The Flash – Season 6 Episode 12
“A Girl Named Sue”
The Flash introduces the subject of Ralph’s prolonged investigation as Iris realises she isn’t the only one trapped inside the mirror.
Ralph’s investigation into the disappearance of a Central City socialite has been bubbling along in the background for a while. Outside of the build-up to “Crisis on Infinite Earths” it’s probably the longest background plot the show has ever had. It has been a great source of growth for Ralph as his investigation has encouraged him to up his game as an investigator as well as provided ample opportunity for him to grow as a person. I’m always a fan of characters having interests outside of the main plot as it makes the world it inhabits feel bigger while also fleshing them out independently of the main character.
Sue Dearbon (Natalie Dreyfuss) makes her long awaited first appearance and it was definitely worth the wait. I was surprised at how engaging she was right away and how unique an energy she injected into the episode. It’s often the case that guest characters become part of the furniture and fail to make a significant impression. This isn’t the case for Sue; she’s immediately sarcastic, fiercely independent, very intelligent and generally a challenging person to be around. Ralph has to up his game simply to keep up with her which helps create an excellent dynamic between the two characters. In the comics, Sue is Ralph’s wife so I suspect the writers will start to set that up as time goes on. Then again it could end up playing out differently but my guess is that the writers have that endgame in mind with her introduction.
In all honesty I almost expected Sue’s introduction to be really shallow because of the connection her comic book counterpart has to Ralph. So many characters in fiction are the love interest of a character rather than being fully realised in their own right. Immediately Sue has her own life, her own views, her own quirks and has a lot of potential for growth that can be played with. Having her disappearance be engineered by her so that she can bring her murderous ex boyfriend to justice -at least as she tells Ralph- gives her agency rather than being the kidnapped damsel in need of rescuing and her betrayal of Ralph later in the episode makes her motives more complex while tying her into the mystery around what McCulloch industries are up to. It’s somewhat unfortunate that her story revolves around that especially after my comment about making a show’s world feel bigger by giving characters their own interests but this still feels like something that is on the periphery and the focus is very much on the Ralph/Sue dynamic.
I really like how unapologetically assertive Sue is; she is laser focused on her objective and won’t let anyone get in her way. Ralph is someone she feels will slow her down and his wrong headed assumption that she needs his protection shows that he still has some way to go in his own personal growth. Sue doesn’t put up with anyone underestimating her and constantly challenges Ralph to be worthy of partnering with her. It’s almost an adversarial relationship though it is a playful one and it’s immensely entertaining to watch. The way they bounce off one another when formulating a plan is telling of how similarly they think and is supported by Cecile’s powers picking up on a connection between them. Thankfully the attraction isn’t made too obvious but there is definitely the beginnings of something between them.
Her betrayal would suggest that she was playing him the entire time but the fact that she genuinely seems to respect him and allows herself to open up to him suggests that it isn’t as simple as that. Of course she could simply be an exceptionally skilled con artist and is fabricating that connection but with this being a CW show and an Arrowverse show odds are that there’s at least some truth to what she says. There’s a great scene where they discuss their respective struggles to find themselves that helps enhance that connection. Sue feels adrift because she was forced into living a certain life by her parents where Ralph was forced out of his job as a cop which eventually led to him finding a place to belong and a group of people he could call his family. The idea is that Sue is on a similar trajectory with Ralph helping her to see that everything happens for a reason and she will eventually come to realise who she really is.
The reveal that she was actually after a diamond the whole time and was manipulating Ralph to help achieve that goal works really well as an emotional beat. Ralph’s anguish and disappointment makes for a strong emotional moment that makes him really sympathetic as he cast aside his suspicions because he felt at ease around her and had that trust betrayed. There is hope with her tease that everything she told him both was and wasn’t real but the truth will have to wait until another day. The script combined with Natalie Dreyfuss’ performance does an excellent job keeping Sue complex and establishing that there is hope for her rather than making her an unlikeable traitor. Continuing to tow this line will be instrumental in continuing to endear her to the audience in her subsequent appearances.
Ralph comes out of this feeling down on himself because he let himself trust someone who was playing him. Barry points out that he also has a history of trusting people who ended up betraying him. It’s not advice Ralph is prepared to hear at this point because he thinks that recent events have proven how ineffective he is at his job. This runs counter to him saying he has found a purpose as he is now questioning that purpose since he was so wrong about Sue. He needs time to put his feelings in context and re-examine what he knows but for now his reaction makes complete sense especially when considering the emotional connection that quickly developed between him and Sue.
Fake Iris is still active and working towards a mysterious plan of some sort. It’s still unknown if she is actually evil or just an altered version of the original with less inhibitions. The previous episode was all about how much Iris has changed over the years and how she has discovered her own sense of purpose. It was explored through Fake Iris who has all the same thoughts and feelings but is far less reluctant to express them. This episode falls into the pattern of having her act suspiciously without Barry noticing. Part of her plan is to get her hands on the Mirror Gun for some reason which Barry declines at first. He references how easily these things fall into the wrong hands and uses the example of Snart getting his hands on the Cold Gun way back in season one. It’s great to see Barry erring on the side of caution and thinking like a mature leader rather than blindly rushing into making stupid decisions that put the team at risk.
Joe is the one to convince Barry to trust Iris with the Mirror Gun. He notices some irregularities in closed cases and thinks there’s a mole within the department so feels he can only put his trust in family. A more subdued “Joe Speech” puts Barry onto that line of thought as well and leads him to bring the Mirror Gun out of storage for Iris to use. This will certainly come back to bite him and the rest of the team at a later date. Candice Patton’s slightly detached performance is doing a great job building the mystery around exactly what the Fake Iris is and how deeply connected to the real one she is. It’s a shame more effort wasn’t put into developing this rather than simply reminding the audience that this is a mystery yet to be solved. It’s also frustrating how passive Barry has become since Crisis. The previous episode had him reluctant to become involved at all and this episode has him completely sidelined from the main plot as he looks into cases for Joe. He does suit up towards the end but it feels as if the writers are reluctant to give Barry meaningful plots at the moment which feels odd to me.
Real Iris finds that she has some company in the mirror world she finds herself trapped in. Stuck in there with her is Eva McCulloch (Efrat Dor) who became trapped when the Particle Accelerator exploded. She has been alone for so long that she has completely given up hope after trying every possible escape method she could think of. Now she is resigned to the fact that she’s stuck there with no hope of escape but Iris gives her an idea that she hasn’t tried inspired by the way they brought down the previous Mirror Master. It doesn’t work but it allows Eva to tap into her ability to manipulate the mirror that she had no idea she had.
Other than being driven slightly insane by the lack of Human contact for 6 years there isn’t a lot to say about Eva. I did pick up on the fact that she’s a proud scientist who condemns the previous Mirror Master’s use of his abilities to be a criminal. This seems to suggest that she doesn’t think along those lines and wants to understand what her powers mean. My guess is that there’s a fake version of her running around in the real world somewhere just as there is with Iris and the Fake Eva will be the villain to plague Team Flash for the rest of the season. This is all speculation at this point but I’d be surprised if it went any other way.
A strong episode that introduces a great new character in Sue and does an excellent job crafting her complex yet fun dynamic with Ralph. Sue is a great addition to the cast and a welcome addition after being teased for so long. Natalie Dreyfuss gives her so much personality with her layered performance. She has great back and forth with Ralph and the two characters are able to relate to one another through similar difficulties finding a sense of belonging in the world. Sue’s betrayal of Ralph works really well because of Ralph’s reaction to letting himself become close to her while also strongly suggesting that not everything she shared with Ralph was a deception. It’s a great start for a recurring presence and a strong foundation to being a relationship between these two characters.
Fake Iris being after the Mirror Gun and Barry refusing creates an interesting potential conflict between them and also shows sensible leadership from Barry who is genuinely concerned about a dangerous weapon falling into the wrong hands. A subdued “Joe Speech” convinces Barry to change his mind after Joe says he can only put his trust in family at the moment. The Fake Iris plot isn’t as focused as it is in the previous episode but Candice Patton’s detached performance does a good job reinforcing the mystery surrounding what she is though doesn’t really bring anything new. It’s also odd how passive Barry has become of late. It’s almost as if the writers are reluctant to give him meaningful plots which seems odd. Real Iris sharing the mirror dimension with Eva works reasonably well even if there isn’t much to say about Eva at this point. She has all but given up hope, learns that she has abilities and appears to be a proud scientist. My guess is that there’s a fake version of Eva running around in the real world and she will act as a villain. Time will tell.
- a strong introduction for Sue4
- Natalie Dreyfuss creating an engaging, likeable and complex character
- the strong Ralph/Sue dynamic
- Ralph’s powerful reaction to Sue’s betrayal
- the suggestion that Sue wasn’t entirely dishonest with Ralph
- Candice Patton’s detached performance as a reminder that Iris isn’t the real Iris
- not much forward movement on the Fake Iris plot
- very little learned about Eva McCulloch
- Barry continuing to be passive
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