The Good: Good character moments, Moments of acting for the smaller scenes, Special effects
The Bad: Very basic and predictable plot, Some character inconsistencies that are weird
The Basics: The Flash returns in a fairly average way with "Borrowing Problems From The Future," which is more familiar than bad,
One of the real issues with the way network television operates is that it creates an inorganic format relative to the narrative. In other words, conceits like the "mid-season finale" have the unfortunate tendency to completely gut any momentum the season has, at least in the first run. The Flash got off to a rough start for its third season, but it was finally hitting its stride when it abruptly went on hiatus. The Flash returns with "Borrowing Problems From The Future" and it is tough to feel the sense of urgency that the show left off with.
"Borrowing Problems From The Future" picks up after "The Present" (reviewed here!), which had exposed the season's big villain and given Kid Flash a proper uniform (in addition to gratuitously bringing Mark Hamill back). The Flash also learned that Iris West is going to die in a few months when he was catapulted into the future and witnessed her brutal murder. Now back in the present, The Flash is tormented by that vision and wants desperately to change it.
Plagued by nightmares of Savitar killing Iris, Barry wakes up with her in their new apartment, still not talking about what is going on with him. The two have been living together for a month, with Barry training Wally and Dr. Snow getting more frustrated with the bracelets that keep her metahuman powers in check. When The Flash is called to a robbery in progress by Jared Morillo, Barry recognizes him from the future he witnessed and is caught off guard, which allows Morillo (Plunder) to shoot him with a weapon. Barry is hesitant to include Wally in training against Plunder and discovers he has reason to not want Wally in the field when someone videos their encounter.
While Dr. Snow tries to team up with Julian to find a cure to her metahumanity, Plunder is put in Iron Heights. H.R. tries to fix the problems with the S.T.A.R. Labs museum, while encouraging Barry. He is dismayed when no one shows up for the opening and the first people to step through the door are scared away by the malfunctioning holograms. When Julian joins The Flash team, Barry feels compelled to come clean to everyone about the grizzly future awaiting Iris in four months.
"Borrowing Problems From The Future" does a decent job of picking up all of the threads that have been dangling since The Flash went on hiatus, even the lamer ones. In the first act, H.R. continues his somewhat witless quest to open S.T.A.R. Labs to the public. While there is momentary amusement in the holographic Ciscos and their somewhat inevitable breakdowns, they prevent the main plot of "Borrowing Problems From The Future" from getting going.
There is something refreshing, however, to seeing Dr. Snow and Julian Albert developing a relationship. Far too often in shows like The Flash, villains are uncovered and heroes step up and the effects of things like people being entirely used by an adversary are just swept under the rug. The Flash does a decent job of exploring the after-effects and consequences of the actions of villains. It may be moody, but it has a realism to it that is fairly refreshing. Danielle Panabaker and Tom Felton play off one another exceptionally well and deliver a realism to their scenes that is refreshing to see in a super-hero work.
H.R. is presented in "Borrowing Problems From The Future" as something of a kook. He provides Barry with a very basic explanation of temporal paradox physics and the exposition from him is little more than presenting the question of whether or not the future can be changed. Given that Eddie eliminated Eobard Thawne from existence in the organic timeline, it seems strange that Barry would need the temporal lesson himself.
"Borrowing Problems From The Future" is a little scattered, which makes a little sense given that Plunder is hardly the most impressive adversary The Flash has ever faced. The character relationships - save H.R.'s plotline - are good and interesting, but the episode plods along more than it compellingly develops. This is a filler episode and hopefully, in the larger sequence of events of the season, it will evolve into a necessary piece. On its own, however, "Borrowing Problems From The Future" is fairly mediocre.
For other works where characters work to change the future, please check out my reviews of:
"Spacetime" - Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D.
Travelers - Season 1
"Father's Day" - Doctor Who
[Knowing that single episodes are an inefficient way to get episodes, it's worth looking into The Flash - The Complete Third Season on DVD or Blu-Ray, which is also a better economical choice than buying individual episodes. Read my review of the third season here!
For other television season and episode reviews, please visit my Television Review Index Page for an organized listing!
© 2017 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.