Friday, January 19, 2018

The Flash 4x10 Review: "The Trial of the Flash" (Barry’s Only Real Crime is Stupidity) [Contributor: Deborah MacArthur]

"The Trial of the Flash"
Original Airdate: January 16, 2018 

Aaaaand we’re back! If only the return to The Flash were a happy one — but alas, our titular hero (or, at the very least, his civilian alter-ego) has been charged with the murder of Clifford DeVoe. As we all know, Clifford DeVoe self-murdered and framed Barry for the crime after stealing the body of a nice metahuman named Dominic Lanse. Since Barry spent a whole episode being a paranoid idiot, he set himself up as the perfect patsy — all part of Clifford “The Thinker” DeVoe’s nefarious, genius plan! — so now the Flash is going behind bars.


Barry has been charged and released on house arrest until his trial date. Everyone is worried about Barry and wondering how it could all come to this, but Cisco plays post-Speed Force Bonkers Barry’s rambling dialogue — specifically, the part where he says “Your honor, I’m innocent. I didn’t do this. I didn’t kill anyone.” We’ve got some kind of time loop on our hands, folks! What isn’t clear is how DeVoe managed to orchestrate so much of what has happened this season, and why. Was it all just a way for him to get a new body? If so, why torment Barry once that goal is achieved?

Regarding Barry’s impending imprisonment, Cisco states that, obviously, no regular prison will be able to hold the Flash. But Barry insists that he won’t be using his powers to escape if he’s sentenced. The stance is an understandable one, since escaping from prison would mean Barry’s whole life would be over while he lives as a wanted man. It’s the same reason why he didn’t run from the police in the first place (though, having seen the rest of the episode and the arguments the prosecution uses against Barry, it probably would have been a lot smarter if he hadn’t been found at the scene of the crime) and it’s not the most irrational decision Barry makes this week — but more on that later.

Trial time! Mentally insert a Law & Order [doink, doink] here, if you please. The prosecutor for the case has a very persuasive opening statement that makes a tongue-in-cheek reference to Barry Allen “wearing a mask” and how heinous a crime it was for a man employed to uphold the law as a crime scene technician to use a knife given as a wedding gift to kill an innocent man. Thanks to Barry’s fit of paranoid crazy a couple episodes back, the prosecution has the DeVoes’ restraining order against Barry on record, which doesn’t look good. I will note, however, that the prosecuting attorney’s main argument rests on the idea of Barry Allen, criminal genius, using his skills and knowledge as a CSI to stalk and murder DeVoe... but also says that the obvious crime scene, and Barry’s presence there, means he’s definitely the murderer.

So Barry used his CSI skills expertly up until the point where it mattered — the actual crime scene — and then forgot everything he knew, allowed the body to be found with his skin cells under the fingernails, used his own apartment as the murder location, and used a knife that could easily be traced back to him as the murder weapon. Yeah. Solid argument there, lawyer dude.

If only Cecile, who’s representing Barry for the case, managed to catch on to those obvious leaps in logic. Unfortunately, Cecile’s defense of Barry is a lackluster one made worse by the Widow DeVoe’s excellent acting skills. Even Dibney using his experience as a low-down PI and capturing some photos of Marlize and Clifford-in-Dominic’s-Body kissing, which they pull out in court for the old “new lover murdered the husband” play, doesn’t do much in Barry’s favor. Marlize brings up her husband’s ailing health, saying that Clifford wanted her to move on and find new love when he was gone. Foiled again, Cecile closes her cross-examination. Weak.

Iris wants to pull the ultimate gambit by telling the court that Barry Allen is the Flash and, as the city’s primary hero, it’s unlikely that he would be a murderer. After a heated argument with Marlize in the hall (which Iris really should have been recording — where are your gadgets when we need them, Cisco?) she bursts back into the courtroom, ready to blurt out Barry’s least secret secret, but then Barry stops her by zipping over and slowing down time? Or pulling Iris into a different time stream? It’s unclear, and Barry admits that he doesn’t know how he does it, so I take that to mean that the writers don’t have an explanation and would really prefer if we, the viewers, wouldn’t question it.

And here’s where we’re introduced to some of Barry’s special brand of stupid: Barry doesn’t want Iris telling the world he’s the Flash because it would mean putting a target on everyone Barry loves. Great reasoning, Barry! Except that everyone you love, including your wife, is on your crime fighting team. They already have targets on them, just by associating with the Flash — and Iris, though she spends most of her time in S.T.A.R. Labs directing things, doesn’t even wear a mask! If anyone who knows you, or them, (or just notices the people who come in and out of S.T.A.R. Labs) has any skills in observation whatsoever, they’re going to put two and two together and come up with “Barry Allen is the Flash.” You’re sacrificing your freedom, life with your soulmate, life with your family, and everyone in the city who might need the Flash’s help — all to prevent something that is already happening.

So, yeah. Barry talks Iris down and she listens to him, fleeing back to the audience seats after an awkward excuse for her outburst, and they allow the trial to continue. In the meantime, Joe is desperate to save a second member of the Allen family from being wrongly accused (hey, so, I think the legal system in Central City might be a little messed up?) and has decided to plant carpet fibers from the West-Allen loft in the DeVoe house, to frame Marlize for framing Barry. Shockingly, Ralph Dibney delivers an extremely good speech about the inevitable downfall Joe would face if he were to go through with his plan, doubtlessly picking from his own experiences. Joe decides not to go through with it.

Since no one will let the Wests do what needs to be done to keep Barry out of jail, he’s found guilty. The judge even goes through this huge tirade against Barry, painting him as a moustache-twirling villain who kicks puppies in his free time and probably gets his jollies from telling kids there’s no Santa. This whole speech is intercut with Captain Singh making his own speech, awarding the Flash for his acts of selfless bravery during the fight with this episode’s weekly bus meta. It’s cheesy, but this show does cheesy well.

At his sentencing, Barry tells the court, “Your honor, I’m innocent. I didn’t do this. I didn’t kill anyone.” Thus completing that particular Speed Force time loop, Barry is then delivered to his prison cell.

You know, I actually thought the show would stretch the period of time for Barry’s trial out a lot more than one episode, since now the options for the rest of the season are either a) Barry is in jail and can’t fight crime; very limited storylines available, or b) Barry is in jail for like an episode and then gets found not guilty, which would probably be the worst bit of narrative pacing I have ever seen on a television program in all my years of watching way too many television programs. That said, The Flash hasn’t exactly been stellar at narrative pacing in the past, so completely fumbling this interesting plot line would definitely be on brand for them.

Other Things:

  • Yeah, I assume that the reason why Wally isn’t immediately getting a starring role as the sole speedster for Central City while Barry is incarcerated is because of actor contracts or something mundane like that, but I’m pretty sure Wally isn’t coming back in the next couple episodes that’s a pretty glaring oversight in-universe.


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