Fresh from its winter break, The Flash picks up a couple of months after Zavitar’s demise. While most of Team Flash has been able to move on from those events, Barry can’t shake the feeling of impending doom. It most likely has to do with his consistent nightmares of Iris’ death. But there’s no way he’ll try and alter the future, right?
The present is bright and hopeful; Wally is learning the ways of the speed force and excelling. H.R. has been working on the Star Labs museum, and it’s nearly ready to open. Barry and Iris have been peacefully living together for at least a month. …Or as peaceful as they can with Barry’s nightmares. He hasn’t shared what he saw that night and is keeping it to himself. Which is good– why worry Iris with something you can’t change?
The reality is, not everything is running so smoothly for everyone on Team Flash. Caitlin, for example, is having difficulty with her power dampening cuffs. They run out of power because she won’t charge them, terrified of what might happen if she takes them off. She turns to Julian for help, and in turn offers her shoulder if he needs to talk about his guilt regarding his time as Doctor Alchemy. He refuses and hurries her along, cutting off her last hope of getting rid of her powers.
No one on this team can keep secrets hidden for long. While Barry wants to protect Iris from the future, a new villain named Jared Morillo shows up to rock his world. Especially when H.R. calls him Plunder for his similarities to a pirate. Barry remembers the headline from the future; Jared Morillo, aka Plunder, was captured by the Flash and found guilty. Uh oh, looks like we’re on our way to the future where Iris dies. At least that’s what Barry is convinced of. His mood drops as the stress piles on, immediately taking it out on Wally who he demands to stay off this one.
Barry wants to fix this himself, but we all know how terribly that can go. He seems to think this as well as he reaches out to H.R. for advice, masking it in a question about his scientific romance novels. Is the future fixed, is it not fixed? H.R. believes it’s set: no matter what you do, your path will lead to where you’re supposed to be. Not exactly helpful for Barry whose mood takes an even deeper dive.
It leaves him in a terrible mood as Plunder makes another appearance. While he narrowly escapes his light gun, Barry hesitates in capturing Plunder when the chance comes up. If it weren’t for Wally being nearby he would have been injured, if not worse. The capture is a boost for Wally’s self-confidence, which is sorely needed after Detective Patterson tore down Kid Flash for being useless. The whole team celebrates him helping Barry, except for Barry himself who lashes out and undoes all of that. Tensions are high until H.R. breaks it with the reminder that museum opening is that night.
Apologies are often taken for granted, but it’s a huge step when someone like Julian reaches out and admits he’s wrong. He was a jerk and admits fault for it, taking out his guilt on Caitlin (even if she did kidnap him) is not the way to go. Caitlin may be Julian’s best way to heal– she understands what it’s like to not be in control of your actions and hurt others. She offers Julian a spot on Team Flash, to do good when he had hurt and killed so many before. While he’s reserved, it’s obvious he considers it.
Julian probably didn’t want to seem too eager to join Team Flash, but he arrives the night of the museum opening to accept the invitation to the team’s surprise. It’s a big surprise because Caitlin never mentioned it to anyone. It’s not the best time; the opening is a failure and Cisco, annoyed by the distraction, reminds H.R. he’s useless– which is why it failed. Caitlin makes a case for him, but the team needs time.
Barry cracks and tells Iris everything that happens in the future. I feel so sorry for her, to take on that burden knowing she’ll die in four months. It helps Barry a lot, who is suddenly optimistic by the whole ordeal and is confident he can change the future.
At Iris insistence, they tell the team– except Joe who we all know would have a meltdown if he knew of Iris’ impending death. Wally doesn’t feel right about it, he’s quite shaken up by the news and needs time. Who doesn’t? At least this explains why Barry was so nasty about capturing Plunder. It was a headline he read that only seemed to cement the future is inevitable. To Cisco’s credit, he steps up and offers to take Barry into the future to read more headlines they can alter.
Pause: what happened to not messing with the timeline? Going into the future is still time traveling!
Everyone ignores how terrible of an idea obsessing over the future is and goes along with it. If the team finds out what the future headlines are, there is a chance they can alter it. One sign they’re affecting the future is H.R. being on the roof above Savitar; rifle pointed right at him.
The headlines are depressing; Killer Frost on the run, Star Labs museum closing. How do they expect to change these?!
Before the team gets a chance to come up with a game plan, Wally returns with news of Plunder’s escape. It gives Barry an opportunity to apologize to Wally about how much of a dick he’s been. While Wally could’ve guessed the stress of knowing Iris’ death might be coming true would explain Barry’s sudden outburst, good on Barry for being the bigger man.
With Barry’s encouragement, Wally knows he has to take down Plunder. Not only to help alter the headline but because he has to step into his own as a hero. If this team up is a sign of things to come, we’re in for a fun season of fights. Despite not knowing each other very long, Wally and Barry move well together and compliment each other’s speed. Which is why Wally quickly captures Plunder to the cheers of Central City around him.
The reality of the future has the team striving to be positive. Cisco helps H.R’s museum by attracting a bunch of visitors from the local school. Even Caitlin gets a breath of hope when Julian arrives with a solar powered power dampening necklace to replace her cuffs. Both are a stark contrast to the headlines they saw in the future.
With hope alive, the team meets at Barry and Iris’ loft to celebrate their house warming. It’s a testament to their mission of preventing Iris’ death, and with Julian now officially on Team Flash, they will certainly make sure that won’t happen.
Or so we hope– not too far away a woman in black appears out of a portal with H.R.’s image in a hologram and she seems pleased. This can’t bode well.
With Team Flash collectively messing around with the future, I can’t see this ending well even if they prevent Iris’ death. There is always a cost to pay for someone’s life, and I’m afraid it’ll be someone else on the team who suffers as she did.