. Barry and Iris announce to the S.T.A.R. Labs team that they are engaged, much to the shock of Joe West. When The Flash and Kid Flash get called to a fire, Savitar appears to attack Wally, but Barry only sees the effect of the attack (not Savitar). When Barry wants to communicate with Savitar, Julian Albert resists. Dr. Snow talks him into acting as Savitar's conduit once again and Barry attempts to interview him through Albert. Savitar claims Barry is his adversary and that he created himself, as opposed to being made by Barry or anyone else.

Tracking one of the known acolytes of Savitar, Barry comes to believe there might be more than one Philosopher's Stone and Barry recovers what appears to be the box that housed the Stone he threw into the future. As Wally loses confidence in his abilities, he and H.R. turn to Cisco to vibe the future. Wally returns from the vibe to out Barry's proposal to Iris as yet another attempt on his part of try to change the future. Dr. Snow reveals that she has a piece of the Philosopher's Stone, which she has been using to attempt to remove her metahuman powers. While Joe counsels Iris, Cisco tries to locate Savitar through Julian one more time. When Wally sees a vision of his mother, Jesse Quick is as horrified as Wally that Savitar is directly threatening him now!

Jesse L. Martin steals the early scenes in "The Wrath Of Savitar" as Joe West. Martin plays shock incredibly well and when Joe confronts Barry about not asking him for permission is played well, even if it does not seem to fit his character. Joe West is pretty enlightened, so his sudden conservative streak surrounding Iris and Barry getting married is disappointing. Jesse L. Martin plays through it well and in "The Wrath Of Savitar," he plays shocked and sad for most of the episode pretty incredibly.

Tom Felton steps up to be truly frightening as he acts as Savitar's conduit. Felton is saddled with providing a lot of exposition. Instead of seeming like he is just giving the viewer information, Felton manages to make the possessed Julian Albert so unsettling his performance gives the viewer chills.

When "The Wrath Of Savitar" finds focus, it is actually quite good. The scene between Wally and the vision of his mother is unsettling and sharp, for example. The problem with "The Wrath Of Savitar" is that the episode feels like a few good scenes, but they do not come together as any sort of coherent narrative. More than actually being "The Wrath Of Savitar," the episode is the explanation and birth of Savitar. There is a lot of exposition, a few good character moments, but the episode is disjointed.

Fundamentally, the lingering problem that resonates through "The Wrath Of Savitar" is that after Barry Allen created Flashpoint, there was no episode of The Flash that showed what happened in the new universe. The climax of "The Wrath Of Savitar" feels forced in some ways because the viewer is not familiar with how Wally West was actually introduced in the post-Flashpoint Universe 1.5 (as I'm calling it). Season 2 of The Flash, like the first season, was rewritten and seeing exactly how would make the new relationships in 1.5 actually make sense.

As it stands, the most powerful emotions in "The Wrath Of Savitar" are revealed through Joe West and Jesse Quick, but the basis for those emotions is only the subject of fan speculation. "The Wrath Of Savitar" is a set-up episode that feels like exactly what it is and that makes it a much tougher sell for fans than it ought to have been.

For other The Flash episodes with Vanessa Williams, please visit my reviews of:
"The Reverse-Flash Returns"
"The Fury Of Firestorm"
"Family Of Rogues"
"Flash Of Two Worlds"

[Knowing that single episodes are an inefficient way to get episodes, it's worth looking into The Flash - The Complete Third Season on DVD or Blu-Ray, which is also a better economical choice than buying individual episodes. Read my review of the third season here!


For other television season and episode reviews, please visit my Television Review Index Page for an organized listing!

© 2017 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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