I had high hopes for the latest episode of The Flash. It’s the seventh of 13 total episodes in the final season. We passed the halfway point. And yet this Arrowverse crossover did nothing to advance the plot.

As much as I enjoyed some of the powerful themes explored, this episode disappointed me incredibly. Are they going to ruin one of my favorite shows?

The Setup

The episode opened with Nia a/k/a Dreamer from Supergirl fast asleep in the middle of a National City Jitters. The flashes of crows, cemeteries, and spiders made her dream seem more like a nightmare – so did the Hooded Woman with glowing blue eyes surrounded by zombie-like people.

I admittedly have not seen Supergirl, but the awesomeness of Nia’s powers was evident. That probably made it hurt extra when the Hooded Woman stole Nia’s powers in the dream. Things went from bad to worse when Iris showed up only to be ostensibly murdered upon the Thanos-esque snap of the Hooded Woman’s fingers. The only words Iris got in before falling were, “Nia, it’s about control.”

After a justifiably scared barista woke Nia up, she booked it for Central City to find Iris.

Meanwhile, Iris worked late at CCPN to finalize her big article about the Red Death for publishing. Allegra pitched “Nightmare Under Red Skies” as the title for the article, which Barry’s Mapbook predicted would earn Iris her first Pulitzer. This should’ve made Iris feel excited, but her uneasiness was palpable.

Once Nia arrived at CCPN, Iris made small talk about mimosa brunch before addressing the elephant in the room – why was Nia there so late? Nia explained that she had been trying to take her powers to the next level. She had been going into the dream realm to try and find an ancient source of Naltorian dream energy. In her last dream, she felt close until her powers got erased. Nia told Iris that she was the only person who could help her. Then, the Hooded Woman put them both to sleep.

A Dream Within a Dream Within a Dream…

Iris and Nia found themselves in Iris’s dream. Both were CCPD police officers, but Iris was captain, just like her father. Iris foreshadowed her struggles by commenting “it’s nice to be making the news instead of just reporting on it” and asking, “does this mean I should be a police officer?” Without her powers, Nia couldn’t wake them up. They needed to find an exit fast because it’s not safe to be in the dream realm for too long.

A blue door led them to Iris’s second dream. Iris was a manager at Jitters. The members of Team Flash were working hard as baristas but not very well. Ironically, Barry might be the slowest barista alive. Barry asked Iris if she wanted to get dinner after they got off work. This made Iris smile for reasons beyond the promised cheese fries.

Nia challenged Iris to evaluate her life, as dreams always reflect back to us the problems of our everyday lives. How come I dream so much about pizza, then? Iris said that she has everything she wants – she’s pregnant, her career is taking off, she’s married to the Flash. However, as Iris dug deeper, she unlocked the feeling she had a Jitters. The idea of being in a world where she could clock out at 5 gave her back her autonomy. She could choose how to spend her days. Maybe she missed that feeling of freedom.

When the Hooded Woman returned, Iris and Nia found themselves in a merged dream/nightmare.

Nia pleaded to the Hooded Woman “Enough of this. I am the Dreamer. I am in control.”

Iris heard her CCPN employees calling her a fraud as she accepted the Pulitzer. Even Allegra called her a fake and accused her of having a checklist instead of a life.

Whatever was happening, Iris and Nia clearly needed to face their problems head-on to get out of the dream realm.

Team Flash’s Rescue Efforts

Barry surprised Iris at CCPN with cheese fries only to find her and Nia asleep on the floor. Barry took them both to S.T.A.R. Labs where he, Chester, Allegra, and Cecile frantically tried to save them. They called for help, but Kara, Brainy, and J’on were all off-world.

Despite their efforts, Team Flash had no answers. Eventually, Cecile sensed the Hooded Woman’s presence and told Barry not to worry because the Hooded woman was powerful and kind, almost like a guardian angel.

It turned out that the Hooded Woman was the original Dreamer, the ancient source Nia had been searching for. She brought Iris and Nia together so they could help each other embrace their paths.

Iris had to overcome her worries about her preordained destiny. Regardless of Barry’s Mapbook, Iris forged her own path long ago by deciding to be a journalist. She constantly doubled down on her choice by pursuing leads and pulling all-nighters to dig into stories. Nia assured Iris that “destiny is the culmination of a lifetime of choices.” What a powerful statement, which apparently resonated with Iris because she moved forward with publishing the article.

Nia’s struggle was a bit convoluted. Something about trying too hard to control her powers? Anyways, Iris assured Nia that sometimes you can’t control the story, you just have to honor it and engage with it, which was a very loose comparison between journalistic duties and dream superpowers. In the end, Nia felt ready to give up control, and the Hooded Woman promised to help her reach potential beyond her “wildest dreams” (ba-dum-ch).

The Khione-Mark Side Plot

This episode also shoehorned in a second (or third) goodbye to Mark. This side-plot doesn’t deserve our full attention. Mark continued trying to turn Khione into Frost. Khione continued to assert that she is her own person, and that Mark hadn’t tried to get to know her.

The episode concluded with Mark leaving Central City to let himself experience the pain of losing Frost, which feels like the last we will see of Mark (finally). The only interesting part of this storyline involved Khione’s powers. She made a hot feast at Cecile’s house frozen solid just because she felt sad about Mark. What’s up with that? How do her powers work? Will it even matter before the show ends?

I really hope The Flash gets back to the basics next week. Maybe having an actual bad guy in the episode would help.