“Liberation” Review of S6 E17 of THE FLASH

If you thought last week’s episode was intense, buckle up for this one. “Liberation”, S6 E17 of THE FLASH is the most emotionally intense episode we’ve seen so far…and that is really saying something! Last episode, Joe West barely avoided assassination and has now gone into witness protection. “Iris”, under orders to drain what little Speed Force is left from Barry, has played his emotions to the limit. Barry is now out of the apartment, his speed nearly gone…and all that pales in comparison to what we see this week.  Wanna know more? Follow us after the jump!

SPOILERS AHEAD! YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED!

NOTE: This review is posting prior to THE FLASH being aired in the Pacific Time Zone USA. If you haven’t seen the show yet, STOP HERE and come back after watching. You’ll be glad you did!

Want to know how intense this show was? If it wasn’t for my obsessive note taking, I would have forgotten the first scene entirely. That’s where Barry, Cisco and Nash test out their Artificial Speed Force. It almost works…almost, but not quite. That alone would be a memorable point for most episodes, but…tonight’s high points make this failed experiment almost an afterthought.

There are three main threads here, and they intertwine throughout. Let’s try to separate them out a bit:

  • Barry is figuring out that “Iris” isn’t really Iris. He has apparently been working on this for quite some time. He had several different theories, none of which were accurate. But, at least he’s on the right trail. 
  • He gets Cecile’s help to get to the Central City Citizen while “Iris” is away. He finds the cloud copy of that picture the real Kamilla took of “Iris”. 
  • Getting back to S.T.A.R. Labs, he confronts “Iris” along with Nash and Cecile. He plans to use a prismatic scanner to prove his point. What he doesn’t know is that Eva McCulloch is on to him. She uses her mirror powers to switch the scanner for one that will make it look like “Iris” is real and Barry is not.
  • Barry is put into the pipeline as a prisoner, while “Iris” is free to work on Eva’s scheme. 
  • Later, Cecile frees Barry, knowing that something isn’t right. Barry speeds off to confront “Iris”…and we’ll come back to that in a moment.

While all this is going on, “Iris” is working on Eva’s scheme, with help…

  • “Singh” is also a mirror duplicate, as is “Kamilla”. They, along with Iris, plan to offer freedom to none other than Bloodwork – if he will give them a drop of his “blood”, which is needed for Eva to escape the Mirror world. 
  • Bloodwork does give the blood after “Kamilla” sacrifices herself to let him out. But, he senses that “Iris” isn’t fully in for the plan. He’s right – “Iris” is having second thoughts. 
  • Strangely enough, Bloodwork puts himself back in the cell. He is “playing the long game” and believes he can free himself at any time.
  • After “Iris” uses the fake scanner to get Barry locked up in the Pipeline, she goes to their apartment to free Eva.

And, while all of those two story lines are going on, we see Eva and the real Iris in the Mirror world…

  • The real Iris finds a button on the side of the huge mirror in Eva’s office. The mirror slides away to reveal the true game here. Iris sees everything, including Eva pulling her into the Mirror world in the first place. 
  • Iris is overwhelmed by this new lab and its revelations. When she comes to, she is tied to a chair by Eva. 
  • Iris is forced to witness the final confrontation between “Iris” and Barry.

Now that we have these three threads separated, it’s time to pull them back together at the apartment of Barry and Iris.

  • “Iris” realizes that she is caught, and switches to mirror power mode. Her arms become sword-like, and she is able to hit Barry several times now that his speed is depleted. Worse still, “Iris” can push through one mirror and come out another, attacking Barry from all directions. 
  • “Iris” defeats Barry. But, just as she begins to gloat over him, the real Iris gets an idea…
  • Eva notes that “Iris” feels everything that she does. The real Iris gambles that this also works in reverse. 
  • Turns out, the real Iris is every bit as good at guilt-tripping as her doppleganger. She gets under Eva’s skin, making her lose control of “Iris”. 
  • Barry refuses to fight “Iris” anymore – he realizes that there is a part of the real Iris in her. 
  • “Iris” also chooses not to fight anymore. She even tells him to “Go find her, Barry. Go save Iris”. This doppelganger just wants to live..but she doesn’t get that chance. 
  • Eva kills “Iris” – even as “Iris” finally starts to feel truly alive. “Iris” shatters to the floor.
  • Eva steps out into the real world. She doesn’t do anything more to Barry – she believes him to be no longer a threat. She jumps back into the mirror, set to get her revenge. And after that, she believes she has “a whole world to liberate”.

It is at this point that one of the most emotional scenes in the series comes up, acted out perfectly by Grant Gustin and Candice Patton. They can’t hear each other, but their dialogue mirrors each other (no pun intended). And, it is both beautiful and heart-rending. The love story of Barry and Iris is far from over. 

There is one other thread – involving Caitlin, Cisco and Ralph. Caitlin was in an almost coma-like state after trying to heal her wounds from that light-based weapon. Ralph and Cisco manage to revive her, but there are still serious issues ahead for Caitlin/Frost. 

So…that’s where we leave it. “Iris” is no more. The real Iris, Kamilla and Singh are separated from each other in Mirror world, with the real Iris determined to free them all. Eva McCulloch is free from Mirror world and out for revenge. Barry is nearly out of juice from the Speed Force, and the experiments so far are not promising. What’s next? We’ll have to wait to see…

NOTES:

  • There were amazing performances all around tonight, none more than Grant and Candice. This episode left me emotionally drained…for all the right reasons. 
  • We saw a failed experiment for the artificial Speed Force – but it was close enough to let us believe it will work before long.
  • The wrap up of “Iris” was handled well. After seeing “Iris” as a villain for so long this season, her character actually did become sympathetic – if only for a moment.  There was a good build-up to this throughout the episode…making it more believable when the moment arrived.
  • We saw the prismatic scanner working the wrong way, “clearing” the fake “Iris” and causing Barry to look like the bad guy. But, we had to wait until a later scene to learn just how that happened. That was a pretty cool reveal – and it was well played by the writers.

SUMMARY:

This was an exceptionally intense episode of THE FLASH. It was well plotted, well written, and very well acted. This one is most definitely a 10/10 for me. Of course, like always that’s just my opinion. What do YOU think? Leave your comments below!

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3 thoughts on ““Liberation” Review of S6 E17 of THE FLASH

  1. Robert Ortega

    I like that when Barry listed the many ways for an evil twin to exist, he dismissed the idea of a parallel world doppleganger — while the viewer is aware that the multiverse respawned following the Crisis, our heroes haven’t as yet. (Oh c’mon, like they’re not gonna do a crossover with Stargirl somewhere along the line.)

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