The Flash: Season 3 Episode 10 review – Borrowing Problems from the Future

By ·January 25, 2017 5:09 pm

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.

Barry took on a tutoring role in this episode, as Wally shadowed Barry’s activities as The Flash.

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.

We returned to the romanticised apartment setting this week, as Barry and Iris invited friends and family over for a flat warming.

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

Written by Christopher Hart

Lead Writer and Copywriter

Chris is a Copywriter for a major bank. He an MA in Publishing and a BA in Comparative Literature. He's also a self-published author (Altered Stone).

His areas of interest include LOST, The Leftovers, The Prisoner, Y: The Last Man, Supergirl, Wonder Woman, BioShock, Supergiant Games and Josh Malerman.

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  1. 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.
    I appreciated that line as you did; it’s a well-known line. But, Barry discussing time travel with H.R. was laughable. If it was just venting, that would be understandable but H.R. is not a scientist even if his world is more advanced. I loved the line, I loved how H.R. said it but it wasn’t a great scene.

    You spent more time discussing Grunberg, Lost and Gypsy than you did the actual episode. I think you meant reared and not rearer. You might want to fix that.

    Caitlin admitted to Julian that she tortured a man, that she almost killed her friend but you think she’s wrestling too much with her powers. That’s a baffling statement. It’s not merely about her powers but what she becomes when she’s fully connected to them. She turns into a monster and as a person who cares deeply about ethics, she’s frightened. It’s believable that she wants to curtail them as much as possible.

    The intro is changed. Barry didn’t sit on his secret for six episodes, Grant and Candice did great work in the time vault scene, the sense of family was reinforced which is memorable given how fractious it’s all been, Julian has joined Team Flash and Kid Flash has gone public. There was meat in this episode even if it didn’t suit your palate.

    1. author staff

      Hi John

      Although HR is not a scientist and Barry essentially went to a master of fiction for advice, the wisdom that HR imparted was true and wise (otherwise we’re calling Fontaine a fraud too). I see the flaw in asking a man of fiction about temporal physics, but the one thing that an author tends to be is well read. And perhaps it’s better for Barry to get the view of a man who views things broadly and objectively for once, rather than being lost in the details of the science. An odd person to choose, perhaps, but still a great scene from my standpoint.

      The little links, nods and easter eggs are what some read these reviews for. We all watched the same story unfold, but not everyone perhaps realised who Grunberg was or who the woman at the end is. It’s my job to highlight above and beyond what most absorbed.

      With the Caitlin point, I meant the writers are having it drag out a little too long now, not that Caitlin herself shouldn’t be wrestling with her powers, which of course, is perfectly natural.

      I’m happy too that Barry didn’t sit on his secret for six episodes, but the very fact that you mentioned that as a positive perhaps reinforces the fact that flaws have been plaguing the show this season.

      It’s all opinion, ultimately. I’m glad this episode worked for you, but for me personally, it wasn’t the return I was hoping for.