Season 3 of The Flash has been rife with misdirection: Flashpoint was over in one episode (with a bunch of lasting consequences), Julian was Doctor Alchemy and then sort of wasn’t, and within the last several episodes, this season’s big bad has finally reared his ugly, Megatron-looking charred robot head. In the mid season finale of The Flash, we got to see the so-called god of speed, Savitar, speak to the team through Julian by way of another in a long line of Cisco devices. We were give an ominous prophecy from Savitar himself:
“I know your destinies. One shall betray you. One shall fall. One will suffer a fate far worse than death. This is the knowledge I have for you about your everlasting damnation.”
As is the case with prophesies, word choice is often the tricky part, but the good news is that nothing will happen to at least half of the greater Team Flash. “Betrayal” is pretty straightforward, but it can come in several forms. The probable meaning of one “falling” would be death — which is quickly what Team Flash assumes — but keep in mind, a person “falling” could mean something like the common phrase “fall from grace.” And suffering a “fate far worse than death” is subjective at best, but in dramatic storytelling that almost always means watching one’s loved ones die.
Yet, that could mean something else entirely within the context of a show where a mythical magical dimension called the Speed Force can speak to you via The Five People You Meet in Heaven-style dream sequences and also, you know, at least nine characters that can run at super speed.
Let’s unpack the specific implications this prophesy could have on the show in the back half of Season 3.
“One shall betray you.”
It’s abundantly clear that one member of the team will betray them all, no doubt leading to the return of Savitar.
Every single time Team Flash has seen the face of Harrison Wells, it has 100% wound up betraying them. The most egregious example was when the Reverse-Flash impersonated the Earth-1 Harrison Wells and manufactured the particle accelerator explosion as a means to give Barry his speed earlier in life so he could train the Flash to be fast enough to bring him back to the future. This Season 1 arc almost concluded when Eddie Thawne shot himself to erase the Reverse-Flash (Eobard Thawne from the 22nd century), but in Season 2, a version of the Reverse-Flash reappeared on the scene and he’s now back in-universe full-time with his original face that’s nothing like Wells’s.
In Season 2, the surly Earth-2 version of Harrison Wells was slow to warm up to the team and eventually stole some of Barry’s speed after being blackmailed into it by Zoom. Though Barry would later willingly give up his speed to save Wally’s life, this betrayal nonetheless reinforced the team’s mistrust of all things Wells.
There’s also the fact that H.R. deliberately lied to Team Flash for a time, claiming to be a genius when in reality he was an author and businessman whose greatest asset seems to be “bringing out the best in others.” Cisco especially remained suspicious for quite some time and continues to be less than keen on H.R.
H.R. would be the most obvious choice for a betrayal on the show in an almost lazy way akin to making Julian be Doctor Alchemy, but it’s possible that H.R. has some unforeseen ulterior motive that would lead to his betrayal of the team (some crazies even think that he is Savitar somehow).
Caitlin Snow / Killer Frost
Another obvious choice for the one to betray Team Flash, Caitlin Snow has long been the team’s unendingly dependable biochemist and doctor, but her Season 3 arc has had her grappling with the appearance of her frost-based meta-human powers. Not only are they OP, allowing her to absorb seemingly endless amounts of energy and produce as much cold as she wants, but they also make her homicidal.
Though Caitlin is actively wearing power-dampening cuffs designed by Cisco, should she lose those or have them break — or even if she’s forced to use her powers to save herself or someone else — we could see the resurgence of her evil alter ego. She would almost certainly not be allied with Savitar in any way, but if the speed god were to deliberately unleash Killer Frost, it would certainly spell a huge, problematic betrayal for Team Flash.
Fool me once, shame on me. Fool me twice, shame on you. And if Julian happens to fool Team Flash any more times, it’s totally just all Barry’s fault, which would be another shame. Julian was supposedly being manipulated by Savitar via the Philosopher’s Stone, and that’s what made him Alchemy. But there’s always the possibility that it was just a long con. Despite everything Julian has gone through with Team Flash, he’s consistently remained a total jerk by blackmailing Barry into quitting. Sure, he went back on that and let Barry take his job back, later coming to the gang’s Christmas party. Maybe that’s all a ruse and Julian will somehow bring Savitar back?
None of these three suspects explain how the Philosopher’s Stone might make it out of the Speed Force to free Savitar once again, so perhaps a speedster like Earth-3 Flash will have to be the one to betray the team? There’s also the fact that Wally selfishly and aggressively pursued acquiring powers even if it put the rest of the team in danger, and he was under Savitar’s spell once before. And, don’t forget that the Reverse-Flash is still out there, wreaking havoc on Legends of Tomorrow.
“One shall fall”
Despite the Flashes from Earth-1 and -3 being able to toss the Philosopher’s Stone into the Speed Force shortly after the delivery of the prophecy, Barry was literally bounced into a different temporal portal into gasp the future! He stared helplessly on as Savitar stabbed Iris with a wrist blade six months in the future, and the Future-Barry was too slow to stop it.
Though Earth-3 Flash quickly brought Barry back to the present day, the damage was done; if everything stays on course, a future will come to pass in which Iris never becomes Iris West-Allen … because she’s dead. Barry conveniently mentions — for the viewer’s sake — that this explains why it’s no longer her byline in the future newspaper clipping we see every now and then on the show.
So this mystery seems solved … unless it isn’t.
Someone other than Iris?
As Earth-3 Flash is quick to point out to Barry, the future that Barry saw was only one possible future. Every choice can create a myriad of future possibilities.
Fans of live-action DC TV might remember the decade-long coming of age tale about Superman called Smallville. At one point, Clark is stripped of his powers and killed. After being resurrected, he is warned that someone he loves will have to pay for that life in the future. On the show’s 100th episode, Clark’s long-time crush Lana Lang is hit by a bus (bummer), and even after he goes back in time to save her, his father still dies at the end of the episode. So often in time-travel stories, deaths might be prevented, but at what cost? It stands to reason from a storytelling standpoint that even if Iris can be saved on The Flash, someone else might be killed. Could that be Joe? Cisco? Will Caitlin only escape Killer Frost through death a la Dark Phoenix Jean Grey? Could it be Evelyn from Arrow who is a total jerk?
## “One shall suffer a fate far worse than death.”
Barry crying about #BYEris
Barry actually having to watch Iris die — especially after losing both parents, getting them back, and losing them again — is pretty much as bad as it gets. And Savitar seems pretty focused on getting revenge against Barry specifically, so we reckon he’ll be targeting someone Barry loves to cause Barry painuish.
But for a show this fantastical, simple grief is not enough. Instead, we’re almost certain we can expect …
Oh shit, somebody is getting trapped in the Speed Force.
An uncommon but totally possible and very terrible thing to befall speedsters in the greater DC universe is for them to become trapped in the Speed Force, and it’s never as feel-good as Barry’s brief dreamy sequence towards the end of Season 2. In fact, that’s entirely why Savitar has such beef with Future-Barry: His future self dumped Sav into the Speed Force.
In the comics, Savitar was indeed lost in the Speed Force, as was Barry Allen for a long stretch of time during which Wally West wore the official red Flash suit. The Speed Force is something of an alternate dimension of pure energy that transcends time. Being forced to exist in it would strip a person of their corporeal form and most likely drive them insane.
The Flash now has three speedster allies: Jay Garrick, the Earth-3 Flash; Jesse Quick of Earth-2; and Wally West, aka Kid Flash of Earth-1. The Harrison Wells of Earth-2 was incredibly apprehensive about letting his daughter, Jesse, become a crimefighting speedster; the same was the case for Iris and Joe with Wally. Their paranoia might just be the foreshadowing that will eventually lead to one or both of them being tossed into the Speed Force. Or perhaps Barry will lose Jay Garrick, yet another father figure for him that literally looks identical to his biological father. Though seeing Earth-3 Flash die would totally be a bummer, it would lack the emotional sucker punch of either Jesse or Wally, who are both more beloved mainstays of the show.
Worst of all — and perhaps most likely — would be for this season to wrap up with not only Barry having to watch Iris be killed, but with the Scarlet Speedster himself being trapped in the Speed Force as the ultimate revenge. Whatever happens in the back half of Season 3, it will not be good, so prep yourself emotionally.
The Flash will return to the CW on January 24.