On this week’s episode of The Flash, aptly titled “Run, Iris, Run,” Iris gains Barry’s speed and suits up for the first time to help take down two metas in Central City. The episode itself has a strong central narrative for Iris and there is a lot of progression for her character, parallels, and callbacks. The episode is unfortunately and unnecessarily bogged down by Harry and Ralph’s mini arcs when that time could have been spent on Iris’ role as a speedster, but the second half of the episode makes sure to make up for much of that.
Iris’ journey over the last four seasons has been tremendous and “Run, Iris, Run” feels like it’s come full circle. The writers finally seem to have remembered that, outside of being Team Flash leader (a role that suits her), she is also a reporter at heart. The Flash hasn’t always been able to develop this into a full-blown story arc for Iris, but the fact that they center an episode on where her passions truly lie at least means they’re making the effort to circle back around to it. And, for the most part, the episode’s storyline plays out organically.
Candice Patton is one of the strongest actors on The Flash and she is able to embody Iris’ wonder and excitement over having new powers and also the weight she feels internally after Ralph’s words push her buttons. Patton portrays so much of Iris’ emotions through her eyes and facial expressions and she’s especially layered here. As a speedster, leader, and a woman who has let fear control a part of herself she feels she’s lost, which is using her voice as a reporter, Patton’s performance embodies all of these emotions very well. It’s been a strong season for Patton and she continues to showcase her abilities as an actress alongside the evolution of her character.
One of the best aspects of the episode is seeing Iris face her fears and find her passion once more. Much of the back half of The Flash’s season three is spent on trying to figure out who Savitar is and less on many of the feelings Iris… well, must’ve been feeling about dying. She puts on a brave face for everyone and for herself, but season four has had her speak up about how her experiences from the last year affected her and it’s been refreshing. Iris admits that the fear of dying, and then Barry entering the speed force, took something away from her: her fearlessness.
Iris still goes out into the field when needed and without needing to be convinced, but she also used to have no qualms risking her life in order to get a story as a reporter. It’s something so relatable since we’ve all felt the need to hide in safety sometimes, but the fact that she “chose to keep living” says a lot about her strength of character. It’s also nice that the show acknowledges that it’s not only the super-powered characters that can be heroes. Being a hero is also about heart and the commitment to helping others.
Iris has all of the makings of a hero without having any of the powers. It’s what’s always made her a great character and the powers only highlight this. It also highlights her capabilities as a leader, seeing as how everyone else on the team is at a loss over what to do several times. Iris’ run as Central City’s resident speedster is also a moment of internal analysis and reflection. Iris is always the very human aspect of The Flash and has proved over and over again that you don’t need superpowers to be a hero. She’s been giving and giving for so long that for her to finally gain powers and think about what it is she truly wants and is passionate about is wonderful.
“Run, Iris, Run” is a true swap and further showcases Barry and Iris’ growth as individuals, as well as their healthy relationship. Barry is frustrated because he thinks he’s lost his powers for good, but he’s never shown to be jealous of Iris for having them. His powers have been a part of his identity for so long and now that he’s without them and also out of a job, he feels lost and like DeVoe is trying to take everything from him. But what’s truly worth noting is that, despite Barry being very attached to his powers, he doesn’t ask for Iris to give them back. He lets her be the one to decide whether she wants to keep them. Iris knows she could’ve kept them and she decides not to. They have a genuinely selfless love that is always shown in moments like this. The final scene, where Iris tells Barry that her destiny is not as a speedster, but as a journalist, is simple and a beautiful callback to season one. It gets Iris back to her roots without stripping her away of everything she’s gained over the last four seasons.
Now to some of the less-than-thrilling aspects of the episode. The Flash continues to have a Ralph problem and his uppity attitude towards Iris for most of the episode when all she’s ever done is help him is completely unwarranted and hypocritical. Once, she was ready to run into the field to help Cisco and Caitlin after he’d decided to bail on the team and also helped take down a meta so he could go back to being normal sized. And yet, he has the audacity to act all demeaning toward Iris when he’s had to be convinced several times over to be a hero because he has no moral compass. His entire demeanor during “Run, Iris, Run” is terrible and the fact that he projects his feelings onto Iris specifically and no one else only makes him look like a bully and an angry fanboy. His scenes could’ve been scaled back in the middle since they serve little purpose other than to ignite Iris’ introspection. Ralph’s entire existence on The Flash is one of the downsides to season four and his presence in this episode continues to prove this.
Elsewhere, Harry has come up with a contraption (named “the thinking cap” by Cisco) that replicates how DeVoe gained his powers and will allow Harry to absorb dark matter into his brain so that he can out-think The Thinker. This subplot isn’t bad, but it does throw off the entire episode and skewers its pacing, especially in the first half. Too much screen time is wasted on Harry and Ralph when that could’ve gone to Iris spending more time with her powers and even on the metas, who are fairly weak and don’t do much for the episode or the season-long plot. It takes a bit too long for the episode to get started and for Iris to gain her powers to begin with but, once she does, the pacing picks up a lot.
“Run, Iris, Run” is another above average episode of The Flash this season and, although the episode is a bit uneven in the first half and spends too much time on its mediocre subplots, it’s a strong character episode for Iris. Her growth and realizations are significant and it’s so nice to see her journalism come back into play after so long. Paired with Patton’s performance as Iris, along with her overall excitement to have superspeed for awhile, makes the episode stand out.