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Spoilers for the most recent episode of The Flash are below.
This Tuesday, we'll finally see the conclusion to the whirlwind that has been The Flash Season 3. Now that Barry has seemingly failed in stopping the one event he sought out to stop, Iris' murder, how will he finally defeat Savitar? I've learned this season that anything can happen, even more so than in the past two, but from where I'm standing, there is only one way The Flash should defeat Savitar in the season finale. All Barry has to do is -- get this -- nothing, and Savitar will feasibly be defeated and Iris will be saved. Right?
Savitar previously said that someone breaking the rules of time mean the rules no longer apply to that person, but we've watched The Flash long enough to know that's not possibly true. In preventing Barry's attempt to lock him within the Speed Force, Savitar has already slightly jeopardized his own existence, and perhaps without knowing it. Savitar exists in and because of a time loop, which means that his existence within the multiverse is predicated on the creation of a time remnant that Barry used to take Savitar down. So what happens if Barry, who has spent all of his Season 3 efforts trying to right his wrongs and fix what can't be changed, just gives up and accepts that Iris's death is his fault and can't be reversed?
Well, Barry would then stop his vengeful pursuit of Savitar, which potentially (but not realistically) means the villain would never have been created in the first place. The much-maligned Future Flash remnant only turned from hero to villain after Savitar was sealed away, and that was precisely how the cycle kept continuing. If Barry were to fully accept (in 2017) that there's nothing he can do about Iris' death, and that he has to accept that there aren't easy (or any) solutions for his myriad time-centered mistakes, he would create a time paradox in which there would be no remnant to mope around while becoming the most dangerous speedster ever, and no remnant to murder Iris. Having said that, a world where Savitar doesn't exist has the potential to retcon a bulk of Season 3, which might explain some things from the last episode.
For example, I know many fans are married to that sacrificial HR storyline (which can be easily disproven), but it is weird that both HR and Julian Albert were both missing during the big moment of truth concerning Iris' survival. In a hypothetical scenario where Savitar doesn't exist, Julian never becomes Alchemy and may never find his way to Central City. If Julian never becomes Alchemy, then all the metas of Flashpoint never have their powers discovered, and Earth-2 Harrison Wells wouldn't necessarily need to send out the cryptogram that finds HR. That also implies Gypsy never comes to Earth to try to kill the world-jumping HR, which would be bad news for Cisco, as she really got his Vibe powers on another level. Oh, and Wally West? He might never have tapped into his full potential of Kid Flash.
Really, the only person not thrown a bone in this storyline is Caitlin. Her powers manifested without the direct aid of Alchemy or Savitar, so she's kind of S.O.L. in this scenario in terms of regaining her virtuous side upon Savitar's defeat. While it would suck to lose Danielle Panabaker for every episode of The Flash, it's somewhat better than Killer Frost getting awkwardly shoehorned into every new adventure, and it would solidify another iconic villain within the show, possibly paving the way for a greater Killer Frost storyline down the road. (If the fans would end up missing Panabaker within Team Flash too much, Cisco and Barry can just grab another Caitlin from another world!) Or perhaps with Savitar gone, Frost would lose all that huff and puff, allowing Caitlin proper to silence her split personality and control her meta abilities. That sounds slightly more likely.
In terms of your typical comic book storyline, it sounds like the perfect ending for The Flash's most recent arc. All the characters get to save Iris, everyone is back where they should be, and everyone except Caitlin is good with their sacrifices, for the most part. And most importantly, Barry would finally learn and employ the life lesson that time travel is not how problems are meant to be fixed, and that he's terrible at choosing things. Some out there presumably wouldn't be so cool with nearly an entire season of character development getting eradicated with some time paradox, but it's not as though the show hasn't contradicted itself before.
Still, considering the massive and rage-fueling implications that would follow Savitar's time-looped existence getting shattered, I present a second theory. (Sure it contradicts the headline, but so The Flash offers contradictions with every labored breath Joe West takes, so why not.) Let's say that The Flash doesn't break the time loop, and Savitar instead only pretends to kill Iris. Realizing that his big revenge hurt his remnant heart just as deeply as it did for the real Barry Allen, Savitar gives up the Philosopher's Stone, which has been previously stated to restore life. With no reason to hunt Savitar down, Barry makes nice and apologizes to his twisted self for creating him, at which point the time remnant presumably fades out into thin air like Yoda or something.
That's when the gang holds that funeral we've been teased, only it's actually for Savitar and not Caitlin/Killer Frost. And Savitar's grave would serve as a symbolic gesture for Barry that his actions have the most dire of consequences. Now, that might lead to a fan response even more toxic than Arrow's Season 4 finale, but it would be a nice and relatively simple way to tie up everything without breaking the show and all that's happened so far.
What will actually happen in The Flash finale remains to be seen, but we'll all be tuning in to watch on Tuesday, May 23rd, at 8 p.m. ET. After this week, we're gonna be short on superhero shows for a bit, so head over to our summer premiere guide and find some new shows to bide your time with in the meantime. Also be sure to visit our renewal guide to see which of your favorite shows on The CW survived going into next year!