Season Three, Episodes Ten & Eleven — “Borrowing Problems from the Future”, “Dead or Alive”
By Jarrod Jones. It’s been a maddening journey for the cast of The Flash, hasn’t it? Jogging back and forth between being completely honest with each other and letting some random calamity justify them getting shady on a select member of the S.T.A.R. Kids. (This time around, it’s Detective Joe who’s in the dark about recent developments, despite the fact that “Detective” is his first name.)
Of course, calamities fall out of the sky all the time in The Flash (sometimes literally, like some giant, dying villain tree keeps shaking pissy metahumans loose all over the place). You’d think that Team Flash would have learned how to keep full disclosure at the forefront of their thinking at this point, seeing’s though secrets generally have a shelf life of approximately three episodes, and all is always forgiven once the big, adorable kitten is loosed from its big, adorable bag.
But then, there is a twenty-two episode season to consider, and season-long arcs would get solved within the course of a far more svelte ten episodes were it not for these filler subplots, and that simply would not do. (How else would T-Mobile let us know that taxes and fees are now included in their monthly service price, I ask you.)
The Season Three midseason premiere of The Flash, with the desperately clunky title “Borrowing Problems from the Future”, attempts to justify this increasingly ridiculous trope by sticking to its character-driven guns. Iris West is marked for death — or at least a possible death, spotted by Barry Allen during his Philosopher’s Stone-guided trip into the near future — so of course her new live-in boyfriend (and former adoptive brother — never forget) has to tell her that, while convincing her to keep this startling turn of events from her own father. “Oh, I love you Iris, and I’ll never forgive myself if you die because of me so keep it on the dl,” Barry kinda said. “Oh, that’s fine, I knew the risks of being your One True Love when I took the job,” being the jist of what Iris says in return. Aw.
These kids are in love the way Romeo and Juliet once fancied each other. What’s particularly convenient for this analogy is that both romances have always been doomed from the start, and not only has this inevitable tragedy been entirely obvious to their closest friends, guest-stars from the future keep showing up to remind everybody of precisely that. (Benvolio of Earth-7 kept on telling Romeo’s ass: “Dude, you’re gonna die you keep chasin’ after her, verily.“) And yet these adorable cherubs think that they can change the future to fit their ideas of destiny. (Though, if Iris does die, I don’t see Barry taking a big, ol’ chug-a-lug on a bottle of bleach in his grief.)
Savitar is the chrome-plated baddie who will purportedly do poor Iris in, but he’s been safely tucked away in some kinda multiversal labyrinth since the midseason finale last year, right? Nothing to fear, yes? Well, no. And to keep us perfectly aware that just about anybody could come crashing into our reality with little more than a “Hey, you gotta die” is Gypsy, a bounty hunter from Earth-19, here to rope the indefatigable H.R. Wells back home to face some alternate Earth justice. (The penalty for hopping over to other worlds? Death, naturally.) Wells’ ticket to freedom? A “Trial by Combat” between Cisco Ramon and the conspicuously receptive Gypsy.
Of course, Cisco could have demanded a “Trial by Wombat” and it wouldn’t have been any less ridiculous. But that’s the premise of “Dead or Alive”, a filler episode most notable for being the television debut of Vibe’s killer leather jacket, an acceptable Supergirl cameo (more of those are on the way, probably), and a brief and chilling glimpse at other Earths to come. (The Post-Flashpoint Cisco Ramon finally gets to throw down on an Earth’s surface that I can only describe as “Apokaliptic”.)
Wells-19’s new set of circumstances once “Dead or Alive” comes to a predictably congenial end doesn’t bode well for a guest appearance by the Harrison Wells of Earth-2 any time soon, but that’s probably for the best. All things considered he’d likely come packing a secret or two, most likely about his daughter Jessie Quick, who’d be constantly looking over his shoulder, all, “You talkin’ about me? Huh? Why do you people keep whispering in the hallway?”
“I say we send him to Keystone — we already have a Flash!” – Greg Grunberg, who’s just happy to be here.
“Slow down, there. Let’s just talk about this like two adults. Over coffee. Or dinner, if you prefer that; there’s a great Thai place up the road if you like Thai...” – Cisco, “negotiating” with Gypsy.
BEST MOMENT: Gypsy and Vibe do the Dimensional Tango. Let’s face it, neither of these two were really gonna hurt each other. Their inter-dimensional romp through Earths Prime, 2, 38, and Who The Hell Knows (see FLASH FACTS) was a lovely (and eye-popping) sequence for this burgeoning romance.
EPISODES’ MVP: Harrison Wells of Earth-19. It seems we’re stuck with Wells-19 for the foreseeable future, but a Flash without Tom Cavanagh is a Flash I’d probably end up skipping.
– Before you start snickering, “Bartholomew” is indeed Barry’s full name. And it just so happens to be the name of Barry’s son, also known as Bart Allen, also also known as Impulse, and then Kid Flash, and yes, finally, The Flash.
– I wish I lived in The Flash reality, where anybody can decorate entire homes and museums, the floors are always clean somehow, and everybody has money for cute clothes and a steady stream of coffee, even though they obviously don’t have paying jobs. (Save for Barry, Iris, and Det. Joe, of course. They’re workin’ folk.)
– If Greg Grunberg’s gonna be a recurring character on The Flash, somebody better start justifying his existence, and fast.
– The Electric Gang is indeed a part of Flash lore: they zapped their first Scarlet Speedster in The Flash #242, back in 1976. Deep cut.
– I dunno how comfortable I am in knowing that Wells-19 is a Nebula award winner, though somehow I’m not all that surprised.
– Iris’ attitude towards totality seems a bit flip: “I don’t ‘die’ for another four months.” *SHRUG*
– We discover the date of Iris’ date with destiny: May 23, 2017, which is probably when Season Three comes to an end this year. Meta.
– Future headlines to look forward to: “Killer Frost still at large”, “STAR Labs museum closes”, and my personal favorite, “City still recovering following gorilla attack”
– Miss Teschmacher (Andrea Brooks) and Earth-38 get squeezed into The Flash via a quickie Supergirl cameo during Vibe and Gypsy’s little multiversal roll in the hay.
– Speaking of Cisco and Gypsy’s brief tour of the multiverse, what was that volcanic Earth where they shared a little straddle action? Was it a future Earth, post-Darkseid? Speculate away in the comments section below. See you in two weeks, Flash Fans!
6.5 out of 10
Next: “Untouchable”, soon.
Before: “The Present”, here.