Over the last year or so, fans of Iris West have used the #ABiggerWorldForIris hashtag to tweet about what they would like to see for her character. After this week’s episode of The Flash, titled “All Doll’d Up,” either the writers have paid attention to the hashtag or they just happen to want the same things for Iris that her fans do. Either way makes for one of my favorite episodes of the series.
Westallen, West-Allen, and Baby West-Allen
This episode was fantastic for anyone who’s a fan of any member of the West-Allen family. Both Iris and Barry took to the streets to investigate the Big Bad together. Iris was given a voice, a point of view, and the long-overdue opportunity to express her feelings about what happened with her mother. Nora and Iris came to an understanding and are finally on the same page. And, in Joe’s absence, Cecile stepped up and proved why she’s Mama Cecile.
If The Flash aired on the weekend, I could probably write a dissertation about all of the things I loved about this episode until my editor either was driven to tears or a desperate attempt to get the concept of “page limits” across to me. As it’s the middle of the work week, however, I’ll focus on the main points of interest.
Over the summer, Candice Patton promised we would see a little bit more of Iris as a journalist this year. This was certainly true this episode. More, we got to see how much the show has missed a key opportunity in not highlighting both Barry’s and Iris’s civilian jobs more. In different ways, both characters are investigators. Both CSI work and journalism are natural compliments to superhero shows. (Lois Lane wasn’t made a journalist for nothing!) Their investigation of the threat of the week naturally dovetailed the plot. It also helped make the show step out of the lab and embrace the city as a whole. This is something the show has desperately needed for years, and so it was a pleasure to watch.
But the episode didn’t just excel with journalism. Anyone who has any love at all for Westallen as a couple no doubt had some serious heart eyes going on throughout the hour. No more than Barry Allen and Iris West themselves, I’m sure.
We got so many lovely scenes between our favorite couple this week. Barry comforting Iris over her concerns about what kind of mother she may turn out to be. Barry and Iris undercover on a date, taking the opportunity to get the first dance they were denied after their wedding. That slo-mo! Cecile telling Nora stories about Iris when she was younger, disguised as stories about Barry. (Iris sat with Barry for a year after his mom died so he wouldn’t be sad! She dedicated a whole page of the yearbook to him! I doubt anyone was really surprised she would do either, but that doesn’t make it any easier to resist melting just a little at confirmation that she did.)
Nora finally realizing she cannot judge Iris in the present by the actions of Iris in the future, and finally taking the opportunity to get to know her mom. Iris telling Nora that she’s an open book to her, and she’ll tell her anything she wants to know.
Oh, and did I mention that Iris jumped off a building to save Barry?!
And some people claim she doesn’t really love him. Barry was in danger, and Iris jumped after him without a second thought. In so doing, she saved him, allowing him to then save her. Anyone who wants to argue that Iris doesn’t love Barry more than anyone else in the world needs to do it to someone who’s never heard of the show before. Try to do it with anyone who’s seen this episode?
You’re going to sound like a damn fool.
A Little Late for Halloween, Isn’t It?
Ragdoll had to be one of the creepier villains of the series. At the very least, he had the creepiest sound effects. There’s something particularly sinister about going after the thing your enemy loves the most, rather than attacking them directly. Here’s one villain I hope we get to see again one day – and not just because he gave us Iris’s best scene yet. The way he moved was creepy and disturbing, and I think there’s a lot they could do with him in the future, as well. Can Iron Heights really hold someone with his abilities? I for one hope not.
The Subplot (Sort-Of) Thickens
While Barry and Iris were dealing with Ragdoll, turning the corner with Nora, and leaping off buildings to save each other (Nope. I’m never getting over that.), Caitlin was still dealing with the mystery surrounding her father. I’m going to be honest. I haven’t managed to grow as invested in this storyline as I would like to be. It could be because the audience has yet to learn anything that we couldn’t – or didn’t – guess last season. As soon as it was revealed that Caitlin had her powers younger than anyone thought, fans assumed it would be revealed that her father was still alive. That he was responsible for her powers. And that her mother is tangled up in the plot, since it’s unlikely he would be able to fake his death alone.
So while this subplot has been a part of every episode this season, I don’t think I’ve learned anything new from it. Nothing earth-shattering, at least. (I do recognize that online fandom does not represent the general audience, and many casual viewers may not have thought about the show enough to connect these dots.) I haven’t become that invested in it. This may change next week, as it promises to be a very Caitlin-centric episode.
This episode, it was confirmed that her father is alive and that he was studying Elsa – I mean Khione. Goddess of snow. Also, there’s something about Tannhauser black sites. Killer Frost’s story has been muddled from the beginning, growing even more so with every retcon. I can’t say it’s much clearer at the moment, but I recognize that they’re trying to make it make sense, and so I’m still waiting to see what they do with it. I just hope next week does give us some unexpected revelations so that I can emotionally invest in where it’s going.
Other Points of Interest
The most criminally underused character of the show has probably always been Cisco. The writers love him. (Carlos Valdes admittedly ad-libbed some of the funniest lines of the series.) But they don’t always know what to do with him.
He wasn’t given a lot to do this week, but he did get more chance to shine than he too often does. I always felt that Cisco got the short end of the stick in the development and revelation of his abilities. Just as Iris got a chance to discuss how learning the truth about Francine impacted her, Cisco got a chance to discuss how learning about and developing his abilities impacted him.
Also, as the season plays out, I can’t help but remember Hellbing’s promise over the summer. He indicated that several characters would die this year. Of course, most of those deaths will probably be of one-off characters from earlier seasons. But is there a chance that they’ll kill off an original character? If they want to make it clear they’re putting the past behind them and turning the corner to a whole new show, that’s certainly one way to do it.
It’s obviously not certain that an original character will die. But since we’re likely at least getting close to the end of the original cast’s initial contracts, it’s certainly possible. That means every week, I find myself wondering who might be getting set up to get written off.
Right now, the safest money is probably on Jesse L. Martin. His current absence from the show is supposedly temporary, as he needed to take some medical leave. I certainly hope he gets well soon and can return to the show. But there is always the chance that he’ll want to take things a bit easier once he gets better. He could ask to leave the show.
But I also find myself wondering if their treatment of Caitlin’s subplot makes her future death somewhat more likely. In the past, supporting character subplots have been peppered throughout the season. An episode here, an episode there, a break in the middle. Every episode has touched upon Caitlin’s plot to some degree. And even her most fervent fans have commented that it seems to be unrelated to everything else going on in the show.
I do have faith that it will eventually dovetail into the main plot of the season. However, the fact that they’re giving it such prominent focus every episode makes me wonder if there’s a reason. If there’s a reason it seems unrelated to everything else going on. Could it be that they’re focusing on it so much because they know they have a finite amount of time to clean up the Killer Frost mess and build this arc before they kill her off?
Perhaps that’s not the case, and Caitlin will be around for years to come. At the moment, however, I think Caitlin’s death looks more likely than most. That is, of course, if the show is planning to amp up the stakes by killing off an original cast character. Time will tell if that ends up being the case.
Overall Impression of The Flash “All Doll’d Up”:
OH MY GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOD!!!
(New) Questions of the Hour After Watching “All Doll’d Up”:
- Who else came to love Cecile even more in “All Doll’d Up”? She was clever in her approach to getting Nora to give Iris another chance. Also, her refusal to tolerate disrespect towards anyone with the last name of West inside her house made more than one fan fist pump in the air!
- In the preview for next week, Caitlin tells Barry that (presumably) her father is the only family she has left. Did I hallucinate seeing her mother extremely recently on the show? Or did they retcon her mom out of existence already? Guys, I know you’re trying to sort out her story, but get a hold of yourselves!
- “If you touch Iris…” Iris jumps off a building for Barry. Is there really any doubt that Barry and Iris are the King and Queen of DCTV? Gold standard indeed.
The Flash airs Tuesdays at 8/7c on The CW.