The Flash (4×02) “Mixed Signals” focussed heavily on romantic relationships, from WestAllen to Cisco/Gypsy, and it was one of the most fun episodes in awhile. Check out our thoughts about in this week’s DCTV roundtable with Fangirlish!
Barry returned in a pretty unexpected way in The Flash‘s Season 4 premiere, though he was back to himself by the end of the episode. However, with his six month absence, there was bound to be some friction as Team Flash reconfigured themselves. That friction was definitely evident in “Mixed Signals” via Barry’s relationship with Iris. Even with this tension, “Mixed Signals” was one of the most fun episodes of The Flash in some time (WestAllen therapy scenes!).
We reflect on this and more in this week’s DCTV roundtable with our friends at Fangirlish. Team Fangirlish came up with the awesome questions, which I’ve included below along with my responses and Alyssa’s (Fangirlish) and Lizzie’s (Fangirlish) contributions. The full roundtable post includes a total of seven contributors, so definitely check it out HERE for more about “Mixed Signals”!
1. Describe your thoughts about “Mixed Signals” using just six words.
Funmbi: Sweet, hilarious, and so much fun!
Alyssa: This is The Flash I love!
Lizzie: Imagine that, this is fun again!
2. Describe your thoughts about “Mixed Signals” using a gif.
3. Over the last six months Iris has been the leader of Team Flash. What does Barry’s return to the team mean for Team Flash? How can they move forward and be an efficient team?
Funmbi: It was very clear in the Season 4 premiere, that Iris picked up the mantel of being Team Flash’s leader. This was probably the case for several reasons–Iris needed some way to fill her time in Barry’s absence. Taking a leadership role in Team Flash was probably also an opportunity to Iris to honor Barry’s memory by taking up his mission as the Flash and protecting Central City. In fact, this was likely the same for Joe, Wally, and Cisco too. Now that Barry’s back, I actually think it’s more important for him to fit into the new dynamic rather than taking the lead and expecting others to follow. For example, in the scene when Barry was trying to figure out the best to stop the careening car, he made a misjudgement based on assumptions and old information. Iris and Team Flash gained a lot of experience and knowledge in Barry’s absence and it should be put to use. Basically, communication and compromise will be key.
Alyssa: Well, this certainly isn’t the Team Flash that Barry left six months prior. Like most things, it has evolved, and you can’t ignore how things have changed. More importantly, you can’t force yourself back into your old position now that things have changed. There definitely needs to be open communication, as Lizzie said, to really allow this team to mesh well with the changes. This reminds me of how Team Arrow eventually evolved to include more than just Oliver. Team Arrow wasn’t just Oliver’s crusade anymore. It was also Felicity’s, Diggle’s, Thea’s, Roy’s, Laurel’s, and now the new team. Same with Team Flash. In Barry’s absence, Iris, Cisco, Wally, and Joe really stepped up and invested themselves in this crusade. It wasn’t just about honoring Barry. It was also about protecting the city and doing what’s right. They’re all heroes, after all.
Lizzie With communication. Barry needs to listen. He wasn’t gone for a long weekend, he was gone for six months. And I know he’s just excited to be back and being The Flash again, but team dynamics have shifted and he needs to learn to readjust. And the team needs to readjust to him, too. Cisco might not need to be out on the field so much, for example. It’s all about finding their place in the dynamic. One thing I’m curious about is – do we need Wally at this point? Not saying I don’t enjoy the Wally/Iris/Joe dynamics, but another speedster on the team, one that’s always painted as being SLOWER, doesn’t seem like a thing that would work long-term unless they, you know, actually gave Wally a storyline. So what is it? Is he getting a storyline of his own or can he go to the place superheroes can actually have fun in (yes, I mean Legends of Tomorrow).
4. Would you be mad if Barry went ahead and planned your wedding? Breakfast? Your future by going into the time vortex? Why do you think Barry was acting this way? And do you think that conversation after therapy was what they needed?
Funmbi: I LOVED the scene with Risky Business Barry, in his underpants, singing, dancing, and making breakfast. So yes, barry can always make me breakfast anytime. However, I do think that he goes too far by unilaterally making those decisions about the wedding. I know that, for Barry, it comes from a place of deep love. He wants to take care of Iris, lessen the things that she has on her plate. But given the fact that a wedding is meant to be one of the most important days in a bride’s and groom’s lives, both Iris and Barry need to have an equal role in making these plans. And like the wedding, Team Flash is the same way. One of the absolute best quotes of the night is when Iris says: “You are not The Flash, Barry. We are.” First: SO MANY FEEEEEELS. Second: this is the absolute truth. Barry and Iris are building a life together and that definitely includes the superhero antics.
Alyssa: Hell yeah I’d be mad! And that’s not just because I always need to be in control. Okay, well that’s definitely a main part of it. I mean, I understand that his intentions were good, but you don’t go ahead and plan everything without Iris’ input. Marriage itself is about these two becoming partners for life. They’re no longer just a team on Team Flash. They’re about to be a team in life. That requires communication. That requires teamwork. That requires consideration. Like I said, I don’t think Barry meant any of it — especially the time vortex jump — out of bad intentions, but the fact of the matter is that it wasn’t the right thing. I think Barry was just overcompensating for the time that he’d missed; for leaving Iris without him for so long. Like anything, I think he was just trying to help Iris. As far as that conversation after therapy, that was definitely needed. It was refreshing to watch two characters — and not just two characters in a superhero show — talk through their issues in such an honest and genuine way. They opened up to each other, they listened to each other, and they emerged a stronger couple as a result.
Lizzie: OF COURSE I’d be mad. A wedding is not about one person, it’s about two. It’s about coming together and becoming partners in life. It’s symbolic, of course, but if someone is making all the decisions about the actual event, how does that bode for the future? Now, I think Barry was just excited and he was trying to make up for the team away and he wasn’t actually trying to ignore Iris’s wishes, but trying to make her happy. Either way, Barry, NO. Some girls don’t dream of planning their wedding, that is true, but Iris had a BINDER. She probably had some ideas of what she wanted and wanted to be involved in the planning.
5. Why was it important for Barry and Iris to go to therapy? Do other superheroes and their significant others need to go to therapy? Why haven’t they?
Funmbi: These therapy scenes are some of the most hilarious television I’ve seen this year. (BTW, I want all the outtakes from filming because I bet they were hilarious too!) It’s clear that Barry and Iris live highly unconventional lives, so them trying to articulate that for a therapist without revealing the Flash things is really funny to watch. Plus, as the therapist says, Barry and Iris have been through A LOT of trauma. What’s most fascinating to me is that Barry seems to have dealt with all his baggage. I don’t think Barry remembers his time in the Speed Force, so we might never know what happened to him during those six months. But whatever it is, Barry seems a lot lighter. He makes breakfast, catches up on Game of Thrones, and he’s physically faster than ever. At the same time, we see that Iris is NOT OK, and that’s also a result of Barry leaving for the Speed Force. He just left her, and it’s important for Barry to hear her concerns and provide assurances that they are in this thing together. Therapy was a great opportunity for Barry and Iris to come to those agreements. In terms of other superheroes that need therapy, I’m thinking that Kara would benefit from talking to someone. In 3×02, Kara confesses to Alex some of her fears about being responsible for Mon-El’s death, and that is good for her.
Alyssa: I feel like this was something that The Flash really needed to do was to highlight more of the reality that these superheroes encounter. Yes, there are superheroes. No, they’re not inhuman. Yes, they have real problems. Yes, therapy is something that everyone could benefit from to some degree, and Barry and Iris were two of those people. Despite Barry’s return, there were some serious issues that the pair hadn’t discussed. Just because Barry returned without remembering what happened, Iris has been living this hell for six months. Not just living it, she’s been repressing her emotions to an unhealthy degree. Sure, Barry returning nearly made her whole again. But his re-appearance doesn’t erase the memories from the past six months; it doesn’t take away the pain she’s felt and has been pushing down. Iris was mad at Barry. She was pissed at Barry. He left her alone. You can’t just ignore that. And while she tried to, I’m glad she finally got the chance to unload on Barry. And it certainly helped matters as they’re on the path to rebuilding and moving forward.
Lizzie: We probably all could benefit from therapy, and superheroes are no exception. Barry and Iris, in this particular case, were having communication issues. Barry was trying to compensate for something he just couldn’t compensate for, and Iris just didn’t know how to express her very valid feelings without making Barry feel bad. And so I was very happy, surprised yes, but happy, not just when Caitlin suggested it (and like TALKED TO IRIS OMG THEY CAN TALK), but Iris listened to her, and then Barry agreed to it. We all need help sometimes. We all need to talk to someone. That doesn’t make us weak, it makes us strong. We’re taking control.
In fact – Oliver and Felicity, please. Kara, Mon-El, while we’re at it. Hey, Alex, Maggie ..you don’t have to break up. GO. TO. THERAPY.
6. Use a gif to express how you felt when Iris jumped into action at the intruder alert at Star Labs and held that gun?
7. In the midst of all this chaos Cisco bailed on Gypsy a couple times before making it up to her at the end of the episode. What direction do you see this relationship going in and why is it important for other members of Team Flash to also have lives?
Funmbi: Schmoopy is one of my new favorite words and it’s all because of Cisco and Gypsy. I enjoy their relationship so much. The fact that Gypsy would come back to spend One-One-One Day with Cisco means that their relationship is pretty serious. Cisco always puts work first and he’s such an integral part of the Team. In this case, focussing on the Kilgore case makes him oblivious to Gypsy really wanting to spend time with him. Thank goodness for Caitlin! (Incidentally, she is full of good advice in this episode. It’s her recommendation that Barry and Iris go to therapy.) And when Cisco puts together the One-One-One date for Gypsy at the end of the episode, it’s such a wonderful moment. I hope their relationship continues to grow. Cisco deserves to be in love and Gypsy complements him really well. Also, I don’t know where else to say this, but Cisco’s hair was looking very lush this week!
Alyssa: I really hope that The Flash expand on the romance outside of Barry Allen and Iris West. Not that I don’t love them, but I’m also interested in the goings-on of the other main characters. Cisco has been long overdue in the romance department, and the dynamic that this show introduced with Cisco and Gypsy last season was a truly pleasant surprise that I really hope they pay off. It won’t be a central focus on the show — unless the actress is a regular — but we’ll get to see those moments where Cisco gets to love and be loved. All we’ve really gotten to see Cisco has been as the comedic relief or the lab guy. This is a new element to Cisco that we’re getting to experience — and it’s season 4! It’s about damn time.
Lizzie: Cisco and Gypsy are fun and I hope this continues to be a thing, and not like a once a year thing. Not just because we need another ship in this show, though we do, but because the characters become richer if you explore all facets of their lives. I love LabCisco, and I love Vibe, but Cisco is the type of character that can do all and get you to love him, so why not take advantage of that? And that really applies to all these characters, The Flash has a really good and fun ensemble and I think they lose by not taking advantage of that and exploring what these people do outside of catching metas.
8. Caitlin and Cisco spent some time geeking out and working together to solve this week’s meta problem. Why is their friendship so important? What does it mean for Team Flash?
Funmbi: Caitlin and Cisco have been been homies from the beginning, and I love how, in spite of ups and downs, this friendship is still strong. In the case of Team Flash things, Caitlin and Cisco bounce ideas off each other and make really critical breakthroughs. It’s always nice to have a friend who will to a celebratory, flaily jig with you. But outside of that, Caitlin and Cisco are genuinely friends. They help each other through difficult times in their personal lives (e.g. Ronnie’s death, Dante’s death). Cisco is the person who brings Caitlin back to Team Flash after the Killer Frost debacle, too. I hope their relationship remains a close, platonic friendship because men and women can totally be just friends without romance. It’s great to have Caitlin and Cisco as a representation of this.
Alyssa: Caitlin and Cisco’s friendship is important for a number of reasons but perhaps the most important, as everyone I’m sure is saying, is that it’s illustrating that men and women can be friends. BECAUSE THEY CAN. Men and women that are friends don’t always end up falling for each other. Things don’t always have to be romantic. In fact, most of the time it’s not. Caitlin and Cisco have had an amazing bond from the beginning, and it’s been important from the start because of the significance of having that strong dynamic that’s supportive, loving, and empowering.
Lizzie: BECAUSE MEN AND WOMAN CAN BE FRIENDS. I mean, obviously, they’re important as Caitlin and Cisco, not just as an example, but they also go against a trope that is so prevalent on TV that, at this point, it’s like TV is trying to convince of that platonic friendships do not exist. And that’s not a good message to send. Men and Women can be friends, and not casual friends in the way Barry and Caitlin are painted, but real, joke around, work together, finish each other’s sentences kind of friends. That’s possible and it doesn’t have to turn romantic and that’s crucial.
Plus, they just make a good team – in the chasing metas department, don’t they?
9. Do you have any theories about where these other metahumans are coming from?
Funmbi: I have NO idea, but what I do know is that the Thinker and his female associate are up to no good. The only thing that stands out to me is when Caitlin is working at that bar, she apparently has some connection to Amunet Black. Maybe Amunet will know some more…
Alyssa: It’s gotta be The Thinker, obviously. I think the better question is why is this bad guy creating these new metahumans? Obviously it’s to further his agenda — whatever that may be — but it’s definitely something that has to do with messing with The Flash.
Lizzie: Bad guy created them, OBVS, to fuck up shit, obviously. Other than that, not really, I’ve avoided spoilers and I’m glad for it. I’d rather be surprised. And, honestly, as bad as this sounds, I’m more interested in the good guys on this show.