The Flash recap: For Barry and Iris, the truth literally hurts
Barry and Iris have been in the dark about very important aspects of their lives since The Flash returned from its midseason hiatus. Barry had no idea his wife was replaced by a Mirror-version of herself after the midseason premiere, and Iris failed to realize that Eva McCulloch has been lying and manipulating her this entire time. Thankfully, that all changed in tonight’s episode, which delivered one very interesting surprise.
“Liberation” picks up with Barry, Cisco, and Ralph testing out their artificial Speed Force for the first time. Ralph expresses some concern about building something based on the notes of history’s most villainous speedster, which is a fair point; however, I’m even more concerned that none of them seemed particularly concerned about anything else that could go wrong when they turn it on. I mean, the last time the Speed Force was big banged into existence (in the pilot), it also turned Central City’s citizens into metahumans. Luckily, they don’t have to worry about that too much because their artificial Speed Force fails.
From there, Barry throws himself into his other problem: Figuring out what’s up with Iris. After she kicked him out in last week’s episode, Barry realized that something wasn’t right. Since that epiphany, he has gone full Carrie Mathison in Joe and Cecile’s living room to figure out what happened to his wife, as Cecile discovers when she comes home after visiting Iris at the Citizen. At first, Cecile seems skeptical but Barry’s conviction convinces her to believe him.
So Barry and Cecile sneak into Iris’ office and find the photo Kamilla took of Mirror-Iris a few weeks ago because it was saved to the Citizen’s server before it got deleted. With that proof in hand, Barry, Cecile, and Nash lure Mirror-Iris to the cortex and confront her with a device that's supposed to reveal if she's not from this dimension. When the device fails to prove Barry right, Mirror-Iris takes it and uses it on him. To everyone's surprise, Barry's hands start glitching, which convinces Cecile and Nash that he's actually the imposter and they imprison him in the pipeline. It's not long before a flashback reveals that Eva found out about Barry's plan and used her mirror powers to switch his device with one that would turn the team against him.
After narrowly escaping being discovered, Mirror-Iris rendezvous with her siblings, Mirror-Kamilla and Mirror-Singh, at A.R.G.U.S. to complete the next step in their plan to free Eva from the Mirrorverse: Acquiring a drop of Ramsey Rosso’s creepy blood. Cue a truly surprising guest appearance from Sendhil Ramamurthy, who delightfully chews the scenery from inside his high-tech cell. The Mirror Trio offers to help Ramsey escape in exchange for his blood, but he chooses to stay right where he is because he’s playing “the long game.” I don’t know what that means, but I’m a fan because I like the fact that the show is trying to connect both halves of the season.
The Mirror-Trio’s encounter with Bloodwork also added some surprising depth to Mirror-Iris. During their tense conversation, Mirror-Iris reveals that she secretly wants to be alive and doesn't like being a slave to Eva's will. Giving Mirror-Iris a goal outside of merely serving Eva makes her even more compelling, especially as the show heads toward a big confrontation between her and Barry.
Meanwhile, over in the Mirrorverse, Iris finally learns that Eva’s been lying to her this entire time after she discovers a secret room behind the giant mirror that contains mirror recordings of everything that’s happened since Iris got trapped. Unfortunately, that knowledge also causes Iris an immense amount of physical pain, which gives Eva the opening to subdue her.
Back in the real world, Cecile frees Barry from the pipeline because she senses something isn't right with Iris. Barry speeds home in time to see Mirror-Iris throw Bloodwork’s goo on the mirror, which will destabilize the barrier between dimensions and allow Eva to travel between them. While the blood does its work, Barry goes head-to-head with his wife’s evil doppelgänger, whose arms turn into mirror swords in one of the show’s coolest visuals. Unfortunately, Barry is no match for her without his speed, and Mirror-Iris uses the apartment’s many mirrors to draw blood and eventually bring him to his knees. The shot of Mirror-Iris' arm-swords piercing Barry's sides as glass rains down on him is truly stunning. Plus, I loved Mirror-Iris telling Barry he needs to mind his surroundings, which is a lesson Oliver Queen tried to teach him way back in season 1.
Eva and Iris watch all of this go down from the Mirrorverse. At one point, Eva lets slip that her Mirror-babies feel everything she feels and vice-versa, so Iris decides to cause Eva some emotional distress by accusing her of still loving her husband. Mirror-Iris starts fritzing as Eva’s anxiety grows, and Barry pleads with her to choose herself instead of doing what Eva wants her to do. So, Mirror-Iris frees Barry and tells him to go save Iris right before she explodes into many pieces of glass.
Unfortunately, Barry was too badly wounded in the fight to go anywhere. Instead, Eva recovers and finally steps through the mirror and into the real world. Before heading off to kill her husband and “liberate” the whole world, she threatens to kill the real Iris, Singh, and Kamilla if Barry gets in her way. So, Barry passes out as Eva exits stage right. When he later comes to several hours later, he crawls over to the mirror and, even though he’s not sure Iris can hear him, promises that he’ll find her. Coincidentally, Iris says something similar on the other side of the mirror, too. What a sweet and poignant note to end this wild episode on.
Wall of Weird:
- I forgot to mention this above, but Candice Patton killed in tonight's episode. Her Iris and Mirror Iris performances were incredibly moving. She's having quite an amazing season all around.
- While all of this drama was going on, Cisco and Ralph visited Caitlin, who was busy recovering from her battle with Sunlight. Unfortunately, they discover that she’s in an ice coma because her powers couldn’t heal the light-wound. Thankfully, Cisco is able to shock her awake. Caitlin tells them they need to ask her mother for help.
- Danielle Panabaker, who recently gave birth, was quite pregnant at this point in the season, so that’s likely one of the reasons she was underneath a big blanket in this episode.
- What is Ramsey’s long game?
- Barry briefly considered an alien shapeshifter could’ve taken Iris’ place, but he abandoned that because he knew J’onn J’onzz would’ve known if there were any Martians running around Central City.
This post has been updated.