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Katee Sackhoff
Photo: Katie Yu (The CW)
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Only a week after promising shiny new variations on the Flash’s meta adversaries, “Love Is A Battlefield” brings back a couple of familiar faces. That’s not such a bad thing in this case, as few guest actors sink their teeth into the scenery with such gusto as Katee Sackhoff brings to Amunet. She’s campy and far enough over the top to fit in on the sixties Batman series, and The Flash can certainly use a dose of that energy from time to time. Also on board for this special Valentine’s Day-themed episode is Amunet’s former partner in both love and crime Goldface (Damion Portier), now turned rival black marketeer. The episode feels like a complete one-off holiday special, until a devious last-minute reveal places it in the context of the arc that began last week.

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As the hour begins, Iris appears shaken up by her trip inside the mirror, but shrugs it off in time to make pancakes for Barry—delicious pancakes, much to the speedster’s surprise. (What’s that smell? Ah, it’s the enriching aroma of product placement, as Barry has a delightful exchange with everyone’s favorite home surveillance device, Alexa.) Iris surprises Barry again at their early Valentine’s Day dinner when she speaks Italian to the waiter, but the moment is interrupted by the sudden arrival of Amunet, who steals a piece of tech from another patron. Fearing that Amunet will reveal his secret identity, Barry does nothing to stop her beyond feebly attempt to arrest her as a CSI.

That the revelation of his true name would give the Flash pause at this point is a bit absurd given how freely he spreads that information around, but it’s just one of those comic book conventions that’s hard to shake. Give him the benefit of the doubt that he’s really trying to protect Iris and the rest of Team Flash, I guess, but it ends up feeling like a crutch to keep the story going when the threat could have been ended in a matter of seconds.

On the plus side, Barry sidelining himself gives the newly badass Iris a chance to take control of the situation. We’ve seen Iris taking on a more active role lately, particularly last week, but it’s still kind of startling to see her stroll into a bar for criminals and knock the bouncer out with a bottle. (And there’s a reason for that, of course, but we’ll get there.) Iris gets a tip to the next heist, where Amunet’s efforts are interrupted by Goldface, giving Iris a chance to make off with the second tech component.

Candice Patton, Grant Gustin
Photo: Katie Yu (The CW)
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What both black marketeers are after is a rare orchid that produces a pollen that can be synthesized into a mind-reading gas. Or are they really after the love they once shared? That’s what Barry bets on when he uses his lightning to release the gas that produces the hilariously repulsive reunion of the former lovers.

Not all lost loves are meant to be rekindled, as Frost learns when she tries to play matchmaker between Allegra and her ex, an emo musician named Emerson. Her first attempt fizzles out, and since her usual life coach Ralph appears to be on an extended break, Nash steps in to urge her to give it another shot. He has his own reasons for taking an interest in Allegra, “almost parental” reasons, as Frost notices. Looks like there’s a doppel-daughter revelation coming sooner than later.

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Rounding out the trio of romantic tales is the one at the show’s center, and The Flash does something pretty interesting with its bait and switch this week. Barry feels that he and Iris may have grown apart during his time dealing with the Crisis, as she’s grown strong and independent in ways he doesn’t recognize. This plays like the set-up to a familiar pattern: Barry wrapped up in his own head, missing what’s going on right under his nose, and needing a Joe pep talk to set him straight. At the same time, we viewers have reason to be suspicious of the change in Iris given what we saw at the end of last week’s episode. Yes, undeniably Iris has come a long way from her damsel-in-distress days and has taken a much more proactive role of late. But the bottle-breaking? The Italian-speaking? The pancakes, for heaven’s sake?

That’s why it’s so satisfying to see the final revelation that the real Iris is still trapped inside the mirror world. The show’s usual explanation could have worked, and just when we might be feeling comfortable with that, the rug gets pulled out from under and a larger vision for the rest of the season emerges. It turns out that Barry is actually right about Iris not being herself, which may be the biggest twist of all.

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Stray observations

  • Harry Wells lives! Or at least it appears that Nash catches a glimpse of him at Jitters before he vanishes.
  • Yep, they really did go there with “Love Is A Battlefield.”
  • In retrospect, Joe’s tree monologue about how “the roots mirror the branches” may have been a clue.
  • The highlight of the entire episode: Barry repeatedly yelling “Banana!”
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My debut novel Charlesgate Confidential is now available from Hard Case Crime.

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