Iris Gets the Focus She Deserves in The Flash’s Mirrorverse Story
The Mirror Iris storyline on The CW’s The Flash has finally semi-concluded, and it delivered one of the best WestAllen moments in a long time. But it also used Iris West-Allen, and actress Candice Patton, better than the last few years of the show overall, which is a testament to Eric Wallace, the new showrunner, and his desire to put the women of The Flash first.
**Spoilers for The Flash episode “Liberation.”**
Before watching yesterday’s episode, I was starting to feel burned out by the Mirror Iris storyline. Very early on, we knew that this was a switch, and therefore, it just felt odd that no one had figured it out yet. From Barry to literal empath Cecile, their huge oversight seemed to be a glaring error that culminated in last week’s episode where Mirror Iris threw Barry out.
Thankfully, that hugely out-of-character moment launched Barry’s brain cells, and he teamed up with Cecile to figure out the truth. While that led to a CW-typical bait and switch and failure-to-communicate issues in the middle, it thankfully comes together with Barry proving the truth. Our real Iris is still trapped in the mirror universe, but now that she knows who the real enemy is, she’s motivated to figure out the truth and find her way back to Barry. The ending scene between Barry and Iris is not only a great emotional scene from Grant Gustin and Candice Patton, but it also makes all the buildup have an emotionally satisfying payoff.
What I realized watching this episode is that it’s been so long since we’ve had a multi-episode storyline on this show that had the focus on Iris and wasn’t just tied to a family issue. The Mirror Iris storyline not only allowed Patton to play two versions of a character, but in this most recent episode, do some more physical acting work. All of this has come from the big push to get more women involved in the series, from lead to supporting. Now that Iris has her Team Citizen group made up of Kamilla Hwang (Victoria Park) and Allegra Garcia (Kayla Compton), we see how easy it could have been, for seasons, to give Iris meaningful storylines.
In an interview with ComicBook.com’s Nicole Drum, The Flash’s showrunner spoke about how it was his “highest priority” to bring Iris and the rest of the female characters to the forefront:
Yes and yes. It was extremely important for me. In fact, it was my highest priority, I would argue, to right the ship. The show’s called The Flash, and I understand that it’s Barry’s story. However, we have such a rich cast of female characters – specifically Iris – who I’ve felt have been underserved. And it was a priority for me to bring them into the forefront.
He said that, in the writers’ room, when they were coming up with storylines and themes, they would ask, “Is it Bechdel approved?” and that will be the standard that Wallace and the team will use as the show goes forward.
“It’s something that I want to see, and it’s what we’re doing. So, not only was it getting Iris’s Team Citizen up to speed as the show goes on, from this point on,” Wallace said. “And not probably just in season six, I mean season seven, and hopefully eight and beyond as we continue. It’s a priority for me to have as many stories for Team Citizen as there are for Team Flash. Which means a balance between the human stories and the superhero stories, because that’s going to help the female characters and characters of color who are female – and some that aren’t female – blossom more.”
It gives me such relief to hear this because—as someone who remembers the huge rumpus some people gave online about Iris, saying that she and Barry were The Flash—it’s important that the people behind the scenes realize that as the co-lead of the series, Iris should have this kind of narrative attention. The fact that it feels odd only serves to highlight how the show has not often done its best by the female leads.
Does that mean this season has been perfect? No. I still think the show has too many characters to manipulate, and they need to figure out how to balance that better going forward (Team Move Ralph to Legends). But as someone who has loved and rooted for Iris from the beginning, I’m glad that it finally feels like someone has her back behind the scenes.
(image: The CW)
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