The Flash: Season 3 Episode 10 review – Borrowing Problems from the Future
This review contains spoilers.
As we dropped away into the Christmas hiatus with ‘The Present’, I felt like The Flash‘s third Season 3 was reacquiring its form a little; regaining some much needed quality as we head into the back half of the season. This week’s return felt a little like the show has slipped back into its former errors, in everything except for its discourse on time travel.
Where this week’s strengths laid were in HR and Barry’s debates about the nature of time travel and whether is it possible to alter the future. HR (using his wonderful fiction for his basis) explained that there are two schools of thought; those who feel that time is fixed and cannot be altered, and those who feel that the future is always changing and is therefore changeable. HR firmly falls in the former camp, elegantly stating that “a man often meets his destiny on the very road he takes to avoid it”, which he borrowed from 17th century poet Jean de La Fontaine (presuming he existed on HR’s Earth), whose phrasing was like so:
A person often meets his destiny on the road he took to avoid it.
I’m a big fan of TV writers using classic philosophy or literature as plants in shows, as a way of both showing the audience where their inspiration stems from, and as a way of telling the audience: “this is worth investing your time in reading and you will find that it relates to our show”. LOST did this endlessly and was always the best at achieving this. The Leftovers does this too. In this episode of The Flash the writers were smart in not stating the source of the quote; instead it is up to keen viewers to research and find out for themselves where this originates from, and that always makes for layered TV that cares about the intellectual curiosity of its fans.
LOST of course held the stance “whatever happened, happened”, meaning the future is fixed and you cannot change it (in the context of the show, these characters had time-traveled to the past and were attempting to alter the future). Although I believe in the fixed future philosophy, it’s nice to have a show that explores the opposing theory; that the future is alterable. Ignoring the fact that this has already been proven by Flashpoint, our characters proved this theory once more this week, by succeeding in changing what a news headline reads in the future. The headline now reads that Kid Flash captured Plunder, rather than The Flash, proving that future events can be altered through action.
It’s a small change, but it’s progress and crucially it indicates that Iris’s death can be averted. Which itself very much echoes the tone of this very low-key episode; there is potential for this season to swing back around and end on a high, but there’s also a chance that it will end as it seems like it is going to – in poor quality.
Greg Grunberg reared his head this week, who is known for appearing in all of JJ Abrams’ ventures (though The Flash has nothing to do with JJ) and who can currently be founding co-hosting the glorious nerd show Geeking Out, with Kevin Smith and Tiffany Smith (which is currently on hiatus). The only tenuous link I can see here is that Kevin Smith has now directed two episodes of The Flash, so maybe he got Grunberg in that way, or perhaps Greg simply has many friends in the nerd world (he certainly seems to) and got in through some other channel. Either way, it was an appreciated cameo for those or us who enjoy Geeking Out and a regular dose of Grunberg.
One question likely on your minds is who was it jumping out of the portal at the end of the episode, holding a hologram of HR? That was a character called Gypsy (AKA Cynthia “Cindy” Reynolds), who first appeared in the comics in Justice League of America in 1984 and who you’ll see more of next week in ‘Dead or Alive’. She has cross-dimensional powers, comes from Earth-19 and clearly has her sights set on finding HR. Co-showrunner Aaron Helbing also teased that her appearance will leave a romantic impact on Cisco. He also stated that she is far more advanced than Vibe and will be a very formidable adversary for the team.
I enjoyed this week’s time travel discourse, but not much else. Plunder was rather dull and we’ve seen Caitlin wrestle with her abilities too often now. Almost as often as we’ve seen someone berate Wally for rushing into battle too hastily. It’s all rather repetitive at this stage and lacking any truly meaty content or hooks. It’s not too late for this season to swing around, but I fear it will end as it continues to proceed; aggravatingly mundane and lacking in greatness.
Image credits: The CW