When Barry Allen is right about something, it’s an occasion worth celebrating. It’s certainly understandable that the rest of Team Flash would be skeptical, since it doesn’t happen that often, but in this case he’s put it together. As crazy as he sounds when trying to explain it to Cecile with the help of his True Detective board and boxes upon boxes of files, he’s figured out that the woman claiming to be his wife is not the real Iris. His brain isn’t always up to the task, but his heart is true.
“Liberation” delivers exactly that for Eva McCulloch, even as it brings what turns out to be the sad existence of Mirror Iris to an end. Let’s get this out of the way right from the jump: Candice Patton brought it tonight, from both sides of the mirror. Mirror Iris has been an uneven creation, at first an appealing badass but more muddled in recent episodes. As it turns out, that makes sense; the longer she has spent in the real world, the more she has come to value her life as something more than an extension of Eva. Tonight both sides of Mirror Iris were on display. On the one hand, she and the mirror versions of Kamilla and Singh regard themselves as Eva’s children, and their primary function is to free her from the mirror dimension.
To that end, they visit a high-security prisoner who can help her escape: Ramsey Rosso, the Big Bad Bloodwork from the first half of this season, who I had not particularly been yearning to see again. He’s well-used here, however, as more of a Hannibal Lecter figure playing a “long game” that we’ll no doubt hear more about either this season or next, whenever that might be. Mirror Kamilla sacrifices herself to free him (the mechanics of this were completely lost on me) so that the mirror team can obtain a drop of his blood that will free Eva (this, too, was explained with some jibber-jabber that sounded very much like a contrivance to bring back Sendhil Ramamurthy). Ramsey decides to remain a captive for now, because the ways of supervillains are mysterious to us mere mortals.
Barry’s search for evidence to prove Mirror Iris isn’t his real wife turns up the photo the real Kamilla took a few episodes back that revealed a prismatic shape where Iris should have been. When he tries to prove she’s from another dimension with the help of another gizmo, however, Eva has already replaced it with a mirror version that instead shows Barry as the false duplicate. Nash and Cecile lock him up, but it’s only temporary as Cecile can sense Barry is the real deal. (Why she never could tell Iris was a phony before now is just one of those superpower conveniences.)
The badass version of Mirror Iris resurfaces in her showdown with Barry as her arms become liquid mirror swords straight out of Terminator 2. It’s one of the more entertaining battles of the season, and Patton is clearly having a blast (Gustin maybe not so much, as Barry gets the sharp end of it a few too many times). In the end, Barry wins not with his powers but his emotions, as he convinces Mirror Iris that she has self-worth beyond being an extension of Eva and she tells him to find his real wife. Her realization is short-lived, however, as Eva quite literally shatters her to pieces.
Patton also shines as the real Iris, who finally figures out after all these weeks that she’s been Eva’s prisoner all along. Is the final scene where Barry and Iris talk to each other through the mirrors, knowing the other can’t hear but professing their eternal love of across time, space, and dimension, more than a little corny? Obviously. But Patton and Gustin both go for the big emotional moment and make it work on its own comic book terms. That’s what happens when The Flash is really working.
- What a weird little subplot this week involving Ralph, Cisco, and Caitlin. Danielle Panabaker was pregnant at the time of filming (she gave birth earlier this month), and it’s pretty obvious that the cold coma Ralph has to shock her out of serves as a convenient way of keeping her concealed under a blanket the whole time. It seems Caitlin’s mother is coming back into the picture, so we’ll see how this is handled going forward.
- I still wonder what Eva and Iris were doing all this time in the mirror universe. Did they ever eat? Shower and change clothes? Did it really take this long for Iris to come up with the great idea of throwing something heavy through the mirror, or to notice that conspicuous button next to it?
- In case you thought we were going to get through an entire season without introducing a new speedster...the previews for next week’s new episode suggest otherwise.