This The Flash review has all sorts of spoilers.
The Flash Season 6 Episode 12
Look, any The Flash episode that even vaguely name-checks a Shel Silverstein poem/Johnny Cash song in its title is going to be automatically a hit with me, and that’s before it goes and pays off one of the show’s longest-running plot points.
After months of waiting, Sue Dearbon finally arrives in Central City in “A Girl Named Sue”, and it’s basically everything we wanted it to be. Which, let’s be clear, isn’t something that was all guaranteed. The Flash, bless it, isn’t a show that’s always done the best job at paying off some of its longer-running stories. It hasn’t always done right by its female characters. And there are certainly instances where introducing new characters didn’t go exactly as well as we all might have hoped. (Looking at you, Ralph Dibny’s entire first season on the show.)
But, at least initially, it seems that waiting so long to actually give us Sue was the absolute right move. Whether that means the casting folks had longer to find the exact right actress for the role or the writers had more time to figure out how to introduce her story to the canvas, I don’t know. But whatever the reason is, let’s figure out a way to repeat it in future. Because Sue is wonderful – charismatic, fun to watch and immediately compelling, with a story of her own that has nothing to do with future love interest Ralph. (Though I’m sure it’ll cause her to run into him a few more times. Because reasons.)
Natalie Dreyfuss brings an immediate pop of energy to The Flash in a way that few recent new additions have, and she has delightful chemistry with scene partner/future hubby Hartley Sawyer. Admittedly, I found Ralph’s initial introduction to the show to be rocky and largely terrible back in Season 4, but he’s grown a ton in subsequent seasons and this entire episode is really a testament to what a good man – and what a good hero – he’s become. If the past two seasons of The Flash have been the story of Ralph Dibny becoming someone who’s worthy of a great love; well, good job folks, we’ve finally made it here at last.
Despite the fact that Ralph and Sue’s meeting isn’t exactly what we initially assumed it to be (more on that in a second), their adventure together still manages to firmly establish a rapport between them, and lays some solid groundwork for what their partnership will inevitably be like in the future. The slightly goofy noir vibe, the banter-y sarcasm and the immediate saving of one another from danger? Sign me up for all of that, is what I’m saying.
More importantly, The Flash also seems to be indicating from jump that Sue’s story is going to be something quite different than her comic counterpart’s. First, there’s the small problem of her being a shady jewel thief who double crosses Ralph to steal a ginormous diamond (Catwoman vibes, anybody?) at their initial meeting. This is a comic book story, so petty crime isn’t necessarily that big of a deal breaker, romantically speaking, and there’s something strangely fitting about Ralph’s great love actually being a criminal. Especially since it seems as though Sue’s jewel theft is somehow tied to the larger Season 6B mystery of whatever’s going on at McCulloch Industries. More on that later, I assume.
The most interesting – and quite frankly, subversive – part of Sue’s introduction, is the way that The Flash has so deliberately and pointedly addressed her comic book past. This version of Sue is the last thing that might be called passive – she’s already got her own story, and the personal agency to make choices about how that story progresses. This is a big step up from her occasionally passive Justice League of America self, and stands as a direct contradiction to her controversial comics death, in which she was fridged by her former BFF, largely to drive conflict for Ralph and her fellow heroes.
The Flash neatly flips the script on that story by having Sue pursue a man named John Loring – clearly a gender-swapped reference to Jean Loring, her comics killer – but so that she can rob him, rather than become his victim in some way. There’s something strangely satisfying about this moment, which both manages to assure us that The Flash will not be adapting the Identity Crisis arc, throw out a nod to Sue’s comic roots, and provide a weird, tiny moment that almost gives this character a sliver of justice, even if it’s just in name only. And if I’m reading too much into that, fine; but it really did work for me. When is Sue coming back again? Just curious.
Elsewhere, our tale of Two Irises continues, as our Iris remains trapped in the mirror dimension and meets the presumed dead Eva McCulloch, a tragic figure who’s been stuck in the same mirror since the original particle accelerator explosion pushed her through it. She’s been living alone in an empty world ever since, and I don’t think any of us can blame her for having gone a little bit mad or ultimately turning out to be the new Mirror Master before this season is over.
Mirror dimension Iris, for her part, seems a little shadier than perhaps we initially gave her credit for, as her search for the mirror gun seems to belie her initial presentation as just as another, more outspoken version of the original. Here’s hoping that, as the season continues, we get a better idea of not just where these mirror clones come from, but what they want, how they somehow represent other pieces of their real selves, and whether those pieces can ever be fully combined. Basically, I’m trying to come up with a way for this more assertive Iris to stick around, if possible. This shift in her character toward a more proactive, more decisive and braver self is so welcome, and long overdue.