Monday, April 3, 2023

The Flash 9x07 Review: "Wildest Dreams" (Sleepwalking) [Contributor: Deborah M]

“Wildest Dreams”
Original Airdate: March 29, 2023

This week on The Flash: the title of the episode gets a song stuck in my head that I only know the chorus to! Oh, and some superhero stuff happens. Nia, a.k.a. Dreamer, from Supergirl pays a visit, she and Iris end up in mortal danger, but we get to go on some exciting dream adventures that I kinda wish were a lot weirder. At least one of these dreams should’ve involved Iris desperately trying to remember her high school locker combination because she’s late to a final for a class she forgot to attend all semester.

It’s nonetheless a solid little interlude episode with some good character stuff for Iris and (although it’s slightly wasted since she’s not actually a regular on this show) Nia and I can’t complain too much.


The opening of the episode is adequately creepy, with Nia-as-Dreamer walking through a large warehouse while a crowd of people stare at her and project spooky imagery of spiders, ravens, and graveyards into her head. A cloaked figure with glowing eyes stands out from the rest of the crowd, and suddenly Iris is there to tell Nia “it’s about control” before dying, apparently at the hands of Glowy Cloaked Figure. Nia wakes up in a Jitters coffee shop in National City and runs to Central City to talk to Iris about this troubling development.

Meanwhile, Iris is on the cusp of publishing the article that Barry’s mapbook says will win her a Pulitzer, but learning that it’s a preordained event has her second-guessing everything again. I know it’s necessary to supply Iris with some drama this season, but I am really not compelled by her desire to dodge “destiny” merely because it’s supposed to happen. It gives me “you told me to do something and now I don’t wanna” vibes that don't gel with Iris’s generally pragmatic approach to things. Anyway, Nia shows up to tell Iris about her dream and, just as I’m wondering if Nia and Iris met on the show at some point and I’d forgotten, it’s revealed that Iris, Nia, Kara, Alex, and Ryan all had brunch together off-screen. Boo! I want to see superheroes having brunch!

Nia’s Dreamer powers are gone after her encounter with the Glowy Cloaked Figure and she thinks Iris is the key to getting them back, but before she can say much more, Glowy Cloaked Figure sends both of them to sleep. The two end up in a shared dream where they’re police officers and Iris is Captain, and Iris starts to wonder if she should’ve become a cop like her dad instead of a journalist. Iris is intrigued by this alternate path in her life, but Nia is adamant that they find a way to wake up. Luckily, a blue door appears to seemingly provide one.

Going through the door spits them out into another of Iris’s dreams, this time one where she, Barry, Chester, and Nia all work as baristas at Jitters. Have the writers of The Flash been checking out some coffee shop AU fanfiction and getting inspired? Things at Jitters start to go wrong but Iris, having actually worked as a barista in the past, takes control and feels good about being able to solve a problem and then clock out to enjoy her life instead of dedicating all her time to chasing down stories and running a media outlet. 

Although Iris seems to be having fun in her dream what-if scenarios, the two ladies start feeling some negative side-effects to traipsing through dreamland. Nia diagnoses it as “angry sleep” and says that if they experience it for too long it’ll put their bodies through too much trauma. Out in the waking world, Barry has found Iris and Nia passed out and delivered them to STAR Labs, where Chester has equally bad news about the state of things should they fail to wake up soon.

But Nia has the vague outline of a plan. She says they can wake up if they figure out what they’re meant to be dealing with in the dream, since “dreams always reflect back to us the problems of our everyday lives.” I once had a dream where I was a door-to-door potato salesman. I’d really like to know what problem that one was meant to be reflecting back at me.

Before Nia and Iris can dig too deeply into issues Iris might be dealing with, they find themselves in the nightmare warehouse from the opening scene. They run from the Glowy Cloaked Figure and the crowd of people and, in the real world, their fevers start spiking dangerously high. Following the warehouse nightmare is an Iris-centric nightmare in which all her employees dismiss her qualifications as a journalist, and Iris confesses to Nia her misgivings regarding her mapped future.

Nia talks some sense into Iris about the concept of destiny and choice, and how destiny only exists due to a lifetime of choices. I think I would appreciate this more as a philosophical moment if I didn’t find Iris’s urge to rebel against her future so silly. It’s clear they’ve cracked the meaning of Iris’s dreams, but she and Nia are still asleep — so now it’s Nia’s turn.

In the waking world, Cecile declares the Glowy Cloaked Figure to be a “kind presence” so Iris and Nia will be fine. Meanwhile, a door covered in spiderwebs has appeared in dreamland and Iris tells Nia that maybe the key to her dreams is learning to give up the control she’s been fighting for and just let whatever’s going on guide her. It fits with dream-Iris’s message to Nia at the start of the episode and Nia, inspired by Iris, goes through the door alone to meet with the Glowy Cloaked Figure. As it turns out, said figure is the first Dreamer, and letting go of control is what Nia needed to fully embrace her Dreamer powers.

Iris and Nia wake up and all is well again. Nia has her powers, Iris publishes her award-winning article, and hopefully Iris is over her wariness of destiny now that she understands she’s been writing it all along.

Other Things:

  • The B-plot of the episode involved Khione and Mark dealing with the latter’s continued obsession with getting Frost back, this time in the form of socializing Khione into being more like Frost. It’s an okay little storyline and I like that it occasionally ties back to the dream theme of the episode, but it’s otherwise very separate and therefore much harder to include in the main review. The culmination of it is that Mark learns a lesson and decides to leave so he can deal with his grief properly, and Khione finally displays her ice powers. They seem to be tied to her emotions.
  • Okay, Mark tearing off his apparently breakaway shirt and declaring that he “hates shirts anyway” was pretty funny. You get one smile out of me, Chillblaine.
  • I have no idea why the writers decided to have a bunch of extras at O'Shaughnessy's Bar pepper snide remarks about how lame Mark is into his fight with Khione, but it’s the funniest thing they could have done and I applaud them for it.
  • I sure am glad I’m mostly over my old arachnophobia, because all the spider imagery in this episode would have done a number on me.


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