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Thursday, 26 January 2017

The Flash S3E10: Borrowing Problems From The Future

The Flash
Series 3, Episode 10
Borrowing Problems From The Future.

I have to admit, that is a pretty good episode title. In general, The Flash does a decent line on episode titles -- last series gave us 'The Runaway Dinosaur' and the first series gave us 'Things You Can't Outrun,' both of which are pretty nice episode titles, albeit for different reasons. So there's that.

So far, The Flash's third series has not been brilliant, if I'm being honest. But that's fine! The first part of a series is almost always the worst part of it, and most shows pick up considerably after their Christmas hiatuses, where they have the freedom to move ahead towards the plot's conclusion rather than building to a smaller, pre-Christmas pay-off.

This episode sets up a pretty promising dynamic for the rest of the series, too, as it culminates in the cast having a list of future events that they need to change.

In this week's episode, when Plunder, a villain Barry recognises from his vision of the future, begins robbing banks with a technologically advanced gun, Barry is reluctant to catch him, hoping that if Plunder isn't caught (as he had been in the future), the future will be changed. Wally, meanwhile, is eager to catch Plunder and prove himself as a superhero, bringing him into conflict with Barry. Meanwhile, HR prepares for the soft open of the STAR Labs Museum, while Caitlin visits Julian about her powers.

Barry and Wally.

Okay, first things first, what really is the difference between Zoom and Savitar? Both are strange, inhuman seeming speedsters (please stop using speedsters as the main villains of your series, The Flash), who present a tangible physical threat to Barry but are usually unable to enter his world due to being from Earth-2 and/or being trapped in the Speed Force. Both even have silly names. The similarities are endless.

I ask this because it feels very much like we're retreading old ground here. Yes, the dynamic of 'let's change these specific events in the future' is an interesting one, with a lot of potential, but what does Savitar even bring to the storyline? Alchemy had the advantage that he could create metahumans, something we'd never seen a Flash villain do before, and it feels like it would have made for a better story if Savitar (or another speedster, just -- just not the Rival, please) was the underling, and Alchemy the big bad, utilising a combination of magic and metahuman powers.

At the moment, the only thing I can think that marks Savitar out from Zoom (who was substantively different from Thawne in that the threat from Zoom was always more physical, whereas Thawne was an intellectual threat) is that he's CGI, and I'm not even a hundred percent sure of that.

The gang's all here. And in formal wear, apparently.

As far as this episode goes, it's a bridging episode, but it's a pretty jam-packed bridging episode for all that. Plunder is not an especially compelling villain -- he's a criminal with a gun, most people in the US can find one of those by visiting their local police station -- but he fulfills the role of 'a physical obstacle that Barry and Wally must overcome and who kickstarts the emotional drama.' Instead, the main thrust of the plot comes from Barry's anxieties about the future, and HR's preoccupation with the soft open of the museum.

Barry's anxieties are actually handled pretty well here, as rather than mucking about with him keeping it a secret for half the arc, he tells everyone, and then they take solid action to avert it. See? That's not difficult. I'll even forgive the fact that nobody told Joe, because every show on the CW has to have a 'keeping a secret from loved ones' plot, apparently. It's also much more interesting than him keeping it a secret from everyone, as it ensures that the plot has a constant momentum forwards.

Plunder, who looks like a pirate. That's it, that's his gimmick.

HR's museum subplot, meanwhile, is chiefly used to underline the awkwardness and distance between the main cast. We do get a moment, however, where HR talks to Barry about changing the future, and we get to see a glimpse of our last two, much more likable Wells characters. The episode even ends on someone (is that Linda?) apparently hunting HR down, so maybe he'll turn out interesting after all. Or maybe not. The show has burned me before.

It's not the best episode the show has ever had, but it's a really solid start to its second act, and I'm interested to see where they take it from here. The next episode looks like it'll reveal that HR is a fugitive, although I'm not getting my hopes up for it to be anything other than a minor crime, or, like, a major one but one that has no impact on the heroes. Look, I remember the giant monster episode, I'm not getting my hopes up again.


  1. HR's crime is probably going to be something like dimension hopping.