“Run, Iris, Run”: The Flash, Season 4, Episode 16 – Review

It’s been quite a while since the last review of an episode from The Flash and meanwhile…

…Barry defeated future Barry, alias Savitar; Caitlin is able to deal with her icy alter ego Killer Frost and there is a new villain in town – more specifically has been in town ever since Barry first became a speedster – the highly anticipated “Thinker”. While viewers are sixteen episodes into the current fourth season, it still remains a total riddle why the Thinker is after Barry Allen, but the “Run, Iris, Run”-title does increase the interest to stay tuned as, indeed, Iris becomes a speedster.

Even though the idea that finally Iris gets to experience the same feeling of having superspeed as Barry may be reason enough to take a closer look at the episode, it is much more the developments of the other characters which make The Flash as a pretty generic superhero TV-series still sustainable. Now that Ralph Dibney is able to display more than superficial stupidity and after three seasons of Harrison Wells, when viewers start to truly understand his character, The Flash no longer limits itself to pure superheroism but can go farther and explore so many more subjects.

However, this episode drastically fails in its actual goal: with Iris becoming a speedster, there were probably dozens of different ways to make the storyline interesting, humorous and thoughtful. Instead, “Run, Iris, Run” delivered a package full of content and a mix of repressed rage and fear.

Not one minute did Barry enjoy that – let us remind it here explicitly – not a stranger, but his wife Iris got his speed, not one second was he able to display any happiness for Iris. No, instead, Barry literally “gloated”, doing nothing except shouting into Iris’ com and being depressed that he is not at the center of attention anymore. It is unfortunate that he did not team up with his suddenly depressed new buddy Ralph who is too scared to leave Star Labs but not afraid to drop arrogant and hurtful comments on Iris who has saved his life and risked every one elses more than once for him.

So the only characters which turn out to be worth the time watching are in fact Harrison Wells and Cisco: their relationship is quite special and always offers new twists and turns, but also their characters exhibit a lot of depth – especially Wells. The scientist (with seven PhDs? Come on, Flash-writers that is not even realistic any more…) who wants to overcome the natural limits of his knowledge is not only a classic science-fiction theme but a very resourceful one: when looking back at its origins in Shelley’s Frankenstein 200 years ago, it becomes clear that there are a multitude of possible ways this story can play out. To include this potential and thereby give Wells his first season’s “edge” as Thawne back is of course the highlight of the episode. It will be very interesting to see whether Wells will find his nemesis in Devoe and in what way their cognitive combat will turn out for Team Flash.

In total, “Run, Iris, Run” is the perfect example for how to not depict female characters in modern television: scared, submitive and in power only for a short amount of time. Yes, of course, Iris is the “boss” and thereby actually in power all the time, but to portray her so powerful character in such a poor way especially as she slips into the superhero speedster’s shoes is deplorable. But wait – there is still Jesse who is almost never there and the mysterious woman who strongly resembles a mix of Barry and Iris: So does The Flash get a second chance at proudly presenting a female speedster without taking away her powers as soon as she can show them? Let’s find out with the few remaining episodes of the fourth season.