REVIEW: The Flash, S6E11 – Love Is a Battlefield

the flash 611 love is a battlefield

After last week’s spectacular cliffhangerThe Flash appeared to take a step back from the mirror mystery in favor of a Valentine’s day extravaganza in “Love is a Battlefield.” Barry (Grant Gustin) and Iris (Candice Patton) found their failure to communicate mirrored by returning villains Amunet and Goldface, who were engaging in a post-breakup turf war all episode. Meanwhile, Frost (Danielle Panabaker) tried to help Allegra find some love of her own is a sweet side plot that could have used more substance.

the flash 611 battlefield iris

A regular Mulder and Scully.

After dusting herself off post-mirror scrape, Iris apparently heads home unharmed and spends all night cooking her husband a delicious pancake dinner. Alarm bells should be going off everywhere at this point because everyone knows Iris can’t cook, but Barry’s probably too relieved to not be eating another banana. The strangeness only intensifies at their pre-Valentine dinner, though, where Iris suddenly busts out the Italian language skills she apparently learned while on the job chasing a story.

Before Signor Allen has time to delve into that pickle, their romantic date is interrupted by none other than Amunet (guest star Katee Sackhoff), hamming things up even more than her last Season 4 appearance. Truth be told, she’s a welcome appearance given how rarely The Flash leans on its own continuity – and it’s especially fun to see Barry suffering the consequences of every Tom, Dick and Amunet knowing his secret identity. Plus, this time she’s brought her ex-boyfriend Goldface along for the ride, and the two engage in a childish yet very dangerous back and forth to deal with their romantic issues.

Iris is ready to save the day from the apparently escalating gang war which “Love is a Battlefield” doesn’t bother to show, which is probably one of the weaker points of the episode. But budgetary concerns aside, it is awesome to witness Iris in full undercover spy, badass mode. Between strolling into a bar and whacking some dude on the head with a beer bottle while Barry shouts “Banana!” into the comms to literally stealing [insert evil device here] from under Amunet and Goldface’s noses, Patton was having the time of her life acting out Iris’ wilder side. And I certainly had a blast watching it, even as Barry was sweating bullets.

Of course, this culminated in a fight between the lovebirds themselves, as Barry was feeling protective and Iris was feeling the sting of a husband who only worries about her after the world stopped ending and he stopped trying to die every five minutes. The two actors have as much chemistry as ever, even in the midst of a painful encounter such as this one, but the final twist at the end of “Love is a Battlefield” takes away some of the weight behind the excellent points Iris made.

the flash 611 battlefield amunet

Living her best life, if not accent.

Fast-forwarding: Iris and Barry wind up playing therapists and reuniting the warring villains, allowing Central City to return to its everyday peace (still offscreen). With a nudge from wise father-in-law Joe (Jesse L. Martin), Barry realizes that he and Iris are both growing and that he just has to make sure they’re able to grow together because their love is like a tree. It’s a beautiful moment, and it seems like once again nothing can stand between Westallen… Until Iris’ mirror reflection reveals that her true self is trapped on the other side, Us-style, and the woman hugging Barry is a different Iris altogether.

Well, damn. On the one hand, it’s fabulous that The Flash is actually delving into the mirror world and making use of last week’s cliffhanger and of Patton’s immense talent. On the other hand, are you trying to tell me this show saved Iris’ issues with being shoved aside and made to plan for a life without Barry for a filler episode like “Love is a Battlefield”… Only to then turn around and have it not even be her who uttered that sentiment? Does this mean our Iris was just fine and dandy this whole time, or is this just a way to avoid having her actually express negative thoughts? Hopefully it turns out that the Mirror Iris is still her, just a manifestation of her darker shades.

But that’s enough of that, even though it was clearly the most inspiring part of The Flash tonight. The rest of the plotline was split between Frost life-coaching Allegra in lieu of finding her own life, and Nash (Tom Cavanagh) backseat driving that life-coaching session in lieu of actually telling Allegra he’s her father from another planet. There isn’t much else to the story, but Frost does have a nice rapport with the younger girl and it seems like they would make a good team in future episodes. Cisco and Ralph are each off on their own little missions this week which get no screen time, but it seems like the next episode will at least introduce Sue Dearbon and show us what Iris is up to inside the mirror. Can’t wait!

The Flash airs Tuesdays at 8/7c on The CW.