The Flash – Season 6 Episode 17
The Flash continues with the mirror duplicates plot as Eva prepares to make her escape from the mirror dimension.
If this season of The Flash was to be given an award it would definitely be “most improved”. I’m not prepared to say that the show has shed all of the significant issues it has but the current plot is the best thing it has done in a long time. There’s an engaging villain, a constantly mounting sense of tension, a tangible threat that feels significant and a real sense that things are actually heading in an interesting direction. After Savitar, DeVoe and Cicada far outstayed their welcome it’s great to see the show find direction and purpose; something it has been sorely lacking for a long time.
The past few episodes have been built around the exploits of the Fake Iris and the impact her presence has on those around her. Feeling this most is Barry who is dealing with a version of his wife that is familiar enough for him not to seem fully suspicious but with enough differences to make him feel uneasy. The things she says and does are things that the real Iris might say and do under certain circumstances. This suggests that her thoughts and feelings also belong to the real Iris with the fake one expressing them in a less inhibited way. We’ve yet to see if that idea will pay off and the ending of the episode suggests that it won’t but I still think it would be interesting to use Fake Iris to create some compelling tension in Barry and Iris’ marriage because she hasn’t been expressing things that bother her while Barry remains ignorant to them. They have a far from perfect and at times toxic relationship that the show consistently fails to acknowledge so this could be a good way of dovetailing into the exploration of that in an effort to make their relationship actually feel real rather than the fairytale romance that the show often pretends that it is.
Barry finally becomes suspicious enough in this episode to take action following being thrown out of his own home by Fake Iris at the end of the previous episode. This stacks onto other suspicions that he had over the course of the previous episodes and leads him to conclude that she isn’t the real Iris. His rationale is that all of the things Iris was doing that were unlike her weren’t simple indications of self improvement. One of the things that he points out is that she could never make pancakes which is very much an observation that a husband would be in a position to make and the beauty of it is that his observations are so innocuous that they can be easily dismissed by others. Iris has had limited interaction with many of the other characters this season as well so they aren’t in a position to notice changes in behaviour so it makes some sense that Barry would be the only one to notice it. Where it doesn’t add up is that Joe fails to suspect that anything is wrong despite him having to remind her that Barry might need a compassionate ear at a few given moments.
The base assumption from Cecile is that Barry has become overwhelmed with the various stresses in his life created by the impending loss of his speed and Iris kicking him out so his claims aren’t taken as seriously as he would like them to. It doesn’t help that he isn’t acting all that rationally which is definitely a symptom of everything he’s going through. The fact that his speed gauge watch is constantly red throughout this episode is a quick visual indicator of his constant stress level. His behaviour is another clear indication but the major difference between the audience and Cecile is that the audience knows that Barry is right so there is in theory frustration brought on by the fact that people don’t believe him. There is a distinct lack of other characters present to provide a range of views on the situation which does let it down a little but seeing Barry desperately trying to convince Cecile of what he believes does work fairly well.
Fake Iris continues to be engaging throughout. Her calm reaction to Barry’s accusation followed by her turning it around on him and making it look as if he’s the mirror duplicate was an expected yet effective move on her part. The reveal of how this was orchestrated was nicely incorporated as well and it allows the necessary delays in the truth being confirmed so that Fake Iris can carry on with her mission. The way she throws Barry’s points back in his face and highlights things he’s done that could be interpreted as behaving out of character. It’s a good way to throw suspicion in his direction and absolve her of it to some degree. She calls out Barry for not fighting for them and promises him forgiveness because that’s the way the real Iris might approach this situation. It’s a highly calculating tactic and enhances her threat level significantly.
It doesn’t work for long as Cecile has a feeling that Barry is the real deal which does make me wonder why she didn’t have a feeling that Iris wasn’t the real deal but this is the conceit that allows Barry to be let out of the pipeline and confront his wife’s mirror duplicate. The confrontation is great thanks to an excellent performance from Candice Patton who fully commits to showing exactly what Fake Iris is capable of. She attacks Barry physically with mirror swords that call back to the T-1000 while making use of the various mirrors nearby to attack Barry from multiple directions. While she’s doing this she works to emotionally cripple Barry by reminding him that he failed to notice that his wife was gone and taunts him with all the ways he treated her as if she was his real wife. It’s very cutting in every sense of the word and there’s added tension created by Barry’s powers being far from what they should be.
Barry does manage to get through to her by exploiting the fact that she was made from Iris. It’s a fairly standard emotionally driven speech but Grant Gustin delivers it so well and the episode does a good enough job setting up that Fake Iris wants more out of life than to be a reflection of a real person under Eva’s control. There’s a larger story to be told about how alive the mirror duplicates are but it seems that Fake Iris definitely had sentience and free will which makes her death appropriately tragic. It’s handled well and is framed as more of a defeat for Barry as he has no connection to the real Iris who is still imprisoned in the mirror dimension. The scene where they promise to find each other while separated by the mirror and having no idea where the other is does come across as very melodramatic but Candice Patton and Grant Gustin sell it brilliantly.
Eva makes her way back to the real world as of this episode and solidifies herself as a force to be reckoned with. Her brutally casual dismissal of Barry because she doesn’t see him as a threat is devastating and I like the way Efrat Dor plays her as calculating yet unhinged. It definitely comes across that she will be a severe problem for Team Flash especially with Barry’s reduced powers. Let’s not forget that she’s the only one who knows where Iris, Kamilla and Singh are.
The mirror duplicates are used really well in this episode generally. Their visit to Ramsey Rosso’s cell because they need a sample of his blood in order to free Eva was certainly a surprise but it was a welcome one. I’m glad that Ramsey wasn’t released to be a threat again though I’m dubious about the hint that he would return at a later date once the time is right as I don’t feel that he was a strong enough villain to merit a repeat performance. He is used well here as he provides some interesting commentary on the mirror duplicates. Ramsey sees them as being possibly more than Human and identifies that they have the capacity to become more than the purpose of their creation. Fake Iris admits to him that she has a desire beyond Eva’s plan; the desire to be alive on her own terms. This shows that the mirror duplicates are capable of becoming people in their own right even though they’re based on an existing person. This makes Fake Kamilla’s sacrifice believably tragic as she had the potential to become so much more and Fake Iris’ death after making the choice not to continue harming Barry resonates because it is the loss of a life with so much potential.
For the most part this was a really focused episode that devoted the right amount of time to the Fake Iris plot but there was an odd subplot involving Caitlin struggling to recover from the injuries sustained by Killer Frost. The purpose of this is to set up a plot involving her mother which doesn’t fill me with much in the way of confidence as, historically, stories involving Caitlin’s family have been less than watchable. Since Danielle Panabaker was pregnant when this episode was filmed I suspect her contribution to this episode was set up to allow her to hide that fact under a blanket but it doesn’t alter the fact that it was by far the weakest aspect and diverted characters who could have contributed to the Fake Iris plot in a meaningful way.
An engaging episode that ramps up the Fake Iris plot in a way that is both intense and meaningful for Barry. Having him become suspicious after Fake Iris kicked him out of their apartment makes sense as it stacks up with the other observations he has made to finally allow him to come to the conclusion he does. Straining his credibility by factoring in the fact that his powers are rapidly diminishing introduces a natural conflict that feels completely in place within the context of the narrative. Fake Iris turning it back on him is believable because he’s acting more out of sorts at this point than she is and the fact that Iris has had limited interactions with most of the other characters helps with this as only Barry would be in a position to notice any difference. Joe also noticed some odd behaviour but he isn’t around though he probably should have been more concerned about having to remind her to be compassionate. It remains to be seen if Fake Iris is voicing concerns that the real one keeps bottled up or if she completely became a different person. Having Iris return and Barry have to deal with the fact that there are issues in their relationship that he has either been ignoring or is unaware of would be an interesting direction for their relationship rather than acting as if everything is perfect and expecting the audience to believe it. The work done in this episode to establish that the mirror duplicates are alive to some extent and capable of independent thought allows Fake Iris’ death to be a tragic event. She makes a choice to stop attacking Barry because he appeals to the part of her based on the real Iris. It’s a strong moment and is played very well. Candice Patton has been doing great work in this role so hopefully when the real Iris returns this plot will encourage an interesting direction for the character.
Eva remains a strong villain and a believable threat. Efrat Dor plays her as calculating yet unhinged and her casual dismissal of Barry with his diminished powers because she doesn’t see him as a threat is devastating. The mirror duplicates are used well in general. Their visit to Ramsey Rosso’s cell made for a welcome surprise because the character was used so well in relation to the mirror duplicates. He identified that they were something more than Human and that they had the capacity to become more than what they were designed to be. This makes Fake Kamilla’s sacrifice believably tragic knowing that she had that potential and Fake Iris death more meaningful as it was the loss of a life that had real potential. The only real misstep in this episode was the plot involving Caitlin struggling to recover from an injury sustained by Killer Frost. This exists to set up a plot involving her mother which is likely problematic as stories involving Caitlin’s family usually are with the added intention of covering up her pregnancy beneath a blanket. It was the weakest aspect of the episode and removed characters that could have contributed meaningfully to the Fake Iris plot.
- Barry’s credibility being strained by the abundance of stress in his life
- Fake Iris coming into her own independent of Iris
- Fake Iris’ ability to turn Barry’s accusation around on him
- a strong action sequence that makes use of Fake Iris’ abilities combined with emotional attacks
- Barry appealing to Fake Iris’ humanity
- highlighting that the duplicates have the potential to be more than they were designed for to make the two deaths more impactful
- Ramsey being used well in the context of the narrative
- Eva coming across as a strong and believable threat
- a weak Caitlin interlude that diverts characters away from being used in the Fake Iris plot
What did you think? Select your rating in the “User Review” box below
User Review( votes)
We’d love to know your thoughts on this and anything else you might want to talk about. You can find us on Facebook and Twitter or just leave a comment in the comment section below. You’ll need an account for Disqus but it’s easy to set up. Don’t forget to share your rating in the “User Ratings” box
If you want to chat to me directly then I’m on Twitter as well.