The Flash is not the first show in the Arrowverse to reach the finish line, but it will almost certainly be the very last one. As the show closes out its 9th season, the writers are taking the opportunity to revisit other parts of the Arrowverse that may not have gotten the closure they deserved. This week signals the return of Supergirl character Nia Nal, a favorite for many fans of the show, and one who was somewhat left hanging in the show’s conclusion. Spoilers follow for The Flash Season 9, Episode 07, “Wildest Dreams.”
Iris (Candice Patton) is visited by Nia Nal (guest star Nicole Maines), as she needs Iris’ help. When Iris and Nia fall into a fever dream and explore different possibilities for their lives, Barry (Grant Gustin), Chester (Brandon McKnight), Allegra (Kayla Compton) and Cecile (Danielle Nicolet) desperately try to help them. Meanwhile, Mark (Jon Cor) entertains Khione (Danielle Panabaker) but they have different ideas of what is fun, leaving Khione to feel that Mark is trying to make her something she is not.
Despite all the strangeness in Iris West-Allen’s life–she’s married to her world’s first legitimate superhero, she’s been trapped in other dimensions, she’s died, and she’s met adult versions of her own children, to whom she hasn’t even given birth–she kind of has it all, with a loving spouse and a thriving news organization. With so much of that behind her, Iris now has to face the fact that she knows a lot more about her future than other people, and that complicates the present. Meanwhile, Nia Nal has been meditating on her dream-fueled powers and reached an impasse that has resulted in her loss of powers–and a dream that has Iris dying in front of her.
Iris takes center stage
This is another Flash-lite episode, but because it centers so heavily on Iris and brings back a character with a lot of Arrowverse history, it doesn’t feel quite like the strange distraction that the previous episode did.
Nia and Iris meet up and quickly end up trapped inside a dream–whether it’s Iris’ or Nia’s dream, they can’t immediately tell. Uniting the dreams, though, is the idea of Iris in other positions of power. Iris, the police chief. Iris, the Jitters manager. At the same time, Nia keeps seeing a hooded figure with glowing eyes in each of these dreamscapes.
The episode has pretty clearly outlined themes of control and destiny. Iris feels trapped by everything she knows about her future. When Allegra brings her a headline that matches one Barry told her about from her future, Iris feels like she didn’t earn it–it just happened to her, instead. She should be happy, but instead, she feels strange.
The dreams allow Iris to explore what other versions of her life might’ve been like, and each is appealing because in them she is allowed to feel as if she’s earned the life entirely.
Control and Destiny
Nia tries to control the dreams, hanging tightly onto rules and feeling lost without her powers, making the whole experience confusing for both of them. The two finally talk about what’s bothering them, and Iris observes that, as a journalist–someone witnessing and recording a story–that she has no control over the story, and has to simply experience it even if it’s frightening or dangerous. Nia, too, is someone who seeks out the stories of others, and Iris suggests that she, too, might need to let go of that control and let the dreams take her wherever they might go.
Nia points out to Iris that even though the things happening to her might match parts of Barry’s diary for the future, they aren’t happening by magic. The decisions she’s making and the actions she takes are what bring those events to fruition.
While this episode doesn’t feature much in the way of superhero action, it gives Iris some much-needed agency about her future and gives Nia some forward direction instead of just leaving her in the lurch. It’s a pretty simple story but it does its intended job well, and that makes it an easy watch.
During all of this, Mark takes Khione out on the town to have fun, and keeps subjecting her to things Frost would like. Khione points this out, and there’s an awkward scene where she lectures him while the other O’Shaughnessy’s clients taunt him from around the bar. It feels surreal, more like a scene from inside a Neon Genesis Evangelion character’s head than an actual real scene. But it is. It’s hard to understand why the show keeps giving this character time when the writers don’t seem to know what to do with him, and it acts more as a drain on the episode than anything else.