It seems borderline ridiculous to pen a eulogy for Iris West ( Candice Patton) because even though it actually happened -- Savitar ( Grant Gustin) ran a godsuit spike through her, just as the season kept driving home -- I just don't expect The Flash to let it stick, or for there not to be some sort of "Aha!" twist to reveal that what we saw in "Infantino Street," and over the course of the season, wasn't what we thought we saw.
So, yes, I'm likely in denial. I'm probably in such deep denial that if I were seeing a therapist, "Infantino Street" would probably be the topic for the hour. However, seeing as I'm not in therapy, you, dear readers, will have to suffice. Maybe we can get through our denial together. So here a few ways in which I'm justifying to myself for the next week that Iris isn't really dead.
1. Why would you want Candice Patton and Iris West to leave?
Patton is probably the show's most underappreciated treasure because it simply gives her so very little to do as Iris. I won't rehash this point as I've covered it twice already this season, including last week, but I will point to one scene in this week's episode that is basically a showcase for Patton when gets to do just about anything more than look supportive.
That scene is Iris's talk with Joe (Jesse L. Martin) on Earth-2. You can tell that Patton and Martin both are appreciating the opportunity to dig into this familial relationship for a hot second. Both the writing and the performances are based in this casual sharing of silly secrets to avoid talking about the elephant in the room and the realization that silly secrets are all they really have to share. That's how close Joe and Iris are, but that it's carried off so well and so delicately, never overly saccharine or sentimental or sad, is a testament to both Martin and Patton. Why give up that kind of an actor?
That assumes, of course, that Patton herself doesn't want off the show, and the writers are responding to her desire to leave. While that does get into contract negotiations tidbits -- it seems unlikely she would've signed for fewer seasons than anyone else, let alone fewer than Martin or Tom Cavanagh, the show's biggest names -- but she may've gotten out of them somehow. Of course, there's a reason Patton may be ready to move on from the show, and that's connected to the next denial reason.
2. Why draw more even attention to the lady problem The Flash has?
Basing half the season around a potential fridging of Iris West does a solid enough job of pointing to it, but Flash has had a lady issue for a while, and it's namely "We don't really really know what to do with them!"
Making Iris's death the plot engine to the whole season is the best the show could manage for the character, and it was rarely ever actually about her. That's generally not a great sign for any plotline, let alone a plotline these days when TV shows (and comic book execs for that matter) are one decision away from thinkpieces about the place of women in these stories.
See also Caitlin's ( Dannielle Panabaker) descent into Killer Frost-iness. Caitlin can basically be defined by her love for Ronnie (Robbie Amell) in Season 1, her interest in "Jay Garrick" (Teddy Sears) in Season 2, and her desire not to be Killer Frost in Season 3. That's about the extent of her world. Sure, the show tossed the character a bone earlier this season with that trip to see her mom, but it, and her mother, were never mentioned again, and the plot became more about who cared for saving her more: Cisco (Carlos Valdes) or Julian (Tom Felton)
Killing off Iris for real would all but invite longer versions of this line of thought, versions that I'm sure already exist, but that would suddenly find new life in a death that feels ultimately like a surrender and not a "bold" decision to defy the comic books' canon.
3.The sudden return of H.R.'s transmogrification device.
Not all my reasons are purely production-based. This one, at least, at some grounding in the actual episode. Yes, the transmogrification doodad from Earth-19 returned to aid Barry ( Grant Gustin and Captain Cold's (Wentworth Miller delightful (and tonally dissonant from the episode's end) heist in A.R.G.U.S. facility. And it did so just in time to make me wonder if some poor soul didn't end up taking Iris's place and using the device.
Of course, this line of thought rests on the fact that someone had the opportunity to do that after Iris was abducted. Since we never saw Savitar and Iris after their escape from Earth-2 until they arrived on Infantino Street, it seems like chances for someone to replace her were nil. Now, of course, it's possible that someone -- say H.R. (Tom Cavanagh), given all the guilt he was feeling -- swapped places while Savitar was distracted with dodging the Speed Force Bazooka. This seems kind of unlikely, too, but I also don't want to hear it. Unlikely justifications is what denial is all about!
4. The Iris that died was a time remnant.
Yes, I know that time remnants are a speedster-only thing, but what did I just say about unlikely justifications? It makes as much sense as anything on the show at this point, especially with how flexible it is with its "rules" of time travel. So, yeah, it was probably a time remnant... OF BARRY, made to look like Iris thanks to the transmogrification thingy. Right? Riiiiiight? Right. Glad we're agreed.
5. Surely, Flash doesn't want to steer any harder into the grimdark of it all.
While I was watching the episode, I was chatting with a friend of mine who had already seen it -- time zones, they're just like really lousy versions of time travel! -- and he was really grooving on Cold's return and Miller just taking huge bites out of the scenery, as I'm sure we all did. It was a nice reminder of what was so attractive about Flash in Season 1: its lighthearted silliness that still managed to convey stakes. Why wouldn't you want an episode in which Captain Cold and the Flash teamed up to steal something with King Shark as the guardian? Like, that's just the best possible thing in the whole world. Oh, what's that? You're going to cap it off that super-fun romp by killing Iris West? Oh. Super-duper.
Basically, I don't want Flash to become a pit of despair. If I wanted that, I'd still be watching Arrow. And that's just it, isn't it? The Arrowverse doesn't need two tragic figure heroes headlining shows, and Barry Allen needn't constantly be the universe's/the writers' chew toy, least of all at the expense of Iris West. Or does The Flash's writers room need an inspirational broadcast message from Kara Danvers (Melissa Benoist) and/or Cat Grant (Calista Flockhart)?