Monday, February 17, 2020

The Flash Season 6, Episode 11: Love Is A Battlefield

This week on The Flash we get a dreaded filler episode, one that spends the majority of its runtime on relationships— because Valentine's Day, yo!

OK, so it wasn't all fluff. The Mirror Iris storyline was actually pretty compelling, and very well done. Actress Candice Patton definitely brought her "A" game to this episode, playing a more aggressive and ambitious version of Iris.

I loved the scene in which Barry says something feels "off" about Mirror Iris, and she scolds him for thinking something's wrong when she's simply growing and improving herself. She almost had me convinced everything was normal with that speech! 

And yes, Mirror Iris' rant was probably a jab at toxic masculinity or some such hooey, but it was done in a subtle and masterful way, rather than clubbing us over the head with it. Kudos!

We also get the welcome return of Amunet Black this week. As usual, Katee Sackhoff chews up the scenery with gusto and glee, and it's always a hoot when she shows up.

Cisco sits out this episode, which came as no surprise since he was temporarily written out last week., And Ralph's still AWOL! Jesus Christ, I'm beginning to wonder if he's ever coming back. Based on the title of next week's episode, it looks like he'll FINALLY be returning.


The Plot:
At the end of last week's episode, Iris sneaked into McCullogh Tech, where she was pulled into a mirror by two silvered hands. At the beginning of this episode, we see Iris wake up on the floor. She rubs her head and looks at the giant mirror behind her. Suddenly she hears footsteps and runs off.

The next morning, Barry's surprised to see Iris (who previously couldn't even boil water) has made him perfect pancakes and fresh squeezed orange juice. Rather than thinking this odd, he chalks it up to her finally learning how to cook. He suggests they have an early Valentine's Day dinner.

In the superfluous B-plot, Allegra arrives at the Citizen and finds Frost chilling there for some reason. Allegra grumbles about the holiday, and Frost figures she's had her heart broken. She discovers Allegra's moping over hipster doofus Emerson Fairweather, and makes it her mission to get them together. Exciting! Remember when Frost was an edgy antihero?

Cut to Barry & Iris enjoying dinner at Giovanni's. Iris orders in Italian, again surprising Barry. Just then supervillain Amunet Black wanders in, demanding that a Saul Frankel present himself and hand over his case— or she'll kill everyone in the restaurant. Frankel stands and gives her the case. She opens it and pulls out a high tech device and steals it. 

Barry then flashes his badge and attempts to arrest Amunet. She recognizes him and says if he tries it, she'll reveal his secret (HA!) identity. Barry apparently forgets he has superspeed and could zip her off to jail before she can blink, and stands helplessly as she waltzes out.

The next day Frost & Allegra see Emerson at Jitters. Frost urges Allegra to go talk to him, but before she can he begins flirting with a waitress. Allegra accuses Frost of being a terrible life coach and storms out. The Flash, ladies and gentlemen! Come for the superhero action, stay for the teen angst drama.

That night Barry & Iris stake out a pool hall, hoping to spot Amunet. Iris gets tired of waiting and barges into the hall, demanding to know where Amunet will strike next. She breaks a bottle over a bouncer's head to make a point, and the bartender tells her Amunet's next target is Ivo Labs. Iris returns to a flabbergasted Barry, who scolds her for being so reckless.

Sure enough, Amunet's at Ivo Labs, where she steals another case. Barry & Iris sneak in and observe her. Just then Goldface— Amunet's ex-boyfriend— enters and demands she hand over the case to him. The two argue a bit, and then Goldface uses his gold chain as a whip to yank the case from Amunet's hand. She then fires shards of metal from her gauntlet at him. Goldface runs out with the case, and Amunet escapes as well. Barry's upset that they got away, but Iris reveals she somehow stole the contents of the case while the two villains were fighting one another.

The next day, Barry reports that Amunet and Goldface are engaged in a gang war, which is causing havoc in the city. Iris discovers the item she took from the case is a "biome storage unit." If combined with the UV projector Amunet stole earlier, it could be used to preserve rare and fragile plants.

Iris comes up with a plan to get close to Amunet by simply giving her the device. Barry says that's way too dangerous, which starts a huge fight between the two. Iris says she's grown as a person, and is upset that Barry can't accept that. She says she's going through with the plan and walks out. 

Iris somehow finds Amunet's hideout and offers her the device. Amunet asks why she shouldn't just kill her and take it. Iris says because she figured out what Amunet's doing. Against all reason and logic, Iris found out that a sample of Rappacini's Daughter— a rare orchid whose pollen causes telepathy— is currently being housed in Central City. Iris says Amunet plans to use the pollen to swipe bank account numbers, but she wants to use it to read Barry's mind and save her marriage. For some reason Amunet buys this ridiculous story and says the two of them are going to be good friends. 

Barry meets with Joe, and tells him something's off between him and Iris. Joe gives Barry a Patented The CW Pep Talk®, and says he & Iris will never grow apart and everything will be fine. Thrilling!

Allegra tells Frost she's been reluctant to pursue Emerson because she's afraid of how he'll react to her being a meta. Frost says Allegra never gave him a chance to decide for himself. Allegra realizes she's right, and comes to a decision. Pulse-pounding!

That night, Amunet brings Iris to a warehouse, where she sees the rare orchid houses in a protective case. Amunet says she and Goldface planned to use the flower to go on a telepathic spree together, but things didn't work out between them. Iris realizes Amunet still has feelings for Goldface, and suggests she tell him about it. Electrifying!

Amunet assembles the two devices into a holding container, and prepares to put the orchid into it. Just then Goldface and his crew arrive, and once again he uses his chain to yank the device from her hand. The two (along with their respective thugs) begin fighting once more, as Iris slips out of the room.

The Flash arrives and wraps up the various henchmen in vines. He then asks the two villains why they broke up, and they admit they had problems communicating with one another. Goldface then uses his "gold telekinesis" to hurl Barry into a wall of wooden crates, as Amunet pins him against them with two of her metal shards.

Amunet and Goldface continue their bickering, and Barry phases himself free while they're distracted. Iris suggests they destroy the orchid before either villain can use it. Barry fires a tiny bolt of Speed Force Lightning at the plant, which incinerates it. The burning pollen fills the area with purple smoke, temporarily giving Amunet and Goldface telepathic powers. The two read one another's minds, and realize they're still in love. They begin making out, as Barry and Iris look on uncomfortably. Gripping!

Later at Jitters, Allegra apologizes to Frost, saying she realizes she was just trying to help. She says she told Emerson that she's a meta and he was cool with it. She then scampers off and joins Emerson at his table. 

Nash arrives at Jitters as well, having received an urgent invite from Frost. He asks what she wants, and Frost— who's picked up on the fact that Nash has a paternal interest in Allegra— says she's a good listener if he ever wants to talk. She leaves, and Nash stares wistfully at Allegra. After a beat he turns to leave, and sees Harry Wells standing in the doorway. He blinks, and the apparition is gone.

In the tag scene, Barry & Iris relax in their apartment. He apologizes for not acknowledging her growth, and says he's proud of her. He says he was afraid they were growing apart, and Iris says that'll never happen. They kiss and embrace, as Iris stares into a full length mirror behind them.

Cut to inside the mirror, as the REAL Iris pounds on the glass, shouting,"Get away from him! Barry! That's not me! She's not me!"

• For some reason, DC Comics has always based their superheroes in fictional cities with very generic names, like Metropolis (which literally means "city!"), Gotham City, National City and Central City.

This makes it difficult, if not impossible, to figure out exactly where in the country their characters live. Is Metropolis near New York City? Is Gotham really Chicago? Who knows?

It's the same here in the Arrowverse. The Flash takes place in Central City, but it's never been clear just where it's located. Most fans assume it's somewhere in the Midwest— most likely in either Kansas or Missouri.

Well, we finally have an answer! Over on this week's Legends Of Tomorrow, there's a brief scene involving a corpse in a body bag (don't ask). At one point there's a prominent closeup of a label on the bag, indicating the corpse came from Iron Heights Penitentiary, which is located Central City, MO, USA.

As near as I can tell, this is the first onscreen confirmation that Central City is indeed in Missouri. Exactly where in Missouri is anyone's guess though— note that the tag skips the zip code and says "USA" instead.

Wherever Central City is in Missouri, it's an odd place. Despite the fact that it's in the middle of the country, many episodes place it next to a large, ocean-sized body of water. It also has a massive population of 14 million, which makes it nearly twice the size of New York City!

• Iris has always been easy on the eyes, but she was exceptionally hot in this episode. I don't know if they made a change to her makeup, or if it's simply a case of Candice Patton acting more attractive, if that makes any sense. However they did it, it worked!

Her sudden glow-up was also a subtle little hint to the audience that this is actually Mirror Iris, and not the real thing.

• Barry stops the episode dead in its tracks by asking his Alexa to make dinner reservations, in an hilariously awkward and obvious bout of blatant product placement. Seriously, this scene serves absolutely zero purpose in the episode, other than to remind us that Alexa is a thing and Barry makes enough money to afford one.

Too bad Barry doesn't have a Siri. There was a ton of similarly obnoxious Apple product placement in the most recent episode of Legends Of Tomorrow, so they'd have probably thrown one in for nothing. Plus "Siri = Iris" backwards, which would have been a subtle little clue that we're actually seeing a "reflection" of her! C'mon, guys! Do I have to write your show for you?

• At the beginning of the episode we get this establishing shot of The Central City Citizen office, located in this building.

Oddly enough, the building bears a striking resemblance to the St. Regis Hotel in downtown Vancouver, where all the Arrowverse shows are filmed!

It looks like the FX Team did their best to disguise the place though. They carefully painted out the St. Regis lettering next to the awning, and they erased the illuminated vertical signage on the corner altogether. They also changed the name of the "Gotham" store next door to simply "Diner." And they changed the street sign from Seymour St. to E. Metz St. (which doesn't exist in Vancouver). Nice try, guys, but I found it anyway!

• During Barry & Iris' Valentine's dinner, Amunet barges into the restaurant, looking for a man named Saul Frankel. He sheepishly stands up, and she demands he hand over the case he's guarding.

OK, at the risk of invoking the wrath of SJWs, this man does NOT look like a Saul Frankel. Just to prove it, he's played by actor Robert Zen Humpage, who's half British and half Japanese.

Apparently when he was an infant, Frankel was adopted by Jewish parents?

By the way, why does Frankel have this high tech doodad with him at a fancy restaurant in the first place? Is it so valuable he carries it with him no matter where he goes? And how the hell did Amunet know he'd be in the restaurant?

• When Amunet enters the restaurant, Barry awkwardly attempts to arrest her. She threatens to expose his secret identity if he does, which leaves him helpless and seemingly unable to act. A couple things here.

First of all, once again Barry's only as fast as the plot needs him to be. If you'll recall, back in Enter Flashtime he moved so fast he literally froze time so he could figure out how to undo a nuclear explosion. He could have easily zoomed Amunet into Iron Heights Prison before she could finish her threat, and return to the restaurant before anyone realized he was gone.

Secondly, is exposing his secret identity really a big deal? Is there anyone in Central City who doesn't know he's the Flash at this point?

• In the filler B-plot, Frost wears her Marvel Cinematic Universe disguise to Jitters. Yep, no way anyone could ever possibly recognize this distinctive known criminal now!

At the end of the episode Nash wanders into Jitters as well, and doesn't even bother with a baseball cap!

Why would he need a disguise? Well, remember back in Season 3 when HR Wells had to use his "facial transmogrification device" to change his appearance in public, because he looked exactly like serial killer Harrison Wells, aka Eobard Thawne, aka The Reverse-Flash? Remember that?

Apparently the writers have completely given up on that conceit, right? And are hoping we've all forgotten about it by now.

• Barry rendezvous with Iris at the Citizen after searching the city for Amnuet. Oddly enough, he's actually out of breath, which doesn't usually happen. Iris notes this, and asks, "Why are you so tired?" Barry says it's because he had to run so fast he was practically invisible, to keep Amunet from seeing him.

It's possible Barry's right, and he's just worn out from so much exertion. Nothing happens by accident on a show like this though, so I'm assuming his fatigue is another symptom of whatever superspeed malady he has. Remember last week in Marathon when his hand spontaneously generated Speed Force Lightning for no reason? This has to be related to that.

I'm wondering if these seemingly unimportant incidents have something to do with Oliver Queen/The Spectre "unleashing Barry's potential" at the Vanishing Point during the Crisis?

• Barry meets with Joe and tells him he's afraid he and Iris are growing apart. Joe gives him a speech about trees (?), saying, "Look, the branches, they grow from the center. They grow farther and farther away from the center, but what you have to remember is underneath, the roots? They're mirroring the branches."

Get it? The roots are mirroring the branches. You're a funny guy, Joe.

• I can't remember the episode, but at some point in the past it was mentioned that Amunet and Goldface were dating at one point.

This episode marks the first time we've ever seen them together onscreen though. The two have a different relationship in the comics, where they're husband and wife.

• Goldface is played by actor Damion Poitier. With a name like that, it's impossible not to wonder if he's related to cinema great Sidney Poitier. I looked him up, and Damion says he's "unsure" if he's related to the elder Poitier. He claims their ancestors came from the same island though.

• When Goldface first appeared in Season 5's Goldfaced, his powers and abilities were vague and ill-defined. He had a large gold chain he used as a whip and could seemingly control. And at one point his skin was torn away, revealing what appeared to be a gold skull underneath. Are his bones made of gold? Is his entire body filled with the stuff? Who the hell knows?

Sadly, this episode doesn't clear things up a bit. The chain's back and his gold manipulation powers seems to have increased. But there's no mention of any gold inside his body this time.

Also, last time we saw Goldface he'd been electrocuted by Barry, which caused molten gold to literally pour out of his eyes! Holy Shiite! After that I assumed he was either dead or at the very least, permanently blinded. And yet in this episode he's perfectly fine. Apparently he made a complete and full recovery!

• At one point Goldface uses his gold manipulating powers to hurl the Flash across the room. Just how much gold does Barry have in his costume anyway? Seems like it'd need to have a lot for Goldface to control it like that. Does the suit contain gold circuit boards? Gold thread? Are his chest emblem and ear wings made of gold? 

Amunet then pins him against a wall with a couple of her gauntlet shards. Ouch!

Eventually Barry phases through the shards to free himself, leaving his suit with a couple holes in it. Based on the way he seems fine after this, I'm assuming his speed-healing kicked in and fixed up his shoulders. 

Lastly... what happened to Amunet's shards? I'm assuming they're still stuck in the wall? She fires off quite a few shards in this episode, and seemingly never recovers them. If you'll recall, her shards are made of a special alnico alloy, and not just any run of the mill metal. You'd think she'd use her magnetic powers to draw all the shards back into her gauntlet. Maybe this happens while we're not looking.

• I don't know why, but I loved the scene in which Barry throws a tiny filament of Speed Force Lightning across the room to incinerate the Rappacini's Daughter orchid.

• Amunet & Goldface inhale the orchid smoke, which temporarily allows them to read each other's minds. Oddly enough, that's the last we see of them!

So... did Barry ever arrest Amunet and Goldface, or did he and Iris just leave 'em to bone one another in the warehouse? There's no mention of any arrests in the tag scene, so I guess he must have let 'em go! Our hero, ladies and gentlemen!

• At the end of the episode, Nash is in Jitters when he turns and sees a very familiar face.

At first I assumed this was supposed to be Eobard Thawne. But the more I look at him, the more I think it's Harry Wells, formerly of the Earth-2 that was destroyed in the Crisis.

It would make sense that it's Harry, since just last week Cisco was watching a holo-cube of Harry and pining for his dead friend.

I have no idea how Harry (or that holo-cube!) can still exist, since his world was not only destroyed, but retroactively overwritten when the Paragons rebooted this new Universe. I'm sure we're about to find out though.

• So Barry totally had sex with Mirror Iris, right? I mean it is Valentine's Day, after all, so it's pretty much a given. And real Iris had to watch from inside the mirror! Yikes!

There's no doubt that this incident will come back to bite Barry in the ass once Iris gets out of that Mirror. Especially when a few episodes back (in The Last Temptation Of Barry Allen, Part 1), Iris instantly knew that Barry had been possessed by Bloodwork, and wasn't himself. She's definitely gonna be pissed that he couldn't tell that she'd been replaced by a completely different person!

That's definitely gonna come up and cause a huge deal of resentment down the line. 

This Week's Best Lines:
(Iris cooks Barry a normal breakfast, instead of plopping an unpeeled banana on his plate.)
Barry: "This all looks awesome. I mean, the pancakes are really round. Excited to taste 'em... with my mouth."
(He tentatively takes an experimental bite as Iris watches.)
Barry: "Oh, my God. When did you learn to— I mean, these are really good!"
(Kudos to Grant Gustin here, as he played this scene with perfect comedic timing, stopping himself just short of insulting the old Iris' cooking.)

(Amunet steals a valuable piece of tech, and Barry attempts to arrest her, which amuses her greatly.)

Amunet: "I have the right to remain silent, which will come in handy if you don't want me letting that little secret identity cat out of its flashy red bag. So why don't we just call this a warning. I'll be on my way. No harm. No cowl."
Barry: "I'm supposed to just let you leave?"
Amunet: "Bloody right. Don't think of coming after me, 'cause if I see you, or your onesie, or any one of your frigid or bendy superhero friends, I will hold it against all of you and tell the world your real identities. Savvy?"

(This one requires a bit of setup. Barry & Iris go out to dinner, and he's surprised when she orders in Italian.)

Barry: "What... do you speak Italian?"
Iris: "Oh, well you know that story that I was writing a few months ago on Little Italy? Well, I picked up a phrase or two. Like porca miseria. It's a curse word, but it literally means "pig misery."
(Amunet then enters the restaurant, robs a diner and threatens to expose Barry's secret identity if he tries to stop her. She then sashays out of the place.)
Barry: (realizing he's been bested by Amunet) "Pig misery!"

(Barry decides to search for Amunet at superspeed.)
Barry: "I'm gonna run some sweeps of the city."
Iris: "Whoa, whoa, she said no onesies."
Barry: "Please don't call it that."

Barry: "Hey, what happened? I heard glass breaking."
Iris: "Nothing. I broke a bottle over some loser's head."
Barry: "You what!?"
Iris: "Barry, don't worry. Everything's fine. I was playing a role to get information."
Barry: "Okay, well, that was maybe crossing a line."
Iris: "I'm sure they have some sort of mob doctor in there somewhere."

Amunet: "I suppose you're here to steal what's mine. Typical."
Goldface: "What's yours? Baby, that device belongs to me."
Amunet: "Oh, here we go again with the possessive man routine. The vinyl records were mine, Keith!"
Goldface: "Since when did you like Radiohead? I had OK Computer on 180 gram vinyl with a triple gatefold sleeve!"
Amunet: (cough) "Overrated. (cough)
Goldface: "You skipped out with my Straight Outta Compton soundtrack!"
Amunet: "Oh, please, like you even knew who NWA were before you met me!"

(Nash barges into the Citizen office, where he runs into Frost.)

Nash: "Oh. It's just you. Yeah, I thought, you know, maybe it might be the you know, the girl, the what's her name? Abbondanza?
Frost: "Allegra?"
Nash: "Yeah, Allegra."
(Turns out "abbondanza" is a real word, and is Italian for abundance.)

(The Flash tries to break up a fight between Amunet and Goldface.)
Amunet: "I said no onesie."
Barry: "Okay, why does everybody keep calling it that?"

(Amunet and Goldface inhale the telepathic vapor and realize they still love one another.)
Amunet: "I should take off my gauntlet."
Goldface: "Leave it on, girl. Daddy likes the metal."
Barry: "I can't unsee this."

Frost: "The advice you gave, it really helped me get through to Allegra. It was very insightful. Almost... parental."
Nash: "You going somewhere with that?"
(Obviously Frost has figured out that Nash had a daughter who was Allegra's doppelganger.)

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