The Flash recap: A weird Valentine's Day ends with a twist
Iris remains at the center of The Flash’s story in the second episode of “Graphic Novel #2,” a.k.a. the latter half of season 6. Tonight’s silly-romantic episode, titled “Love Is a Battlefield,” dove into the ways Iris grew and changed (somewhat off-screen) during the first part of the season before throwing a major twist the audience that raises some questions about that growth.
“Love Is a Battlefield” picks up immediately where the midseason premiere left off, with Iris back at McCulloch. We see a dazed Iris pull herself up from the ground behind Eva McCulloch’s desk. The next thing we know, it’s morning and she’s making Barry an early Valentine’s Day breakfast. If you’ve been watching this show, then you know Iris is a terrible cook, so Barry braces himself. To his surprise, the food’s actually good (and now I’m craving pancakes, which is a whole other story). Little does Barry know, that’s not the only surprise she’ll throw at him in the episode.
Hoping to enjoy Valentine’s Day before whatever meta-of-the-week ruins thing, the couple heads to dinner at a fancy restaurant, where Iris shows off another new skill: She can speak Italian. Apparently, she simply picked up a phrase or two while working on a story. Alas, this is Central City, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise to learn that a meta interrupts their dinner — specifically Amunet Black.
The last time we saw Katee Sackhoff as the black and metal-loving meta was in season 4’s “Harry and the Harrisons” in which she briefly teamed up with Team Flash. This time around, it feels as though Sackhoff returned determined to chew even more scenery than she did last time — and I love it. There’s a menacing giddiness in her performance that feels like it was imported from Legends of Tomorrow, especially when she threatens to reveal Barry’s secret identity if he or any of his super-friends try to stop what she has planned, which involves stealing a briefcase from one of the restaurant patrons.
Because of Amunet’s threat, this is a fairly Flash-less episode of The Flash. But that’s okay because Iris feels more than up to the task of handling the legwork on this mission. First, she infiltrates a bar where Amunet used to hang in order to get some information on her whereabouts while an anxious Barry stays in the car (Chuck could never!). Things briefly go sideways at the bar and Barry starts yelling out their safe-word (banana!), but Iris ignores him over the coms and handles the situation and gets the info they need.
Cut to Barry and Iris sneaking into Ivo and witnessing Amunet steal some kind of container. Right as that happens another familiar face returns: Goldface, who was introduced in season 5. It turns out he and Amunet used to date, but now they’re enemies and are after the same thing. As the former lovers quarrel, Iris sneakily steals what the bad guys came here to steal.
In the wake of that theft-gone-bad, a gang war breaks out in Central City, except we never see any of it, presumably because of budgetary restrictions, which is a bummer. Nevertheless, Iris comes up with a plan to stop it: She wants to hand the device over to Amunet and try to bring this down from the inside because she thinks this gang war is really a personal conflict. Of course, Barry objects to this idea because it’s obviously risky. But Iris fights back and basically says she’s no longer Barry’s damsel in distress and accuses him of missing how much she’s grown in the past few months. While he was preparing to die in Crisis, she was busy preparing for life without him. As a fan of the couple, it’s hard to watch this fight, but man does Iris have a point. I love that the writers specifically had her say the phrase “damsel in distress” and have her own how much of a badass she is in her own right. Moreover, their fight was very reminiscent of the one Oliver and Felicity had when the former got out of prison in season 7.
Ignoring Barry’s wishes, Iris makes contact with Amunet, who is collecting all of this tech so she can steal a rare plant that would give her telepathic abilities. Amunet is suspicious of Mrs. Flash, but Iris convinces her to join forces by saying she wants the plant for herself so that she can read Barry’s mind and hopefully fix their marriage. Amunet gleefully agrees to let her in on the heist.
So Iris and Amunet break into yet another nondescript location to steal the plant. Of course, Goldface shows up and the two former lovers start bickering once again. After a heart-to-heart with Joe about he and Iris not connecting, Barry speeds onto the scene to support his wife. Iris tells Barry to burn the plant, which ends up releasing the powerful pollen into the air and allowing Amunet and Goldface to hear each other’s true thoughts. Spoiler alert: They still love each other. Look, this entire Amunet and Goldface thing was very unusual and silly for the Flash, but I kind of liked it because the show hasn’t really ever tried anything like it before.
With the day saved, Barry and Iris return home and share a tender embrace. As that happens, Iris looks in the mirror, on the other side of which is the real Iris yelling at Barry that the woman he’s kissing isn’t the real her. So, it seems as though Iris didn’t make it out of the mirror and is still trapped, which raises some questions about who this Iris is. Is it Eva McCulloch pretending to be Iris? Is it some part of Iris, like her id? I hope it’s the latter, because any other answer would undercut the episode’s earlier emphasis that Iris underwent some major growth in the first half of the season. Furthermore, part of me wishes that The Flash had shorter seasons so that it didn’t need a filler episode like this. Imagine if this Iris plot was revealed at the top of the hour and part of the fun was seeing what that meant — like if we just got to the thing instead of stalling until the end of the episode.
It’s worth noting that Iris isn’t the only one who saw a mirror version of herself in the episode. Toward the end of the hour, Nash Wells briefly sees a bespectacled Harrison Wells in the crowd at Jitters, but the latter quickly disappears. What does it mean? I have no idea, but I would love to see Tom Cavanagh play original flavor Harrison Wells again.
Wall of Weird:
- In the episode’s C plot: Frost helps Allegra with her relationship woes. Things go badly, and Frost starts pitying herself because she feels like she hasn’t learned anything about humans in the past few months. But some advice from Nash allows her to help Allegra strike up a friendship with her ex.
- LOL at everyone calling Barry’s costume a onesie.
After the success of Arrow, Barry Allen (a.k.a. the Flash) gets his own CW treatment in this comic-themed spin-off.