‘The Flash’ Review: The Big Reveal Finally Arrives in the Outstanding ‘The Trap’
Recap and review of The Flash – Episode 20 – The Trap:
The Flash has been a supernatural series that thrives on its comic book stylings, but “The Trap” represents the farthest the show has yet traveled into that direction.
From Cisco (Carlos Valdes) reliving his experience in the alternate timeline to Barry (Grant Gustin) discovering the nasty truth about the future of 2024, this was an exhilarating episode that delivers one hell of a DC Comics experience. Of course, “The Trap” in question centers on getting Wells (Tom Cavanagh) to confess to the murder of Nora Allen, which seems like a tall order, considering the last person who found out that Wells was Eobard Thawne ended up getting his heart shredded by Reverse Flash’s vibrating hands. Thanks to Caitlin (Danielle Panabaker) and her new device, which allows Cisco to relive his memories in the erased timeline through lucid dreaming, Barry and co. now know who Wells really is, and just how far he’ll go to protect his secret. So they devise a plan to recreate the conditions of Cisco’s death — except, you know, without Cisco dying this time. Once they have Wells’s confession on tape, they’ll be able to bust him, and free Barry’s Dad. I like the ambition that the characters are showing in their plan, and it results in a handful of incredibly tense sequences. In fact, I’d wager tonight featured some of the most nail-biting sequences of the series so far, even with some of the conclusions being somewhat foregone.
For example, Barry, Caitlin and Cisco meeting the A.I. in Wells’s “Time Vault” is an intense way to open the show: Barry not only learns that Iris (Candice Patton) marries him in the future, he also learns that he becomes the director of the police force and a founding member of the Justice League (well, “Justice League” gets cut off by Barry’s incredulous response to all this news, but I think the implication was mostly clear). He also learns that he himself built the A.I. in the future, which is why it will listen to his commands. It’s all very white-knuckle, and it’s hardly the only scene that’s like this. As another example, I can’t think of many more moments as anxiety-inducing as Cisco’s dream sequence in which he slowly comes to recognize that Wells is going to kill him, especially since his anxiety in the dream manifests in the real world — his heart beat is accelerating, and he’s on the verge of a stroke before Caitlin is able to pull him out. Sure, it’s just a dream (or a memory) for Cisco, but it still carries with it the very real stakes of Wells intending to kill him. If it can happen in the dream, it can happen in the real world. And, considering the plan they formulate, it very well might.
This all builds to one of the best twists the show has ever produced. The plan actually works, as Wells comes forward and offers up a confession that falls just short of admitting having killed Nora Allen. He’s about to kill Cisco, having bypassed the anti-speedster field he created to prevent Wells from getting near him, prompting Joe (Jesse L. Martin) to shoot and kill Wells to stop him from murdering Cisco again. However, it turns out Wells hasn’t been killed: it was shapeshifter Hannibal Bates, whom Wells employed for the ruse in exchange for his freedom. But that’s not even the big twist. As Barry discovers, Wells has always been one step ahead, having known they were suspecting him this whole time thanks to surveillance cameras hidden in their homes, their offices, and in STAR Labs itself. There hasn’t been a single detail he’s missed, a single plan they’ve made to which he wasn’t privy. Seeing Wells turn so suddenly and embrace the Eobard Thawne persona, removing even the faux warmth he had the first time he revealed himself to Cisco, is downright horrifying. It speaks volumes of Cavanagh’s performance that he can turn on a dime and go from being the likable Wells to being the megalomaniac Thawne. He really does seem to indulge in getting to taunt Barry about how far ahead of the curve he’s been, and there have been few moments this season where Wells/Thawne has been more hauntingly intimidating than when he abducts Eddie (Rick Cosnett) and reveals that the detective is his insurance policy. Maybe subsequent weeks will suffer for having Thawne lose any semblance of subtlety as a villain, but for an episode centered on finally giving us “The Big Reveal,” I thought Cavanagh’s performance was very precise in its bombast. I’m really excited now to see what he can do as a more straightforward supervillain, since I think Cavanagh is one of the best parts of this show.
That said, Gustin is just as good. His unabashed fury and heartache at having all his suspicions about his mentor confirmed is heartbreaking. His plea for Wells to just tell the police the truth so his father can be released is one of the most moving moments of the season to me. And the subsequent flashback scenes, in which we learn just how much Barry means to both Iris and Joe — as well as just how deeply Wells/Thawne hates Barry and wants him dead for some unexplained action he’s yet to commit — are equally powerful. Hell, those flashbacks give us context for how Iris eventually puts two-and-two together on The Flash’s true identity. In the past, Iris visits comatose Barry, and an electrical charge briefly passes between them when she touches his hand. In the present, after Eddie is abducted by Thawne, Flash promises her that he’ll bring him back, at which point a spark of electricity passes between them. It’s a wonderful little moment that creates an interesting character cliffhanger as we head into next week. When coupled with Wells/Thawne expressing his hatred for Barry in the flashback, and Barry doing his best to track down Eddie and Thawne in the present, it seems we’ve got some really, truly awesome loose ends to resolve as we head towards the end of the season.
This was one of the best episodes of The Flash this season, as “The Trap” not only hits on the overarching business with Wells/Thawne, it also explores the underlying relationship turmoil between Barry, Iris and Eddie. Granted, I was far less interested in Eddie’s attempted proposal, or Joe rejecting based on the notion that Barry is a better match, but it still contributed to the overall sense that the show is building to a bombastic conclusion that will tie all these loose ends together. I maintain that The Flash is still the best comic book show on TV (well, it’s neck-and-neck with Daredevil, at least). Episodes like “The Trap” go a long way in illustrating why.
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