“You know what makes a great speedster? It isn’t their speed. It’s being a light that everyone needs when the world grows dark. It’s the kind of person they are; the kind of person that always wants to help. That’s why being the Flash is your destiny. It’s your way of helping others. But it isn’t mine.”
Well, folks, it finally happened.
Iris West-Allen is a speedster…for a day (or two).
After tracking down bus meta Matthew Kim after he thwarted a bank robbery, Iris and Joe fail in winning the new meta to their side. In a very head-scratching moment, he puts a scalpel to Iris’s neck—this despite Joe showing his CCPD badge. For someone talking about doing good for the city, it’s a senseless plot device to force Iris to call Barry in who, after pushing Kim away from his woman, gets his powers sapped and transferred to Iris.
Make no mistake, even with the Matthew Kim and Harry’s building a Thinking Cap subplot (more on that in a bit), this episode is all about Iris. But it’s not just a story about her being a speedster. Yes, she does some pretty awesome things—including saving people from a burning building and creating a massive tidal wave to douse a fire meta’s column of flame—but the heart of the story is Iris finding the person that she used to be. When a terrified Ralph calls her out for staying behind, never putting her life on the line, Iris can’t dismiss the criticism because, in a way, she feels it too. It’s why she initially went out to speak with Matthew Kim (aka Melting Point) in the first place and, despite nearly dying in that building fire, she still goes out at the end to confront the new fire meta. She even tells Barry that, as a reporter, she had once been fearless; putting her life on the line for the important story. After the Savitar events and Barry’s disappearance, she feels as if she’s lost some of that daring. Her point is not just for drama’s sake, but one many people can understand. How many times has someone, faced with a heartbreaking trauma, lost something that once made them special? Someone who was always raring to go now hesitates during conflict or stress…when that barrier is erected it’s a difficult thing to fight through. But Iris braves the literal fire of uncertainty and faces it head-on. It’s a turning point to her character, one that will strengthen both her and Team Flash.
Between Iris’s awesome training time, flubs, and finishes as a speedster, Harry has finally come across a way to combat DeVoe’s intelligence by embracing the old adage “if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em”. He creates his own thinking cap and gains the initial buy-in from everyone except Cisco. Considering this is the best idea anyone has had to combat the mad genius, it’s a curious stance Cisco takes and yet he makes a very poignant argument. Clifford DeVoe was originally a gentle man, one who wanted nothing more than to change the world. A thinking cap and an infusion of dark matter and the guy has become a sociopathic monster. Harry already has his own issues of rage so the possibility of undergoing a similar transformation is not out of the realm of possibility. Eventually, Cisco relents, with the caveat being no dark matter infusion. Turns out that the thinking cap works—Harry gives Iris the clue to beating the fire baddie at the end—but if it’s enough to even things as it pertains to the battle against DeVoe, we’ll have to wait and see.
Though—bonus!—Harry identifies the final two bus metas. Janet Petty and Edwin Gauss. Maybe the tables have turned after all.
- While it was great to see Iris confronting her fears, it was disappointing to see Ralph revert back to that scared, ‘I just need to watch out for me’ attitude. Sure, he’s still evolving as a hero but it seemed as if he’d cleared the Ralph against the world hurdle a few episodes back. At least he and Iris made amends and maybe her confessions about her own experience with fear will re-spark the hero within him.
- The Harry/Cisco dynamic is such a fun partnership. The two genius scientists jib and jab at one another like rival teens. And yet there is no doubt they care deeply for one another. Cisco’s initial objection to the thinking cap is because he fears that Harry will lose himself in the same way DeVoe did. Now that Harry’s neurons are all fired up, we’ll have to wait and see if the Earth-2 Wells is the same snarky and emotionally charged brain or more detached…it will be a sad time if it’s the latter.
- One thing we can never forget is that The Flash is not just about Barry Allen. It never has been. It’s about friendship and family, doing what’s right in the face of danger and, at its heart, about the bond between Barry and Iris. She has encouraged and inspired Barry more times than I can count so naturally it was Barry’s turn to do the same. When doubting her ability to create the tidal wave at the end (and how cool was that!) it’s Barry’s voice Iris hears, reminding her that she is fearless, that she can do it and, most importantly to “Run, Iris, Run!”. Such a powerful reminder of the show’s heart in a few lines of dialogue.