The Flash – I Know Who You Are Review
"Savitar's identity is revealed, but does anyone care?"
The title of the episode, “I Know Who You Are,” may call to mind a 90’s horror classic but in fact it references the climactic moment in which Savitar’s secret identity is finally revealed. Because we as Flash viewers have been (impatiently) awaiting this revelation for several weeks now, I’ll go ahead and say who Savitar is: Barry Allen. Or more accurately, a version of Barry from the future with scarring along the left side of his face that Harvey Dent would be proud of. Present Day Barry comes to this realization before anyone else, having pieced together a series of seemingly coincidental moments and statements from this episode to reach a conclusion that the plot demanded he reach at this exact moment.
As you might have gathered from my tone, I wasn’t impressed by the resolution to the “who is Savitar” mystery. First and foremost, it breaks the cardinal rule of all good mysteries, which is that it must play fair with the audience. At what point prior to this episode were we given any indication that a future version of Barry would be a credible candidate to be Savitar? He wasn’t even listed as a possible suspect prior to this! “I Know Who You Are” tries to make the case that this revelation was inevitable, but if anything it comes off as anticlimactic and more than a bit confusing. Subsequent episodes will undoubtedly promote the claim that Savitar/Future Dark Barry killed Iris out of some deficit of love or some such thing, but that doesn’t quite explain how or why he would go through the bother of ruining his doppelganger’s life. It also presents us with another Mopey Barry after having recently seen one in last week’s episode. No matter how you look at it, the Savitar reveal is already an unsatisfying payoff to what had long been a tedious plotline.
So aside from Savitar, does anything else of consequence happen in this episode? Quite a bit, actually: most notably, we’re introduced to Tracy Brand (Anne Dudek of House fame), a graduate student in physics who will eventually create the technology that traps Savitar in the Speed Force. Tracy comes from the same blond, slightly absent-minded genius mold set by Felicity Smoak in Arrow and Caitlin Snow in The Flash. She assumes the latter’s role in Team Flash who, ironically enough, must stop Killer Frost from murdering Tracy. Of course, plot mechanics dictate that Savitar and Killer Frost go after Tracy after Team Flash has already identified her as a possible savior – since Savitar is from the future, it would stand to reason that he would’ve killed Tracy before Team Flash even found out about her, right? Instead, throwing Tracy into the mix just adds another element to the shaggy dog story that has been Flash’s misadventures in the timeline.
Because it’s an episode of The Flash, we’re treated to heaping helpings of soap opera angst. To be fair, however, at least it’s a different flavor of angst than the “Barry mucks up the timeline again” plot point the showrunners seemingly never tire of hitting. Cisco feels angst about potentially harming his friend Caitlin, which is why he’s been pulling his punches around Killer Frost; Joe feels angst after his D.A. girlfriend Cecile reveals her love for him; Tracy feels angst about being able to fulfill her destiny of scientific greatness; and Barry (of course) feels angst about everything just as a general rule. The only character who seems to be having any fun, strangely enough, is Killer Frost, who has taken to embracing her dark side with relish. Danielle Panabaker imbues Killer Frost with a wicked playfulness that’s welcome after an interminable amount of time spent having her character agonize over her powers. I’m not sure if I prefer Caitlin in the villain’s role, but either way I hope The Flash showrunners choose a direction for the character and stick with it for a while rather than have her vacillate between good and evil.
So in “I Know Who You Are” we get to finally find out who Savitar is, are introduced to a new and potentially promising (if somewhat derivative) character and we even get a change in relationship status between Joe and Cecile (he tells her that he loves her too after she was kidnapped and nearly killed by Killer Frost). Yet why does the episode feel so unsatisfying? Perhaps it’s because even after the Savitar reveal we’re no closer to understanding what makes the character tick. Or that another character is added to an already burgeoning cast. Even the Joe-Cecile union, as sweet as it is, is mitigated by the fact that their relationship has been put so far to the back burner that I’d nearly forgotten that the two of them were an item. As per usual, unfortunately, it’s another instance of one step forward and two steps back for The Flash this season.