The Flash: 3.10 Borrowing Problems From The Future
Mid-season openers are generally more sedate affairs, resetting the status quo after the 'mid season cliffhanger. Interestingly Borrowing Problems From The Future isn't quite that 'by the book' type of episode we're used to on the DC superhero shows; it's not the most exciting episode but it achieves a lot, setting the pace for the rest of the season.
Iris's death at the hands of Savitar in the months ahead provides a great personal journey for Barry Allen. I was worried that he was going to spend weeks keeping this shocking revelation to himself but thankfully he opened up to Iris and the rest of the Star Labs team by the time the episode reached it's midpoint. The Flash suffers when it focuses too heavily on angsty drama and Barry shutting Wally down in his training and hiding what his nightmares were about suggested the show was going to go down the familiar, frustrating path.
Fortunately Iris knows Barry well enough to press the information out of him. Candice Patton has been one of the strongest performers this season and her scene with Grant Gustin's Barry in the future room was beautifully played. Conveying the shock at learning about her impending death while staying strong and focused on the mission ahead, Patton proved what a courageous character Iris could be when the show gets it right. After two and a half years of teasing their romance, the relationship between Barry and Iris is totally engaging rather than a come down after all the romantic tension between them. I want Iris and Barry to stay together and if Iris truly does die come the season three finale, she will be a loss to the show.
My money of course is that Iris will survive but someone will die in her place, but that's just idle pondering.
Cisco and Barry's vibe trip into the future also teased some other great storylines to come; the trick of changing history by reading the headlines from the future was a great plan and it suggested that - despite her attempts to suppress her powers - Caitlin will be going full Dark Willow as Killer Frost before the season ends. Plus the gorilla attack has to be a return from Grodd, last seen dumped on Earth 2?
The villain was frankly pants, but with a piratey name like Plunder he wasn't exactly going to enter the same league as Zoom or Alchemy was he? Of course Plunder was just a means to an end, a chance for Barry to change history (he had just apprehended Plunder in the future). The futuristic bullets tracking Barry down was rather cool though. I'm not sure how changing history by motivating Kid Flash Wally West to capture Plunder instead would make a huge difference but it did give audiences a chance to see the two speedsters in action and Wally has become a welcome addition without taking the focus too much away from the titular character.
Not everything worked; I'm not convinced by Caitlin's attempt recruit Julian into team Flash and the whole Star Labs museum sub plot felt a little forced and not as funny as I think it was attempting to be. Tom Cavanagh's HR Wells continues to deliver comic charm in droves though, even if the arrival of the mysterious woman through the portal at the end suggests something darker is going to happen to him soon.
Borrowing Problems From The Future was a good scene setter; the shadow of the absent Savitar hangs over everything and provides renewed focus to the weeks ahead. With the death of Iris and the transformation of Caitlin into a villain, the personal stakes seem very high and I look forward to seeing how The Flash handles these storylines by the season's end.