Monday, May 4, 2020

The Flash Season 6, Episode 17: Liberation

This week on The Flash we finally get some lonnnnnng awaited advancement of the seemingly interminable Mirror Master plotline. It feels like this story arc has been going on for years, even though it's only lasted seven episodes so far.

Before I get into the particulars of the episode though, there've been some updates as to the show's current status. Season 6 was originally meant to be 22 episodes long (same number as last season). Unfortunately filming was suspended in March of this year, due to the coronavirus pandemic and subsequent lockdown of the country (thanks, trump).

As a result of this, one episode was shot (#20, I presume?) but won't air for some reason. The final two episodes of the season were never filmed at all, and at this point it seems unlikely that they will be. That means Season 6 will now clock in at a truncated 19 episodes, and conclude just two weeks from now.

I'm assuming the show was building up to the traditional season-ending cliffhanger when they were ordered to stop filming. That means they couldn't even condense the rest of the season into one episode, since they had no idea the lockdown was going to happen. Because of this, Season 6 
will simply stop rather than end, with no satisfying conclusion.

Maybe they'll add the final two episodes to Season 7, so we can have a proper wrap-up of all the current storylines.

As for this episode, there's plenty going on this week as the Mirror Iris arc reaches a somewhat satisfying conclusion, and the Mirror Master one begins in earnest. I can't believe I'm saying this after bitching that nothing was happening for so long, but it almost felt like there was too much going on in this episode. Character motivations changed on a dime and plot points sprung up completely out of the blue, which made it feel like we skipped an episode. I'll get into that further below.

In last week's review, I complained that the Mirrorverse plot was vague and ill-defined, and seemed to be lacking a clear-cut villain. Who's the bad guy here? Eva? Joseph? Both of them? I even wondered if the writers were trying to get us to feel bad for Eva and root for her after Joseph betrayed her and banished her to another dimension.

Based on this week's episode, it kind of looks like that may be what they're doing here. Eva escapes from the Mirrorverse, then tells Barry she has no quarrel with the Flash and even apologizes after hurting him. It's almost like they're painting her as a hero. Unfortunately she's anything but.

Lastly, Candice Patton really knocked it out of the park again this week, as Mirror Iris went through a wide range of emotions and a major reversal of character before ultimately defying her programming. See, writers? She's really quite a good actress when you actually give her something to do besides stand around STAR Labs looking worried.


The Plot:
Barry, Cisco and Ralph are in STAR Labs testing a contraption they've built using notes from Nora's journal. If all goes well, the device will generate a brand new Speed Force that Barry can tap. Cisco fires it up, and the machine whirs impressively for a few seconds before sputtering and shutting down. Cisco wonders how Eobard Thawne was able to create his own personal Negative Speed Force. 

Cecile enters and says she's on her way to The Citizen. She asks Barry if he has a message for (Mirror) Iris, now that she's thrown his ass out of their apartment. He says to tell he misses her. 

At The Citizen, Mirror Iris and Mirror Kamilla are standing in front of a mirror, reporting to Eva McCulloch. Mirror Iris says Barry's residual Speed Force energy is almost gone. Eva tells them to join Mirror Singh for the final phase of her plan, saying she'll soon have her liberation (Houston, We Have A Title!).

Cecile arrives and suggests Mirror Iris contact Barry. Mirror Iris hisses that she can't forgive Barry for sending Joe into Witness Protection without telling her. Cecile says she could let go of her anger if she really wanted to. Mirror Iris hesitates a moment, and says she doesn't know what she wants. She asks Cecile to scan her with her telepathic powers and see if she can sense what she's feeling. Cecile does so, and says Mirror Iris is feeling "sad and concerned." Somehow she doesn't pick up on the fact that Mirror Iris is some sort of artificial construct and not a real person (?).

Cecile goes home and finds Barry there. He's got all sorts of boxes and papers strewn everywhere, and is running around in a wild-eyed mania. He blurts that Iris isn't really Iris, as she's been replaced by a shapeshifter. When the hell did all this happen?

Barry reasons that the real Iris would never throw him out of the house, and that she's been acting odd ever since she the night she visited McCulloch Tech. Cecile doesn't know how to respond to all that. Barry says he needs to find and save the real Iris before his speed runs out.

Meanwhile, Cisco and Ralph visit Caitlin/Frost's apartment to check on her after she was injured by Sunshine a few episodes back. They find Caitlin (not Frost) lying near death on her couch. Cisco takes her temperature, which is 34º F. Caitlin moans a weak, "Help me."

In the MIrrorverse, Iris tells Eva she's figured out a way to escape. She picks up a paperweight and starts to hurl it at the room's giant full length mirror. Eva screams and stops her, saying she's crazy. She then storms off in a huff. Iris starts to go ahead and break the mirror, but stops when she notices a button on the side of the frame. She pushes it, and the mirror slides into the wall, revealing another room behind it.

In the real world, Barry & Cecile sneak into Iris' office at The Citizen. Barry hacks into her computer (i.e., he turns it on) and finds the photo Kamilla took of Wally and Mirror Iris, which shows her covered in prisms. He realizes he can use this to expose Mirror Iris. 

Meanwhile, Mirror Iris, Mirror Kamilla and Mirror Singh place dozens of mirrors around Iris' apartment. Mirror Iris seems distracted, and the others ask if she's OK. She snaps back to attention and says yes. Mirror Singh says there's one last item they need to liberate Eva, and it's the most dangerous one yet. 

Cut to a high security cell in ARGUS, where we see the dangerous item is Ramsey Rosso, aka Bloodwork. GASP! I was hoping we'd gotten rid of him for good.

Cecile texts Mirror Iris and tells her there's an emergency at STAR Labs. A bit later Mirror Iris arrives and asks what's going on. Barry and Nash enter behind her, blocking the door. Barry tells her they know she's not the real Iris, and asks what she's done with his wif. Of course she says she doesn't know what he's talking about. Barry takes out a prismatic scanner and says when he shines it on her, she'll look fragmented like she did in Kamilla's photo.

In the Mirrorverse, Iris walks into the mysterious control room. She sees a podium surrounded by several large jagged mirror fragments. She pushes a button on the podium, and images begin flashing on the mirrors, accompanied by a high pitched whine. Iris clutches her head in pain as the screens display images of Joseph Carver, along with her own abduction into the Mirrorverse. She collapses, as Eva enters and stands over her. 

Back at STAR, Mirror Iris sits calmly and says she forgives Barry for what he's about to do. He shines the scanner on her, but nothing happens. Cecile and Nash then exchange looks, thinking Barry's gone off the deep end. Mirror Iris takes the device and shines it on Barry, causing him to revert to a prismatic form!

Nash starts to fire his gauntlet at Barry, who insists he's real. Cecile walks up and calmly says she believes him, as she sneakily slaps a pair of power dampening cuffs on him. She tells him she's sorry.

Cut to Barry in the STAR Labs Secret Super Jail, as he insists he's real and Iris is the fake. Nash says this obviously has to do with the "reflective chip technology" (whatever that is) that McCulloch Tech was developing. He goes off to do some investigating. Cecile says something doesn't feel right about all this, and Mirror Iris promises she won't give up until she finds the real Barry.

Elsewhere, Cisco says Caitlin's in a state of self-induced "ice hibernation." He says they need to shock her out of her icy coma, and rigs up some sort of makeshift battery or something. He says they don't have any proper wiring, so Ralph will have to act as the jumper cables. Ralph grabs the device and touches Caitlin, as the current surges through him and into her. Ralph's then thrown across the room by the shock. Comic book science!

Amazingly Caitlin wakes and explains that she tried to heal her wound with cold powers, but things got out of hand and she went into an "ice coma." She say she needs help, and there's only one person to call— her mother.

We then get a flashback showing how Mirror Iris was able to bamboozle Barry's test. Eva contacts Mirror Iris and tells her Barry's onto them. She tells Mirror Iris to meet with him, and she'll handle the rest. At STAR, Barry accuses Mirror Iris of being a fake. While no one's looking, Eva reaches out of a reflective surface and switches the prismatic scanner for an altered one— which will show Barry's the mirror clone instead of Iris.

Elsewhere, Mirror SIngh pulls some strings and gets permission for him, Mirror Iris and Mirror Kamilla to visit Ramsey inside ARGUS. They confront Ramsey and tell them they're minions of Eva McCulloch, who he's familiar with. They tell him that Eva's trapped in the Mirrorverse and needs a drop of his blood to free herself.

Ramsey consents, but says it'll be tough to get him out of his special forcefield-protected cell. Mirror Kamilla says it's Eva's will, then steps into the forcefield. Her body's disintegrated, which shorts out the field. Ramsey steps out of his cell and immediately attacks Mirror Singh, throwing him across the room and knocking him out cold. He then picks up Mirror Iris by the neck, and says he senses a hint of free will in her. He asks what she wants and she says, "to be alive."

Ramsey drops her and says she's "worthy" (?) and steps back into his cell, saying there's no way he can escape from the building. As the forcefield reactivates, he tells Mirror Iris he's playing the long game. Mirror Iris collects a sample of Ramsey's blood from her neck. Ramsey tells her, "Run, Iris, Run."

At STAR, Barry's cooling his heels in the Super Jail. Cecile enters and tells him she senses that he's the real Barry. She frees him and tells him to find Iris.

Mirror Iris returns to her apartment and reports to Eva, saying she got Ramesy's blood. Eva says that with it, she'll be able to create a safe passageway between the universes, so she can enter the real world without being burned alive. 

Suddenly Barry appears and confronts Mirror Iris and asks "Where's my wife?" Mirror Iris flings Ramsey's blood at a mirror, which instantly absorbs it. Mirror Iris then turns into the T-1000 as her arms morph into silvery spikes and she attacks Barry.

In the Mirrorverse, Iris wakes and sees she's tied to a chair. She tells Eva that Barry will stop her. Eva says don't be too sure, and displays an image of Mirror Iris attacking Barry.

Mirror Iris uses the many mirrors in the apartment to her advantage, as she sticks her spiky arms into them and they emerge from others, slicing Barry to ribbons. Mirror Iris tells him he should really mind his surroundings, as she looks up at a large mirror on the ceiling. Eva causes it to shatter, and as the shards fall around Barry, Mirror Iris' blades protrude from them and slice him up even more.

Barry collapses and again asks where his wife is. Mirror Iris taunts him, listing all the time they spent together— including in the bedroom (!). After hearing this, Iris tells Eva she's going to kill her. Eva says Mirror Iris feels what she feels (?). Iris asks if that means the mirror clones love Carver. Eva says she no longer loves her husband and wants to end him. Iris reasons that Eva still has feelings for him, else she wouldn't call him "her husband." 

Hearing this, Eva loses her temper, which causes Mirror Iris to falter. Iris continues to push Eva about her feelings for Carver. She screams that she hates him, and Mirror Iris parrots her words. 

Somehow Barry realizes the real Iris is on the other side of the mirror, trying to distract Eva. He tells Mirror Iris he won't fight her, as he knows part of the real Iris is inside her. He urges her to be herself (ugh) and resist Eva. Amazingly he gets through to Mirror Iris, and she stops fighting him and tells him to go find his wife. Suddenly her body begins cracking. Barry holds her in his arms (???) as she shatters into pieces.

Just then Eva steps through the mirror and into the real world for the first time in six years. He starts to attack and she sends a shard of glass flying into his chest. She immediately apologizes (?), saying it didn't have to be like this. He asks if she's going to kill him, and she says there's no need now that he's lost his speed. She leaves him for dead as she jumps into a nearby mirror and teleports away. Barry tries to get up but passes out.

Barry wakes sometime later and sees he's healed himself with the last of his Speed Force energy. In a scene that goes on for forty five minutes, Barry painfully crawls over to a mirror, places his hand on it and says he hopes Iris can hear him. He then blathers on and on about how much he misses and loves her. She places her hand on her side of the mirror as well, echoing his sentiments. He promises to bring her home.

• I touched on this briefly in the intro, but it's worth mentioning again. What the hell is going on with this show? Did The CW skip an episode this week?

One minute Barry's trying to build a new Speed Force for himself, then literally five minutes later he's convinced that Iris has been replaced by an impostor. Note that there's no gradual buildup to this serious accusation, as he comes up with it completely out of the blue! In fact it's almost shocking in its abruptness.

Then Cisco and Ralph pay a visit to Caitlin, who's apparently spent the past few weeks recovering from her battle with Sunshine. Again, there was no foreshadowing or prior mention that she was suffering in any way, as this subplot is suddenly just there.

As I said in the intro, The CW admitted that one episode from this season was filmed but never aired. Was there an actual Episode 17 that showed Barry suspecting Iris and Caitlin suffering, and they cut it for some reason and renumbered the rest?

It's impossible to tell at this point, and we may never know. It's obvious though that something strange happened behind the scenes between Episodes 16 and 17, that seriously messed up the continuity and flow of the season.

• At the beginning of the episode, Barry, Cisco & Ralph activate their new Speed Force generator. The machine glows as it slowly begins throbbing with energy. Suddenly the readouts fall to zero as the generator grows dark and grinds to a halt. 

It's obvious to a five year old that the machine stopped and the experiment failed. So did we really need to cut to Cisco saying, "It didn't work?"

• Cecile tries to talk Mirror Iris into making up with Barry. Mirror Iris is confused and asks Cecile to scan her with her telepathic powers and tell her what she wants. Cecile does so, and says only that Mirror Iris feels "sad and concerned."

That's it? That's all she sensed? She's supposed to be a telepath, right? So why the hell couldn't she detect that Mirror Iris is a conniving, manipulative artificial being and not a real person? Later on in the episode she senses that Barry's telling the truth about being a real boy. Ergo, the reverse should be true regarding Mirror Iris.

I get that we're supposed to believe that Iris is so amazing that her personality is overwhelming her clone and giving her real, honest emotions. But it's still a bunch of hooey that Cecile couldn't tell something wasn't right with Mirror Iris.

Why are Cecile's powers portrayed so inconsistently? Originally she was able to read minds, then over time she could only sense emotions. Now it seems like her powers fluctuate based on the needs of the script.

• Whenever we see Iris and Eva inside the Mirrorverse, there's a large floor-to-ceiling mirror on one wall, with dozens of others spaced around the set. It occurred to me this week that these scenes must be real headache to film. They have to set up the camera so neither it or any of the crew are accidentally reflected in any of the mirrors, which must be a nightmare. It probably takes forever just to shoot the simplest scene on this set.

• At one point Iris discovers a button at the side of Eva's floor-to-ceiling mirror. She pushes it, which causes the mirror to slide into the wall and reveal a room behind it. She utters a disbelieving "Oh my god" as she stares into the room.

For a brief second I thought this new room was inside McCulloch Tech, meaning Iris has been in the real world all this time, and the whole Mirrorverse thing was some elaborate ruse cooked up by Eva for some reason. If that had happened I honestly would have thrown something through my TV. Fortunately that wasn't the case, and it was a secret room inside the Mirrorverse.

• Cisco's nerd t-shirt of choice this week features a graphic of the Arecibo Message.

It was a signal sent into space a single time back in 1974 to mark the remodeling of the Arecibo radio array in Puerto Rico. The message was aimed at the globular star cluster M13, and featured blocky, Atari-like graphics illustrating our numbering system, human DNA, the layout of our solar system and a crude representation of our anatomy.

Fortunately M13 is 25,000 light years from Earth, so we've got a good long while before the inhabitants receive the message and send their invasion force to conquer us.

• Cisco finds Caitlin unconscious in her freezing cold apartment. He takes her temperature, which reads a frigid 34º F. So Caitlin's dead now, right? Even someone with cold powers like her shouldn't be able to survive that! Her body's two freakin' degrees above freezing!

• Cisco decides the only way to save Caitlin is to electrically shock her out of her "ice coma." Yeah, that's a thing that happens in this episode. Since they don't have any "ionized conductive wiring," Ralph acts as a pair of jumper cables, allowing the current from the battery to pass through his stretchy body and into Caitlin. In the process, Ralph's electrocuted and blown across the room. Oddly enough, Caitlin's just fine and calmly wakes up.

I freely admit I know little or nothing about electricity, but none of this seems right to me. If the current is flowing through Ralph and into Caitlin, shouldn't SHE have been the one who got fried and tossed against the wall?

 Tom Cavanagh is easily the best actor on The Flash. That's why it pains me to say that Nash is the worst and most useless version of Wells the show's featured so far. More so than even Sherloque!

He hasn't done anything of note since he first appeared, and contributes little or nothing to Team Flash. OK, so he freed The Anti-Monitor from his interdimensional prison and turned into Pariah during the Crisis. But that ended up being rewritten when the Universe was rebooted, so it doesn't count.

Here's an idea— a few episodes back we saw that Nash's mind was being taken over by previous Multiversal versions of Harrison Wells. What if these prior Wellseses started popping up in his body now and then? One week he'd become Harry Wells, then the next HR would manifest. It'd make Nash about a thousand times more interesting, and we'd get to revisit our old favorite versions of the character! Get on this right now, writers!

• Barry tries to prove Mirror Iris isn't real by shining a prismatic scanner on her. When nothing happens, she grabs the scanner & aims it at Barry, seemingly revealing that HE'S the mirror clone. He's then locked up till the others can figure out what to do with him.

You know, there was a really good way for Barry to get out of this jam and prove he's real. All he had to do was tell Mirror Iris to test the scanner on Cecile and Nash as well. Then when the beam caused them to look all prismatic too, they'd know the scanner had been tampered with. 

Of course if they'd done that, then we wouldn't have had the incredibly superfluous "Barry In Super Jail" sublot, that went absolutely nowhere and did nothing but eat up ten minutes of screentime.

• Wondering what happened to the prismatic scanner, and why it didn't work on Mirror Iris? That's because while no one was looking, Eva swapped it out for an altered one. A couple things here:

First of all, what a lucky break for Eva that the scanner just happened to be sitting on a metal tray, so she could reach into the real world and replace it with a copy.

Secondly, note that this metal tray clearly isn't a mirror, and is only slightly reflective. So I guess that means Eva doesn't just control mirrors, but also somewhat shiny things!

 For weeks now, Eva's been going on and on about how she'd developed some sort of mirror-based technology that was going to revolutionize the world, but her husband Joseph Carver stole it or corrupted it or something. As with everything about this storyline, it was never clear just what she was working on.

This week we get a fleeting clue, as Nash says, "I've seen that McCulloch tech up close and it... reflective chip technology, it's... it's far-reaching to say the least."

Well that clears up everything! Eva created reflective chip technology! What does that mean, you ask? You know! They're chips. And they're reflective! And they'll help mankind! Geez, everyone knows that!

• Mirror Iris, Mirror Kamilla and Mirror Singh pay a visit to ARGUS to chat with Ramsey Rosso. Before they enter his cell, they pass through some sort of high tech security scanner. Note that the scanner audibly dweedles as they each walk through it, but no alarms go off.

What a minute, that can't be right. The three of them are some sort of artificial constructs— they're not real people. Don't believe me? Welp, keep in mind that in the third act Mirror Iris transforms her arms into razor sharp blades, then later on cracks and shatters into a million glass shards!

So why don't the scanners detect that these three aren't human? You'd think at the very least it'd give off a buzz or sound an intruder alert.

• Oh boy, this week we get a surprise appearance from Bloodwork, my all time least favorite Flash villain. I dearly hoped we'd seen the last of him when he was defeated earlier in the season. Now it looks like he's gonna figure into the season finale somehow. Or would have, if it had been filmed.

• When the mirror kids visit Ramsey's cell, we see that he's wearing the same ripped and tattered clothing he had on when he was defeated back in The Last Temptation Of Barry Allen, Part 2. Since The Flash operates more or less in real time, that was six freakin' months ago! 

Are we really supposed to believe ARGUS hasn't given Ramsey a change of clothes in all that time? Does the whole "cruel and unusual punishment" thing not apply to metas held at top secret government facilities?

• After Mirror Iris collects Ramsey's blood, Mirror Singh tells her to hurry and leave while he covers their tracks. How the hell's he going to do THAT? Mirror Kamilla disintegrated herself to temporarily free Ramsey. Won't ARGUS security be a little suspicious when three people came in to see a dangerous meta, but only two leave?

• As Mirror Iris leaves, Ramsey tells her, "Run, Iris, run!" Of course that's a play on the famous "Run, Barry, run!" line that's been uttered a couple dozen times during the series. It was also the title of Episode 16 in Season 4— the one in which Iris temporarily became a speedster.

 When Barry confronts Mirror Iris, she angrily hurls a vial of Ramsey's blood at the nearest full length mirror. It absorbs the blood, which allows Eva to safely escape from the Mirrorverse.

Mirror Iris then casually tosses the empty vial onto a chess board. The shot goes by quickly so it's easy to miss, but if you look closely it appears there's still a little bit of blood sloshing around inside the vial. 

Nothing happens on a TV show without a reason, so if they deliberately gave us a shot of the blood in the vial, it's inevitable that it'll become important later. I'm not quite sure how yet, but Ramsey's leftover blood is definitely a future plot point.

• The highlight of the episode had to be when Mirror Iris went full T-1000 and transformed her arms into super-sharp blades and started slashing away at Barry.

That was the last thing I ever expected to see on this show, but I'm glad they went there as it was pretty damn cool.

 Even cooler was the way Mirror Iris utilized the mirrors in the apartment, by shoving her blade arm into one and having it emerge out of another to unexpectedly stab Barry. It was a clever and ingenious use of her power, and quite well thought out. If only it hadn't taken us seven episodes to get to this point.

• Did... did Mirror Iris just wipe her nose with her super-sharp blade arm? Yes. Yes she did.

• Back when this whole Mirror Master storyline started, I wondered how the show would handle the matter of Barry and Mirror Iris' intimacy. After all, they're a young and attractive couple, so they probably have a pretty healthy sex life. Would Mirror Iris willingly perform her marital duties and have sex with Barry? Or would she keep having headaches every night for six months to avoid the situation?

I noted that if Barry did end up sleeping with Mirror Iris, it would have devastating effect on his relationship with his real wife. Consequences that could ultimately even tear them apart.

I wasn't sure whether the show would go there and deal with the question, or simply sweep it under the rug and never mention it. 

So far they've been pretty vague on the topic. They did sort of hint that something might have happened at the end of Love Is A Battlefield (their Valentine's Day episode), but it was unclear if they actually went all the way or not.

Welp, this week they finally confirmed it. After Mirror Iris slashes Barry to ribbons, she leans over his bleeding body and begins taunting him, saying, "
What do you think about me, Barry? All those days. Weeks. It wasn't her. It was me. Enjoying meals together. Talking about our day. Sharing your bed."

So that's that then! Barry cheated on his wife with another woman. OK, technically he didn't know he was cheating, and even technically-er, Mirror Iris isn't an actual real person, but some sort of energy construct. But he still had sex with her/it. That's definitely gonna affect the real Iris, as she'll no doubt feel hurt and betrayed.

I'm hoping the writers will actually acknowledge this situation, and don't just ignore it as they have so many other issues in the past. Or even worse, resolve it between episodes!

• Late in the third act, Mirror Iris stops fighting Barry as she realizes she actually has feelings for him. She tells Barry to find the real Iris, then dies in his arms as she shatters into pieces.

The implication here is that the real Iris' love for Barry is so strong and pure that it overwhelmed Mirror Iris' programming, allowing her to become autonomous and break free from Eva's influence.

That's pretty much identical to one of the plotlines in Star Trek: The Motion Picture. In that film, the V'ger entity killed Lt. Ilia, then made a highly sophisticated artificial copy of her. Unfortunately for V'ger, it made such a perfect replica that the copy began experiencing Ilia's feelings, particularly towards her former lover Commander Decker. Captain Kirk was then able to take advantage of this and use Fake Ilia against V'ger.

Earlier in the season I wondered how Iris would react to Barry being not realizing that Mirror Iris was a fake. After all, Iris instantly knew Barry had been possessed by Bloodwork, so surely she'd be pissed when he didn't notice she'd been replaced by an imposter.

Welp, it looks like the writers just gave Barry an out regarding this situation. Mirror Iris was such a perfect copy that she eventually became the real thing!

• For a while now I've been wondering where the real Kamilla and Singh are— or if they're even still alive. 

This week we get a clue as to where they are. When Eva finally escapes from the Mirrorverse this week, she and Barry have the following conversation:

Barry: "Iris... where... where is she?"
Eva: "She's still in the world I left behind. Along with the rest of my insurance policy. Chief Singh, and your friend, Kamilla. They're safe. How long is up to you."

Apparently they're located in the Mirrorverse along with Iris. Where exactly is the question. I guess they're tied up in some secret room that Iris doesn't know about?

This Week's Best Lines:
Meh. Nothing worth noting in this episode.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.

Related Posts with Thumbnails
Site Meter