(Image source: Variety)
After the solid comeback that was last week’s outing, The Flash appears to have hit its stride with yet another great episode. Things are gearing up nicely for a thrilling and satisfying finale.
We pick up with Barry, Caitlin, and Cisco having stumbled upon Dr. Wells’ secret Reverse Flash Fortress of Solitude (FoS). A future newspaper article headline reads ‘The Flash is Missing!’ Barry reads article out loud to the others and to us, the audience too lazy to read for ourselves. Cisco makes a wonderful comment about how all the weird time travel stuff is reminiscent of Back to the Future. God bless you, Cisco.
An AI pops up and introduces herself. (I know an AI wouldn’t technically have a gender, but it has a female voice, so let’s just go with the female descriptors) Barry questions the AI (Gideon) about the future. Looks like he and Iris end up married at some point and he becomes the director of the Central City Police CSI Division. (Yet another on-point reaction from Cisco regarding Barry’s marriage to Iris: ‘Mazel tov?’) All of this info is well and good, but what Barry really wants to know is why Dr. Wells killed his mother all those years ago. Apparently, Dr. Wells was angry that Barry escaped their scuffle, hence the murder. What a jerk. The educational session is cut short by the news that Dr. Wells is making his way to his secret FoS. Barry asks Gideon to keep their visit a secret and Gideon agrees to do so. She’s programmed to follow any and all orders given by Barry. Why? Because Barry created her. Or will create her at some point in the future. (It’s hard to know whether or not to use past tense or present tense or future tense when time travel is involved. Damn you, Flash writers!!)
After this intense scene, things cool down long enough for Eddie to take Joe out on a date. Seriously, they go out for coffee together. It’s a little weird. Eddie’s acting uncharacteristically nervous, which only reinforces the whole date vibe. After a bit more awkwardness, Eddie reveals his true motivation: he wants to ask Iris to marry him and he wants Joe’s blessing. Joe acts like the total BAMF dad that he is and refuses to give it. The date is cut short when Joe gets a phone call from Barry. He abandons ship while Eddie exclaims that he doesn’t need Joe’s permission and was just trying to be nice.
Worst date ever.
Joe meets up with Barry, Caitlin, and Cisco, and after a brief explanation of what they saw in the Reverse Flash FoS, Barry drops the big info bomb that he’s capable of time-travel and has already done it. Put that in your pipe and smoke it, kids. They realize that Cisco’s nightmares may actually be visions of the alternate past. The next course of action is to somehow delve into Cisco’s dreams/memories and figure out exactly what happened with Dr. Wells that night in the alternate timeline. Barry’s acting all hot and heavy because it’s the best chance they have to get Dr. Wells to confess to the murder of Barry’s mom, proving his dad’s innocence once and for all.
Cisco and Caitlin get to work developing the Dream Goggles, which will allow Cisco to re-enter his dream while communicating with the real world. As they discuss lucid dreaming, Dr. Wells shows up to ruin the fun. He inquires about their new project; Cisco and Caitlin explain it the best they can without revealing their true motives or freaking the eff out. Surprisingly, Dr. Wells doesn’t seem particularly suspicious and actually provides them with the exact information they need to get the device up and running. Dammit, Dr. Wells. Why do you have to be so nice and helpful? You’re supposed to be the enemy! Why do I love you so?! Seriously though, Tom Cavanagh makes it really difficult to hate Dr. Wells. His performance is so strong and even sympathetic in some ways. Cavanagh is getting a lot more opportunities to show different shades of Dr. Wells that have only been hinted at prior to this episode and his performance really shines here.
After a brief aside at the police station in which Eddie asks Barry for help convincing Joe that his proposal to Iris is a good idea, we get back to the goods with Cisco embarking on his lucid dreaming quest. Cisco navigates his creepy dream while in the real world Barry and Caitlin guide him through the events. Cisco describes everything that’s happening to him, including the reveal of who Dr. Wells really is. As Dr. Wells moves in for the Temple of Doom-esque ‘Kalima’ kill (as Cisco later references), Cisco starts to flip and, after a tense moment where it looks like he might have a legitimate heart attack, he manages to wake up. This was by far one of the best sequences in the episode, effectively creepy and disorienting thanks to some top-notch cinematography and camerawork. It’s all punctuated by a really fantastic performance from Carlos Valdes.
Barry starts to feel all guilty and whatnot about his mom’s murder at the hands of Dr. Wells. (Of course. He couldn’t be a true superhero until he gained a guilt complex.) Dr. Wells gives Barry a call to inform him of a fire in the city. The police captain’s fiance happens to work in the building on fire. Barry rushes to the scene and, with some help from Dr. Wells, manages to put out the fire by using his super arm-spinning vacuum-inducing powers. When Barry returns to STAR Labs, Dr. Wells mentions Barry’s hesitation to take his advice about putting out the fire. He offers an encouraging word or two before Barry heads out the door.
Again, Cavanagh really shines here, as does Grant Gustin in the following scene when Barry expresses to Joe that despite all the bad things Dr. Wells has done, Barry still kind of likes him. It’s a great throwaway moment, but really offers some much-needed depth to a show that tends to stay on the surface more often than not. Typically the bad guys are one-note and shallow so to be offered a villain with layers and complexity really helps increase the drama.
Back at STAR Labs, the gang uses the info gained from Cicso’s memories to set a trap for Dr. Wells. Basically, they’ll recreate the conditions of Cisco’s memories to get Dr. Wells to confess to the murder of Barry’s mom. Barry and Joe will be close-by to step in should things get too hairy. Cisco has also reprogrammed the containment field to keep out anyone with super speed. It’s a solid plan, right? Let’s hope so. I can’t deal with the possibility that I might have to watch Cisco get murdered. Again.
Next is an oddly placed scene where Barry pulls Joe aside to convince him that Eddie and Iris should be allowed to get married. Joe admits that he knows Iris still has feelings for Barry and doesn’t want her to rush into something with Eddie only to regret it later. Barry meets up with Iris afterwards and she shows him all the research she’s gathered regarding the metahumans and their connection with STAR Labs. This scene really only exists as an excuse to have a FLASHback (see what I did there?) which shows Iris admitting her feelings for Barry while he lies comatose in bed. She reaches out for his hand and gets a little zap.
And now we come to the big showdown.
The trap has been set. Dr. Wells finds Cisco near the containment field and he starts doing the whole maniacal slow clap that villains love to do in these situations. The scene plays out identically to Cisco’s dreams, only this time Cisco is less terrified and more determined. Barry and Joe are hiding in the corner, ready to strike as soon as they get a confession. But, try as he might, Cisco can’t get a solid confession from Dr. Wells. As he backs into the center of the containment field, Cisco activates it, ensuring that Dr. Wells won’t be able to reach him.
BUT, somehow this doesn’t stop Dr. Wells!!! He breaches the field and continues to approach Cisco. With no other options and Cisco’s life on the line, Joe emerges from his hiding place and fires three shots at Dr. Wells against Barry’s wishes to keep Dr. Wells alive for the confession that could free his dad. Barry chases down the bullets in super cool slow motion. He manages to catch the first two, but the third one is beyond his grasp. It hits its target right in the chest. Dr. Wells is down for the count. And by down for the count, I mean dead. Barry can’t believe it. He’s overcome with grief; now he’ll never be able to free his dad.
And this is where things get really crazy, folks, because it turns out that this Dr. Wells is an imposter, none other than *drumroll please* HANNIBAL BATES! The shape-shifter from last week’s episode! And before our heroes can fully process this knowledge, the real Dr. Wells hijacks the STAR Labs PA system to delight in this turn of events, reminding the gang, “I’m always one step ahead.” Barry freaks out, demanding that Dr. Wells face him for a final battle, but Dr. Wells isn’t having any of it. He has a master plan, you see. And apparently that master plan includes re-watching scenes from the first season of the show, as Barry discovers in the Reverse Flash FoS. A grid of monitors plays a bunch of clips focusing on Iris and Barry realizes Dr. Wells has been spying on her from the very beginning. Total creeper status.
The Reverse Flash shows up to kidnap Iris right as Eddie is about to propose to her (Total buzzkill, Reverse Flash). The Flash arrives just in time to save Iris, but the Reverse Flash escapes with Eddie. The Flash promises Iris that he will rescue Eddie and, as he turns to go, Iris reaches out for him and gets another little zap. And the realization dawns…FINALLY…that Barry is The Flash. Welcome to the party, Iris. Took you long enough.
Reverse Flash brings Eddie to his secret hideout…which actually looks more like the bat-cave than his base in STAR Labs. He reveals his true identity to Eddie – Eobard Thawne. Eddie realizes the two of them are related and makes a little dig about not ever seeing Eobard at any family reunions.
And we’re treated to the episode’s final FLASHback and one of its very best moments: Dr. Wells, ahem, sorry, Eobard Thawne DISGUISED as Dr. Wells, stands over Barry in a comatose state and delivers an intensely creepy and fantastic super villain speech. He mentions the irony that he ended up being the creator/savior of his greatest enemy and concludes with the line, “Nothing is forgiven. There will be a reckoning. And I promise you, Barry Allen…you will die.”Oof. Major shivers.
All in all, this was one of The Flash’s finest episodes. It was thrilling, exciting, funny, and frequently creepy. Just goes to show that when this creative team stays focused, they really hit it out of the park. Hopefully this winning streak carries through the next couple of episodes all the way to the finale.
Performances are strong across the board, especially from Cavanagh who finally gets the chance to show his true, villainous colors. It took a while for The Flash to get back on track, but the stakes finally feel real again, making the show even more compelling than it has been in the past. The preview for the next episode indicates Gorilla Grodd will finally be making his grand entrance. If the past two episodes are any indication, we’ll have a lot to look forward to in these final three episodes.
The Trap is one of the best episodes of The Flash's first season thus far. Hopefully the creative team keeps up this momentum to carry us to an equally strong finale!