The Flash raises the stakes and explores the mirror dimension…
Wow! What a superb hour of television. Aside from a few nit-picks, the urge to shout at the television screen, “what took you so long to figure it out?” and the eye-rolling soppy (albeit fitting with The Flash’s typical style) ending, Liberation is up there with the best of them. Perhaps, most impressive, was how it manages to fit in so much content, being informative, interesting and thought provoking throughout.
It’s about time an episode centred on Eva, the mirror duplicates and the alternative dimension in which the real Iris is trapped. So often when things such as this are left unaddressed, the end result can be anti-climactic or at least less than expected. Thankfully that wasn’t the case here; instead the decision to delve deep into character development and themes leaves the audience wanting more. While Eva’s goals are simple, at least they’re focused.
Since the events of Crisis on Infinite Earths, we’ve not seen as much of Barry and Iris’ relationship as we might have been expected. For better or worse, at least those pent up emotions have finally been laid bare here, and Candice Patton’s performance both as real and duplicate Iris was fantastic as she plastered on the dramatic tension thick. It was clear that the dialogue between Barry and Iris’ Mirror held truth from both sides, proving the theory that the copies do indeed share the same feelings and emotions of their counterparts, which really helped amplify the atmosphere.
Barry’s ever decreasing powers, as depicted in Death of the Speedforce, have been lingering for a while, with little to show the ramifications of the situation…until now. Barry being unable to stop the bullet from hitting Joe last week was pretty darn good, but the action sequence between Mirror Iris and Barry blows that out of the water. Not only was it inventive, beautifully shot, intense and jaw dropping, seeing Barry lay on the floor, motionless, covered in blood (at least as much as a superhero show aimed at kids could show) and unable to speed heal was the most effective illustration of the change in Barry internally thus far. It may not be long before the team replicate Thawne’s negative Speedforce, but until then, Barry’s life could be in real danger.
Bringing back Sendhil Ramamurthy’s Bloodwork really helped to tie the season together nicely. Breaking the season in two, each with its own narrative was a great, refreshing decision. We never needed to see Bloodwork again, but, while his appearance here was a tad forced and incredibly short, it worked perfectly, serving as a reminder that this is in fact one season. Bloodwork’s style of villainy and eerie looking effects helped elevate the tension filled atmosphere. Hopefully this isn’t the last we see of him but, with only two episodes remaining, it would be understandable if it was.
The visual effects and use of tension were simply outstanding and really stood out. From Bloodwork’s black ooze, the simplicity of testing the new Speedforce machine, to the ever inventive Mirror fight scene with Iris, Liberation was nothing if not tantalisingly easy on the eyes. Admittedly, Iris transforming her arms to become knives made little sense, but wow did it look cool! Never would you believe that the death of a Mirror duplicate could be equal parts visually stunning and heart-breaking simultaneously but Iris proved both, being genuinely…shattering (sorry)
Liberation’s success comes from its simplicity. It never gets out of hand; there are no McGuffins or doohickeys to overcomplicate the plot and the lack of science techno-babble was, for once, nice to not hear. Barry out of his suit and barely using his powers was practically unnoticeable thanks to the more interesting story built around it. Even the disposable scene with Ralph, Cisco and Caitlin couldn’t affect the pacing; it even provided a little laugh to ‘break the ice’ (sorry again). If this is the standard that’s been set for the final two episodes, bring it on!!
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