Spoilers ahead for "Borrowing Problems From the Future," the latest episode of The CW’s The Flash.
The short version: Barry and Cisco vibe back to the future to look for hints on how to save Iris; Barry and Wally take down fairly recent DC Comics baddie Plunder; and the gang believes the future can be changed.
The good: The ticking clock, Iris' breakdown, the new-look Julian
Heading into the back half of the season, "Borrowing Problems" did a fantastic job of setting the stakes and really providing a framework for where the season will be going next. We have the lingering mystery of how the heck Savitar comes back to kill Iris in four months, plus all the details from the handy-dandy TV news scroll.
More than any other season, this one really feels like it has momentum and a fixed point (literally) it will be working toward. For a show that has meandered from time to time, that's a breath of fresh air. We get to see Barry and Iris happy for the first time ever, but it all has such a sense of inevitable dread hanging over it. It's drama, but darn good drama.
Candice Patton got a lot to do in this episode, and her version of Iris West took full advantage. The scene where Barry tells her about the future is heart-wrenching as she breaks down in tears and asks how long she has left. Iris is tough as nails, and we haven't really seen her show those type of emotions very often. It was handled perfectly, and, true to her strength, she was soon refocused and ready to change her fate. An A+ episode for Iris, which is saying something, considering they've struggled to keep her busy in the past.
After the gang seemingly saved Julian from Savitar's influence, he was a big ol' dangling plot thread just hanging from the midseason. Now we know what's next for Julian: He’s joining up with Team Flash. Considering he's an expert on metahumans, it makes sense they'd want him on the team (not to mention the fact he might actually help out Barry and cover for him now that he knows he's the Flash instead of being a tattletale to the captain). After starting out like nails on a chalkboard, Julian has come a long way as a character. Having him fight for redemption on Team Flash might not be a bad next step.
The bad: The STAR Labs museum, Gren Grunberg's cop is a tool, Plunder blunder
It makes sense they'd need some way to make money at STAR Labs in the long term, but they're literally using the place as a base of operations for a superhero. Is it really wise to have tours coming in and out throughout the day? Will people not eventually start to notice The Flash zipping around the place all the time and put the pieces together? Yes, they need some type of front, but why not reposition the place as a think-tank operation and keep it small? Anything other than opening it up to the public — that just feels like a really bad idea for a secret hideout.
Hey, it's Greg Grunberg! The fan favorite genre star has been recurring this season as a grizzled detective on the Central City PD, and he really has it out for Kid Flash, apparently. Which is kind of dumb, considering Flash and Kid Flash literally just saved him from certain death. He really seems like he only exists to create conflict, which is lame, because Grunberg is awesome. Give the dude some better material.
Bringing in the fairly recent Flash comics rogue Plunder as the baddie of the week was a fun move, but he really only existed to pull the trigger of a sweet sci-fi gun that eventually wound up in the hands of Team Flash (you just know that thing will come back into play down the line, right?). Yes, the episode had a lot going on already, but it would've been nice for Plunder to at least get a bit more motivation. Dude comes off as a second-rate Deadshot. Also, where the heck did he get that awesome gun in the first place?
Lingering questions: THERE ARE A LOT
Barry and Cisco score a treasure trove of Easter eggs thanks to the newscast, and here they all are, in case you missed any (with our annotations): The Music Meister gets six-figure book deal (teasing the upcoming Supergirl musical crossover); Joe West honored at city hall (good for you, Joe!), Luigi's opens after murder (no clue, but it'll certainly come into play in a future case of the week); Killer Frost still at large (well, that's not good); STAR Labs museum closes (told you that was a bad idea); and city still recovering from gorilla attack (it sounds like Grodd's return does a good bit of damage). In a lot of ways, this is basically just an elaborate preview for the back half of the season. Which is obvious, but it's so darn fun I just don't care.
Caitlin is still struggling with her Killer Frost tendencies, and with the power-inhibitors not cutting it, she now has a solar-powered necklace to help keep the icy beast at bay. Hopefully bringing Julian into the fold can turn the tide. So, was that woman in the stinger scene an inter-dimensional bounty hunter searching for H.R.? Okay, yeah, we'll be back next week. Barry was a major A-hole to Wally, but after realizing he wanted to let Plunder go to change the timeline and save Iris, it was kind of sweet. But c'mon, man, don't take it out on Wally. He's doing a good job! Wally's making progress quickly and you have to wonder how long until he might get his own shot at rocking the red suit himself.
Lines of the night:
"I think a man often meets his destiny on the very road he takes to avoid it." -H.R.
"My last team was murdered by Savitar." -Julian
Next week: H.R. is a fugitive and Cisco is in a battle to the death.