Monday, February 17, 2020

The Flash 6x11 Review: "Love Is a Battlefield" (Iris Imposter!) [Contributor: Deborah MacArthur]


“Love Is a Battlefield”
Original Airdate: February 11, 2020

It’s almost Valentine’s Day in both reality and on The Flash, so we get a themed episode this week! Any other time, Iris and Barry finding themselves between crises (and I mean both the average, villain-of-the-season crisis as well as the capital-C Crisis) and able to enjoy a nice, romantic time together would be an adorable breath of fresh air. Unfortunately, Iris is post-dragged-through-a-mirror Iris and not regular Iris, so even the romantic stuff they manage before the villain of the week shows up is tinged with uncomfortable mystery.

HEARTACHE TO HEARTACHE?


The day after Iris’s trip through the mirror, she wakes up and serves Barry freshly squeezed orange juice and pancakes that aren't hideous to look at or horrible to taste. This is just the first of odd Iris developments: later, at their early Valentine's dinner, Iris reveals that she can speak Italian.

That little revelation (and, you know, the dinner in general) is interrupted by the arrival of Amunet Black, who is looking for some piece of tech owned by another patron of the restaurant. For the first time since becoming a superhero, Barry attempts to solve the meta human issue at hand as Barry Allen instead of the Flash. It goes about as well as you would think a nervous-looking CSI awkwardly holding up his ID badge and pathetically insisting that he totally is a real cop might go, which is to say... not very well. Pretty funny, though.

Even Amunet is amused, but not so amused she forgets to threaten Barry about knowing his secret identity, and she tells him if he shows up as the Flash, or if any Team Flash members try and stop her, she'll reveal Barry's secret to the world. I still think Barry getting outed as the Flash would shock/bother all of zero people but for the sake of the episode’s integrity, let’s keep up the charade of that prospect being a real threat.

Since their date was ruined, Barry and Iris decide on a different couples activity: foiling the plot of a metahuman crime boss! Like I said, it’s really a shame this whole storyline is tainted by Iris very obviously not being “our'' Iris, because Barry and Iris being a crimefighting duo is something the show needs a lot more of. Also, this episode has some really great moments for the two of them as a couple (more on that later) and Iris not being Iris is a similar disappointment in that regard.

On their quest to uncover Amunet’s plans, Iris and Barry head to a bar the villain’s been known to frequent. While Barry panics outside, Iris goes into the bar and acts all tough, right down to hitting the bar’s bouncer over the head with a beer bottle. The bartender hands over information on Amunet’s next target. Barry and Iris follow the lead and find Amunet stealing another device, but before they can stop her, Goldface (still a stupid name) shows up. Apparently there’s a metahuman gang war going on, and whatever Amunet’s stealing is at the center of it all. Barry and Iris still don’t know what her ultimate goal is, though.

Amunet and Goldface, who used to date, are distracted by fighting over each other’s music tastes (Goldface is apparently a fan of Radiohead’s “OK Computer” and the Straight Outta Compton soundtrack) and general post-breakup nagging. Barry uses this distraction to save a security guard from being crushed and Iris uses it to steal the piece of tech Amunet and Goldface are supposed to be fighting over.

Later, Iris tells Barry she spoke to Ryan Choi and he worked out that both items Amunet was after are related to taking care of plants. She wants to follow this information deeper into the web of Amunet Black and Goldface, but Barry is starting to get wary about his wife’s involvement. Bringing up his concerns does not go over well, leading to a pretty fantastic speech in which Iris says she can neither be Barry’s “damsel in distress” nor be the voice cheering him on from the sidelines. It’s almost like she’s talking to the writers as well as to Barry and, again, I really wish this wasn’t coming from Mirror Iris, because it’s spectacular.

After the West-Allen fight, Iris finds Amunet Black’s hideout. She tells Amunet she wants “in” on whatever she’s planning, having figured out that Amunet’s been stealing stuff that’ll help her take care of a flower which has pollen that can be turned into a telepathic narcotic. Iris tells Amunet she wants the pollen to read Barry’s mind, because she thinks her marriage is in trouble. Perhaps because her own relationship problems are on her mind, Amunet buys this excuse enthusiastically.

Iris accompanies Amunet to steal the psychic flower but before Amunet can officially do so, Goldface shows up and takes the UV container built from the pieces of stolen tech. While the two fight, Barry shows up and he and Iris look on, unable to do anything until Iris has the idea to burn the flower and set off the telepathic pollen, which Barry does with a lightning bolt. I guess the pollen is also kind of an aphrodisiac or love potion as well as a way to read minds, because Goldface and Amunet immediately go all goopy and start thinking romantic stuff at each other, then begin violently making out. Also, “Love is a Battlefield” by Pat Benatar starts playing, appropriately. This season’s keeping up with the great needle drops in the second half, I see. Who increased their music budget?

Iris and Barry officially make up. As they’re embracing in front of a mirror, we see through to the other side, where the real Iris is screaming for Barry. Again, I really wish this great Barry/Iris episode had actually included real Iris, because everything else about it was terrific. Then again, maybe this whole thing is going to turn out to be like that “The Enemy Within” episode of Star Trek: The Original Series where Kirk gets split in two but both versions are still technically Kirk. After all, Mirror Iris has all the memories and feelings that normal Iris would have, she’s just slightly “improved” with the ability to cook, speak Italian, and bust beer bottles over heads without flinching.

I guess we’ll find out in a future episode!

Other Things:

  • The B-plot involved Frost, Allegra, and Nash Wells trying to help Allegra with her love life for Valentine’s Day. I mostly liked this plot because of how pro-Valentine’s Day Frost is, which seems like it should be completely out of character but it actually works. We still don’t know what, exactly, Nash’s relationship is with the Allegra doppelganger from his Earth, but we get more implications that she’s his daughter or daughter-figure.
  • “She said no onesies.” “Please don’t call it that.”
  • “I can’t unsee this.” “Well at least it’s less violent than a gang war? ... barely.” Barry and Iris’s facial expressions in that scene were amazing.
  • Nash appears to hallucinate another Harrison Wells at the end of this episode. It’s really starting to seem like the show throws random shocks out via Nash Wells because they don’t actually know what else to do with the character.

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