The Flash has officially returned to our screens, and as Barry and Cisco return to the future, a ton of plot hints were teased that set up Season 3's race against the clock. But can Team Flash save Iris from Savitar? And what will become of Caitlin? These are the questions that are now the driving force of #TheFlash Season 3, as the team try to control the events leading up to the drastic consequences of May 23rd, 2017.
"Borrowing Problems From The Future" didn't just set up the plot for the latter half of Season 3, it also introduced an alternate theory of time travel that The Flash — and the entire #Arrowverse — has operated on up to now. HR Wells explained that there are two theories of time travel: That the future can be altered, or that it is set in stone. So which one will turn out to be true?
Avoiding A Self-Fulfilling Prophecy
To be honest, it was rather foolish of Cisco to even ask Harrison if the future could be changed. The future is just another point in time, and if The Flash has proved nothing else it's that the Arrowverse timeline is far from set in stone. Barry himself has changed the timeline enough to know that the future is just as malleable as the present.
However, Cisco makes a good point: Even if the team do know exactly what's going to happen in the future, they don't know how everything will play out.
HR used the analogy of dominos, setting them up to cascade in a straight line. But the problem is, reality isn't just a straight line. Events effect other events in ways we can't possibly understand or predict — a better analogy would to be to fill an entire room with dominos, in an intricate and complex pattern that can't actually be seen until they've all fallen over.
As such, Team Flash's new mission seems impossible. Using headlines from the future, the team theorize that if they can prevent these particular events from occurring, they can disrupt the future enough to avoid Iris' death — and Caitlin's transformation into Killer Frost.
But as much as we can argue that the future isn't written yet, we already know that there are some fates that cannot be avoided, as the Legends of Tomorrow learned last year.
A Fixed Point In Time
The entire plot of #LegendsOfTomorrow Season 1 revolved around Rip Hunter's mission to save his wife and son from their deaths at the hands of Vandal Savage. The team traveled back and forth through time, trying to foil Savage's schemes in the hope that this would prevent him from gaining power in the future, and murdering Rip's family. Yet, the Legends failed time and again, and although this was later revealed to be because of the Time Masters' manipulations, the team also learned the harsh lesson that some events just cannot be altered.
In truth, Rip should have known this — he admitted that before he assembled the team, he kept returning to his family's deaths, trying to change time enough so that he could save them. While it's likely that he failed because the Time Masters wanted him to, there's another event within the Arrowverse that cannot be changed: The death of Laurel Lance in #Arrow Season 4.
As Rip explained to Sara in the Legends of Tomorrow Season 1 finale, saving Laurel would result in the deaths of everyone on Team Arrow. Any way these events played out, either Laurel died, or everyone did.
It's possible that we'll see a similar situation in The Flash Season 3 — that no matter how much Team Flash attempt to change the future, the vast intricate pattern of causality is simply out of their control.
And it seems likely that, even if Iris is saved, Caitlin will still become Killer Frost. These facts could be a similarly fixed point in time — in that, if these events don't happen, some other terrible event will occur.
In Season 3, Team Flash are playing with time in a way that they've never attempted before, and by attempting to save Iris and Caitlin, the team may bring an even worse consequence about. With all their alterations to the timeline, it's a miracle the Legends haven't already stopped Team Flash for causing time aberrations.