The Flash 3×10 Review: 'Borrowing Problems from the Future'

While The Flash had been a letdown for me early on in this current third season, the season finale was a game changer in every sense of the word. It was a game changer plot wise, as well as hype wise.

So “Borrowing Problems from the Future” was one of my most anticipated midseason premieres because of the jaw dropping cliffhanger where we – and Barry – watched as Savitar killed Iris some five months in the future. Now, there’s no question that this show would ever kill Iris – I mean, permanently. The closest we’re going to see to Iris dying is in the one possible – I stress possible – future that we’ve seen and will keep seeing until the season finale.

But there’s a sense of urgency and significance as Team Flash has a defining arc that focuses around protecting one – now, two – of their own, as we leaned that it’s not just Iris’ fate at risk. It’s also Caitlin’s. It’s that solidarity and that love that will drive the remainder of this season.

The Flash that I just watched was The Flash I’ve been missing. It’s far from perfect (and a part of me is still angry at Barry for messing everything up, I don’t know if that’ll change), but it finally feels like it’s regained that spark that made it a force to be reckoned with in its first two seasons. The high stakes, the emotion, the heart, the character focus amidst the superhero focus.

“Borrowing Problems from the Future” did everything that a mid-season premiere should do: it set up the events to come in these final four months. Will the upcoming episodes be as solid as the winter premiere? Who’s to say. But I finally feel like The Flash is back.

Let’s break this down:

Is the Future Something That’s Fixed?

One of the questions raised with this episode was whether or not the future was a fixed entity that could not be changed. Was it possible to affect the future by changing certain moments in time? Well, surely changing the future is possible given how Barry’s actions have caused a new future – one where Iris is murdered at the hands of Savitar. Because that’s not the future that we’ve known. Something changed. Flashpoint changed things.

When it came to coming clean about what Barry had seen, instead of tackling this alone and without being truthful, Barry told Iris the truth about what he’d seen. Then both of them, together, told the rest of the team – minus Joe, because we know why. So with Team Flash on the case, the focus now falls on how and ultimately if they can change the future where Iris is murdered.

So how does one go about changing the future? Well, it certainly helps to have visited this future and to have a metahuman friend that can vibe you back to said future to gather Intel. As H.R. so graciously pointed out, the future is like a series of dominos – each domino representing a certain event. As one falls it leads to another and then another and so on. So what we learn is that in order to change some aspects of the future, they’re going to need to change certain events that happen.

For example, we saw as Barry struggled with Plunder and how this was the man he saw on a news report in his flash-forward. He sort of grappled with – if The Flash hadn’t caught him, would things be different? And it’s kind of unfair to do that to yourself. To ask yourself if every decision you make, every life you save, every villain you capture ultimately leads to the death of your loved one. Because, honestly, who’s to say if one or more of those things didn’t happen if things would change at all?

So then it brings us back to the question: How can they change the future? How can they save both Iris’ life and Caitlin’s soul? One of the problems of changing certain events is that you don’t know which events to change. So focusing on the headlines of that day and time (which happens to be May 23, 2017 – is that a confirmed season finale date?) and trying to prevent those from happening is a good place to start. Perhaps if they can change those events – the ones that in their own way are connected to that fateful day – they can save Iris’ life. And along the way, Caitlin’s soul.

Iris’ Strength in the Face of Uncertainty

Obviously the question on everyone’s minds rests with what was going to happen with Barry and this enormous secret he was carrying around about what he saw happen to Iris four months in the future. While he initially kept it to himself – and struggled with the nightmares of watching Iris die again and again – eventually he realized that he wasn’t Oliver Queen and decided to tell the truth instead of lying to Iris to “protect her.”

The bombshell itself was amazing. But it was Iris’ reaction that really struck a chord with me. Candice Patton was on fire in this episode as she conveyed the vast mixture of emotions going through Iris’ head at the news – fear, sadness, concern, uncertainty at the situation and determination to face this head on with the strength and composure that she’s known for.

Iris is a BAMF. No, she doesn’t wear a costume. Or have a cool nickname. But she doesn’t need either of those. It’s her presence alone that defines her as a force of nature and someone who is fiercely passionate and caring. I mean, even after Barry told her that she was going to die in four months, when he told her that was trying to change things to save her. She laid it all out: she doesn’t want Barry to risk not protecting the city only to save her. There’s no way – knowing the kind of woman Iris is – that she’d want that. But that doesn’t stop Barry from swearing on the lives of his parents – two other people he’s loved dearly that have been taken from him – to protect her in every way he could.

Even after this bombshell was revealed and Team Flash had to deal with the current villain of the week, Iris didn’t let that distract her. She chose not to focus so much on the “what if” and the negative and instead to focus on doing what she loves and living in the moment. Iris isn’t one to run away from her fear. She confronts it head-on. And I cannot wait to see her stand strong in what’s promising to be an emotional back half of season three.

But with that said, there’s no way that The Flash is going to kill Iris West. Unless it’s in that possible future that we saw. That’s the closest we’ll come to seeing her die. The Flash isn’t stupid. They’re not killing Iris. But that doesn’t mean they’re not going to try everything in their power to make us believe that Iris is in serious danger of dying.

Julian Joins Team Flash

When it was revealed in the midseason finale that Julian was Alchemy, I found myself groaning at the predictableness of the storyline. Oh, look. Tom Felton plays another villain. Oh, look. The new, suspicious character is an evil traitor. And while Julian was revealed to be Alchemy, there was so much more to the story. Perhaps he wasn’t the villain we all expected him to be?

Julian has gone from estranged nemesis to ally over the course of those first nine episodes. More than that, Julian has begun to forge some bonds with a couple of members of Team Flash. First with Barry, and then, currently, with Caitlin. Julian and Caitlin’s friendship is something that I find myself enjoying immensely. There’s an understanding between them. They don’t judge each other on their actions when they were under the control of Savitar or, in Caitlin’s case, Killer Frost. They understand that they’re more than their terrible counterparts.

So it was really nice of Caitlin to reach out to Julian about joining Team Flash. Sure, I’ll admit that a big part of me is screaming: NO, NO, NO. But Team Flash is going to have to start trusting others outside of their usual circle. And Julian has shown that he has earned the chance to try and make things work on Team Flash.

While Caitlin certainly wants him on the team to help her with her metahuman cuffs that keep Killer Frost at bay, there’s more than a selfish agenda at hand. Like I said, she recognizes that Julian has been judged on actions that he didn’t commit. He did them under the control of an evil speedster. You have to wonder if Caitlin was thinking if she had joined – as an outsider – with her abilities if they’d take her in or send her off. Caitlin didn’t want to do that to Julian. He deserves a chance.

Can Team Flash Prevent Killer Frost?

While most of the focus rests with Iris’ fate four months from now, as Iris pointed out there’s someone other than her whose fate is in jeopardy. While Caitlin has fought for months to control her Killer Frost persona, it’s been hard to come to an acceptance that she’d never be Killer Frost again. Because she was always one step away from being so. Those metahuman cuffs were what kept her at bay. So we have to wonder what happens in the future that has “Killer Frost Still At Large,” according to a television report.

So it’s not only a fight to save Iris but Caitlin as well. And they’re going to do that the same way they’re going to save Iris. They’re going to change the future. As they’re going about changing the future, they’re trying to change the headlines seen on that news report, one of which includes Killer Frost being at large. So, basically, if Team Flash can save Caitlin that might just also save Iris. Well, technically. But technically has never worked on these superhero shows.

It’s been amazing how Killer Frost has been more of this persona than anything. She’s not really accepted as Caitlin Snow. No, she’s merely the alter ego – the Jekyll – of Caitlin. While most characters on The Flash are eager to get their powers, we’re seeing Caitlin eager to get rid of them. It kinds of shows both ends of the spectrum. Powers can be good, powers can be bad. Some people want their abilities, some people don’t.

So can Team Flash prevent Caitlin from falling back into her Killer Frost alter ego? And if they can’t – and she just happens to reemerge – is there anyway that they could get her back?

World, Meet Kid Flash

Central City was officially introduced to Kid Flash in the midseason premiere. While The Flash still owns the show, we got to see how Kid Flash will be incorporated into the show. There has been a sense of struggle for Wally as he’s fought to be Kid Flash and everything that comes with it. That includes how he’s perceived by the world. In the beginning of the episode there was this sense of, Kid Flash is a joke. It was sort of this motivating factor for Wally to prove them wrong. But it was also a chance to do that and save lives.

Knowing Kid Flash’s personality, it was something that was missing in the previous few episodes once Wally suited up. There’s this cocky sense about Kid Flash as he’s in that suit and saving lives that was noticeably absent. But we got to see the beginnings of that personality creep through as the world got acclimated with Kid Flash. It’s something that’ll get him in trouble, no doubt, but it’s who he is.

Having a second speedster definitely makes things convenient for Team Flash, especially with the impending threat of Savitar. And we saw that Wally has already saved Barry’s life a couple of times. See, it pays to have some backup in the field. I’m eager to see Barry and Wally continue to cultivate their relationship both out in the field and a Barry and Wally. I’m finally feeling like Wally is hitting his stride.

Five Things…

  1. Barry was Barry, but it was believable. One of my harshest criticisms of this show this season has been the way Barry has been portrayed in being selfish. There’s been no substance behind it. But even though he had a personal ultimatum and was willing to do something stupid again because it affected him, there wasn’t this contrived sense of idiocy. Barry was doing this out of concern. Concern that felt believable.
  2. Candice Patton was a firecracker in this episode. She always is, but there was something about the emotional complexity of Iris’ situation that really allowed her to shine. She was strong, fierce, vulnerable, and fearful at the same time.
  3. Caitlin and Julian’s friendship is something I’m really enjoying. Just please, for the love of all that is holy, do not have him betray Caitlin. Or die. Because I can’t take another person dying or betraying her again. Then they’re just begging her to become Killer Frost.
  4. Kudos to Iris for pointing out that it’s more than just her in danger. It’s also Caitlin who, while not dead in the future, has been taken over by Killer Frost. Iris is a smart, caring, and fair woman. She was quick to point out that this is about more than just her.
  5. For the first time in a long time, I’m excited about The Flash again. It took until the second half of the season, but I’ll take it. This storyline has everything that one could want: action, emotion, time travel, heart, and a sense of fear that’s sure to grip me until the season finale.

The Flash airs Tuesdays at 8/7c on The CW.

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