This season of The Flash, has centered around the possible negative ramifications of altering the timeline to save the ones we love.
In “Borrowing Problems From The Future,” Team Flash are now determined to change the future timeline to save their loved ones
A month after moving into their new apartment, Barry and Iris still haven’t unpacked and Barry continues to suffer terrible nightmares that repeat the moment he witnessed six months into the future – Savitar murdering Iris in front of him. And, in typical, brooding Barry fashion, he’s keeping the nature of the nightmares, as well as the facts surrounding them, a secret from Iris and everyone else.
Not Ready for Primetime Players
Barry’s called away to a crime scene where Wally, sporting his new Kid Flash costume, has already arrived. Wally waits for Barry to make the big decisions, which proves wise because Barry’s science know-how ultimately saves the day. When Wally overhears the police chief (Greg Grunberg) remark that this new Kid Flash proved totally useless in the rescue, it begins Wally’s subplot – is he ready for the field? Cautious Barry is insisting Wally just shadow him for awhile and then yells at him later for stepping up and stopping Plunder, the random villain of the week, after Barry seems to inexplicably let Plunder go (more on why later). But, by the end, at least partially just to change future newspaper headlines that say the Flash defeated Plunder, Barry lets Kid Flash capture Plunder and get all the credit, establishing his own name as Flash’s legitimate partner in crime-fighting.
Meanwhile, when Caitlin’s metahuman-superpower-neutralizing bracelets that Cisco designed start to constantly run out of battery, she turns to the world’s foremost expert on metahumans, Julian, for help. He initially refuses to help because of his prejudice against metahumans but later acquiesces. In exchange for his help, Caitlin takes it upon himself to invite him in to join Team Flash … without checking with the rest of the team first … which leads to a later awkward moment when Julian turns up ready to join the team. By episode’s end, though, during Barry and Iris’ long overdue housewarming party, Team Flash officially welcomes him aboard and Caitlin is awarded with an improved device to neutralize her powers courtesy of a Cisco/Julian team effort.
But Wally and Julian aren’t the only newbies still finding their place in Team Flash. After teasing it in the winter finale, H.R. finally gets his STAR Labs Museum “soft opening” this week … which doesn’t go well.
Nobody shows up.
Also, his unauthorized holographic Cisco tour guide breaks down. Every previous version of Harrison Wells has served as a kind of surrogate father figure to Cisco (even the evil one), so it’s hard to tell if H.R. knows just how much it should sting when Cisco calls him “useless.” But eventually, again at least partially out of a design to alter a news headline in the future, Cisco goes to work in helping make H.R.’s little museum project a success, even recording his own voice to use for the holographic Cisco tour guide. And Cisco assures H.R. that “Greatness takes time.”
Great Scott! This is Heavy!
Now the main Barry plot of the episode revolves around those nightmares of Iris’s impending doom six months from now. While in the future, Barry noticed some news headlines. When the arrival of Plunder causes him to recall a future news story referencing the Flash’s previous capture of a villain named Plunder, Barry hesitates and even lets the criminal escape until Kid Flash defeats him. Barry makes excuses at first but eventually comes clean to Iris about everything. She tells him he can’t risk other people’s lives by letting criminals go just to alter future events, which is at odds with H.R. hypothetical advice where he suggests the future may be unchangeable. Iris also encouraged Barry to level with the entire team, which he does. This leads to Cisco and Barry vibing into the future and witnessing a slightly different future.
This is sort of good news because it means their actions can impact the future, at least in theory. And so that’s why Team Flash is setting out to now change more future news stories gleaned during their visit, which includes letting Kid Flash get credit for stopping Plunder instead of The Flash and stopping H.R.’s STAR Labs Museum from going belly up six months from now.
And, as is typical with The Flash, they gave us a glimpse of new danger coming down the pike, this time in the form of the metahuman Gypsy arriving via a portal (presumably from Earth-19) looking like she’s hunting H.R. And the teaser for next week implies as much. Though maybe she’s searching for a Wells from another Earth altogether. Gotta keep your eyes on those Harrison Wellses.
Is it Good?
Though I’ve had some issues with this season, I’d say this one is among the better installments. The writers managed to give almost everyone a story. And H.R. – a character I was initially very skeptical of after giving us such a great Earth-2 Harrison Wells – has really grown on me as both a comic presence and a legitimate underdog on this team to root for as he searches for some way to contribute his fair share. Also, I’m so over other speedsters on this show that I’m thankful that Savitar only appears in the quick glimpses of the future. Another one of my issues with this season is the idea that Caitlin acquiring powers just magically makes her evil too for no good reason, but unfortunately, there’s little turning back from that idea now. Though, one of my speculations about where the season is going (see below) may at least partly correct that. But all in all, I liked this episode. Iris got to be useful by being Barry’s confidant and nothing felt too much like filler. The storylines all moved forward in some way.
Speculations (Possible Spoilers if They Prove True)
Recently, when I complained to a friend of mine that I didn’t like the whole Caitlin-automatically-becomes-evil-when-her-powers-develop concept, my friend brought up a theory he had for the end of the season that I immediately realized was probably true and was angry I didn’t think of it. When Cisco vibed and saw himself battling Killer Front, everyone assumed Caitlin is the one to go evil and be the villain in that future moment. But why make that assumption?
Well, obviously, the writers have primed the audience to think that’s the case. But while Caitlin has no real motivations for turning against the team, from the beginning of season 3, the writers have given Cisco a legitimate, organic reason for Cisco to turn on Barry. Barry’s thoughtless altering of the past to save his mom created Flashpoint and ultimately led to a changed reality where Cisco’s brother is dead. When Cisco finally learned about this, we already saw him take serious issue with Barry taking it upon himself to play god. Sure, after the Invasion storyline, Cisco seemed to forgive Barry, but that doesn’t change that Cisco’s brother is still dead, and it’s all Barry’s fault.
This continued messing with the timeline convinces me more than ever that we’re building to a Dark Phoenix/Dark Willow-type battle between friends season finale. We’re not done dealing with the fallout of Flashpoint. And I think Cisco is going to turn against Barry, leading Caitlin as Killer Frost to battle Cisco to save Barry. Of course, this might all just be my imagination because this sounds like a far more interesting season finale plot than Barry learning how to defeat yet another boring “destroy the world for no reason” speedster by running faster … or whatever.
Like what we do here at AIPT? Consider supporting us and independent comics journalism by becoming a patron today! In addition to our sincere thanks, you can browse AIPT ad-free, gain access to our vibrant Discord community of patrons and staff members, get trade paperbacks sent to your house every month, and a lot more. Click the button below to get started!