The Flash (The CW): S3 E10: "Borrowing Problems From The Future"

The Flash (The CW), Welcome Back!

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So, The Flash (The CW) is finally back from its incredibly long mid-season break this week. 

I have watched every episode of the show since its inception and I find it both a starkly different (lighter) take on Superheroes but also occasionally provocative (sometimes in ways that the writers might not have intended). I often write about the "ethics" of the show.

If you haven't the recap for S3 E9, read about "The Present" HERE.

As always, if you have not watched S3 E10 "Borrowing Problems From The Future" come back after you have, in other words, * Spoiler Alert *

The Not So "Quick" Recap

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The episode starts with Barry (Grant Gustin) waking up from the nightmare version of when he watched Savitar kill Iris (Candice Patton) during his speed force trip into the future.

Also new, and interesting, Barry is waking up sleeping next to Iris in their new loft apartment (apparently, CSI's make a lot more money than I suspected that they did - to be fair, Barry inherited STAR Labs and whatever money that included from the original Dr. Wells).

Barry, following his usual pattern, seems not to want to tell Iris what he has seen happen to her (partially, I suspect, because as he says later he was "not fast enough" to save her). Iris clearly knows something is up. Just as she is about to force the issue a phone call comes for Barry about a fire at a store called Trader Sam's which means that Barry has to leave Iris in order to go save Central City.

When Barry arrives at the fire, we learn that he has taken on Kid Flash (Wally West, Keiynan Lonsdale) as an apprentice under the understanding that Wally will follow his instructions and his lead. We also find out that Detective Patterson (Greg Grunfeld) is trapped inside the building.

Wally wants to run in (fools rush in?) but Barry comes up with an actual plan to create an exit point for the fire and rescue Detective Patterson. They put the fire out and Detective Patterson sees Kid Flash for the first time.

When they get back, Flash talks to Wally about patience and following The Flash's lead (followed by Wally leaving to have dinner with his Dad).  Meanwhile, Caitlin (Danielle Panabaker) is having trouble with her power-dampening cuffs and coerces Cisco (Carlos Valdez) to help her fix them.

HR (Tom Cavanagh) walks in and tells them he is in a great mood because he finally has the "STAR Labs Museum" ready for the public and asks them all to follow him and take a tour (If you don't remember, HR wants to prove he is useful to the team and is trying to create a revenue generator and public relations vehicle as cover for their activities at STAR labs)..

Meanwhile, Wally goes to CCPD to meet his Dad for lunch and overhears Detective Patterson talking about how Kid Flash is probably a coward (because he just stood around while The Flash did all the work at the fire). Patterson also suggests that Kid Flash should go to some other city because Central City "already has a Flash."

Just going to say, this seems absurd from someone who was just saved from a fire by two speedsters. I think virtually 100% of people who had been saved from being trapped in a fire would just be grateful instead of using the order of engagement as an excuse to complain about having two speedsters instead of one.

I hate it when writers contrive conversations in order to make other pre-conceived plot points sensical. In my opinion, all situations and character conversations should flow naturally from a character's most likely natural point of view.

Anyway, Wally is clearly upset by what he heard from Patterson and goes to lunch with Joe (his Dad, Jesse L. Martin) with a scowl on his face. I do think it would help Wally's character arc a great deal if the writer's built in some more backstory that might explain his constant insecurity around his powers and performance (right now, he seems unnaturally sensitive to criticism for someone his age - he is clearly in his 20's on the show).

So, the rest of Team Flash is taking a tour of the STAR Labs Museum and he is so exuberant that he starts trying to get all of the members of Team Flash to start taking jobs working as tour guides and coffee makers. Cisco, gets particularly funny treatment, as a holographic guide who keeps saying the word "Science" over and over again.

Caitlin leaves and heads to see Julian (Tom Felton) at CCPD. She tries to recruit him to help her come up with a more permanent solution to her Killer Frost problem (since he is apparently the "world's foremost expert on metahuman's" - who knew?).

Instead of helping, he is a real ass to her, ultimately saying "I don't cure metahumans, I put them in prison...You're on your own I'm afraid." Caitlin walks out, her bracelets fuzz out again, and her eyes flash that "Killer Frost Look" for a few seconds before the bracelets come back on-line.

Barry and Iris are trying to talk again but another call comes and Barry has to stop a robbery in progress at a jewelry store.

Plunder: Another One-Off Villain

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It turns out the bad guy is a criminal called "Plunder." Near as I can tell, Plunder has an eye-patch, a motorcycle, and a really cool gun which fires a bunch of different kinds of smart-ordinances at a very rapid rate.

Plunder manages to shoot Barry, knock him out and escapes.

After the robbery, back at STAR Labs with Team Flash, HR names Murillo "Plunder," and after he makes up the name, Barry flashes back to seeing the news in the future right before Savitar kills Iris. The newscast was talking about "Plunder" facing trial and being convicted on multiple counts after being caught months before by The Flash.  

Wally suggests that they will both catch him "next time" but Barry tells him to leave this one alone and let Barry handle plunder, pissing off Wally and annoying Joe. But, Barry is insistent. Joe tries to talk some sense into Barry but Barry still seems implacable.

Back to CCPD where Julian has "texted" Caitlin to apologize for being so rude to her before. Am I crazy here, why would Caitlin have to come to Julian so that he could apologize to her? I also feel like there should be a speed-shuttle between STAR Labs and CCPDD.

Anyway, Caitlin listens to his apology, suggests that he is still suffering from survivor's guilt after finding out that he was "Doctor Alchemy," and invites him to join Team Flash (where I predict that he will take over the role of Debby-downer now that Cisco is bouncing back from his anger over the effects of Flashpoint).

Of course, as soon as I say that, Cisco complains about having to fix HR's holographic version of himself. Barry walks in to ask HR about his Science Fiction romance novels which were a hit on Earth 18 (or whatever planet HR was on prior to joining Team Flash). Barry really is asking because he wants to know if the future is fixed or changeable. HR seems to come down on the side of the Future being fixed.

Or, As HR put it, "I Think a man meets his destiny on the very places he hopes to avoid it."

There is a decent joke in there, the name of HR's novel was "The Future Ain't What It Used to Be" which reminded me immediately of Yoyodyne Propulsion's tagline "The Future Begins Tomorrow" in the movie Buckaroo Banzai (but, I digress).

More Fun With Plunder

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Anyway, Cisco shows up and says "There's a robbery at the Payson Hotel" and the Flash speeds off to do Flash things.

Flash and Plunder talk for a few seconds but Plunder decides shooting at Barry would be better than continued banter. This time Plunder uses heat seeking bullets that chase Barry after he avoids them (after being warned at the last minute by Kid Flash who shows up despite Barry's order for him to stand down). Ultimately, Barry figures out how to run the bullets into a cement wall and returns to find that Kid Flash has found and captured Plunder (no pun intended).

A person who was almost run down by Plunder filmed the entire event on his smartphone and Kid Flash uses the opportunity to announce himself to the world.

Barry seems distraught that Wally has captured Plunder and when they return to STAR labs he lays into Wally castigating him or getting involved (even though he arguably saved Barry's life from the heat seeking bullets and captured Plunder).

HR interrupts to remind everyone that it is time for the "Grand Opening" of the STAR Labs Museum. Unfortunately, for HR, only two people show up and they leave after finding out that there is a cover charge for entry (and after the glitchy Hologram Cisco scares them). HR is crushed and Cisco goes back into mean Cisco mode telling HR that he has no value to the team and that he is "not useful" and that his "museum isn't useful."

HR says that is mean, Cisco agrees, admitting that he learned being mean from Harrison Wells who at least, "was useful."

Julian walks in and tells the team, who doesn't know that Caitlin invited him to join Team Flash, that he has decided to join up (HR for some reason calls Julian "Julius" here). Caitlin explains, after reminding Barry that Julien has never betrayed him and that they all need friends, that she needs him on the team to help her control Killer Frost.

Barry is, to say the least, nonplussed and says that they will have to talk about it and get back to him later. Barry takes Iris into the time-vault and lets her in on the news that Savitar is due to kill her in about four months. Barry explains to Iris that he thought that maybe if he let Plunder go, it might change the timeline and save Iris' life. 

Iris says that she cannot let Barry let criminals go just to save her life and she says that they can't do it alone.

So, Barry and Iris return to tell the rest of the team (after getting everyone to agree not to tell Joe) and discuss strategy. HR explains that momentum favors a static future much like a string of dominoes favor falling in order and in a particular direction and that changing the future will be harder to change than they can even imagine.

In other words, you could change events in the future but you have to be careful about what events to change.

Cisco says a few other mean things to HR and HR responds by admitting that he has not been very helpful. Cisco flips and immediately starts encouraging HR. Okay, that was a quick change of tone.

Anyway, Barry and Cisco vibe "Back to the Future" in some new Vibe chairs that Cisco seems to have built (because "Geek Magic").  

As mentioned, they revisit the place where Iris dies and collect a number of headlines from the news (mentioned earlier), they also notice that HR is on the roof pointing a gun at Savitar (but doesn't use it) which shows that the future can be changed (although Iris still dies).

So, when they return, they decide to change the headlines in order to "change the future."

Did I Mention Plunder?

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Wally shows up to tell them that Plunder has escaped. 

Barry says (without thinking) that Plunder is at the Central City Museum, which tips Joe off that Barry knows something that he isn't sharing (Barry knows the location because it was in the future news).

This time, instead of insisting on capturing Plunder himself, Barry wants Kid Flash to catch him so that the headline about Murillo's trial will be changed (Kid Flash instead of The Flash will have captured Plunder). At first, Wally is anything but thrilled to follow Barry's orders but once he understands the stakes (Iris) he jumps right in.

Wally tries to stop him, but gets too aggressive and gets shot (but survives). Wally and Barry recover and take back up the chase. Plunder uses his gun to block them with an electro-net, then a few other bullet tricks, and none of them work. Wally flanks Plunder, knocks him off of his motorcycle, and ties him up all while the people watching start chanting "Kid Flash" over and over again.

Okay, well they changed one of the headlines.

Cisco invites some schools to visit the STAR labs Museum for free which apparently will make it a business success (if the kids like it, parents will bring them back). 

Everyone meets up for a house warming at Barry and Iris' place and when he arrives they invite Julien to join the team (Julien's response is that he got every member of his last team killed lol).

HR gives Barry and Iris a turtle named "McGurtle." Cisco and Julien give Caitlin a new solar-powered necklace which will help fix her battery problems.

At the end of the episode, a new metahuman appears on a street corner of what appears to be the current timeline staring at a picture of HR (she appears to be a bounty hunter).

Who could she be? I guess we will find out next time.

What Are The Headlines That Team Flash Are Trying To Change?

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Here are the headlines that I caught (might have missed a few):

* Plunder found guilty, captured by The Flash (fixed by Kid Flash)

* Joe West Honored at City Hall

* Star Labs Museum Closed (Fixed by Cisco's Intervention)

* Music Meister Cuts a 6 Figure Book Deal (coming musical crossover with Supergirl)

* Killer Frost Still At Large (likely not stopped by solar powered dampening necklace)

* Gorilla Attacks City (most likely means the return of Gorilla Grodd).

Is Changing The Future Like Changing The Past?

This remains to be seen. 

The entire appearance of Savitar was predicated by The Flash interfering in historical events (his mother being killed by Eobard Thawne). It is not clear if changing historical events is the same as altering preordained events (and is a complex theoretical question at best).

One thing is for sure, nobody on Team Flash has learned the hard lessons of Flashpoint yet.

At least one person should have suggested that consequences could arise from changing the future just like consequences arose from changing the past.  

Assuming that the life of one person (be it Barry's Mom or Iris) is more important than the consequences of meddling with past events or with the momentum of future events is hubris. 

There will certainly be (or should be) consequences to any action that they take. We also have no idea who Savitar is yet and there have been some hints dropped that Savitar might be "Future Flash" - in other words, this could be Barry fighting a future Barry in the first place, which likely all started with Barry using his powers to meddle with time).

The "Geek Magic" Rating For Episode 10

During the crossover event, I spent a good deal of time talking about "Geek Magic" or the idea that simply because a character has been endowed with technological aptitude or computer knowledge that they can accomplish, with little effort, short-term acts of magic that cover up for any and all plot problems.

This week Cisco created Vibe chairs that had never existed before and Cisco and Julien created a solar-powered power-dampening necklace (despite never having worked together before or seemingly any time elapsing between plot events and the party where the necklace is given as a gift).

That is some serious Geek Magic, but it didn't really "fix" plot problems, so, I will rate this episode as a 5.

It's CC Jitters Time

Okay, that is enough for this week. 

I will say that it was nice to get back to writing about The Flash (things have been kind of dead on the TV side of things lately - unless you count my Mr. Robot Red Wheelbarrow stuff as TV). 

I probably would have complained about "Plunder" being another hero with very little backstory who we will most likely never see again (like Shade) but they used him three times and he was kind of critical to the plot...So, this time I will let it go (mostly).

On the whole, a pretty solid episode and great to have the show back!

Let me know what you are thinking, leave a comment!

Back to the Future
Starring Michael J. Fox, Christopher Lloyd, Lea Thompson, Crispin Glover, Thomas F. Wilson