Last episode, a few twists were revealed as Iris was trapped in the mirror dimension. There was also a bit more about the mysterious Black Hole organization, who I think it’s safe to say will be the looming big bad of the season’s second half. This time around, Ralph comes back after being out of sight for a while, we get some progress on his major subplot, and there’s more skullduggery around the corner in “A Girl Named Sue.” I believe the title is a nod to the Johnny Cash song, “A Boy Named Sue,” as well as being a fitting intro for a new character. Also, for those keeping track, this is the first episode of the series that Danielle Panabaker (Caitlin/Frost) wasn’t in, leaving only Grant Gustin (Barry/Flash) and Candace Patton (Iris) with perfect streaks.
The episode starts with a near-repeat of something we saw before: Iris banging on the mirror in frustration as her duplicate gets friendly with Barry. This time, there’s a surprise waiting for her, although who is more surprised is open to debate. Iris gets a rundown on where she is, a character origin, and some bad news about her predicament. In his office, Ralph is borderline obsessing on the Sue Dearbon case, which Cecile worries about when she comes in. She makes an offer that Ralph turns down, and then he gets a lead and takes off.
At the West-Allen home, Barry has some odd lingering injuries from his last fight. Considering his speed-healing, this seems somewhat ominous, but it’s never followed up on. There’s also a passing nod to current events over on Supergirl. Iris talks about her investigation, and makes a request of Barry. He’s a bit surprised to hear what she wants from the STAR-chives, and doesn’t agree, citing some decent reasons for caution. Iris is clearly not happy to hear this. And yes, I know, this isn’t the real Iris, but I’m not typing “Mirror Iris” or something like that every time. Ralph follows up his lead, gets surprised by an explosive revelation, and Sue Dearbon finally shows up on screen. Sue fills Ralph in on what she’s been up to, and why they can’t do something simple like going to the cops.
Iris gets more information and tries to come up with a plan to get out of her new prison. Barry goes to work (it’s been a while since we’ve seen that), and Joe pulls him aside for some special help that actually requires the CSI guy, not the man in the red suit. Sue and Ralph make their first attempt at solving her problems, which goes badly. The scene does show that Sue is more than capable of taking care of herself, and that the writers don’t know how digital cameras work. That or Ralph is seriously old-school. They end up at Jitters, because everyone does, and discuss what to do next. Cecile runs into them and babbles a bit before Ralph politely shoos her away.
Iris is very excited about her escape attempt, but it doesn’t go remotely as planned. Someone screws up as Other-Iris (ok, this time it needs the distinguisher) is supposedly in the STAR-chives, but that’s been shown to be a remote shack in the woods, as opposed to the exterior establishing shot of STAR Labs usual building they show. She doesn’t quite get what she wants, but does run into Nash Wells. They both make bad excuses for being there, and we see that Nash is being haunted by his past. Or someone’s past, anyway.
Ralph and Sue make another attempt to get the goods on John Loring, who we’re told is Sue’s crazy ex. It’s an interesting choice for the character name, since in the comics, Jean Loring, Atom’s ex-wife, killed Sue in the controversial Identity Crisis event. This, too, goes badly, and they get in enough trouble that Ralph ends up revealing his secret identity to her. Clearly, he’s picked up a lot in his training from Barry. Sue and Ralph do have some great chemistry, echoing their comic book counterparts. They have a very intense chat afterwards, and hatch another interesting plan. Back at the CCPD, Barry goes over his findings with Joe, and learns about a special case Joe’s been working on his own that ties back to some other problems the heroes are having. This leads to a talk about Iris’ earlier request, and Joe gives his opinion on the matter.
From the ruins of her plan, Iris learns about something new that might bode well for her getting out after all. Sue and Ralph go Mission Impossible to sneak in where they need to be. The scene starts off decently, and then gets a bit less good in my opinion. The writers apparently don’t know how safe deposit boxes work, and also indulge in the very tired trope of “We’re sneaking around and facing a few deadlines. Let’s stop and chat.” Their mission ends in a major surprise for Ralph (and me, I’ll admit). Things spin out of control in all sorts of bad directions, and get complicated by gangsters and supervillains both. We do get a hell of a fight scene, and, at the risk of being that guy, seeing that Natalie Dreyfuss/Sue Dearbon looks damn good in a variation of a familiar costume. It’s a weird scene, or series of them, that ends with surprises and Flash’s only appearance in costume. It seems like Batwoman tries to force at least one brief costume scene per episode, and this followed that model.
We get a few wrap up scenes, some of which also build towards the future. Ralph isn’t pleased with how things went, and Iris tries to reassure him. Reconsidering his earlier decision, Barry gives Iris what she wanted. The real Iris draws on her vast experience with metahumans to try a new escape plan, and does seem to make some progress. Sue pulls yet another surprise, showing she, too, is working on something that ties back to the other characters.
What I liked: I’m glad we finally got to see Sue. I thought Natalie Dreyfuss did a great job with the character, and she and Ralph sparked together well. I’m very interested in real Iris’ dilemma, and alt-Iris’ goals. If the big bad is as dangerous as they make it sound, I’m wondering if Joe is getting in over his head. Nash’s issues could be interesting, depending on how they handle it.
What I didn’t: I get putting your own stamp on things, but I don’t like how they changed one of the characters. Barry got pushed into a bad decision by Joe’s advice, and Ralph got nudged in the wrong direction by Cecile, which made even less sense. I know Cisco is gone, maybe for good, but where’s Caitlin/Frost? Kamilla and Allegra have been big parts of the season, why did they suddenly vanish? I’m not loving the alt-Iris plot, and I’m betting this is going to have some annoying, soap opera style repercussions.
I found this to be an uneven episode, with both good and bad parts. I’ll give it a down the middle 3 out of 5. I’m intrigued to see where some of this goes.