Javicia Leslie’s Ryan Wilder Is Full of Surprises on “The Flash”

Whew, there’s so much Ryan Wilder in last week’s episode of The Flash, y’all!  “Mask of the Red Death, Part One” starts off with that Rogue defector working on the cosmic treadmill, but not fast enough for Ryan’s liking. He questions her on the power source since it’ll need to be massive and she’s like, “I know you’re not doubting me right now?!” and it’s one of the hottest things I’ve ever seen. She then scoots off to recruit someone new. Meanwhile, Team Flash tries to figure out who this new Avatar is, and assumes he’s (they also assume they’re a he) been corrupted by negative speed and doesn’t actually want to be the Avatar.

Red Death speeds into a crowded plaza and calls out for The Flash, so Barry shows up and asks why they’re building the cosmic treadmill. The suited figure reveals themself to be the Red Death and proceeds to shut down power to the entire city.

Down in the Red Death’s lair, Barry is meta cuffed and questioning why they need the cosmic treadmill. He even tries to convince the Red Death that they’ve been corrupted by the negative speed force and offers to help, but Red Death isn’t hearing any of it. You see, getting Barry was just one part of the plan. The other part involves his lightning rod…Iris.

Speaking of Iris, she’s sitting alone in her apartment when there’s a knock at the door. It’s none other than Ryan the Grey nursing an arm injury and asking for help. For a while she semi-convincingly acts as though she was hit by an EMP as she drove into Central City because Luke told her that Team Flash was looking for her. She claims that while she was on patrol in Gotham, a speedster who called himself the Red Death ambushed her and stole weapons from her utility belt which would explain how this new speedster got Wayne tech. Iris’ face looks wary, but her mouth continues to play into Ryan’s story. And then Ryan does that thing that many suspects do; she inserts herself into the investigation by offering to help take down Red Death. The sneaky lil’ look on her face when she thinks she’s got Iris right where she wants her?? JAVICIA, PLZ.

Meanwhile, Barry continues trading bars with Red Death who removes their helmet to reveal.. emptiness?? Barry figures out that she’s controlling the armor remotely and that she needs him to power the treadmill because Red Death’s speed is artificial and not organic.

Back at Iris’ we see a closeup of the earpiece Ryan’s using to control the suit as she listens in to what Barry’s saying. I wonder how the suit was talking? Was Ryan thinking of what to say while also having a full conversation with Iris?? That’s MVP shit right there. Anyway, Ryan asks a wary Iris if they have any idea what the Red Death has planned, they talk about the reformed criminals that Barry’s been working with and Ryan is like “there’s no such thing!” Iris is done pretending though, and grabs a weapon because she knows that the actual Ryan Wilder hasn’t been to this apartment and yet this IMPOSTER is walking around like she knows exactly where everything is.

If I’ve said this once, I’ve said it one billion times, I cannot believe we were robbed of potentially more scenes between Iris and Ryan. Javicia and Candice are SO GOOD together, and I just hope we can see them act alongside each other again some time in the future.

Ryan then reveals herself to be Ryan Wilder…but from an alternate timeline where The Flash is actually the villain. You see, in her timeline, there is no Batman and the Waynes actually adopted her and she’s the one who’s been protecting Gotham. She studied her enemies, built versions of their tech, and then moved on to studying the abilities of other heroes. That led her to create the artificial speed force as a way to eliminate crime; in theory, she’d be fast enough to stop criminals before they could carry out a crime. This Ryan ended up getting dumped in this timeline and needs the cosmic treadmill to get back to hers. She needs Iris to come with her because in every single timeline she is The Flash’s lightning rod, and she’ll be able to convince him to stop this war.

Our girl Iris isn’t convinced though. If Ryan and the other Iris are such good friends, why wouldn’t she go to her for help in the first place? Ryan says that she tried, but they had a falling out. Iris isn’t buying it. So Ryan eventually admits that she accidentally killed her Iris with a lightning strike that was meant for The Flash. That’s one part of the story that Iris actually believes, but she (correctly) deduces that The Flash is actually trying to stop Ryan because she got too power hungry and that she actually wants to kill him. Then, Ryan attacks Iris, and her suit flies in and attaches to her like some kind of DC Iron Man as she asks, “You wanna get nuts?” YES, YES I DO, RY RY!

Ryan brings Iris to where Barry’s being held and uses her as leverage to get him to power the cosmic treadmill. He does, but before long, that Rogue that defected to Red Death’s side overwhelmed the artificial speed, causing the treadmill to break. Ryan is distraught over the treadmill being destroyed and vows to ruin this world since they ruined her chance to get back to hers.

I have missed Ryan so so much and the range that Javicia is giving here is exactly why. It looks like we’ve got one more episode with her next week, and I cannot wait!

Before you go! Autostraddle runs on the reader support of our AF+ Members. If this article meant something to you today — if it informed you or made you smile or feel seen, will you consider joining AF and supporting the people who make this queer media site possible?

Join AF+!


Nic is a Senior Product Manager at a major Publisher and lives in Astoria, NY. She is way too attached to queer fictional characters and maintains that buying books and reading books are two very different hobbies. When she's not consuming every form of fiction, you can find her dropping it low on the dance floor. You can find Nic on twitter and instagram.

Nic has written 78 articles for us.

1 Comment

  1. This is another great performance from Javicia. But she’s not playing the Ryan we know. What we need is for Team Flash to find that Ryan, so she can help Barry take this menace down.

Contribute to the conversation...

Yay! You've decided to leave a comment. That's fantastic. Please keep in mind that comments are moderated by the guidelines laid out in our comment policy. Let's have a personal and meaningful conversation and thanks for stopping by!