It’s the week of Valentine’s Day, and where the holiday manufactured to boost consumerism often brings about smiles and good times, for some, it’s a bit less cheerful. In Central City, Barry and Iris find that it can be both. After escaping from the strange mirror in Eva Carver’s office at McCulloch Tech, there’s something decidedly different about Mrs. West-Allen.
Far from it being a negative, the Iris we get this week may be the finest rendition of the character yet, displaying a drive and confidence she’s lacked throughout her tenure in The Flash. That’s not to say she’s been the weeping willow, damsel in distress stand-in of the first couple seasons, either. In fact, I’ve been pleasantly surprised at Iris’s growth this past year but even that was nothing compared to what we get of her in “Love is a Battlefield” and though it appears as if she’s the same Iris West-Allen that Barry went to bed with, it’s The Flash and even without that final shot, we know changes like this don’t happen overnight without a bit of tomfoolery involved.
“I’ve grown, Barry. And I’m really proud of the person that I am today. I just wish you felt the same way, too.”
For the second straight week, Barry plays second fiddle to Iris as she once again shines in the spotlight. It’s not just the obvious growth of seen in her actions but how she verbalizes it, espousing many of the issues I’ve had with her character over the years (albeit due to the writers not necessarily knowing where to lead her arc) to Barry. “I don’t need you to save me,” she tells him at one point and, despite Barry doing just that towards the end, I empathize with her.
Barry’s so used to her being the “cheerleader” on comms that he hasn’t given Iris’s impressive rise as a reporter and power behind The Citizen the respect it deserves. Some may see Iris’s rant as a negative but, as someone who’s criticized her character on a regular basis, I couldn’t help but be proud of Iris reminding Barry that she nearly as much to contribute to their city as he does. She goes about proving this in some decidedly un-Iris ways; throwing herself in danger at a local crime bar before daring to team-up with Amunet Black (Katee Sackhoff, Battlestar Galactica, Longmire) to help stop the meta and her ex, Goldface (Damion Poitier, Divergence, Triple Frontier) from tearing up the city in a heartbreak-induced gang war.
The parallel between Iris and Barry’s communication issues to that of Amunet and Goldface was the perfect Valentine’s disaster. Cringy accent or no, the joy Sackhoff exhibits in this role always makes Amunet’s appearance on the show a treat. And though Poitier lacks Sackhoff’s charisma, the two play off one another so well that the patently ridiculous fight between the two and their gangs is right at home in an episode focused on the navigational complexities of the relationship game. Here’s hoping that we see more of the Amunet/Goldface ‘ship—though now that they’re back together and reading one another’s minds, I’m not sure just how much drama we’ll be seeing between these two lovebirds.
With Dr. Light out of sight and the travails of love firmly established as this week’s ethos, “Love is a Battlefield” was very nearly a one-shot, albeit one with solid advice on relationships of love, romantic or otherwise. Yet there was that last moment of Iris hugging Barry that firmly disabused that one-shot notion. All the positive changes I wanted to attribute to Iris seems to be a façade, as we catch sight of the “real” Iris trapped on the other side of the mirror. This assuredly will tie-in to Carver and McCulloch but, until then, we’re left to wonder if the best Iris West-Allen that we’ve gotten in The Flash will soon be nothing more than a wistful memory.
- While the A-story was focused on Barry and Iris, Frost and Allegra headed up the B-side. Trying to emulate Ralph’s help in making her a better person, Frost sees Allegra as the perfect canvas which to work her relationship magic. When it inevitably goes awry, Nash gives Frost advice on how life is lived in the grays, advice which she’s successful in delivering to Allegra. After thanking him, Frost casually mentions that his advice was very “parental”. Though he declines her offer to talk, it’s only a matter of time before we get the truth behind his relationship with an Allegra from another Earth.
- Adding to the good advice column, Joe reminded us that he’s still the top dog when it comes to words of wisdom. The analogy he gives Barry on the similarities in the growth of a tree to that of a relationship was perfect in both imagery and delivery. Thank the writers for the former and Jesse L Martin for the latter. It’s so good having him back full-time now after his unfortunate injury last season because The Flash ain’t The Flash without Joe West.