THE FLASH Review 1.20 “The Trap”

But who's setting a trap for whom?

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“Every bad thing that happened to us – it was him. And now he’s gonna pay for it.”

--

“We will face each other again. I promise you. Soon. Very soon.”

Last week, I wrote that Hannibal Bates' introduction felt like standard metahuman-of-the-week fare, but that it tied thematically into the atmosphere of mistrust surrounding the STAR Labs team in the face of Harrison Wells' deceit. But of course, The Flash writers are much smarter than I am, and it turns out that Bates served as more than a thematic bridge between A and B plots - he's the final piece in a trap Wells has been setting for Barry and his friends for much longer than anyone could have imagined. 

So much is made of Barry, Joe, Caitlin and Cisco's scheme to trap Wells for much of this episode, and it's a good plan - until they discover that Eobard Thawne has held the upper hand in this game since before we met him, calling into question every moment we've spent with the character throughout The Flash's first season. Barry says it best after Wells' pep talk during the fire: knowing everything that we do, there are still moments that Wells seems so kind, so trustworthy. As the near-omniscient audience, he still manages to convince us that there must be some humanity within him - a hope that is being systematically annihilated by The Flash with every passing moment - so how much more so must Barry, Cisco and Caitlin feel it, after everything they've experienced with this immensely charismatic man? He killed Barry's mother and will not stop until Barry is dead, too - the man he has created, he must destroy - and yet, at times, he seems to harbor so much affection for our Scarlet Speedster. But there must be a reckoning. 

With flashbacks to Barry's coma, we see some of the guilt that Joe has been shouldering, and when Barry learns that Eobard Thawne intended to kill him when his mother was murdered instead, the most dreadful realization crosses his face: "It's my fault." But later, when he learns that Joe blames himself for allowing Wells access to Barry after he was struck by lightning, we once again see a glimpse of Barry's eternal optimism, more crucial now than ever. He knows this isn't his fault, or Joe's fault, or Cisco's or Caitlin's for not realizing sooner that Harrison Wells is not Harrison Wells. Eobard Thawne is to blame for all of this tragedy, no one else - and he's gonna pay for it.

The other big question this week, weirdly, is who's going to marry Iris West. That future byline was written by one Mrs. Iris West-Allen ("Mazel tov?" says Cisco), but Eddie thinks it's going to be something along the lines of Iris Thawne, instead. He intends to propose, despite Joe's refusal to give his blessing, a refusal that's frankly gross when we hear the reason for it. Joe thinks Barry's the better man for Iris, but that isn't Joe's decision to make. After his comments of last week ("when you're her husband") and his insistence on keeping Iris in the dark, I'm liking Joe much more as a father to Barry than to Iris. But she's in the dark no more, after a quick hand jolt from The Flash reminds her of a similar spark from Barry during his coma, and she discovers what she must have always known, somewhere inside: that the man who would do anything to save her and the people she cares about can only be Barry. I really hope there's no backtracking on this plot: this week Iris discovered both The Flash's identity and the culpability of STAR Labs behind Central City's meta-humans, and she's finally beginning to feel like a vital part of this story. I hope her trajectory continues in the same direction.

"The Trap" was an incredibly tense episode, and the stakes are now stratosphere-high. We've got three more episodes this season, and though the confrontation with Eobard Thawne will certainly make up the lion's share of the action, next week's episode is called "Grodd Lives," and I can't imagine anyone's going to complain about that.

Coolest moments this week:

The vacuum Barry created to vanquish the apartment fire was cool enough, but it's even cooler that Singh's fiancé was one of those rescued by The Flash. I love this little subplot; Singh's love life feels like an important part of the season. 

“I put a tracker on his wheelchair. Which, if we’re wrong about him and he is paralyzed, I’m going to hell for.” Looks like your eternal soul is safe, Cisco.

Great slo-mo bullet scene this week, and an even greater fake-out with Hannibal Bates.

Barry meets Gideon! "I will accept any command from you...because you created me."

And Eddie finally learns of his descendant. “You, my friend, are simply my insurance.” Chilling.

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