The Flash: Love is a Battlefield

"Banana! Iris, banana!"

By nature I love brevity: A complete dud. This episode is proof that The Flash can't just completely shake the poor quality of the past without a little work.

Oh, The Flash. It was going so well.

This could've been a fine show. 'Love is a Battlefield' is trying to be an exploration of Barry and Iris' relationship, which is a gold mine for good stories and deep meaning. But because, in a twist Harold Camping could have accurately predicted, Iris has been replaced by somebody mysterious, they can't do any actual development of the Barry/Iris relationship. So instead 'Battlefield' opts to create some useless conflict between them, use Joe to drop a clumsy metaphor for marriage, and wrap it up in a nice tidy bow in the end. Happy? I'm not.

You could argue that the conflict is supposed to feel manufactured, because it literally is manufactured by fake Iris, except that this episode spends large swaths of its runtime on emotional conversations between Barry and Iris that are played entirely straight, with some emotionally stirring music underscoring them. It's clear that the show wants to have its cake and eat it too, by making the conflict both fake Iris' emotional manipulation and a real conflict we're supposed to care about. In trying to do both, it does neither very well.

But that's not the only romance we're treated to. After all, it is a Valentine's Day episode. So we get the return of two villains I had no desire to ever see again, Amunet Black and Goldface. Now, it's important to note that just this season, The Flash successfully brought back a character I used to hate and made him a legitimate dramatic presence: Breacher in 'Kiss Kiss Breach Breach'. Sadly, 'Battlefield' takes a very different approach than 'Breach Breach'. Where that episode smartly decided to take Breacher seriously for a change, this one continues to play Amunet for laughs. The problem is that the only joke is the cheerful tone she has while doing horrible things. While I'm sure it's a blast for Katee Sackhoff, there isn't any real humor there. To make matters worse, occasionally they do hint that the audience is supposed to take this story seriously, before yanking it away with another non-joke. It's confusing and doesn't work. I'd prefer never to see either of these characters again.

Finally, we have Frost taking on the role of life coach for Allegra. In my opinion, Frost continues to be The Flash's weakest link. In a show with excellent dramatic performances from most of its main cast members, Danielle Panabaker is struggling to hold her own in the role. I admire the decision to give Frost a character arc and a life, and I think there's a lot of good material in that concept, but it is definitely one that requires a stronger performer to pull it off. When it comes down to it, I really don't believe Panabaker as Killer Frost. There's a wealth of complexity to Frost that I haven't yet seen her even scratch the surface of. It's getting to the point where I seriously would not mind if Killer Frost were written out of the show. Let me be very clear: I want Danielle Panabaker to stick around. She's a great director, and I love her Caitlin Snow. But let Frost go.

Anyway, the big problem with Allegra's 'romance' plot is that it practically doesn't exist. She talks to Frost about her troubles, they go to solve them and meet a setback, and Frost gets her to try again using some words from Nash. Then the key conversation that resolves the problem and the storyline happens offscreen. It's almost begging for us not to care. To make matters worse, this is all a setup to reveal that Nash is the father of some version of Allegra in the worst way possible. Frost deduces that he's her father because he gives her some generic advice that she then uses to help Allegra? What? You can't expect us to buy that, especially on a show which features characters finding 'exactly the right words to say' to spur somebody to action at least once per episode. At least it's out there now, and the story can move on from here.

So overall, this episode consists of three plotlines, all of which fall mostly flat. This feels like an episode out of Season Five, which is a very, very bad thing.

Running Plot Threads:

-Nash Wells is apparently some version of Allegra's father, or she's some version of his daughter, or something like that. Also, he's seeing visions of Harry. If Nash is haunted by the ghost of Harry Wells, I'm on board.

-That's it. That's all the connection this episode has with the season's threads. Actually, that's a good thing, because it means you can skip this one on the rewatch.

Pensees:

-We still haven't heard anything about that Godspeed tease at the start of the season. I wonder if that's being postponed until next season.

-Sue Dearbon has been duly teased. I'm ready to finally meet the character, and I hope she lives up to the hype.

-The sequence where Barry repeatedly yells 'banana' to Iris over comms is probably the single most cringeworthy thing about this episode. I did appreciate the reference to Iris' famously terrible cooking, though.

-Did they really imply that the gold portions of Barry's suit are actually made of gold? I don't think that's a good idea. Or is it that Goldface can control things that are the color gold, which makes even less sense?

-Three out of our eight main cast members did not appear in this episode: Carlos Valdes, Hartley Sawyer, and Danielle Nicolet.

-I'm really stretching for more things to say at this point. This episode was just bad.

Quotes:

Barry: "Next year, we lock ourselves in the Time Vault and don't come out till morning."
Then maybe you won't have to make another crappy Valentine's Day episode. Pretty please?

1 out of 6 decent pancakes. Not your best showing, folks!

--
CoramDeo is decidedly against the ninja.

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