Tuesday, April 28, 2015

REVIEW: 'The Flash' - Barry and Cisco Form a Plan to Capture the Reverse Flash in 'The Trap'

The CW's The Flash - Episode 1.20 "The Trap"

Barry, Caitlin, Cisco and Joe set a trap for Wells. Cisco uses himself as prey which puts him in grave danger. Meanwhile, Eddie makes a decision regarding Iris, which leaves Joe a bit unsettled.

Since "Out of Time" aired, The Flash has struggled a tiny bit building momentum again. That episode featured so many big events happening to these characters which were then immediately wiped away just because Barry ran back in time. All of those big reveals went back to being secrets. The characters have still been progressing forward in meaningful and consistent ways. But the story itself has been more perfunctory - either forcing people to keep holding onto secret identities for very poor reasons or featuring plots that keep the season-long mystery stationary but in weird and not fun ways. "The Trap" finds that strong creative momentum again and the show is vastly better because of it.

In many ways "The Trap" is similar to "Out of Time" - largely because of Cisco reliving that doomed night at STAR Labs with Wells, first as a dream and later as a part of the big trap. Now everyone knows the truth about Dr. Wells. That he is really Eobard Thawne and that he traveled back in time to fight the Flash and killed Nora Allen. It's an exciting prospect that starts strong and is able to build even better throughout the episode. Last week's discovery of Wells' secret room was abrupt and didn't make much narrative sense in the context of that episode. And yet, it still brings value to the team and the show at the start of this one. The discovery of Gideon and the Reverse Flash brings about a ton of information but also starts the episode on a very tense note. Then Barry and the team get to plot how to trap Wells and get him to confess to killing Nora Allen so Henry can be released from prison. That really is all that Barry cares about right now.

But alas, Barry doesn't get that confession. Wells sees what the team is doing and is able to cleverly use last week's bland meta-human-of-the-week, Hannibal Bates, to outsmart them. That helps establish just how crafty and nefarious Eobard truly is. He is a villain with a clear endgame that is only just getting started. He has waited years cultivating this plan. He proclaims that Barry will have a reckoning for some past crime. And yet, both Barry and the audience have no idea what that crime is. It happening in Eobard's past but in Barry's future. Eobard understands the irony in all of this. But that doesn't take away the fact that he needs to make Barry a better and more skilled version of the Flash. Now, his secret identity is known. The STAR Labs team knows the truth and has turned against him. That makes him a much more dangerous threat in the immediate future. Eobard is a villain unlike any Barry and the team have faced so far. He is calculating and precise with a desperate need to keep his future in tact despite him altering the past timeline.

And then, there is Iris who people keep talking about and trying to protect but end up continuing to put in more danger. The whole secret keeping has never really worked and has kept that character from being an important part of the show. As is now, she is just the love interest of the hero. The woman who he will one day marry and that's it. A woman who the other characters talk about a lot - be it Barry's secret or Eddie's proposal. And yet, one who doesn't have a whole lot of agency on her own. The past few episodes have proven that she can be a good journalist. She's able to figure out all by herself that all the strange phenomenon that have happened in Central City happened after the particle accelerator accident. She put the entire story together and then Barry treats her as being foolish and can't get out of the room fast enough. That's a disservice to the character's intelligence.

Things are starting to look up for Iris though because she is able to figure out that Barry is the Flash without him having to reveal himself to her. That does re-establish her intelligence a little bit. It's important that she was able to solve that mystery and take it away from Barry altogether. So much has been built up about keeping this secret from her despite the internal conflict it creates for everyone else. To make her connecting the pieces helps show that she can be a vital part of the team if only she was let into the circle. Granted, it could also be said that she should have figured it out when there was that electric spark between the two of them when he was in the coma. But that doesn't take away from that final moment. It helps finally establish some stakes for her that brings her into the central fold nicely. Sure, she is going to be very upset with Barry, Joe and Eddie when she confronts them about keeping this from her for so long. And yet, that's granted on things cooling down long enough with the threat Eobard poses. Something that's likely not to happen anytime soon because the show is racing towards its finale. Perhaps that's a good thing too. Iris wallowing in this betrayal can't be a whole lot better than her being left in the dark, right? If nothing else, the show can at least move on from that massive misstep and try to forge new ground with her now.

Some more thoughts:
  • "The Trap" was written by Alison Schapker & Brooke Eikmeier and directed by Steve Shill.
  • Is the audience suppose to keep referring to Dr. Wells as Dr. Wells or as his real name Eobard Thawne? For the purposes of reviewing, I think I'll start referring to him as Eobard but don't get upset if I still type Wells somewhere.
  • It has always been a tricky balance for Joe to treat Barry like a surrogate son and vice versa while still not seeing Barry and Iris as siblings. It's a line that the show always seems to handle well. So Joe is allowed to call out in the flashbacks that his son is dying while still making it okay for him in the present to say that Iris loves Barry too.
  • The teases of the future in the brief scene where Barry questions Gideon include Iris and Barry being married, Barry being the CCPD director, Barry actually creating Gideon himself, Barry's costume undergoing some slight alterations and Barry being the founding member of something - which I'm guessing would be the TV version of the Justice League?
  • Barry saving Captain Singh's fianc√© from the fire wasn't completely necessary. And yet, it worked because it included Wells teaching him to create a vacuum with his arms.
  • Joe reacting to Cisco has always been great but things were taken to a next level when Joe almost lost it when Cisco started talking about the shirt he thought he had lost during his dream sequence.
  • Barry running back in time for a day certainly created some major complications. But that would be small in comparison if he went back to his childhood and saved his mother from dying. That could potentially create a whole new show. However, is that prospect exciting or scary? It could be great as a source for new story. Or it could create an entirely new way to keep the truth from Iris.