Monday, May 20, 2024

May The Bait-And-Switch Gods Smile Upon The Flash

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Glossing over how I was vehemently waiting for the final showdown to be held next week only—Iris’s death was scheduled for May 23rd—“Infantino Street” was one of the best and yet heart wrenching hours of The Flash.

Aurora’s “Murder Song” comes in setting the mood for the reveal that it is officially 24 hours until the death of Iris West. We see Infantino Street, the place where it will go down, along with Cisco, Tracy, and HR working at STAR Labs trying to find a power source for the Speedforce Bazooka, Joe staring catatonically at a picture of Iris’s, and finally herself and Barry, lying in bed for quite possibly the last time. Iris tells Barry that she really wants to eat caviar and he says he will go out to get some, but she should still have some faith on the team. As Barry leaves, Iris picks up his phone and starts recording a video for her fiancé.

In the morning, like anyone even slept, Barry and Iris are putting on clothes (I always wondered what would happen in time travel fantasies if, in this situation for example, Barry told Iris not to wear the specific shirt he saw in his vision, but I guess it wouldn’t change anything), Cisco calls in with the news that he found the power source they need at an ARGUS facility. They meet up with Lyla who says what they are talking about is a piece of Dominator technology, but she doesn’t trust Barry after the Flashpoint debacle, so she won’t give him what he needs.

Naturally, Barry explains to the team that, if Lyla won’t give it to them, Wally and him will just steal it. However, ARGUS uses a metahuman power dampener inside their facility, so that would be a no-no on the speedsters’ advantage. And so, as predicted, Barry time travels once again (DUDE, STOP DOING THAT!) to Siberia, 1892 to recruit Leonard Snart and his particular set of skills for a little heist. Thankfully, the team at the very least call Barry out for the little time travel before they accept that his plan is actually great.

Snart brushes up everyone on Heist 101, taking the lead because he honestly seems to want to help Barry and Iris out. Tracy learns that Barry is The Flash and I guess this is a good continuity point, but Tracy saying “I totally should have figured that out” acts mostly as a funny lampshade. Barry tells Joe to take Iris to a place he won’t know of and the couple says their goodbyes/”This is not quite goodbye”. Cut to Earth-2, where the Wests meet Harry at his STAR Labs as the best place to hide Iris.

At ARGUS, Barry uses HR’s facial device to impersonate Lyla as he would be taking Captain Cold into custody. He passes the first two security protocols—ID and eye scanner —but the keyphrase stumps him, so he ends up knocking out the guards.

At Earth-2, Iris and Joe have a little moment where they confess some hijinks both of them enacted during their lives (Iris used to sneak out, Joe used money from their college tuition to go on a cruise…), they dance a little while Joe sings, and it’s all very cute specially when you consider that they really are avoiding saying their “official” goodbyes. She also hands him her engagement ring to give back to Barry in the event of her death.

On their way to the correct room, Barry and Snart walk through The Corridor of References: Grodd, Cupid, and Cheetah are name-dropped. Finally, they arrive at the place and find out about the extremely-expensive-and-difficult lock they have to get through which Cisco makes a huge deal about, but Snart defeats easily. However, they only really shit their pants when they realize King Shark is acting as the “security guard” for the Dominator technology.

Barry suggests using the Cold Gun to kill the metahuman (metaanimal?), but Captain Cold, an avid fan of Shark Week, tells Barry that just lowering the temperature should make King Shark sleep. In the end, they decide for Leonard’s plan, using the core of the gun to inject “cold steam” into the cell.

HR has another one of his moments of Tracy where he confesses that he didn’t feel like belonged which changed when she arrived. He asks her to simply start working for STAR Labs full time and joining Team Flash, ending on a kiss.

King Shark finally falls asleep and, I hate to say this, but Snart picked up on the references I wanted to make, even throwing in another amazing fourth-wall-breaking-lampshade:

“Reminds me of Jaws. They didn’t show the shark because they couldn’t afford to make it look good”.

In the end, Barry does indeed get the piece of tech, but the alarm system starts going off with the door shutting down before Snart could leave and in the company a very woken up King Shark. Barry is faced with the decision of leaving with the tech and saving Iris or trying to get Snart out which he does—the door even cuts off KS’s hand, but it reconstructs back. Before they can get out of there though, Lyla stops them. However, Barry’s decision not to leave Snart to die softens her heart and she agrees to give him the device. Barry takes Leonard back to 1892 and gets some piece of advice as how his goodness is his strength.

At STAR Labs, Barry comes back triumphantly and asks where Iris, is to which HR answers pronto. BUT, ta da, the slow reveal of Barry’s scarred face shows us that it was actually Savitar and HR just fucked things up a whole lot. At Earth-2, Savitar shows up, breaks Wally’s leg, and ends up taking Iris away despite their collective begging.

53 minutes to Iris’s death and Wally is crying to Barry about not being able to save Iris. Tracy explains the Bazooka should work now which is already a change in the future. Barry tells them to figure out Team Flash’s plan and leaves. HR is feeling like absolute shit after spilling the tea and starts going on about how useless he is. Cisco tries to calm him down and, while it mostly works, HR still has an ominous vibe as he stares at Savitar’s broken talon.

As he is getting ready to leave, Cisco vibes Killer Frost who is inviting her for a “little chat” which coincides with his previous vibes that indicated a fight would ensue between them. Barry tells him to go to her as this is the best chance to save Caitlin, but fails to mention that this is probably when he loses his hands and powers.

Barry arrives at Infantino Street where Joe is atop of a building with a gun and Tracy is in a vehicle. As Vibe and Killer Frost start their battle, the clock strikes 12:03 and Savitar arrives with a scared Iris West. The Flash uses the bazooka on Savitar, but it doesn’t work because he has the philosopher’s stone which is made of calcified speedforce energy. In an early scene, we see Savitar getting the memories of Barry picking up the technology, so he knew about the weapon in advance and it didn’t really phase him.

It’s time and I’m already crying: Murder Song comes back on, the slow motion starts as Barry runs to Savitar screaming, and we see Iris’s video to Barry where she formally “says yes” to being Barry’s wife. Just like in the vision, Barry is not fast enough and Iris’s heart is pieced. She dies in his arms.

…what the fuck?

Trying not to make a big deal of having my heart broken by watching the episode twice in order to write this piece, but still making it, I seriously got very messed up watching it. Iris West became one of my favorite parts of The Flash and, while I do believe she will be saved in some way, it still hurts a lot. It doesn’t matter that we have seen that scene several times by now: in that moment, we are all Barry (or at least we should very well be).

Going for a more optimistic route, ever since the episode ended there has been one prevalent theory as to how Iris was saved: HR Wells. People saw his guilt speech and his apparent disappearance from Infantino Street (as opposed to the vision, in which he was taking Joe’s place at the roof) as a sing that he used the face-changing device to change places with Iris somehow. In fact, some fans saw this episode as a series of Chekhov Guns being set up so that the grand reveal can make sense: from the return of the aforementioned device, to Harry, to Savitar’s talon.

However, one of the promos for next episode kind of shows HR being at a roof, so we’re just gonna have to wait another week to find out how this arc will be solved. For now, we still mourn the loss of an amazing character and we remind ourselves that, as Barry Allen has said, “there’s no Flash without Iris West”.

Images Courtesy of The CW

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