Guess who gets powers this episode?

You would think that putting together a classic power-swap story would be an opportunity for some fun. The Flash has been better this season at putting our heroes in odd scenarios and playing it for laughs, as well as some pathos. But “Run Iris, Run” fails to offer entertainment that matches its cool concept.

At the start, our heroes are still racking their brains to find a way to discover the other bus metas and stop DeVoe. Harry in particular is all of a sudden obsessed with stopping him. He comes up with the terrible plan of recreating the dark matter experiment with the thinking cap that gave DeVoe his super-intelligence. Cisco thinks it’s way too risky. Ralph is all for it, as he’s worried about being on DeVoe’s list. He doesn’t care about the danger to anyone else, only about saving his own skin.

Yep, once again, Ralph swings back to full-on jerk and coward mode. He refuses to help find or defend the other bus metas, too focused on hiding from The Thinker. Then he calls Iris out for not joining our metahuman heroes in the field. Couple of issues here: First off, Iris has been in the field this season, quite a few times. Second, the writers keep repeating the same subplot with Ralph, where he’s an ass and selfish until he decides to be heroic again. They’ve gone to this well too many times. It’s tiresome. Plus, he seems to get worse each time. In this episode, he’s thrilled that Fry isn’t one of the bus metas because that means DeVoe will take longer to kill three others before getting to him.

Meanwhile, a bank robbery by a meta with fire abilities goes awry when another meta steals his powers away. When Joe and Iris go to confront the meta, an EMT named Matthew Kim, he panics and hold Iris hostage. Barry shows up and in the ensuing struggle, his speed is transferred to Iris. It turns out that he doesn’t just remove powers, but transfers them. And of course, he’s a bus meta. The team knows they have to find Matthew, whom Cisco names as Melting Point, to keep him safe from DeVoe. But they also figure they could use his powers to remove DeVoe’s abilities.

Now, you would think that the scenes with Iris as a speedster would be light and fun, right? Nope. Candice Patton has a great time trying her hand as a speedster. But Barry gets mopey as he feels he’s lost his job and now his speed because of DeVoe. Of course, The Thinker had nothing to do with the power transfer besides causing Melting Point to get his abilities. But it gives Barry a reason to be sad, so why not? No one missed this version of our hero and I don’t understand why the writers keep bringing him back.

Plus, it gets really dumb when Iris goes to rescue people from a fire, but Barry can’t train her on how to use her speed to put out the blaze or phase through objects when she gets pinned. It takes Cisco breaching to save her. Didn’t Barry train Wally last season? Why is he left flabbergasted all of a sudden? These stakes ring false.

Ultimately, everything does work out, when Iris stops a criminal who accidentally gained the fire powers from Matthew. After another heart-to-heart, Barry walks Iris through creating a controlled tidal wave to douse the meta’s flames. Matthew transfers Barry’s speed back to him and offers to help the team stop DeVoe. Plus, a talk between Iris and Ralph encourages him to stop hiding and face his problems, just like every other time.

This episode had a lot of potential that unfortunately went unused. Let’s hope that when the show returns in April, it’s firing on all cylinders for a strong conclusion to the season.

Show Notes:

  • It turns out that Central City’s Mayor won’t let Barry return to work until she can personally speak to DeVoe. Ralph would need to use his shape-changing powers again. Once he gets over his fear, it seems like that’s what he intends to do. Barry may get his badge back before too long.
  • When Harry is showing the security footage of DeVoe getting struck by lightning the night the particle accelerator exploded, the camera angle changes to a close-up on DeVoe’s face. Uhhh, doubt there’s a camera there.
  • Hey, Iris actually remembers that she was a reporter! She says that she quit her job due to the Savitar threat or losing Barry to the Speed Force. But at the close of the episode, she starts writing again.
  • In the ending teaser, Harry, using his thinking cap, unveils the names of the last two bus metas: Janet Petty and Edwin Gauss.