The Flash struggles with its latest Valentines Day-themed episode.
As the first half of this season went so well, and Crisis On Infinite Earths being a decent follow-up, it’s fair to have your expectations raised somewhat…no? Last week’s episode, Marathon, was a double edged sword. On the one hand it wasn’t anywhere near as successful as we had become accustomed to this season; on the other, it managed a surprising final sequence and decent set-up of a villainous organisation. The trouble with Love is a Battlefield is it failed to capitalise on the built-up tension and ultimately executed a yawn-fest.
Marathon ended with Iris being pulled into a mirror which, while creating a great amount of shock, did get audiences thinking about the countless possibilities this storyline could have. Ultimately, the biggest downfall of this episode is not properly addressing it until the final few seconds. Granted, there were several hints and teases but it was never absolute, so anything heartfelt or emotional that happened during the episode, especially involving Iris, fell flat.
Love is a Battlefield reintroduces two of the least menacing villains from The Flash, Amunet Black and Goldface, in a horribly forced romantic story arc (this episode aired just before Valentine’s day in the US, hence the theme) that pulls in Barry and Iris. It’s clear the respective actors are having a blast playing these characters, and although it’s fun to watch at times, it plays around too drastically with the tone created in Marathon. The story-line itself is hard to take seriously;it’s hard not to second guess yourself throughout, wondering if this is a mirror universe, a new universe akin to Flashpoint, or simply an Iris imposter.
The main story arc side-lines the Flash; after Amunet threatens to tell the world who he really is if he interferes with her plans, so this becomes Iris’ time to shine and the only area where there’s any remote tension. The dialogue between her and Barry is powerful, as she expresses her feelings of being a damsel in distress, not needing him to always save her and how she mentally prepped for his death in Crisis. This was excellent discourse and a nice insight into their relationship post-crisis. However, when it’s revealed at the end that the real Iris is in fact locked in the mirror and replaced by an imposter, it counteracts everything we’ve heard and the validity is therefore compromised, which certainly left me confused…is this how the real Iris feels?
The lack of team unity is beginning to strain too. Cisco leaving and being replaced by Nash Wells has yet to be addressed by the whole team, and again, where is Ralph? Not helping is the mundane and frankly dull side missions that add very little. Season six has yet to justify adding Allegra to the roster; she barely works in Team Citizen and the forced attempt at giving her character personality with the help of Frost failed, other than to waste time. Allegra supposedly being the daughter of Nash Wells, while also not adding any tension or emotional conflict, is something we’ve seen before.
The lack of believability was also annoying. We’re expected to accept that Iris, a now popular creator and writer of a renowned news blog, and somebody who’s been seen countless times with the Flash, can walk into a bad-guy bar, smash a bottle over someone’s head and be given all the information she wants about a “top-level” villainess (Amunet) *ugh*. I understand that this is not actually Iris, but the world is unaware of this, or do they see someone else maybe? We’re also led to believe that the new Earth-Prime still has remnants left by old Earth’s, most notably the drink from Earth Two. I appreciate it was a nothing sequence but it bothered me and affects continuity, which is important.
If the final sequence in Marathon was removed, this episode would perhaps have been more enjoyable, because frankly, while I’ve bashed it an awful lot, it’s a fun, albeit out of the box, instalment. Love is a Battlefield is ill placed and attempts to inject more of a comedic tone with varying success that, while still managing to scrape enough attention to leave a noteworthy cliff-hanger. It needs to get more serious.
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