If you want to see what I thought of the Flash mid-season premiere keep reading. If you just want to geek out over Barry and Iris new loft apartment jump down to “THE NITPICKS” section.
When last we left Barry and pals on The Flash, Barry had just seen Iris die at the CGI hands of Savitar in the future, I guess because now that Barry’s finally moved on from that big death in his past (sorry, Mama Allen) it’s time for him to go through the same drama just in the opposite direction (sorry, future Iris). Seeing your girlfriend die in the future has a way of putting the carpe back in your diem, though. As such, Barry skipped several milestones in his relationship with Iris by unilaterally buying her an apartment and springing a “let’s move in together” decision on her as a Christmas present. Alas, it worked. They kissed. The camera panned out the window. The more immature among us made “bow chicka wow wow” noises (to indicate all the sex Iris and Barry were about to have). And we moved on, all too familiar with the brutally long winter breaks taken by most CW shows.
Breaks over, bitches. The Flash is back! In the mid-season premiere “Borrowing Problems From the Future,” HR opened his STAR Labs museum, and no one came until Cisco felt bad and put in some calls to local schools. Caitlin successfully recruited Draco Malfoy Julian to Team Flash, partially out of the kindness of her heart since he shouldn’t be left to suffer through his Doctor Alchemy-related emotional trauma alone. Also, though, she really needs his help to keep her from eventually turning into Killer Frost because no one else on the team has his skillset (oh, wait, Barry) or depth of knowledge about metahumans (I guess he is technically the expert). Barry told Iris about his trip to the future, and then they told everyone else other than Joe. To prove to themselves that the future can be changed they let Kid Flash defeat the villain of the week even though the TV Barry saw in the future clearly stated that villain was defeated by The Flash.
Take that, space time continuum!
No, that’s no good. I can do better.
There truly is no fate but what we make for ourselves.
Ah, why am I quoting Back to the Future and Terminator at you? There’s no need for mantras from time travel-themed movies. This episode actually covered all of that when Barry asked HR about his time travel romance novels (which I honestly forgot was a thing HR was said to have written), specifically if HR is a believer in our ability to change our own future. He’s not, but that won’t stop Barry and Iris from trying.
Their plan? Keep changing everything they know to be true about the future so that the exact scenario which resulted in Savitar killing Iris won’t happen anymore because so many other variables will have been changed.
Wait, huh? What Barry saw was just one possible timeline, a timeline he’ll now work to prevent from happening. Thanks to the super-handy news ticker on the TV in the future he knows what to expect: there will be some kind of gorilla uprising in the city (thanks a lot, Grodd!), Killer Frost will be a villain on the loose and the STAR Labs museum will close. Team Flash’s mission is now to prepare for the gorillas, double their efforts to contain Caitlin’s powers and maybe put in some shifts at the museum to keep it afloat since it appears to only have 2 full time employees, HR and his pretty assistant who doesn’t speak any English.
So, their big plan to stop Savitar is to just keep nullifying the future and hope it somehow creates a new timeline in which they actually know how to defeat Savitar?
Sure, but don’t really think of it in those terms. Instead, think of it like this: the writers just laid out a structure for the second half of the season, turning all of this into a race against the future (suddenly getting flashes of Heroes season 1) in which the heroes already know most of the variables, at least the big ones. The big stories going forward will clearly be the looming return conflict with Grodd, Caitlin’s continued struggles with her powers, HR’s ongoing efforts at entrepreneurship, Kid Flash’s ascension and learning curve and the collective “we don’t want him to worry too much” secret-keeping from Joe.
The bigger question might be whether or not that sounds like a season worth sticking around for. I’m still not on board with the Jekly & Hyde thing they’re doing with Caitlin v Killer Frost since that’s simply not how metahuman powers seem to work for most anyone else on the show. HR’s always good for a laugh, particularly as the show lampshaded the complete lack of explanation for how he’s paying for the museum or, indeed, how anyone at STAR Labs has an actual income. I’m just about done with watching Kid Flash storm out of rooms when he doesn’t get his way (even if, in this case, Barry was being a total dick). And all the secret-keeping across the entire Arrowverse is getting old (Joe’s going to be so mad when he finds out).
More importantly, I don’t feel overly connected to the central challenge of the team needing to save Iris, my misgivings not due to the performance of the actors (Gustin and Patton were especially strong this week) but instead the overly familiar nature of it all. Three years ago, the sight of a young Barry Allen watching helplessly as a monster stabbed his mother in front of him was heartbreaking, a perfect childhood trauma to springboard him into a future as a superhero. However, it was almost too effective, to the point that the show kept revisiting it over and over and over again causing us to pull a Crazy Ex-Girlfriend and scream “Ok. I get it!”
Barry seeing a monster stab Iris is not quite the same. It’s something he can prevent from happening, not erase from history. Moreover, Iris is actually a party to all of the decisions that will be made on her behalf whereas Mama Allen never had a say in anything Barry did to save her. Still, it’s awfully familiar, not exactly the new territory the show thinks it is. Perhaps this was the next logical step. He traveled in the past to change things. Now, he’s traveled to the future and saw things he wanted to change. I’m just left wondering if we could maybe back off any time traveling on this show for a while.
However, prove me wrong, Flash. Prove me wrong. Watching the team try and likely fail to manipulate the future could be a lot of fun and more unique than I am giving it credit for.
OMG, that loft. We have to talk about that ginormous, vaulted ceiling, exposed brick loft apartment Barry and Iris now call home! How on Earth can Barry, a CSI who was recently fired and then re-hired, and Iris, a newspaper journalist with just two years on the job and no traditional qualifications for the job in the first place, afford to live there? At their housewarming party, just about everyone commented on the beauty of the loft, yet they kept stopping short, offering the compliment and then not following up with the obvious “How much are you paying per month?” Friends probably shouldn’t ask such a question, but Joe is parent to both of them. Surely, he’d want to take Barry aside and ask him some money questions.
Hey, Kelly. Um, you do remember this is a CW superhero show where the biggest plot of the moment invites the god of speed killing the hero’s girlfriend in the future, right? Why in the world do you care about their new place? You look at that space and you see dollar sings; the people making the show look at the space and they see the increased freedom of movement for the actors and crewmembers as well as all the places they can set up the lights. What photographs well on camera (look at how the coloring in the apartment subtly reinforces our association of red and white with Barry!) will always trump plausibility on shows like this. Beside, if you’re watching The Flash and worrying about how people are paying for apartments you’re probably not in the right frame of mind and/or age group to be watching The Flash.
But, fine, if you must ask don’t forget Barry has lived at home rent-free for the majority of the past two and a half years all the while working full-time as a CSI, a job which carries an average annual salary of $55K (nearly double that for CSIs who work for the federal government, but that’s not what Barry does). It’s entirely reasonable to think Barry had plenty of money set aside, more than enough to cover a down payment as well as to apparently furnish the apartment entirely on his own. For her part, Iris is probably still making a beginner’s salary of $35K at her newspaper, and at least check she never did finish that college degree (or graduate degree, I can’t remember) she was working on at the start of the show meaning her current student loan debt status is unclear. Still, she can probably kick in wherever possible, or at least contribute to the rent.
It’s also worth noting that according to THR the real world equivalent of Central City is Kansas City, Missouri, which was recently ranked as being the 9th easiest major US city to live in on just a $60K salary. There’s no chance in hell Barry and Iris are living in an apartment like that in New York, but in Kansas City, yeah, maybe (or at least it’s more plausible).