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Warning: major spoilers ahead for Episode 20 of The Flash Season 3, "I Know Who You Are."
The big mystery of The Flash in Season 3 has been the of identity of the new (and third) speedster supervillain Savitar, and we've had months to try and figure out just who the man is beneath the mask. Like Seasons 1 and 2, The Flash played out the mystery of the bad guy until almost the very end of the season. Unlike Seasons 1 and 2, however, the action of Season 3 really suffered for the prolonging of the Savitar reveal. "I Know Who You Are" finally revealed that a future version of Barry Allen is the man beneath the Savitar mask, but it came too late in the season to have as great an impact as it would have earlier.
The show has been playing with the reveal of Savitar's identity for quite some time, and Flash fans have come to expect that their speedster supervillain each year will secretly be somebody that the team has come to know and trust, and whose betrayal will somehow be connected to time travel. We pretty much knew that Savitar was going to be somebody who already had a key role in the series, and we've had plenty of time over the past 20 episodes to make our best guesses about who Savitar could really be, and I think it's safe to say that most of us guessed that it's been future Barry underneath the mask. Even if he wasn't at the top of everybody's list for Savitar candidates, the majority of longtime viewers probably at least seriously considered that our hero was actually our villain in Season 3.
Of course, the reveal that future Barry is Savitar could have been epic, even despite many fans guessing the twist ahead of time. The problem lies with the fact that we had plenty of time to create theories supporting and against all the candidates for Savitar, and The Flash hasn't been entirely subtle in playing up Barry as the baddie. Savitar himself (whether via Julian or during an encounter with present Barry) uttered the words "future Flash" a number of times throughout Season 3, and anybody with a knowledge of DC Comics or who did a casual Google search during a commercial break would have discovered that "Future Flash" is another version of Barry Allen in DC lore.
If we had gotten the reveal that Barry is Savitar earlier in Season 3, the big twist could have packed a lot more punch. I was hoping for a "Holy shit, that's really BARRY!" reaction when I finally learned who Savitar was. Instead, my reaction was more along the lines of "Okay, so it is Barry." By dragging out the mystery, we had way too much time to figure out Barry as a likely candidate for the Season 3 supervillain. If you're anything like me, the continued delay of the reveal began to feel more like the show dragging out the drama for the sake of a "Gotcha!" late in the game rather than organic storytelling.
None of this is to say that Barry as Savitar isn't a pretty fascinating twist, and I'm definitely interested in seeing where The Flash plans on taking the rest of Season 3. I'm still not clear on why future Barry wants to kill Iris, and I'd love to know how Barry mastered the ability of recalling exact conversations verbatim. I just wish that the show had either made the reveal earlier in Season 3 or spent less time teasing reveals without delivering.
Tune in to The CW on Tuesdays at 8 p.m. ET to see what's next for Barry now that he knows Savitar's identity on The Flash, and don't forget to check out our summer TV premiere schedule to discover all your viewing options now and in the coming weeks. Be sure to drop by our rundowns for cable/streaming and broadcast TV renewals and cancellations as well.