Borrowing Problems From The Future - The Flash S3E10

The Flash came back last night from its midseason break, and set the stage for the rest of the season in the process with an unusual kind of story set-up, but one, I think, that works quite well. Overall, the writing and acting was strong in this episode, and for the first time since season 2, I am actually pretty excited about The Flash... with some caveats.

Read on below the fold to find out what's in store for the future... (spoilers to follow)

When last we left our stalwart speedster, he had gotten knocked so hard that he ended up 4 months into the future, and bore witness to Savitar murdering Iris. A distraught Barry has avoided telling anyone about it, instead attempting to enjoy every waking moment with Iris, while still trying to figure out on his own how to change the future. Desperate for advice, he even asks HR Wells his writer's opinion on whether the future is set in stone, to which HR tells him that he felt that a man trying to avoid his future ends up running headlong into it anyway (a very Oedipal way of thinking of things, to be sure).

Having seen the future, Barry has a bad moment when the freak-of-the-week turns out to be Plunder, a silly pirate-looking baddie who Barry saw on the news in the future. Desperate to change the future, Barry botches capturing Plunder, but then Kid Flash, who is trying to make a name for himself, ends up catching the guy. Barry freaks out and reams poor Kid Flash for being reckless, and everyone, even Joe and Iris, are like "yo, chill out and lay off of Wally, will you?"

Arr matey, I be a shitty DC villain, I be!

Thankfully, this whole secret keeping doesn't last for very long, unlike in previous seasons of any show in the Arrowverse. Besides, it's not like Iris hasn't noticed Barry's been acting weird. So he finally decides to come clean to her.

Sidenote: the crimson jumpsuit she's wearing in this scene is freaking stellar, and I am jealous that she can rock something like that.

Photo Credit: This awesome Flash Fashion blog I just discovered that tells you where to buy the clothing you see on the show! 

Anyway, after Barry tells Iris she's going to be brutally murdered by Savitar in four months, she cries a little at the prospect of her shortened lifespan, but then she takes it like a boss and gets down to business. Barry says he will stop at nothing to change the future, and Iris says they need help to deal with it, so they need to tell the team... except for Joe, because she is worried her father will freak out and run headlong into danger against Savitar himself, to try to save her life.

Let's take a moment to discuss Iris. I have eviscerated this show since last season, at least, and really the Arrowverse in general, for its treatment of women characters. This is, after all, a feminist blog, so this is of interest to us here at the Writ. And the writers of The Flash seem to struggle with Iris West in particular. They seem to have found a good place for Caitlyn, finally (although rumor has it that Robbie Amell, who played her fiance, is coming back this season, so I cringe at what that's going to do to Caitlyn). But Iris has been relegated entirely to the role of team cheerleader and counselor, and that's it. Her journalist career seems to simply have vanished, and she does nothing in the show that isn't somehow revolving around Barry's feelings.

So I am both pleased and frightened by the fact that the second half of the season seems to be revolving around her. Maybe, finally, she can be the badass character that I know her to be, and that Candice Patton can absolutely portray. But I'm not happy that the end result may be her death, although I swear, if they kill the only black female character on the show, I am done with The Flash. *shakes fist at writers* You hear me? DONE. Also, I'm really just sick of Barry having to lose someone important in every freaking season to "keep him motivated" or whatever. Also, threatening the hero's love interest is a shitty trope that probably needs to die as viciously as Iris does in the future.

But even if she doesn't die, there's the danger that Iris won't be an active participant in her own rescue, but rather that she will fall into the trap of the superhero's girlfriend that is more object than person. You know the type: Lois Lane always getting into trouble so that Superman has to rescue her, every Batman girlfriend in all the movies, and every iteration of Iris West ever in the comic books needing to be rescued by The Flash. I am heartened by her boss "let's do this" response to finding out her death is impending, but I hope she maintains her strength and actually does something with it. And I also hope that the show remembers to focus on her at least some of the time, and show the effect on her life of knowing she might be dead in four months. That kind of knowledge can really change the way someone lives their life. Knowing they are going to die soon, many people will stop caring about getting into dangerous situations (so like, maybe she ought to become a more aggressive reporter and get into the faces of meta baddies more often), or will strive to make a mark on the world by doing more charity work, or will want to travel and do all the things they always wanted to do but suddenly have very little time to do.

The danger here is that Iris remains the same character despite this knowledge, when really... this plot has all the trappings of developing her character in a way they have never done before on this show. Flash writers, I implore you: don't waste this beautiful opportunity.

Anyway, when Barry and Iris tell the team about the future, the team resolves to change it. Barry and Cisco vibe to the future so that they can take a look at the news reel Barry had a glimpse of (the same one where he saw Plunder), and so the team now has an idea of all the things in the next four months they can fiddle with. Barry also noted during the vibing that unlike his previous trip to the future, this time when Savitar kills Iris, HR is up on a nearby rooftop with a rifle, which is definitely a change that happened because Barry told the team about the future. So it is possible to change the future, then.

Team Flash has a Vibe machine, which is pretty cool!
With this, the episode lays the groundwork for what we'll see the rest of the season. We know that Music Meister is involved (and actually, just this week, the actor cast as Music Meister for the Supergirl/Flash crossover sing-along episode was announced), we know that Killer Frost is going to make another appearance (which coincides with Caitlyn having trouble with her anti-meta bracelets in this episode), and we know that Gorilla Grodd will be back. There were several other major and minor plot points mentioned, including that the STAR Labs Museum (which has a terrible opening in this episode that no one showed up to) closes down in four months as well, so Cisco decides to help keep it open as one of the changes to the future (pretty genius, too: he calls local schools and offers them discount tickets to get kids excited about science and maybe bring their parents in later, too. Savvy business sense, Ramon!)

More sideplot stuff:

  • Caitlyn seeks Julian's help in curing her meta state, and invites him to join Team Flash because she knows he's lonely and trying to deal with the fact that he was a villain's puppet all by himself. Ultimately, despite initial misgivings (and him being a total dick at first), Team Flash welcomes Julian into the fold. 

  • Wally, after being torn down by Barry for no reason at all, accepts Barry's apology and explanation for being a douche. Kid Flash comes into his own in this episode, obviously enjoying his super powers and finally getting a fan following after he captures Plunder. Although Plunder is seriously a D-class goofy villain, and Wally deserves way better, so hopefully he gets better action and more of a challenge later. Still, such a pleasure to watch Wally (and Keiynan Lonsdale by extension, who is clearly loving his job) having a blast with his powers. 

  • We get a glimpse of a bounty hunter who is after HR Wells, as she pops into this earth looking for him. So I'm guessing we're in for some nasty business next week. This bounty hunter is actually supposed to be Cynthia Reynolds, aka Gypsy, and please goddess don't let them call her Gypsy. It's nice to see Sleepy Hollow's Jessica Camacho is in the role! 

Anyway, after setting up the rest of the season for us, I'm both excited and a bit apprehensive about what's coming.

What did you think of The Flash's return? Sound off in the comments below!