The Flash: Iris West Has Feelings Too

May 10th, 2016 | by Tatiana Hullender
The Flash: Iris West Has Feelings Too
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The Flash is heating up, and our Tatiana Hullender is here to give her thoughts on the show’s direction.

CW’s The Flash is in the midst of its most exciting chunk of episodes this season, starting with last week’s chapter in which Barry disappeared into the speed force after attempting to recover his powers through another particle accelerator explosion. Theories have abounded all week about how he will get back, how he will defeat Zoom, and whether Wally and Jesse will also be gifted with speed. But there’s one aspect of the episode that has been debated more than the rest – and that’s whether Iris West’s confession of feelings for Barry is “genuine” or somehow forced on her due to her learning about their destiny.

Before watching Kevin Smith’s highly-touted installment “The Runaway Dinosaur” and hopefully having all our theories confirmed or corrected, I’d like to take a moment to tackle the question of Iris West and her emotions. It’s certainly true that Iris has brought up the question of destiny twice now when discussing her choice to move forward romantically with Barry, but to suggest that she is somehow forcing herself to do it is to deny aspects of her characterization that have been emphasized since day one.

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Last year, before she ever saw a newspaper from 2024 and long before she knew about Earth-2, Iris West admitted that she hadn’t been able to stop thinking about Barry since his confession. She couldn’t stop because she didn’t want to stop, and the only reason they didn’t move forward from there was because Barry ran back in time and erased her confession. Later, Iris repeated the admission but clarified that she wasn’t going to let herself keep thinking about Barry because she was with Eddie. She had a boyfriend whom she had grown to love and she wanted to be loyal to that relationship.

Pictured: Candice Patton as Iris West

Credit: Bettina Strauss/The CW Network

When this season started, Iris was still reeling from Eddie’s death and naturally needed time to process her grief before she could think about moving on with either Barry or anyone else. This is where I think some of the criticism about her romantic arc is warranted, because as I myself have complained at length, the show did not give her an opening in which to talk about her feelings for over ten episodes. It would have made sense for both Iris’ personal growth and the West-Allen romance for Iris to explain to her father that she needed to set aside any feelings for Barry out of guilt for the part their relationship played in Eddie’s death. Instead Iris was silenced on everything from Eddie to Barry to even her secret brother until the writers felt it was the right time to drop some plot bombs.

That being said, it is still crystal clear the story that Iris did and does have romantic feelings for Barry. Before his trip to Earth-2 – and therefore before Iris has any knowledge that they are married in another universe – Iris asks him to “come home.” The implication is clear: she wants him to come home to her. She even brings that moment up herself in her confession, saying that she hadn’t been talking about Patty then but herself. However, Iris has had a lot of mental hurdles she needed to clear before allowing herself to admit that she is in love with Barry. First she needed to move on from Eddie’s death, which a video procured from Barry’s recent trip to the past allowed her to do. Then she still tried to go on a date with her boss, which we unfortunately didn’t see onscreen. But what we did see onscreen was the way she started to see Barry differently.

Throughout the back half of this season, Iris has tentatively reached out to Barry several times before coming clean about her romantic intentions. She referred to herself as his home and waited around STAR Labs until his return so that she could welcome him back, she flirted with him at a nightclub and dared to bring up “Netflix and chill,” and she even gauged his reaction to her going on a potential date which she immediately canceled. The fact that her knowledge that they were together in the future and in parallel earths factored into her decision-making process doesn’t negate her very real feelings for Barry – it just points to what a methodical and cautious woman Iris is. She’s always been afraid of screwing up her relationships, which we saw when it took her nine months to admit to her father that she had a boyfriend because she was afraid of what would happen once the relationship became serious. Knowing that Barry Allen is her destiny helps Iris West take the leap of faith and be with him, not because it removes her choice in the matter but because it eases her fear that they will fail.

 

Tatiana Hullender is a Contributor to ComiConverse. Follow her on Twitter: @MyrcellasEar

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  • Ri U

    Honestly the writers are partially to blame because they downplay Iris’ emotions and thoughts a lot but I think you’d have to be blind (or purposely ignoring Iris as many Flash watchers and reviewers do) to not see all the hints that Iris has been dropping re: loving Barry romantically.

  • micaelaj

    Yes to all of this people who complain that Iris’s feelings are out of the blue are being wilfully ignorant or ignoring the narrative because it doesn’t fit with their vision of what/who the main romantic partner for Barry should be and that’s the bottom line. I love how they have framed Iris and her caution reference love relationships and loss and I’m excited to see how this very important romance plays out on screen.

  • What Other Girls?

    Agreed with everything. Granted her POV is not given the same focus as Barry’s (which is a shame and should be rectified) but honestly you’d have to actively skip their scenes together to NOT see that she’s had feelings for Barry for a while now.
    I do think the writers can and should do a better job, and I hope they do because WestAllen deserves the world. Can’t wait to see where they take them next

  • Alexis

    I completely agree with you on this. The show hasn’t done the best job showing Iris’s point of view most of the time but let’s be clear that most of the segment of people complaining just plain refuse to see what’s going on in the narrative because they have another agenda i.e not wanting Barry and Iris together.

  • Nikki M

    I couldn’t agree more. Proof of her love for Barry has been clearly presented throughout the series but because she is constantly sidelined, it’s hard to remember her confessions. It was really disheartening that she didn’t get a chance to really talk about how much Eddie’s death affected her when Caitlin got many chances to speak about Ronnie’s death.

  • anonyma phila

    I meet people named Iris and I know they’d feel more rescued if the writers just got the character of Iris off the show instead of enslaving her to this superhero story written by a roman catholic guy in the 1940s. After all the roman catholic church, though beloved, is the one that excommunicated a woman named Iris for being a priest. Marriage and romance in this case is really more a desire to not give Iris what she wants and would feel loved by and it is an act of aggression in a way also since it is to prevent her going down the path God wants her on.
    People tend to like women to be of the same mind as Candice Patton and try to make out like this is celebrating a feminist ideal or a strong woman to make much of her feelings and point of view etc. but this is actually really against what a lot of women in particular those who want to be in science and would rather play the flash than play his love interest would want. All this talk about giving Iris West more attention is just all fluff and diverting attention from what they don’t want to give her in life because fundamentally even making this show about this superhero and making her play his love interest is against what women want out of life. The best part of the show so far is that Barry disintegrates and is gone and hopefully stays gone. But it sucks that they bypass Iris West and gives that power to her brother and another girl.
    All this discussion about giving Iris West a better part and story line is a complete waste of time because this story is not about her and this story can never be improved for women like her because the role of the superhero flash scientist is already taken and therefore they have only the avenue of making her more imprisoned to the ideal of a woman in non science and relationship oriented strengths pretending we’re making her stronger by celebrating that aspect but really not saying that you’d never in a million years accept her as what people I know named iris would want to be accepted as. Let’s make it concrete …for example given these portrayals what would happen if someone like Iris West tried to apply for Harrison Well’s job? They would laugh and say hey look you’re a superhero at “feelings” so would you work in human resources instead? And that would really suck because it does happen in real life everyday and women hate it.
    The best thing Barry Allen could do to love a character like Iris West if you really want to make this a modern tale and you really give a care about that female character is to just end the show admitting we don’t want to see this kind of story anymore and give characters like Iris West freedom from ever having to be a superhero love interest ever again.
    You can’t grow an apple tree from a seed meant to grow cabbage. You can never make the character of Iris West better because the writer who made this story is fundamentally not for Iris West except as an obligatory component for the superhero. Anyone who doesn’t get that and is trying to make it seem like they’ve given iris West some better deal in their modern work is a fool.

  • anonyma phila

    I know people named Iris and their “feelings” are that they wish and pray that the writers and directors of shows like this would just not make them anymore because they were created in the 1940s and you can’t improve on a foundation where the female character is the love interest of the superhero to make it a better situation for the female characters. Fundamentally the superhero story is against women who want something quite different for their lives. People who are complaining about what’s being done with the female characters like Iris West and how it would be an improvement to give her more feelings as if that were being feminist are fools because the very act of making this show and movie is against women who want something else. Her only reason for existing is to be the love interest and therefore the very show existing is the wrong move if they really care about a female character like Iris West. Using her like a puppet to be the woman they think women want to be just because a particular woman they happen to like like Candice Patton want to be that and care about those things and to say the things they think makes for a more admirable woman and stronger person is in itself the reason other kinds of women have a problem with things. The praise and celebration of the strengths of what they think is for women is in itself a prison masking that they don’t ever want to see her as the flash and have that be a positive thing. They even think of it as usurping what they feel rightfully belongs to Barry. At the end of the day making shows like this never does good to women like Iris West’s character…no one will ever like her they will all like Barry and think of Iris as someone who ought to be grateful to Barry..how is this loving to her? The most elevating thing and rescuing thing the writers and directors could do is to get iris west an escape from this world altogether in which she serves as Barry’s or anyone’s love interest or serve as some social justice girl. In real life people named Iris would thank you for being her savior if you did that.

  • Clara Viki

    Completely agree.

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