I raked “The Flash” over the coals last week for a rather pedestrian episode that relied heavily on plot convenience and characters behaving stupidly. However, this week the series rises to a new level of awesome as Team Flash manages to finally puzzle out most of Harrison Wells’ secrets.
Seriously, “The Trap” is nearly flawless. Maybe the most impressive aspect is the way it weaves time travel seamlessly into the narrative. Most shows that deal with time travel – “Doctor Who” and “Quantum Leap,” most notably -- use it as a centerpiece, but in “The Flash” it’s merely another of Barry Allen’s powers. This episode employs time travel perfectly, creating a complex world of many possibilities, and it does so in a simple and relatable fashion by connecting the more ethereal elements of the series to the desires of the characters. For instance, Barry is driven by freeing his father from prison, Joe West by keeping Barry and Iris safe, and Cisco by discovering the truth about his father figure Harrison Wells.
It could be argued that Cisco is the protagonist of “The Trap,” as it’s his dreams that lead Team Flash to uncover the truth about Wells. And it’s Cisco who’s brave enough to confront his mentor in order to lure him into a confession. We’ve explored time with “The Flash,” and this week, we also delve into the realm of dreams (no Morpheus or Dr. Destiny appearances, sadly), with Cisco using a device created by Caitlin Snow that enables him to explore his own recurring dream of being murdered by Wells. Of course, Barry knows this dream could be a previous reality, as changed Cisco’s fate when he went back in time to defeat the Weather Wizard. In his dream, Cisco relives his death, and once again learns Wells killed Nora Allen. Now Barry knows the truth and is driven to use it to free his father.
There are some nice story touches along the way, such as Barry, Caitlin and Cisco finding Wells’ time chamber and meeting Gideon. In addition, Barry and company read that fateful newspaper headline from 2024, stating that Barry will be lost in a “crisis.” Barry gets to see his lighter-red costume with the white circle on the chest symbol, but also the byline of the front-page article: Iris West-Allen. That sets off a subplot in which Eddie wants to propose to Iris; however, Joe refuses to give his blessing. When Barry confronts Joe at Eddie’s behest, Joe confesses he knows that Iris truly loves Barry and she will regret marrying Eddie. A father knows.
But what could make Iris change her mind in the future? Perhaps it has something to do with this week’s flashback, which sees Iris visiting Barry in the hospital while he was in a lightning-induced coma. Iris gently strokes her friend’s face, is zapped by a bit of electricity. It’s a moment Iris recalls when, as the Reverse-Flash attacks while Eddie is proposing marriage, The Flash races to her rescue. Iris reaches out to thank the speedster, only to be shocked by that familiar zap of electricity. Now Iris realizes the truth.
Poor Eddie soon may have to face rejection, if he lives that long. The end of the episode sees him come face to face with his abductor, the Reverse-Flash, who reveals that his name isn’t Harrison Wells but rather Eobard Thawne, a descendent from the future. Eddie has a great deal more to face than just rejection, as he knows that however his family line continues, it leads to the birth of a killer.
As I said, time travel is used seamlessly as a plot device and strengthens the show without being the focal point. That distinction creates effective character moments and emotional beats, such as when The Flash saves Captain Singh’s boyfriend from a burning building. Singh has always given Barry a hard time, but that doesn’t stop Barry from doing everything in his power to save Singh’s fiancé. The most fascinating part of the scene was that Barry is able to fight the fire because Harrison Wells guided him through the ordeal. Yes, it’s probably because Wells still wants Barry to become faster and hone his powers so he can use them to return to his own time, but there’s something occasionally altruistic and inspiring about Wells. Could there be some of the real Wells remaining inside Eobard Thawne that truly wants to help people?
We could find this out very soon, as the truth is now out in the open. Team Flash is left without its mentor, while Eddie is in terrible danger. Iris has a major decision to make, as she now understands that the boy she has overlooked for so long is now the man known as The Flash.
There are just three episodes left this season with so much to still get to, including a super-gorilla. And if the remaining episodes are anything like this week’s, we’re in for one hell of a ride.