The Flash 6×11 “Love is a Battlefield”
Director: Sudz Sutherland
Writer: Kelly Wheeler and Jeff Hersch
Starring: Grant Gustin, Candice Patton, Danielle Panabaker, Jesse L. Martin, Tom Cavanagh, Katee Sackhoff, Damion Poitier, Kayla Compton, Tyson Arner, Tess Atkins, Robert Zen Humpage, Stephanie Izak, Kyle Strauts, Darryl Ken
Synopsis: Friction arises between Barry and Iris over her new attitude and behavior while Amunet and Goldface brawl over stolen technology; Frost plays life coach to Allegra to make her Valentine’s Day happier.
Valentine’s Day is here, Iris is trapped in a mirror (?), and metal-manipulating meta exes are having a lover’s quarrel. I’m going to try and outline the positives this week, which I’m sad to say is challenging this week. More on that later.
The way the writing team crafts Iris’s doppelganger – Evil Iris – is clever in that she ISN’T evil at all. Candice is allowed the opportunity to portray her character in a way that subtly different rather than the Earth-2 variant. In fact, her first scene getting up from the floor gives viewers the impression that somehow Iris made it out of the mirror. The cooking and Italian restaurant scenes are as hilarious bits of evidence. Throughout the episode, this version of Iris does her utmost to sell herself to the audience and pulls it off very convincingly, from her moments of intensity with Grant and of levity. The bar scene is hilarious, especially with Barry’s “Banana” repetition in Iris’s ear and how nonchalant Iris describes smashing a bottle over a guy’s head. It’s not a complete 180 in her character, especially during her monologue to Barry about her moving on post-Crisis. The audience is brilliantly left scratching their heads and settles in to the possibility that this is the actual Iris…until her true nature is revealed. Candice does a sinister turn as well as she does terrified behind a mirror. Keeping the reveal of the real Iris as a cliffhanger was brilliant. Having Iris behave 75% like herself and layer it with even a great scene between Barry and Papa Joe went along better than have moments of “bwa-ha-haaaaa” from Candice in-between.
The return of Amunet was an unexpected surprise amidst the main plot. What writers are able to do with her is have her exploit Barry’s identity to keep him out of the way. I have often thought that Barry has unmasked one too many times for the wrong people and it would come back to bite him. The only other time he has been caught in this situation was in season 2 with Captain Cold. Having the most unexpected of villains pull that thread gives Barry an additional challenge of stopping Amunet in clandestine means. Without that clout, she is an easy-to-defeat bad guy. The Fastest Man Alive is actually running himself to the point of exhaustion by speeding up the point of invisibility. If anything, it gives Iris a valid reason for field work.
I’m sad to say there are a lot of negatives this week. The biggest, sadly, has to do with Amunet and Goldface. And that says a lot when they are the big bads this week. Their plot felt a lot like filler and steers away from the cliffhanger from last week. Summing up a gang war between them rather than show it is wasteful. A gangwar story needs more than a one-hour episode to escalate. The resolution felt very nonsensical and cringe-worthy; while it scores laughs via Iris and Barry’s reactions to the drug-induced makeout sesson between Amunet and Goldface, in a word, bleh. Cringe of this magnitude DOES NOT BELONG on The Flash, writers, and neither does Sackhoff’s crappy acting. Then there is Evil Iris going dolled up to dinner in a sleeveless dress when her arm was supposed to be heavily burnt and bandaged. This lowers Barry’s IQ points when he, himself, saw the bandage on Iris’s arm situated around the area that looks silky smooth and sexy as always. Frost’s subplot with Allegra may have bore fruit into Nash Wells’s connection to the new Team Citizen member, but it also felt like filler.
I’m sad to say that I give The Flash 6×11 a 2.5/5. This is regrettable because Candice Patton was at her best this week. She gave us an Iris that, as previously said, was 75% the Iris West-Allen we recognized. In spite of the Nash West bits and the possible return of the beloved Harry Wells, the main antagonists and overall evil plan bring down this Valentine’s Day installment with too much cringe. It came off as subterfuge as opposed to an attention grabber. Not even the appearance of “Love is a Battlefied” felt validated. I sincerely hope that next week is a leap upward in quality. Writers, I implore you, keep the strenuous satire on Legends. This is The Flash; we have an amazing new title sequence and, in a post-Arrow world, this is the series that is meant to set the tone. Lean in to what makes this show great. I have never paused the episode so many times afraid of what’s going to be said next.