A long-running tradition in comics is screwing with the hero’s powers. That comes up in this episode, which you can probably tell from the title. “Run, Iris, Run” is another take on this convention, and a switch from the oft repeated instruction to Barry.
The episode starts off with Cisco and Wells doing more brainstorming. Wells is getting increasingly ruthless and it’s worrying Cisco. I wonder if the seemingly omniscient DeVoe foresaw Wells’ desperation? After some bickering banter about mad science as an area of study, Cisco ends the session by going to bed. One of the comments made me wonder: where is Wells living? Does he have a place somewhere (remembering that the general public thinks Wells is a murderer) or does he just have a cot in a corner of the lab somewhere? Wells then spends some time turning his thoughts in a disturbing direction.
The next day, Wells surprises Team Flash with his newest inspiration. He has carefully studied DeVoe’s origin, since it took place just outside STAR and they have all the security footage. So, he’s decided to recreate DeVoe’s “thinking cap” although Wells has a less appealing name for it. The only person supporting this wild idea of Wells’ is Ralph, who has gone from determined to avenge Izzy to afraid of his own shadow and hiding out in the STAR basement. Cisco is particularly outspoken in his criticism of the idea. After a few of the now expected storming out exits, Iris goes to reassure Ralph, who isn’t in the mood to be cheered up, and says a few cutting things to Iris.
Barry catches up with Joe at Jitters, the show’s only recurring social gathering spot. Weird girl who knows too much doesn’t show up again this time, and Joe has some bad news for Barry about getting his job back. The current sticking point is the new mayor wanting to talk to the mysteriously resurrected DeVoe. Since that was Ralph impersonating him, and Ralph’s gone into Cowardly Lion mode, that doesn’t seem likely.
A new wrinkle is introduced when there’s a metahuman-powered bank robbery. The robber is very much enjoying his fire powers, and then something odd happens. When someone is brave enough to face the man down, the robber swats him away, and then discovers his powers are gone. Cisco and Joe, of course, work the case and can’t figure out what happened. The man clearly had powers, but Cisco can’t detect a trace of them anymore. This man is definitively not one of the bus metas. The team brainstorms about what to do, and all the ideas they come up with get shot down one way or another. Finally, they zero in on the mystery man, and, due to Ralph’s dressing down earlier, Iris decides to accompany Joe in the field, leaving Barry cooling his heels at loose ends at STAR.
Wells test out a first version of his thinking cap, with some questionable help from Ralph. It works to a point, but clearly has some flaws. The Wests search for their mystery man while Joe tries to make Iris feel better after Ralph’s sharp words. They find the man, he panics, and takes Iris hostage. Joe summons the Flash, and we find out how the man’s powers work. He doesn’t so much take powers as swap them. Barry suddenly loses his speed, the new meta gets away in the confusion, and Iris suddenly finds herself with a new gift.
Back at the speed lab, they determine that Iris is now definitely a speedster, and that Barry has no traces of power at all. They figure out the man, Matthew Kim, can scramble DNA in a way to move meta-powers from one person to another. This would be a very bad power for The Thinker to get, and the team is uneasy about this. Cisco dubs the man Melting Point, Ralph goes back to hide in his room, and they work out that someone out there has fire powers and they need to find them.
Wells and Cisco have another argument about the Thinking Cap, and Wells stalks off again. Caitlin tries to convince Cisco to help him, leading Cisco to wonder if he’s the only one who thinks “combining dark matter and a rage-aholic” is a bad plan. Caitlin encourages Cisco to find a way to help Wells and keep him safe from his “Death Cap” as Cisco names it.
Barry and Iris are in the speed lab again, and Barry isn’t happy with this turn of events. His job, and now his speed, he feels like DeVoe is taking everything away from him. Iris hugs and reassures him, but their moment is interrupted when the alarms go off. Barry is in the receiving end of a super-speed exit, and doesn’t care for the experience. In a series of bad and/or puzzling decisions, they decide to send Iris to deal with a skyscraper fire. While Ralph refuses to go, one of the more experienced metas should have gone with her. Especially, say, Killer Frost, who just might be useful in dealing with a fire. Barry stays behind as team leader, and doesn’t settle into the role as well as Iris has.
Iris saves everyone, which is arguably the most important part of the mission. She proves a bit less adept at fighting the fire itself, despite advice and encouragement from Barry. She ends up in need of rescue herself, and finally is saved from near-death by a timely breech from Cisco. Why he wasn’t with her in the first place, I’m not sure.
Iris proves to have gotten Barry’s healing, in addition to his other abilities, so her injuries aren’t a major concern. Ralph is worried that she shouldn’t have gone at all, that she wasn’t ready for this kind of action. Caitlin has still not been able to figure out how to restore Barry’s powers. Cisco finally agrees to help Wells, with a few conditions and Star Trek references.
Barry and Iris talk in the speed lab again, this time about her withdrawing from the field after the mess with Savitar and Barry being missing. She does finally acknowledge what’s been obvious but never mentioned, that she quit her reporting job. When the alarms sound again, Barry tells her to go and that he’ll be alright. The new bearer of the fire powers has shown up, and Iris, now decked out in a re-colored version of Jesse Quick’s costume, announces she’s going to handle it on her own. Now I think she’s putting ego and/or the need to prove something ahead of public safety (including her father’s, who is already there), but the CW heroes as a whole do things like that a lot.
Events gain momentum as the new fire guy, Gary, recognizes Kim from the bank and is worried he’s there to take his new power away. Kim is confused, because up to this point he believed that he was erasing powers, not transferring them. Kim thought he was helping by removing powers from dangerous people. Iris shows up, slaps damper cuffs on Kim, and then takes on Fire-Gary with a bit of advice via coms. She ends up defeating him with a dangerous tactic, but pulls it off. Everyone cheers, and Joe even calls her “Flash” in front of everyone, no doubt confusing a lot of the cops.
Wrapping things up back at STAR, the team talks with Mr. Kim. For once, Barry doesn’t reveal his secret ID to a new ally, but no one else wears a mask, so I’m not sure how much good that will do. Barry gets his powers restored, and Kim at least considers their request to help them against DeVoe. Iris and Kim’s examples inspire Ralph to shake off some of his fear, and Barry and Iris share a moment about destiny, and he not asking her to give up her (his?) speed. Ralph even agrees to help out with the mayor again. Cisco and Wells run an experiment with the Thinking Cap, and learn something important.
What I liked: It was a new spin on the losing powers idea, and it was nice to see Kim was trying to help people. Not all the metas go evil/crazy, although there’s enough that I think someone should do a study on it. Wells’ idea about the Thinking Cap is either inspired or dangerous or both, but it might give them an edge on Thinker. Cisco’s concerns about it are justified, I’d say.
What I didn’t: Using Izzy against the Thinker failed spectacularly. I’m not sure why they think Kim is going to work out better. I don’t know if Iris is particularly bad with speed or Barry just has a knack for it, but she wasn’t doing well as a speedster, although she was certainly trying. Even if she was just a temporary hero, she should have rated her own costume, not a hand-me-down.
I’ll give this one a 3 out of 5. We’ll see what happens the next time they try and deal with Thinker and/or the new bus metas.