NOTE: Full spoilers for this episode of, “The Flash” are present in this review
It was frustrating to see The Flash return after a whole month off the air last week, only to see the show stumble right after it finally continued. Thankfully, the series appears to be back on its feet with this week’s episode, advancing the agenda of Eva McCulloch/Mirror Master II even further, and completing her villainous reveal to Team Flash. “Liberation” primarily deals with Eva enacting the final stages of her plan to escape the mirror world, along with Barry finally noticing in earnest that the ‘Iris’ that’s currently operating between his team and the Central City Citizen is not his true wife, and the real Iris is logically trapped somewhere else.
As I’ve said more than once already, Eva is a standout new arch-villain for The Flash, and she continues to be a devious, stealthy threat in this episode. Better still is that the show even calls back to the front portion of the current season here to boot, namely when Eva requires her trio of ‘reflections’ to infiltrate A.R.G.U.S., and coerce a blood sample out of none other than Ramsey Rosso/Bloodwork! It was very cool to see Ramsey finally make a re-appearance on the show, which leads to him provoking an ongoing dilemma with ‘Iris’, namely that she’s developing more of a connection to her human host, and secretly desires to be alive on her own terms, free of Eva’s will. This convinces Ramsey to hand over the necessary blood sample, seemingly with his own plan to break out of A.R.G.U.S., “Playing the long game”, as he puts it. Unfortunately, to get the sample, the Kamilla reflection ends up sacrificing herself to temporarily let Ramsey out of his cell. Oh well.
Now that the fake Iris is discovering her desire to live her own life, it’s inevitable that the real Iris would also simultaneously stumble onto Eva’s true plot in the mirror world. After Eva angrily berates Iris for trying to smash the mirror that she uses for communication to her ‘agents’, Iris ends up finding a button, which opens the way to Eva’s secret lab, containing mirror shards that fill Iris in on Eva’s entire deception. Okay, needless to say, this is a little hard to swallow, and felt rather contrived. First of all, what’s with Eva’s crappy security around such an important room? How did Iris never notice that very conspicuous button near the giant mirror that she’s been staring at for ages?! Second, Iris has a point when she says that Eva can just reform the mirror if it’s broken. So, why would Eva freak out and get defensive, if not to tip Iris off to her dirty little secret? It feels like the show didn’t have a logical way for Iris to learn about Eva’s deception, and thus, it had to clumsily force this revelation, which was kind of lame.
Fortunately, the way that the fake Iris ultimately gaslights Barry, once Cecile inadvertently stumbles onto Barry gathering evidence that the ‘Iris’ among Team Flash is an impostor, works to much better effect. Even when Barry confronts ‘Iris’ with Cecile and Nash at S.T.A.R. Labs, he’s shocked to see that the dimensional refraction gizmo that could prove ‘Iris’ is an inter-dimensional being ends up exposing him as the fake instead! This results in Barry being locked in the Pipeline, conveniently benching The Flash, right when Eva is preparing to execute the final stage of her escape plan. This ends up being a bit moot, since Cecile ultimately frees Barry when her mind-reading powers tip her off to something fishy going on, but it was nonetheless pretty cool to see Eva use a reflective tray to switch out the devices, handily explaining how ‘Iris’ could frame Barry, while once again proving the incredible diversity and unpredictability behind Eva’s mirror manipulation abilities!
The climactic confrontation between Barry and ‘Iris’, with ‘Iris’ revealing herself as being super strong, super fast, and being able to generate sharp, glass-like blades from her arms, also makes for a strong way to lead into Eva’s inevitable escape, right as the real Iris is incapacitated in the mirror world. The confrontation between Barry and ‘Iris’ is pretty cool, resulting in more awesome mirror combat and trickery, until Barry finally gives up on fighting ‘Iris’, appealing to her desire to be human on her own terms. This marked a very creative way to end a pretty cool battle, with ‘Iris’ ultimately deciding to defy Eva’s will, resulting in Eva instantly destroying her. This was weirdly touching in a way, proving the power of Barry’s and Iris’ love once again, which also serves as the basis of this episode’s epilogue, after Eva escapes the mirror world, and leaves Barry wounded, saying that she’ll stay out of his way if he stays out of hers. Since Eva proudly admits to having a sinister plan for the world and her husband however, something tells me that The Flash and his team are definitely not going to leave Eva’s handiwork unchecked!
There also happened to be a subplot surrounding Cisco and Ralph in this episode, who go to check up on Caitlin at her apartment. When the two men arrive though, they find that Caitlin’s place has become frigid, and Caitlin herself is suffering between her two identities. It turns out that Caitlin’s light-based injuries from both Doctor Light and Sunshine are causing a bad reaction of some kind, leaving Caitlin in a sort of ‘ice coma’. Ralph thankfully uses his abilities to help shock Caitlin back to a normal state, but the question nonetheless remains of what to do about injuries that can’t be healed with Frost’s powers. This leads the trio to decide to pay a visit to Caitlin’s mother, who, if we remember from last season, appears to be the new Icicle of the Arrowverse. This is a promising prospect, though I do wish that this subplot didn’t feel so quick and half-baked. It felt more or less like an awkward teaser for a future storyline, rather than organically fitting into an episode that does just fine focusing on Eva and her escape from the mirror world.
The Flash’s ongoing Mirror Master II storyline really is awesome though, and it continues to excel in this week’s episode, mercifully getting the series back to strong form after the weaker episode it struggled with last week. “Liberation” lives up to its name by finally allowing Eva to escape the mirror world, while the real Iris is still stuck there for the time being. The fake Kamilla and fake Iris both ended up ‘dying’ by the end of this episode (even if the fake Singh is still out there somewhere), but this feels like small potatoes compared to the massive threat posed by Eva, who is clearly an immensely powerful metahuman, one that can could literally spawn from anywhere at any time! The tease from Bloodwork’s brief return is awesome too, suggesting that Ramsey has his own escape plan, potentially meant to come into play next season. This blending of villain plots is a great testament to how The Flash is immensely benefiting from its new pod-based creative format, which better lends itself to fully-realized, persistent arch-villains, while bringing the show more in line with the experience of reading DC’s Flash comic books. The truth may be (mostly) out about Eva’s villainous plans, but Team Flash is officially several steps behind her. Barry’s ever-diminishing speed is leaving the world in perhaps more peril than it’s ever been on The Flash’s watch too!
- Eva's final, devious escape from the mirror world
- Barry's love for Iris challenging, and eventually saving him
- Exciting, if brief reunion with Bloodwork
- Caitlin's 'ice coma' subplot is too under-developed
- What's with Eva's crappy mirror security?