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‘The Flash’ Recap: “Cause and Effect”

John David Mazzarella ’20 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer

Warning: The following contains spoilers for The Flash season 3

While Tracy Brand (Anne Dudek) and H.R. Wells (Tom Cavanagh) work on a Speed Force Bazooka to trap Savitar (Grant Gustin/Andre Tricoteux), Barry Allen/The Flash (also Grant Gustin) reveals that he’s deduced Savitar’s identity. Barry reveals to Team Flash that Savitar is a time remnant of him from the future. After shaking off the initial shock, Cisco (Carlos Valdes) and Julian (Tom Felton) come up with the idea to perform an operation that will prevent Barry from forming new memories. Barry agrees only to find the procedure worked too well, erasing Barry’s memory entirely. Now the team needs to find a way to restore the Flash’s memory, while Killer Frost/Caitlin Snow (Danielle Panabaker) seeks to do the same following Savitar losing his memory as well. Meanwhile, Iris West (Candice Patton) slowly comes to the realization that Barry is much happier in his current state and wonders if it’s better to keep him this way.

Just when it seems like the show is ready to shift its focus onto stopping Savitar, the show once again shifts to filler. In the show’s defense, this episode is based around a way to stop Savitar, but it’s one of the worst possible options imaginable. That’s not to say this episode is particularly bad, merely a step in the wrong direction this late into the season.

The premise of this episode opens itself up to a lot: the Flash gets amnesia. There are plenty of stakes as well as comedic possibilities with this set up, like when Wally has to explain to Barry how they’re related. Amnesiac Barry is also fun, his reaction to everything is almost analogous to showing someone who has never seen the show an episode from the middle of a given season. His personality is one of genuine surprise and delight, a side of Barry that hasn’t been shown off since early season one. It does show a bit of how far Barry has come, while also showing some regression in his optimistic personality. There is a lot of good comedy in this episode, that probably would have worked better for an episode earlier in the season. Unfortunately, this episode with the ridiculous concept comes ridiculous problems.

Tom Cavanagh and Anne Dudek in ‘The Flash’. Photo courtesy of The CW.

Setting aside how this is another filler episode this close to the end of the season, there’s still plenty to complain about. The primary issue is Iris’ reaction to amnesia-stricken Barry. As mentioned in the summary, Iris questions if it’s better to restore Barry’s memories. Not only is the answer a resounding “yes,” but Iris goes further to imply Central City may not need the Flash. There’s no question being the Flash has put a strain on Barry’s life, but if the past nearly three seasons have illustrated anything, it’s that Central City would be lost without the Flash.

It’s clear that was the point of this episode. While Savitar may only exist because of the Flash, the good the Flash has done is no less significant. The problem is that the audience already knows this, and there are better ways of telling this story without amnesia.

For an episode that could be a lot worse, it’s not half bad. There are some good character moments, including one near the end between Cisco, Julian, and Caitlin. It’s nothing to write home about, but it can be a fun distraction. However, as mentioned in the “Duet” review, distractions can only satisfy so much. Two episodes remain, and hope looks slim for a satisfying conclusion to this season.

Episode Grade: B-

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