Warning: this review contains full spoilers for The Flash: Season 6, Episode 11. If you need a refresher on where we left off, here’s our review for Season 6, Episode 10.
It’s almost Valentine’s Day, which usually means The Flash is taking a break from weightier matters to dabble in romantic drama and more lighthearted hero/villain conflicts. And given that we’re only two episodes removed from Crisis, why not? What’s the harm in a little goofy fun before the show dives headlong into its new Mirror Master storyline? “Love Is a Battlefield” manages to shift the series in a sillier direction without completely losing sight of the threads introduced in the midseason premiere. In the process, it even manages to do something fun with one of the series’ more frustrating villains.
Though “Love Is a Battlefield” builds directly on the terrific cliffhanger ending from last week, it makes a point of not resolving that cliffhanger. If anything, there’s a fun dose of tension to this followup. We don’t know what exactly happened to Iris when she was dragged into Eva McCulloch’s mirror dimension. What does she remember? Is this even the real Iris? Those questions become all the more urgent as Iris begins acting strangely hostile and reckless and pushing Barry away in a time when they should be savoring the holiday and their happy ending from Crisis.
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The tension works because Mirror Iris is never portrayed in such a way as to seem totally out of character. It’s not unreasonable to assume that Iris really is fed up with being the damsel in distress and having Barry’s metahuman woes constantly getting in the way of their relationship. Nor is it a huge leap to believe Iris would take the end of Crisis as an opportunity to reinvent herself and carpe diem her heart out. If anything, this series has established that a gung-ho, aggressive Iris is the way to go.
So with that in mind, it’s almost a disappointment to get confirmation in the closing stinger that the real Iris has been replaced by a mirror version. I wouldn’t necessarily mind if this transformation were a genuine evolution for her. But a lot rests on how the series proceeds with the Mirror Master conflict. We need a better sense of how Iris and her mirror self are linked and what makes these mirror clones different from alternate universe doppelgangers. There’s no point in casting judgment just yet.
This episode also stands out for making unusually solid use of Amunet Black. Katee Sackhoff has always been enjoyable in the role – clearly she’s having a blast hamming it up in each and every scene – but Amunet always tends to be reserved for the most forgettable, throwaway storylines. Granted, this week’s conflict is a very low stakes one. The writers practically have to bend over backwards to justify Barry not bringing Amunet to justice in a split second. But it’s a fun conflict nonetheless, and one that makes excellent use of the romantic tension between Amunet and her equally ostentatious ex-lover, Goldface. And however silly the main story is this week, it does succeed in giving Amunet something resembling depth and humanity.
Unfortunately, while the main Iris/Amunet conflict this week works as both a fun romp and a prelude of things to come for the Mirror Master conflict, the B-plot falls completely flat. Season 6 has yet to really justify adding Allegra to the mix. Even the reveal that she’s apparently the long-lost daughter of Nash is doing nothing to boost Allegra’s standing. Like I said last week, we’ve already done the “Harrison Wells tries to reconnect with his angsty daughter” shtick, and there’s little appeal in returning to that well now. Why is this plot twist even needed? Those few moments this episode spends in exploring Nash’s lingering guilt over his role in Crisis argue that the character already has all the dramatic fodder he needs without the family angle.
Even ignoring the Nash factor, Allegra’s struggle this week fails to make her a more interesting character. Heck, most of her arc happens off-screen, in between pep talks with Frost. It’s enough to wish Frost herself had been the focal point of this subplot, as she tries to embrace her newly independent existence by trying her luck at love. Maybe next year.
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