‘The Flash’ (Season 3): A Lacking Big Bad

Savitar - The Flash

In my last column, I discussed the problematic character arc Barry Allen has had on The Flash this year, treating his friends poorly and generally making every wrong decision possible. However, it feels unfair to put the blame for a lackluster third season solely on Barry, as there are other areas in which the show has struggled. Namely, the show’s failed to deliver a compelling villain this season, meaning there’s not even an exciting threat for the mopes at STAR Labs to face off against.

There’s a number of reason Savitar has failed to set the world on fire, the first of which is just a general sense of diminishing returns. After two seasons featuring speedster Big Bads, there was a sense of exhaustion with the idea of a third before the season even premiered. There was promise that the meta-creating Alchemy could offer a different sort of threat to complement Savitar early on, but the character proved to be little more than an early season hurdle, dispatched as quickly as wannabe crime lord Tobias Church over on Arrow.

The problem with Savitar is that he doesn’t offer any sort of new challenge for Barry to overcome. At the end of the day, it’s the same struggle we’ve seen for two seasons now, Barry having to get even faster to take down a threat. However, it’s hard to quantify what that even means anymore, when Barry is fast enough to generate lightning, vibrate through walls, and travel through time. He’s already the fastest man alive; a slightly higher speed doesn’t mean much to a viewer.

It also doesn’t help that Savitar is the most generic threat Team Flash has faced so far. Reverse-Flash was Barry’s polar opposite, as well as the man who killed his mother, while Zoom was a speed-obsessed psychotic. Savitar fancies himself a speed god, but his goals remain murky at best. Throw in a Transformers-esque design aesthetic, and he fails to make much of a visual splash either.

Finally, it doesn’t help that the show is still teasing out the big reveal of who Savitar really is. Whereas Arrow revealed Prometheus’ identity over a month ago now, but Savitar’s remains frustratingly unclear. Beyond that, there’s no real suspects outside of the much-supported theory of a future version of Barry Allen. If that is the case, most will have guessed it – thanks to a number of in-show hints – long in advance; if it’s not, well, who’s really a solid candidate? They’ve already played up and dismissed Wally, so that doesn’t leave anyone we’ve met this season or in the past to offer much of a surprise.

Overall, it’s getting harder to imagine the third season of The Flash ending on a satisfactory note. With a less-than-likable lead speedster and a dull, ill-defined villain, there’s little to get excited for heading into the final stretch of episodes. However, maybe the show can pull out some big surprises before everything wraps up, or at least clear the table for a stronger season in its fourth year.