The Flash: 4.16 Run, Iris, Run
Flashtime was quite possibly my favourite episode of the season; to top or even match it seemed impossible. While Run, Iris, Run is by no means perfect, it’s highly entertaining and provides interesting developments. There’s a delicate balance between story, comedy and emotion which is superb. When I first saw the title, I assumed Iris was the new Speedster Jay was training on Earth 2. No, instead this is our Iris who gains Barry’s powers, which immediately I gave a groan to, but the outcome couldn’t have been better.
It starts with Harry and Cisco working late trying to come up with ways to defeat DeVoe. Harry finds inspiration to build his very own Thinking Cap, in order to increase his intelligence to match DeVoe, which Cisco disapproves of because of the risks. Ralph on the other hand is all for it; he’s tired of being afraid and hiding from DeVoe. This lets us into Ralph’s emotional state which is intriguing to watch.
There's a nice twist with the Meta's this time around. Rather than just get the expected bus Meta, there's an added addition of an OG Meta that although short, is welcome to know their still around. Matthew Kim is this week's bus Meta who has the ability to take someone's powers and transfer them. Around a quarter way through, the episode was sticking to a tried and tested formula which works perfectly, when all of a sudden, things take a dramatic and well thought out turn.
Certainly a high point for this episode would be the amount of Iris we get. After trying to comfort Ralph she is met by hostility and cruelty. As harsh yet true as he is, it brings to the forefront part of Iris’s character that, for some time, has simply been lurking in the background. After questioning Kim with her father, one things leads to another and Iris ends up with Barry's powers...this brings a whole new meaning to married couples sharing everything.
The husband and wife role reversal dynamic is played out brilliantly, each portraying the expected emotion. Barry’s disheartened and feeling lost without his powers but Iris loves her new found responsibilities and abilities. This was gracefully executed and well performed, this could easily have felt forced and whiny. It also offers a rare opportunity to learn more about Iris, her strengths, ambitions and why she left being a reporter to be Flash team leader full time. From a relationship perspective, it brings the two closer together, as she can appreciate what he goes through daily, and vice versa.
Iris’ first task is to save people from a burning building, which she does with ease, with Barry’s help. Unfortunately, it seems his teachings only go as far as “run as fast as you can”, this added a nice human element back into Barry's character which was nice to see. Usually, Barry would spin his arms, creating wind tunnels to put the fire out, but it isn’t working for Iris (why? inexperience?). A silent Barry does nothing; until Ralph suggests she spin them the other way, which Barry actually advises her to do. Honestly, this made me almost soil myself with laughter. With the fire too strong, she gets trapped by a falling beam that Barry fails to tell her how to phase out of (how Wally progressed I’ll never know). Cisco vibes her out just in time, even though initially it would’ve made sense for Caitlin (Killer Frost) to be there to put the fire out. Frankly why Cisco and Caitlin are not included more is a mystery.
Later, Barry suggests that she stay behind and let the others handle things (seriously, this man has no faith in his wife). On the one hand I hate how this show has in some respects diminished Iris' character, but here she is certainly being lifted up, showing her strength and desire to help just like everyone else. However, explaining she wants to get the fearlessness she once had as a reporter back, felt like an element that wasn't earned. I appreciated the sentiment but the show never developed her as a reporter. The best we got was her in the news room or typing up a story.
The final sequence shows Iris in her new suit attempt to take down the Meta with fire powers. This area really brought the episode together nicely. Harry gets to use his Thinking Cap and Barry gets to learn from his previous mentor mistakes. The detail around Iris' super alter-ego is superb, from the unnecessary but well made suit to the purple lightning she generates while running. Although she may not have kept the powers for longer than an episode what we got was plenty, although I guess we'll see more of her as Kim decides to stay with the team and help. The addition of Kim could shake things up as the teams powers could easily be switched around at random; whether this will work, who knows. Iris starting her blog back up was a nice homage to previous seasons and will hopefully give her character something new to concentrate on.
Although perhaps not a perfect episode, it continues to show that even without the presence of DeVoe, instalments can be highly enjoyable. This could easily have been silly, cheesy and over the top. Instead, it was subtle and offered excellent character development, while still staying in the realm of the overall plot. This season continues to impress which gives me high hopes for the future.