NOTE: Full spoilers for this episode of, “The Flash” are present in this review
Love is in the air on this week’s episode of The Flash, which ends up taking the opportunity to present a Valentine’s Day theme in its storyline. “Love is A Battlefield” brings back two criminal acquaintances of Barry and Team Flash, pitting them against each other, and leaving Central City in the crosshairs! Meanwhile, Allegra tries to deal with her own romantic woes, with some help from Frost, who decides to channel some of her teachings from the still-absent Ralph. In the process, Frost also ends up finding out something rather surprising about Nash.
After so much heavy, dramatic development in the wake of the Crisis on Infinite Earths crossover event, it wasn’t so bad to enjoy a more light-hearted episode of The Flash this week, albeit one that was still capable of having some solid character and drama, at least between Barry and Iris. The subplot with Frost, Allegra and Nash doesn’t end up working nearly as effectively, by contrast, upholding itself on a rather juvenile and disposable romance storyline that doesn’t do effective justice to Allegra’s character. This subplot simply seems to exist so that Frost can deduce a key connection between Nash and Allegra in fact, which this show’s fans might very well be ahead of her on. The fact that Ralph is absent yet again is also a bummer, since Ralph’s character really could have used a strong Valentine’s Day-themed storyline, to keep bringing both the laughs and the feels.
Even the return of two fan-favourite villains is a bit of a let-down, though not a total loss here. After Barry and Iris try for a romantic early Valentine’s Day dinner, as a contingency in case there’s an emergency in Central City during the actual Valentine’s Day, the dinner is nonetheless interrupted anyway by Amunet Black! It was inevitable that Amunet would eventually return to Central City, and she’s got her eye on a particular piece of technology, carried by someone who just so happens to be dining at the same restaurant as Barry and Iris. After Barry is forced to let Amunet walk away however, since Amunet knows the secret identities of himself and everyone in Team Flash, Barry and Iris decide to take on an undercover investigation of their own, only to see that Amunet’s heist is being contested by none other than her ex-boyfriend, Goldface!
Considering that Goldface was one of the only genuinely good villains-of-the-week from The Flash’s frustratingly sub-par previous season, it’s awesome to see him again, and that’s before considering the innate excitement of finally pairing him against his former flame, Amunet. The idea of pitting Amunet’s and Goldface’s gangs against each other is both harrowing and vaguely amusing, even if it’s let down a bit by The CW’s limited budget. One of the biggest frustrations in this episode is that characters are constantly talking about the sheer amount of carnage that both Amunet’s and Goldface’s thugs are inflicting around Central City, and yet we never see it! This makes the gang war between Amunet and Goldface never completely register, leaving a lot of bonkers possibilities completely on the table, while a dry investigation storyline is instead layered over it.
That said however, there is a really great conflict shared between Barry and Iris here, wherein Iris starts becoming more aggressive, ruthless and edgy while getting information, to the point where it greatly concerns Barry. Even seemingly positive changes like Iris suddenly being able to cook breakfast, or suddenly knowing Italian, keep leaving Barry worried about Iris’ state of mind, which eventually results in a fight, wherein Iris angrily tells Barry that she doesn’t need saving all the time. This rather dark conflict leaves Barry wondering if he and Iris have grown apart as spouses, due to their separate duties to the city, and it’s a great, well-executed conflict that adds some real dramatic weight to what’s otherwise a fairly silly episode of The Flash. The payoff is pretty awesome too, since, after using a telepathic flower to force Amunet and Goldface to reconcile (it makes sense when you see it, at least, by Arrowverse standards), Barry and Iris make up and embrace at home, only for the episode to end with Iris banging on the other side of a mirror, screaming to Barry that the woman he’s hugging isn’t her! The obvious speculation is that the fake Iris is actually Eva McCulloch, who has escaped a mirror realm using Iris’ form, and is hiding in plain sight. Regardless though, this is an exciting tease, and should continue to provide some standout drama between Barry and ‘Iris’ in the coming weeks.
As for the subplot with Frost and Allegra, like I said, it’s pretty disappointing. The subplot starts out well enough at least, with Allegra feeling lonely on Valentine’s Day, and pining for a former date. Frost then attempts to help Allegra reconcile with her ex, only for both of them to see at the newly-reopened CC Jitters that the guy has moved on. This results in a spat between Allegra and Frost, which is pretty juvenile and forced, and doesn’t do justice to the internal struggle of Allegra, who ghosted her ex because she didn’t want him to find out that she’s a metahuman. Allegra eventually fesses up and repairs her friendship with the ex in the end, but this entire disposable subplot merely serves to underline something that’s been teased already– Nash is Allegra’s father, or at least, he is in some now-dead universe. Since Nash is the one that helps Frost get through to Allegra, Frost puts together that Nash knows Allegra better than he previously indicated, something that Nash plays coy about. Another exciting tease occurs after this subplot ends though, wherein we see Nash glimpsing who appears to be Eobard Thawne, the man who stole the guise of the former Earth-1 Wells, briefly flashing nearby, before disappearing! We do know that Thawne is still out there, and with no other Wells’s left in existence (supposedly), it’s perhaps possible that Thawne would quickly take notice of another man wearing his face on Earth-Prime.
The ending teases are strong here, and the Barry/Iris drama is comparably great, especially when we learn that Iris isn’t actually Iris. Despite that however, “Love is A Battlefield” feels like a small step down for The Flash, after the show has been on a pretty extended hot streak throughout this season. The gang war between Amunet and Goldface isn’t really utilized to its full potential, and while their reconciliation is funny, the pairing between these two villain characters leaves quite a bit of potential on the table. Likewise, Frost’s excuse to deduce that Nash is Allegra’s father in some capacity is disappointingly placed within an underwhelming and tiresome romance subplot, with Barry and ‘Iris’ being the ones who actually properly capitalized on this episode’s Valentine’s Day theme. Still, this episode is far from a bad offering, even if it deserved to be a little better than it ultimately is. I am however happy that Ralph finally appears to be returning to the show next week, since it’s about time that Team Flash got a chance to check in with their resident detective ally in 2020!
- Barry facing Iris growing on her terms
- Some great humour between Amunet and Goldface
- Awesome ending cliffhangers with Iris and Nash
- Amunet's and Goldface's gang war is never actually seen
- Allegra/Frost subplot feels juvenile and half-baked