Season One, Episode Twenty — “The Trap”
By Molly Jane Kremer and Jarrod Jones. Well, the cat is out of the bag. This is the episode that we’ve been waiting for since last Christmas, when it became readily apparent that Harrison Wells was not, in fact, who he said he was; that he was not only a threat to Barry Allen, but to all those he held dear. So, holy moley! With three episodes left to the first season of The Flash, it looks like the series is working overtime to pull its disparate narrative strings taught. And because this is The Flash, that’s working out marvelously. Though the time we’ve spent on this show has dulled some of our expectations, we’re still locked in for a tussle of titans, and it is imminent: For the Reverse-Flash, there is finally nowhere to run.
WHAT WORKED: Entering into a lucid dream VR simulator is a bit far-fetched — even for a show about a red guy who runs so fast he can go back in time — but the show’s team handles it ably. By sticking Cisco Ramon (Carlos Valdes) into an Inception-like trance, we’re able to revisit the series’ single most heart-breaking moment, thrice. That’s right: the sequence allows us to venture into seriously mind-bending territory by offering three different perspectives on Cisco’s death at the hands of the Reverse-Flash. (1. The past as Cisco “remembers” it; 2. The past recreated in the present; 3. The past as we remember it. Wacky.)
Ever since Barry found out about Wells’ true identity, their relationship (or at least Barry’s side of it) has been strained, to say the least. Watching their interactions through Barry’s now-cognizant perspective, and seeing how purposefully helpful and seemingly selfless Wells portrays himself, makes the villain seem that much more dastardly: In the episode’s final flashback, Wells tells a comatose Barry how he will kill him, but we now know (in the present day) that he admits to how much he found himself enjoying his work with the Flash and with the rest of the S.T.A.R. Labs team. It’s compelling TV to have your villain be so conflicted about his nemesis, even if we know in our bones it won’t stay his vibrating hand in the slightest.
WHAT DIDN’T: Come on, The Flash. You’ve played with our emotions like they were your own personal Tinker Toys since the second half of this season began. Watching Wells die might have been shocking, had the nagging feeling that this was yet another Flash fakeout not boomed within our minds the entire time. And guess what. You did it again. This added “madeja look!” is only going to make any attempt to shock us in the future feel more like another cheat. So make the next one count.
And while we’re on the subject, Iris’ revelation that Barry is actually the Flash just feels like the show is kicking us in the teeth again. What’s stopping us from reaching the very rational conclusion that the impending time-traipsing battle between Flashes won’t just reset that particular, tiresome subplot? Hey, The Flash! Make like the Backstreet Boys and quit playing games with our hearts!
“Wow, this is so trippy. Like, Marty and the polaroid trippy.” – Cisco.
“I have a feeling she’s gonna want to hyphenate.” – Barry.
“I couldn’t have done any of this without you.” – Barry. “I feel the same way about you.” – Eobard.
BEST MOMENT: Faster than a speeding bullet. The name of the episode is “The Trap,” so it’s fitting that the most eponymous scene of the show would also contain its best moment. Made up of layer after layer and containing more than a few twists and revelations, we get to see Cisco reenact the fateful moment he had with Wells just before his previous, parallel-universe death, as he tries to steer Wells into a confession despite literally fearing for his life. Hidden, Barry and Det. West watch to witness the villain utter the damning words that ultimately aren’t as specific as needed.
We watch Wells realize it’s a trap, and walk through the barrier that should have protected Cisco from him. Joe then fires four shots, just as Thawne is about to vibrate his hand through Cisco’s heart (again, which we could not have watched a second time). Barry catches three of the four bullets in a gorgeously-executed sequence, but when the one he missed hits its mark, we watch a fallen Wells turn into last week’s chameleon Everyman, in an appearance more surprising and dramatic than anything he did in his own episode. Thawne knew everyone’s moves before they made them and prepared accordingly. The scene performed beautifully in knocking us around like a see-saw.
EPISODE’S MVP: The Reverse-Flash. Tom Cavanagh’s innate charm has made it very difficult to hate the man we’ve come to know as Dr. Harrison Wells, even when we know for a fact that he is in actuality Eobard Thawne. As the most vile man in the DC Universe (hate the New52? This is the guy who pretty much made it happen!), Cavanagh has restrained his menace for only the most quiet moments of the series… until now. Considering that Wells has been outed as Thawne and the team over at S.T.A.R. are now actively seeking him out, Cavanagh has all the room he needs to flex his villainous muscles. We simply can’t wait to see it happen.
– It seems that Gideon knows more than we do: “Barry Allen, founding member of…” You think you’re being clever, The Flash? Well, the joke’s on you, because DC Comics already ruined that surprise.
– Still. It was pretty awesome to almost hear someone say “Justice League” on the CW. We just let our brain fill in the blanks.
– Take a look at this:
Hawkgirl! And Ollie pulled that quiver out of his ass and accepted the name “Green Arrow!” The future is gonna rule!
– Didja see that? Joe sleeps next to a TV during the flashback, which depicts a news story covering the riots in Starling City during Arrow‘s second season.
– Ah, Cisco’s nerdy movie references. This episode we got allusions to Back to the Future AND Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. Never change, Cisco. Never change.
– No guest stars and no villain-of-the-week made this the most streamlined episode in recent memory. But that doesn’t stop us from clamoring at the bit to see Gorilla Grodd in all his glory.