The Flash: Iris deserves better

Cate Cameron/The CW
Cate Cameron/The CW

Can someone say trust issues? The Flash returned after a one-week hiatus to find Barry conflicted about his connection to the team at S.T.A.R. labs following his realization that Wells killed his mother. Eddie was also facing some serious relationship problems as he struggled to keep Barry’s secret from Iris without raising suspicion.

So far the freshman season of The Flash has been knocking it out of the park left and right with a vibrant cast, killer twists and a carefully tread balance between campy stories and touching moments. Sadly, the show is starting to fall victim to the old standard of turning its female lead into a whiney, unsympathetic character – yes, I’m talking about Iris West.

We’ve previously seen it in the case of Laurel Lance on Arrow and even back on Smallville with Lana Lang. Their justified paranoia comes off as tired and annoying and viewers begin to dislike them. In the case of Iris West, she’s started to pick up on the lies being fed to her, leading her to give Eddie an ultimatum: be honest or it’s over. The moment this happened I knew some major Iris backlash would be looming on the horizon.

What viewers should realize is that this scenario is being written so we can sympathize with┬áthe men. Barry and Joe know that Iris is in serious danger if she looks into Wells, so they’re hiding the truth for her benefit. Eddie feels really guilty about it, but is being forced to keep quiet, so we can’t help but feel for the guy. It’s easy to judge Iris when you know she’s being kept in the dark for the sake of her safety, but if we could see things from her perspective it wouldn’t be so simple. Haven’t we learned from Arrow‘s Thea? Secrets hurt far more than they help.

The moment when Joe and Eddie argued about who gets the bigger vote in Iris’ life was a real indication of how little agency Iris has had in her story so far. Even her investigation of S.T.A.R. labs was instigated by Mason Bridge, which was dropped after his death. In spite of any danger from Wells, bringing Iris into the fold sooner rather than later is the only way to save her character from the same cruel fandom fate as Laurel or Lana. Case in point, while Caitlin has been stuck wearing the supporting character hat since Ronnie left, at least she’s earned the Felicity-esque status of adorkable sidekick.

Cate Cameron/The CW
Cate Cameron/The CW

Speaking of Felicity, while “All Star Team Up” didn’t quite live up to its name, the show’s brightest light was the reappearance of Felicity Smoak herself, accompanied by her superhero boyfriend Ray Palmer, AKA the Atom. With Barry tormented by the idea that Wells is his mother’s killer, the guests from Starling City injected some much needed humour with their awkward exchanges and bad bee puns.

Felicity was also able to give Barry some sound advice on whether or not he should trust Cisco and Caitlin, considering their close relationship to Wells. Olicity shippers were undoubtedly squealing from their couches when she told Barry how she couldn’t help but trust Oliver, despite the egregious lies he told her about his hobbies. Remember the syringe he tried to play off as a new kind of energy drink? Her advice paid off in the final moments of the episode when Barry came clean with the two of them. Cisco taking a “bee bullet” for Ray helped a little, I’m sure. While Caitlin was understandably skeptical, Cisco admitted he had his own doubts about Wells thanks to the visions he’s had of Wells killing him.

I’m really hoping they explain exactly how Cisco is able to recall the events from the previous timeline. Time travel is always a fickle subject, but it’s hard to believe that Cisco can trigger memories that never even happened. Does it have to do with his proximity to Barry? Will other people start remembering moments from the previous timeline as well? It would be really interesting if Iris remembered her dramatic kiss with Barry. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that there’s a significant explanation for it and it’s not just an easy way to help convince Cisco that Wells is a bad guy.

Amidst all the personal drama, there was also a swarm of killer robot bees causing mayhem in Central City. As much as I love The Walking Dead‘s Emily Kinney, her Bug-Eyed Bandit fell flat for me. To be fair, anyone following Mark Hamill’s Trickster was bound to be ho-hum in comparison, but she seemed far more like a secondary side-plot than the main antagonist of the episode.

Flash-points:

  • Despite the issues I had with this episode, it really was a lot of fun. That opening scene with Barry helping Eddie and Joe take down multiple baddies was great.
  • Do you think Felicity and Ray stayed to finish all 17 courses of that dinner?
  • A+ Superman reference for Brandon Routh. It’s a good follow up from the epic Star Wars reference in the last episode.
  • I’m pretty sure they stole the bee face trick from an old episode of Smallville. Can anyone back me up on this?
  • “It’s kind of like I’m dating Barry in Oliver’s body.” Felicity is truly living the dream.

What do you think of the show’s treatment of Iris? Sound off your opinion in the comments below. Barry’s investigation of Wells continues next week in “Who is Harrison Wells?” Something tells me Eobard Thawne’s secrets will be exposed sooner than he thinks.

The Flash airs Tuesdays at 8 p.m. ET on CTV and The CW.