The joy of the holiday season is over, it’s time for murder in the first degree! Yes, The Flash has returned with a very strange episode, “The Trial of the Flash,” which saw Barry paying for the (perceived) crime of murdering Clifford DeVoe. What the courtroom does not know, however, is that DeVoe was not young and hot enough for the CW, so he pulled a Get Out move and transferred his mind into the body of a hot black telepath. Yes, you have that right — DeVoe took over the mind and body of a young African American man, because his own body was failing him. Does this not sound familiar? “I didn’t just take Dominic’s body, I took his ability,” DeVoe boasts as if this were not the actual plot of Jordan Peele’s horror movie y’all but it was played like this is not even an issue.
I don’t really want to move past this, but I know that I must. “The Trial of The Flash” was supposed to remind us of the injustice that Barry’s father faced at the hands of the Reverse Flash, who killed Barry’s mother and then framed Henry for it. Though he was eventually freed by Barry (
and also, way to not show up for your son’s murder trial? *I forgot that Henry Allen died and the other Henry Allen is now the Earth-3 Flash. It’s been a long road, guys) his son is now suffering the same fate. The show went the extra mile, too, to show Barry in the same cell his father had. That was a bit much. The parallels were also enough without that — every major Flash villain is also a Flash fanboy, and they love concocting plots that are tailor-made to reference his life (past, present, or future).
So while most of the episode was taken up with this trial that had, I must say, an extraordinary amount of damning evidence against Barry (and yet he was released on bail with an ankle bracelet, and didn’t show up for the jury’s verdict), there was also … a nuclear man? And some actual police work?
Before we get back to the trial, I do want to spare a thought for poor Neil Borman, a.k.a. Fallout. Most of the metas that we meet on the show are bad guys. They kinda have to be, or they end up on Team Flash, and we saw what happens when there are too many people at S.T.A.R. labs that the writers don’t know what to do with (See: Season 3). But it was pretty refreshing to have an evil meta who didn’t realize he was evil until it was too late, as Barry plus Cisco had to breach him into a dead Earth (15). They didn’t even try to reverse engineer something to save him, they just shot his ass out of this world, literally.
Of course, there wasn’t much time to deal with Fallout since Barry was literally on trial for murder. One of the things that has defined Season 4 of The Flash is its humor, but “The Trial of the Flash” walked a very weird line with that. Barry being on trial for murder isn’t funny, and you can feel the show straining to get back to the drama that didn’t really work well last year. The other thing (besides Cecille defending Barry when she is the DA of Central City …) is that the show wanted us to believe that Joe was willing to plant evidence. I’m going to need a minute. There is nothing about Joe or his nature that would ever lead to this even being considered. Yes, it gave Ralph a moment to give his soliloquy about becoming the thing you swore to protect your loved ones from, which was nice, but Joe didn’t need that speech. It’s Joe. And I’m also surprised once Barry kept Iris from telling everyone that he’s the Flash that Joe didn’t pop up and say it anyway.
What was a little amusing was Barry being on trial, in part, for being a bad employee, something I’ve been saying for years. If he even does show up for work, he’s late. He takes unauthorized vacations. He never solves regular human crimes. The Flash is great as a procedural, and it would make a lot of sense for Barry to start doing some actual police work when it comes to handling metas. DeVoe’s machinations are kinda fun in the way he orchestrates the creation of metas and calculates what they’ll do, but now we’re just back to him playing with Barry in the same way Savitar did. Remember how many episodes were spent in Season 3 trying to figure out how things would lead up to Savitar killing Iris? The team is not good with this kind of puzzle work, and it’s a little boring to watch. However, seeing Harrison Wells and Cisco yelling at Caitlin about puppies to turn her into Killer Frost to cool off a nuke man was great fun.
But again, back to the trial … two things worked well. Marlize DeVoe gave an Oscar-worthy performance of grief over her husband, and then spun an amazing yarn about him not only being ok with her having an affair, he actively encouraged it. In a way that’s true. I’m not entirely sure what Marlize is getting out of all of this, but she’s possibly a more fascinating character than her husband. The other thing that worked was Iris, in both her confrontation with Marlize and her “stopped in time” moment with Barry. She was fierce and she was sweet, and ultimately, a little funny in the way she had to publicly back down from her grand entrance into the courtroom.
Despite the fact that Barry is police and a pretty boy and would not last even one minute in jail, it looks like we’re going there next week, crisis beard and all. It will be nice to see the other characters step up with Barry out of commission, but the show has always very much treated them as the B-team, instead of true partners with Barry. We’ll see how that plays out.