‘The Flash’ Season 6 Episode 11 Recap: Valentine’s Day Swap

It’s Valentine’s Day week on The Flash. Since Barry and Iris are the CW-verse’s most functional couple, that’s always a big deal. Is it a little strange that the most functional romantic relationship in these shows is between adopted siblings? Maybe, but that’s why no one talks about it anymore. Even going by that standard, their relationship seems a little weirder than usual at the start of this week’s episode. We see Iris back in that strange mirror room from the end of last week’s episode. The next morning, Barry is surprised to find that Iris has prepared a non-banana breakfast for him. He’s even more surprised that it’s perfectly cooked, and she’s also bought an expensive juicer.

We all know what’s going on here. We know how mirror villains work. The question is how long the show will drag it out until Barry realizes it. The answer: Way longer than we might expect. He may be the nicest CW superhero, but he’s consistently the dumbest. He’s a little surprised when she’s suddenly fluent in Italian during their Valentine’s Day date, but she has a good explanation ready to go. Their dinner is interrupted when Amunet shows up and steals a briefcase containing some strange tech from another diner. Barry tries to step up and arrest her, but is forced to let her go when she threatens to out his secret identity. So now it’s time for Barry and “Iris” to team up and go after her.

Grant Gustin as Barry Allen and Candice Patton as Iris West – Allen — Photo: Michael Courtney/The CW

The episode starts to hint that the switch might not be handled over the course of a single episode. While Iris acts out of character, it’s not so far out there that Barry really starts asking questions. He just starts to feel like they aren’t clicking like normal. Despite that, he and this Iris still make a really great team. I always love episodes that put Iris into the middle of the action, and knowing that it’s probably not actually her is a fun complication. The episode doesn’t tell us exactly what she wants or what she’s planning, which makes every scene just a little uneasy. It also allows Candice Patton to show off a wider range than the show normally allows her too. That’s easily the most fun part of the episode. We get to see Iris switch instantly from professional reporter to intimidating bar brawler. When she tries to get information from a bartender about Amunet’s wearabouts, she hits the bouncer in the face with a bottle. Even knowing it’s not actually her, the image itself was a cool surprise.

What’s really interesting about this story is that even though we’re pretty sure it’s not actually Iris, she makes some good points. When Barry starts scolding her for going into dangerous situations, she fires back that she had to prepare for a life without him. She says he doesn’t appreciate that she’s grown as a person and still thinks of her as a damsel in distress. You know? She’s kinda right. The show has given Iris a ton more to do lately, especially during the lead-up to Crisis, but it still damsels her at almost every available opportunity. That commentary might land a little harder if this arc wasn’t doing exactly that. Even after Barry has a heart-to-heart with Joe and Barry and Iris defeat the bad guys… sort of, the show confirms that yes, this isn’t Iris. The real Iris is trapped inside the mirror and Barry will have to save her. Baby steps, I guess.

Katee Sackhoff as Amunet Black — Photo: Michael Courtney/The CW

The villain story itself isn’t the most consequential, because Iris’ situation is the episode’s main focus. It’s still really funny, though. Amunet and her ex, Goldface, are both after the same tech. That tech being two parts of a device that will allow transport of an extremely rare and delicate plant. The plant’s pollen is a narcotic that allows the user to read minds. Both Amunet and Goldface want this, but whenever they meet each other, they bicker about other things. Namely Radiohead and NWA CDs. So Iris guesses the fight isn’t really about the plant, it’s about their relationship. And that relationship drama is spilling out into the streets as a gang war. So we’re told, anyway. I would have liked to see at least one example of why this situation is apparently so dangerous, but I guess there are more important things to spend The Flash’s CW-sized budget on.

We don’t get to see The Flash in action much, as he has to sneak around town to avoid Amunet finding out. When we do, the ensuing action is much more emotional, which I guess is fitting. He tries to perform some blazing fast couple’s therapy, but that doesn’t work. Iris gives him the idea to burn the flower they’re fighting over with a lightning blast. That causes the pollen to spill everywhere and suddenly, Amunet and Goldface can read each other’s minds. They realize how much they love each other and, I guess, just start doing it right on the floor. Iris and The Flash make comments about how they’ll never unsee that, but… I don’t see them turning their heads away. I see you Flash, trying to be sneaky with your kinks.

Damion Poitier as Goldface — Photo: Michael Courtney/The CW

Ultimately, it was a fun Valentine’s day episode, and I’m glad the fake Iris story wasn’t handled right away. It gives the season an exciting sense of dread. When will Barry figure out the woman he’s with isn’t his wife? And how bad will things have gotten by the time he does? It’ll be exciting to see where the season takes this story. The side-plot of this episode was basically nothing, but at least it ended with an intriguing visual. It was all about Killer Frost trying to fix Allegra’s love life, that attempt blowing up in her face, then Nash Wells helping Killer Frost be a better friend. It was sweet, if not at all substantive. It was only worth it for that final image of Nash looking back and seeing Harry Wells standing behind him. Then someone passes in front and he’s gone. What could that mean? Is the Earth-2 Harry still out there? The second half of Season 6 is already setting up some potentially great mysteries.

The Flash airs Tuesdays at 9 p.m. on The CW.

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