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‘The Flash’ has an Iris West/Caitlin Snow Problem

‘The Flash’ has an Iris West/Caitlin Snow Problem

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It’s not often that The Flash dedicates an episode entirely to the women on the show. In “Girls Night Out,” Iris, Caitlin, Cecile, and Felicity (Arrow) hit the town for Iris’ Bachelorette Party while the guys, lead by Cisco, plan an evening of cigars, old Barry Baby videos, and steak. As innocuous as this sounds, the main issue with the episode is its inability to deal with the trauma Caitlin inflicted on Iris as Killer Frost last season. It’s briefly brought up by Cecile, who was kidnapped by Frost during the Savitar fiasco, but it’s largely swept under the rug as a “nothing burger.”

It’s understandable that The Flash writers want Iris and Caitlin to be friends, to have that girl power thing going on. However, for most of the series, Iris and Caitlin have navigated separate narrative arcs. There isn’t a sense of comradery between the show’s characters, and to make them besties so suddenly feels forced and unrealistic. This is especially true since just last season Caitlin worked with Savitar to bring about Iris’ demise. It would have been prudent if the writers addressed the trauma Iris experienced at the hands of Caitlin’s Killer Frost instead of attempting to gloss over it. If they had addressed it, the two characters could have moved onto slowly building a meaningful friendship. Instead, Iris is written as if the trauma Caitlin’s alter ego inflicted on her last season was a simple blip. Treating the issue in this way essentially erases Iris’ experience as a victim of psychological warfare. This trauma needs to be dealt with immediately, even if it’s addressed in a light-hearted episode like Barry and Iris’ therapy session.

The whole Caitlin/Iris situation is reminiscent of what black women and women of color have to deal with on the daily; being expected to forget and forgive all the harmful macroaggressions directed towards us in our daily lives. This is made evident at work, at school, and sometimes within our own families. We are expected to hold our tongues and smile or ignore when harm is done to us. We are expected to take the high road, to “teach” folks that claim to be unaware that their actions maim and erase use. And if we don’t follow through with grinning and bearing the negativity thrown at us daily, we are labeled irrational and angry. Iris West is made to bite her tongue this episode, and if “Girls Night Out” was truly about solidarity and feminism, she and Caitlin would have had it out prior to jumping on the “let’s be friends” bandwagon.

While the episode attempts to mix business with pleasure, it’s not entirely successful. Still, there are some laughs and it was fun to see the characters let loose. However, the whole Caitlin/Iris issue doesn’t look like it will be addressed, which is sad because it could have resulted in some awesome character building.

Here are the highlights from “Girls Night Out.”

Mr. DaVoe Remains a Mystery

Photo courtesy of The CW.

The episode opened with Barry, Cisco, Harry, and Ralph Dibny brainstorming the identity of the mysterious Mr.DaVoe. Their research is interrupted by the sudden arrival of Felicity (Arrow) who shows up at Star Labs for Iris’ Bachelorette Party. After some playful banter between Felicity and Team Flash regarding Star Labs’ lack of security, the guys call it a night and head over to Joe West’s house for steak and cigars. The identity of DaVoe is just going to have to wait.

The Problem with the Biopic

Iris and the ladies go out to party

Photo courtesy of The CW.

While the guys head off to Joe’s house for a Cisco-style Bachelor party, Iris and Felicity invite Caitlin to Iris’ Bachelorette party. Caitlin politely declines their offer, only agreeing to go after the two pressure her. Apparently, Iris doesn’t have many friends because even after Caitlin describes them as “work friends” Iris still wants to hang.

Anyway, Iris, Felicity, and Caitlin meet up with Cecile for a lovely dinner but are soon interrupted by a man Felicity mistakes for a stripper. Instead of taking off his clothes, he removes one of his eyeballs and it plops theatrically in one of the ladies’ drinks. As a nasty squid thing shoots out of his eye, he demands that Caitlin leave with him to meet up with supervillain Amunet Black (Katee Sackhoff). When Caitlin refuses to leave with him, Felicity, Iris, and Cecile attempt to fight off the villain. This is when Killer Frost makes her debut and takes down Amunet’s henchman.

Photo courtesy of The CW.

The remainder of the episode consists of Killer Frost, Iris, Cecile, and Felicity thwarting Amunet’s attempts to 1, murder Caitlin and 2,  sell a meta-human drug that’s implied to be very addictive.

While this story arc could have been fantastic, it falls kind of flat. Sackhoff is fantastic as usual with her toothy smile and overzealous machinations and was as hokey as is expected for The Flash. However, the way in which she was defeated and her subsequent unencumbered escape was lame. The good thing though is that Katee will likely have a few more appearances on the show.

Drunk Barry is Fun Barry

While Iris and the ladies deal with the episode’s baddie, Barry and the guys are enjoying cigars and old movies at Joe’s house in a Cisco-style Bachelor Party. The guys are soon interrupted right before Cisco busts out cigars by Ralph who convinces them to move the festivities to his favorite strip club. Between chicken wings, Cecile’s daughter dancing as a stripper, and a concoction Cisco whipped up to get Barry drunk; the Bachelor party soon gets really wild and everyone (sans Harry) ends up in jail. Of course, they get bailed out and Barry sobers up and has a heart touching conversation with his soon to be father-in-law.

It was fun to watch Team Flash let loose this episode, though we all could have done without Ralph’s The Mask antics during the bachelor party (we get it, he favors Jim Carey). One of the most enjoyable performances this episode was provided by Grant Gustin. Gustin’s chicken eating, adorable tipsy Barry was so fun — Cisco should make speedster drinks more often.

Flashy Observations

  • So, Iris asked Caitlin to be her Maid of Honor. Really? Especially after Caitlin’s “we’re work friends” conversation with Iris? Does she really not have any work friends or black friends at all?
  • Why didn’t Wally West attend Barry’s Bachelor Party? He definitely could have sped in town for that.
  • Joe West and Barry Allen have the best scenes together.
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  • I find the bigger issue to be that Iris is a non-character, after 3 seasons of the TV series and that the writers, not only are unable to have created a character (Iris), but are unable to balance having two female characters on the same TV series, like it’s some Olympic triathlon for them.

    Caitlin was the only actually developed female character on that series, until the writers started trying to do something with Iris and their solution was that there couldn’t be two female characters on the same show, so they started ruining Caitlin too. Most of Caitlin’s S3/4 plots (and a lot of 2) make zero sense.

    I honestly don’t get it. Here’s a chance to do something great, having a POC female comic book character with a lot of clout (from the comics) and it’s wasted. It seems to be a general CWDC problem with so-called love interests, however, as the same happened with Arrow’s Laurel Lance and Supergirl’s Mon-El and later still Arrow’s Felicity Smoak, when she got switched to love interest.

    The only show that seems to have avoided this fate is Legends of Tomorrow, which doesn’t necessarily have a designated main character, but several.

  • The “trauma” experienced at the hands of Killer Frost, not Caitlin. The fact that they are two seperate ppl that inhabit the same body seems to escape you. Also, the biggest trauma that has been glossed over is not killer frost helping Savitar but the fact that the guy she married is the one who tried to kill her. Sure, he was from the future. A “discarded” time remnant. But a time remant is merely the same person a couple of seconds in to the future. Because he was given a different name, he’s seen as a different person. But the fact remains that he was a heavily derailed version of THIS Barry who actually wanted to kill the so called “love of his life”. But yeah, lets stare ourselves blind on the fact that Iris doesn’t blame Caitlin for the actions of Killer Frost and their new found forced friendship (on that I agree, but to me the forced part is the fact that they thrust Iris in to ever goddamn thing but still doesn’t contribute a damn thing that others already were and still are perfectly and even more capable of) and not the fact that the man she married actually came to a point where he wanted to kill her.

  • Please get Iris out of the Lab. Barry, Harry, Cisco. Even Killer Frost would be better! It’s ruining the show. It’s so FORCED!

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