At the time ‘The Flash’ went on its mid-season break, I ended my last recap saying, “I just hope that the back half of the season isn’t dominated by Barry being mopey the way that Cisco was during the first half. “ Dammit, that’s exactly what happens as the show returns.
Barry is more mopester than speedster in episode ‘Borrowing Problems from the Future’. Now living in a new (absurdly huge and spacious) loft with Iris, he wakes up screaming every night due to nightmares about Savitar murdering Iris in the future. At first, he won’t tell her what’s wrong, but even Iris isn’t dumb enough to not notice. As a result of this, Barry is generally grumpy and irritable, and repeatedly snaps at Wally, who’s been shadowing him on his speedster missions in order to learn the superheroing trade.
The main plot of the episode concerns a new, eyepatch-sporting meta-human villain who uses futuristic weapons to rob banks and jewelry stores and such. Where he gets these weapons is never explained. H.R. makes a pirate joke and dubs him “Plunder” before Cisco has a chance to come up with a nickname. This greatly concerns Barry. In his trip to the future where he saw Iris die, Barry also watched a TV news broadcast about this Plunder guy escaping from prison. His appearance suggests that the chain of events leading to that future are already in motion.
While confronting Plunder during a hotel robbery, Barry hesitates, thinking that perhaps if he lets this guy go and never sends him to prison, he can change the course of the future. Unfortunately, Wally isn’t aware of any of this, and steps in to capture Plunder while Barry stands by. Wally is psyched at actually accomplishing something for the first time ever, but Barry is pissy at him about it and won’t tell anyone why.
Eventually, Barry brings Iris to the Time Vault room and shows her how the newspaper from the future now has a new byline on it. He explains to her that he saw Savitar murder her four months from now. Iris tries to remain optimistic about their chances of avoiding that fate, but Barry is much more doubtful. Iris then convinces him to tell everyone else (except Joe) what they know.
Hoping to learn more about what will happen in the future, Cisco vibes Barry back into a vision of what he saw. They take a closer look at the news broadcast and see a ticker scroll of other headlines, including the return of Killer Frost (uh oh!) and a gorilla attack on the city. When Barry witnesses Savitar killing Iris again, this time he sees H.R. on a nearby building roof with a rifle. He isn’t able to save Iris, but his new presence there suggests that the timeline can be changed.
The team devise a plan to alter all of the headlines Barry saw in order to disrupt the timeline as much as possible. When Plunder escapes captivity and robs a museum, Barry makes sure that Wally captures him in view of the public this time so that Kid Flash can take the credit and get the headline, not the original Flash. That’s one small step, but it’s something.
H.R. is very excited to open the S.T.A.R. Labs Museum. Unfortunately, nobody shows up to the grand debut. As anyone else could have told him, the people of Central City don’t want to be reminded of the reactor meltdown, much less celebrate it. This leads to some tension with the team, as Cisco in particular snaps at H.R. for being useless. However, after their adventures with Plunder, Cisco softens and not only helps H.R. work out the kinks with a glitchy hologram tour guide, he arranges for an elementary school to take a field trip to the museum in order to get the word out.
Caitlin worries that the special bracelets (which have pretty serious problems with battery life) Cisco whipped up to counter her meta-human abilities won’t be able to prevent Killer Frost from returning. Because he’s the foremost expert in meta-humans, she goes to Julian to ask for his help in getting rid of her powers. Still a dick, he refuses at first. Later, he apologizes and they have a talk about how they both suffer from “survivor’s guilt” due to what they’ve experienced. Caitlin invites Julian to come to S.T.A.R. Labs and join their team. He says that he’ll think about it.
Caitlin neglected to mention this to anybody else. When Julian comes around saying that he’ll accept the offer, Barry and the others have no idea what he’s talking about and are hesitant to welcome him into the fold. Caitlin brings them around. To show his worth, the first thing Julian does is whip up a solar-powered necklace to replace the problematic bracelets.
The episode ends with a teaser as a dimensional portal opens on a city street and a woman leaps through, carrying a hologram device that suggests she’s here to hunt down H.R.
I don’t have any specific complaints about the plot of this episode, but I could do without mopey Barry. ‘The Flash’ is at its best when it’s upbeat and fun. This ain’t that. The new storyline seems promising enough, I guess. I’d just like the tone of the show to lighten up a little… or a lot.