The Flash S03E10 “Borrowing Problems From The Future” REVIEW
Essential Plot Points:
- Barry is having nightmares about Savitar killing Iris three months in the future but remains reluctant to tell her about it.
- Barry is now letting Wally accompany him on missions as Kid-Flash so Wally can learn the ropes.
- HR arranges opening day for the STARLabs museum. No one shows up (well no one who wants to pay) and Cisco is pissed off by what a total waste of time it’s been (and because HR has turned him into a malfunctioning hologuide)
- Caitlin visits Julian to ask for his help in ridding her of her powers. After initially being rude to her he later softens and admits that seeing her struggle with her dark side reminds him of the evil he did as Alchemy. Caitlin asks him to join Team Flash as therapy.
- Unfortunately, she didn’t ask the others first. They need to think it over.
- As the Flash, Barry goes to a robbery at a diamond exchange and sees that it’s Plunder robbing the place.
- In the future where Iris dies, Barry saw a news report that said the Flash captured Plunder, so Barry wonders if he can change the future by letting Plunder escape.
- The second time Barry tries to let Plunder escape Wally nabs him instead… and a bystander captures it all on camera. Kid-Flash has officially arrived.
- But Barry is pissed with Wally because it looks like the future is correcting itself.
- But then Plunder escapes from captivity, so he needs taking down all over again.
- Barry comes clean to Iris. She suspected something was wrong anyway. Barry cries again, because Grant Gustin is really good at crying acting.
- They then tell the rest of the team. Barry wants to change the future but HR warns him that’s a tricky business – unless you know what you’re doing you could create the wrong future.
- So to get as much intel about the future as possible to avoid missteps, Cisco vibes himself and Barry back to when Iris is killed by Savitar on a fact-finding mission.
- They note down all the new headlines read out on a nearby TV screen.
- They decide they need to change these headlines to prove that they can change the future and save Iris.
- Barry starts by letting Wally take down Plunder, and get all the credit for it – the news headline will be that Kid-Flash captured Plunder not the Flash.
- Cisco gives local schools cut price tickets to STARLabs museum and the school kids who come start spreading the buzz about the place.
- At a housewarming party for Barry and Iris’s new place, Barry and co celebrate and invite Julian to join the team.
- Julian and Cisco give Caitlin a new stylish device in the form of a pendant that’s solar powered that will control her powers better than the clunky wristbands she has been wearing.
- A mysterious female arrives through a portal, hunting for HR.
This episode is basically all about Team Flash giving itself a morale booster. The result is a hugely entertaining and surprisingly optimistic instalment of the show, considering that the threat of Iris’s death still looms large at the end.
Although there are some intense emotional scenes (yes, look, Grant Gustin is in tears again in that powerful scene with Candice Patton in the time vault) but mostly the episode is a sprightly patchwork of great action scenes, fan-pleasing Easter eggs and sparky character interaction. Partly this is reflection of Barry’s decision to stop worrying about the future and do something about it instead – carpe posterum!
Of course, this being The Flash the time travel barely makes sense. Apparently the rules for time travel to the past are different to those for travelling to the future because… well, just because, okay. At least HR tries to explain it with something other than a marker pen and a wipeboard this time (you get the feeling Cisco had the dominos ready for just such an occasion) but the theory is still more “writers’ wish-fulfillment” rather than “scientists’ logic”. We get all picky about the nitty-gritty of some of the paradoxes in the “Bad” section below, but be honest, you don’t need to look too closely at the details to know that the rules of time travel here are as watertight as Swiss cheese.
But getting bogged down with that nonsense is missing the wood for the trees. Because the basic dramatic sweep of the episode still works magnificently, and the way the storyline twists and turn in just 42 minutes is almost as mindboggling as the pseudo science. It’s amazing how much the episode packs in, while still somehow finding time to play about with that age-old villain-of-the-week formula – you remember: first skirmish a draw, second skirmish Barry loses, third skirmish Barry wins, learnng something about himself along the way… Here we do get all that but in a clever twisty form, including Wally winning the day instead of Barry.
Plunder, to be fair, is an even skimpier villain than normal for this show. We often complain that Flash bad guys are “one gimmick and a grudge”; Plunder doesn’t even have the grudge, and not much of gimmick. He is a mere plot device – a future to be changed – and to be honest, there isn’t much point in the writers wasting any more energy on expanding his character. He does his job.
Instead, we get Barry ’fessing all to Iris; Kid-Flash finally being allowed to come go the fore; Team Flash formulating a plan of action for the second half of the season; HR and Cisco finally bonding over the STARLabs museum (although, as we mention below, there is a way you could interpret that which doesn’t make Cisco seem quite so altruistic); Caitlin inviting Julian to join the team (again, not for totally altruistic reasons, but at least she’s open about it). It’s all good, engaging, character-led storytelling with some true heart underpinning it all. And some great, great acting.
A very impressive start to the second half of the new season. We’re genuinely excited to see what’s coming up.
- One really dodgy bendy Flash CG moment aside, all the action scenes in the episode are exceptionally well choreographed and excellently shot. Barry trying to outrun the Flash-seeking missiles is probably the best, but they’re all top notch.
- We loved the way HR’s faulty holo-Cosco said “SCIENCE!”
- At first we thought the writers had taken a serious misstep with Julian being all arsey with Caitlin, but when he invited her back to explain himself it all made complete sense. Julian was so huggable and vulnerable this episode we’re glad he’s part of the team now.
- On one level, the list of future headlines was one of the clunkiest pieces of foreshadowing ever. On another level – Oooohhhh!!! Exciting teases!!! Easter eggs!!! Fan-pleasers!!!
- The idea of making Caitlin’s new power-suppressing necklace in the shape of a snowflake was really sweet.
- “I know I was rude yesterday.”
“Yeah, you were a world class jerk.”
“Yeah, there is a reason.”
“Because you are a world class jerk?” More of snarky Caitlin, please!
- “It’s so exciting. My last team, the were all murdered by Savitar, so…”
“We need to talk about your small talk skills.” Blimey, that was quick service!
- Candice Patton’s performance when Barry tells her about her impending death is exceptional; it’s like she’s subtly – without any histrionics – going through the five stages of grief in one scene. We wish the show would give her more interesting stuff to do more often.
- Surely the future was changed the first time Wally took down Plunder? After all, the whole thing was caught on camera by a bystander so surely the news reports that time would have been about Kid-Flash capturing Plunder, not the Flash?
- It’s not really clear if just changing one of the headlines has convinced Team Flash that it can save Iris, or whether the domino analogy means they think they need to change all of them, or whether they’re just aiming to change the headlines to make the world a nicer place… which is a pretty random approach to changing the future. To be fair, The Flash has a habit of retroactively making sense of initially vague plot points (such as Zoom’s MO of using henchmen making no sense at first) but for the moment we’re a little confused.
- So Barry is not only a forensics genius, a cute geek and the fastest man alive but also a pretty mean interior designer. He is definitely too good to be true.
- Why was Cisco so remarkably blasé about Barry being chased by the Flash-seeking bullets? He reacted like he was almost annoyed Barry couldn’t work out how to avoid them himself – it was most odd.
- Why didn’t anyone on Team Flash seem more interested in where Plunder’s rifle came from? It seemed like some pretty amazing tech to us, so we’d assumed he been given it by someone. Does Team Flash just assume all their adversaries are as smart as they are?
- Is Greg Grunberg ever going to have any purpose in this show other than being an annoying bore? Presumably yes, but hurry up with it, please.
And The Random:
- Let’s take a closer look at those headlines Cisco and Barry read out:
• Music Meister Gets Six-Figure Book Deal – this is obviously foreshadowing the much-touted Supergirl/The Flash musical crossover episode “Duet” (which will be 3.17 of The Flash). The Music Meister is a villain who’s only ever appeared in the animated series Batman: The Brave And The Bold (although a variation on the character did appear in LEGO Batman). His power was to be able to hypnotise people with his singing voice; he would then force his victims to sing and dance too. Quite why he’ll be getting a six-figure book deal (and not a record deal) and how Team Flash stops that happening is anybody’s guess.
• Luigi’s Opens After Murder – Bit of a stretch here but in the DC comics universe, Christopher Chance, aka Human Target, has a friend and landlord called Luigi, who also happens to own an Italian restaurant. Human Target was introduced on Arrow this season – could he be coming to Central City?
• Joe West honoured at City Hall – Hmm, well he might be being honoured posthumously, so they would definitely want to change that. If not, then presumably Joe’ll perform some heroic deed that has to go unnoticed to change this one.
• Killer Frost Still At Large – Well, that nifty snowflake pendant Cisco and Julian designed for Caitlin might have already changed this headline, but somehow we doubt it. The show still doesn’t feel like it’s given us its definitive Killer Frost story yet.
• STAR Labs museum closes – So maybe Cisco’s idea to give cut-price tickets to local schools wasn’t a softening in his attitude to HR; he was trying to make sure this headline never happens.
• City Still Recovering Following Gorilla Attack – Well, we knew Grodd was due to make a reappearance this season but previous titbits of new suggested that Team Flash would be travelling to the Gorilla City on Earth 2. Instead it looks like the Gorilla is coming back to us!
- Hmmm, so when Barry travelled to the future and saw Iris being murdered, the date was 23 May, 2017 – which happens to be a Tuesday. Wanna bet that’s the date of the season finale.
- Although not named in the episode, the lass who turns up at the end is Gypsy, aka Cindy Reynolds (left), a character who first appeared in the DC universe in Justice League of America Annual #2 (1984).This was the very same issue that also introduced Vibe. Both were created by Gerry Conway and Chuck Patton. Both of them were part of an initiative to introduce fresh young blood to the team. Gypsy has also been a member of all-female superhero team Birds Of Prey. Gypsy is a telepath with a specific ability to create mind-altering illusions. She can also use her powers to effectively make herself invisible. On the show Gypsy is played by Jessica Camacho and apparently she is going to become a very important influence on Cisco’s life.
- In the DC comics universe, Plunder (right) was a warped, dangerous assassin discovered in an alternate reality accessed by the Mirror Master’s mirrors. The Thinker hired him to terrorise Keystone City (so maybe they could use a Flash of their own, as detective Tom Patterson suggests this episode). He later joined a version of the Rogues put together by the supervillain Blacksmith, when they set about eliminating all of the Flash’s allies. He was introduced in Flash Vol 2 #165 (2000).
- HR reveals that on Earth-19 reptiles are a traditional housewarming gift… but to be honest, we only have his word for that. Still, giving the Flash – the fastest man alive – a turtle called Snurtle (a portmanteau word made up from turtle and snail, two notoriously slow animals) is a sly gag.
- Barry calls HR’s books “scientific romance novels” which is the phrase that was used to describe the fantastical work of his near namesake HG Wells before the term science fiction was popularised.
- 52-spotting – we knew there’d be one in the foyer of the museum somewhere…