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The Flash #1.20 “The Trap” Recap & Review

A thrilling episode powers through hefty exposition with adept focus, and propels the main storyline to exhilarating heights.

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FLA120B_0011rSummary: A thrilling episode powers through hefty exposition with adept focus, and propels the main storyline to exhilarating heights.

Recap

In Wells’s Time Vault, Barry, Caitlin, and Cisco discover the future newspaper, which reveals a new costume for Barry, that Reverse-Flash and Flash both disappear during a red-skied crisis, and that Iris and Barry are married in the future. Further, they discover that Gideon was/will be built by Barry, and therefore will listen to any of his commands. The three plus Joe and Eddie set a trap for Wells, planning to restage Cisco’s death in the alternate timeline to get Wells to confess to Nora Allen’s murder. They use a lucid dreaming machine to get every detail from Cisco’s dreams of the alternate timeline. Meanwhile, Eddie asks Joe for his permission to marry Iris, which Joe rejects. Eddie asks Barry to find out Joe’s reasoning; Joe tells him that he knows Eddie wrong for her, but Iris will say yet on impulse and be to loyal to eventually leave Eddie when she realizes she’s married the wrong man. The trap is set for Wells, as Caitlin monitors and records Wells via video, Eddie stays with Iris to protect her, and Cisco imitates the events of the alternate timeline while Joe and Barry watch. Cisco steps behind a forcefield as Wells attempts to kill him, but before he makes a valid confession, Wells steps through the forcefield and forces Joe to shoot him. However, they realize that this was not Wells, but the shapeshifting Everyman; Barry discovers that Wells had video cameras everywhere, and has been monitoring everyone involved. Wells tells Barry and the crew via intercom that he is Eobard Thawne, and that it was a trap for them, not a trap for him. With everyone distracted at STAR Labs, Wells speeds over and attacks Eddie and Iris as Reverse-Flash, just as Eddie tries to propose to Iris. Flash intervenes, but not before Reverse-Flash speeds away with Eddie. Flash touches Iris and accidentally creates a static spark as he speeds off, reminding Iris of a shock she received when touching Barry while he was in a coma. Because of this, she determines that Barry is The Flash. Wells unmasks himself to Eddie and reveals they two are related, and that he plans to use Eddie for insurance.

Review

The back half of The Flash‘s first season has been a bit of a bumpy road at times, with a great episode usually followed by a disappointing misfire. There have been more hits than misses, sure, but we also followed up an episode with Mark Hamill that accelerated every ongoing plot with a dead stop where the Atom flies away from some robot bees. This has been a remarkably consistent run for the first season of a show, but they aren’t always winners, and we’ve seen certainty seen a share of problems.

FLA120A_0313rSo it’s even more remarkable that we can get an episode like “The Trap,” which plays like a justification (or apology) for some of the show’s previous missteps. Well, okay, it doesn’t justify the robot bees, but it certainly propels the show’s narrative forward beyond expectations. This has been a fast-moving show from the get-go, but “The Trap” is the most acceleration we’ve gotten, and that’s saying something. It helps that there is only one singular plot in this episode; no more metahuman to face while the Wells material slowly unfolds in the background. This is all one story, with every character involved and every scene ultimately playing a role in the endgame. It’s never easy for a show to break its procedural structure when it leans so heavily on it, but “The Trap” is perfectly focused because of it.

The biggest reason, of course, is that it blows the Wells storyline wide open. There are a couple of ways this episode shatters the status quo, but exposing everyone’s true motivations is unsurprisingly the biggest one. The ballsiest move is dumping a load of future information on Barry, Caitlin, and Cisco before we even get to the title sequence. It’s one thing to determine that Wells is from the future via his Time Vault; it’s another thing entirely to also throw in a new costume, a Crisis (maybe), Iris West-Allen, namedropping other heroes, that Barry is “a founding member of the…”, and revealing that the computer Gideon was built by Barry. It was already a lot of take in, but this level of exposition is nigh-overwhelming, and that’s even with us in the audience already knowing some of it. The scene doesn’t feel overly mechanical or heavy thanks to the characters’ reactions (“This is trippy, like Marty and the Polaroid trippy”) and the impending arrival of Wells. It’s all very dense, but it gets by because the slew of information is thrown out chaotically, and with an extremely tense, edge-of-your-seat backdrop. It’s about the best way to do an info dump, and all the revelations are exciting. Gideon seems like a fun addition if we see more of it (her? him?) in the future, a typical Mass Effect-esque AI that could make exposition fun in Dr. Wells’s absence.

FLA120B_0116rIt’s all smartly set-up, given how we’ve established that time travel can change things (we aren’t in a Terminator 1 scenario where it’s all one unchangeable paradox), meaning none of the stuff predicted in the 2024 paper actually has to come to fruition. But the paper itself has been a cipher, its own major and minor changes explored in “Power Outage.” The most curious, oddly enough, is that Iris and Barry will marry given how the timeline is currently progressing. That surely adds to the pressure and anxiety Barry feels when he discovers that Eddie will ask Iris to marry him. A normally cheap relationship plot device is given a whole lot more mythological relevance thanks to that paper, and it’s a nice way to tie the more frustrating relationship stuff into the overarching story. Nothing in this episode is a waste of time, and there seems to be a conscious effort to justify many of the plot developments that have fallen flat earlier in the season.

Another example of that is Iris, who has really struggled as a character more than any other. In an hour full of surprises, perhaps the biggest surprise is that Iris so abruptly discovers The Flash’s secret identity. This reveal is more imperative for her than anyone else, because the obvious problem with the character is how laughably out of the loop she’s been. It’s not impossible to hold off learning the secret identity for characters and still having it work, of course. Arrow’s late season 2 and 3 reveals for Laurel and Thea, respectively, did wonders for those characters because it held off the secret until it could appropriately play into their character arcs. Granted, they aren’t perfect examples, as they both had profound problems with their character arcs before learning the secret, but those problems had more to do with missteps totally unrelated to whether or not they knew the Arrow’s identity. They still had other things to do in the story and related to the main plot, and even at their most superfluous, they felt part of the larger arc in one way or another. Iris, as pleasant as the character is, has rarely had much to do on her own, outside of being a trophy or device between Joe, Barry, and Eddie to either win, feel the need to protect, or feel angst over.

The early episodes of the show had Iris play a semi-active role with her blog, and it worked because it appeared to be leading up to something. Instead, that’s where it stuck throughout the show — Iris is a passive blogger-type waiting for stories to come to her, a Lois Lane without ambition. It’s unfair, because that’s the opposite of how she was set up initially as the spunky, energetic curious type. But getting the job at Picture News has ironically seen her become even more passive, with her given hints that Wells is evil and her partner murdered, then doing nothing with either. This week suggests that she’s been doing big research in the background, but even that research is weak — despite clear clues that things are off a STAR Labs, she doesn’t get beyond “metahumans appeared after the Particle Accelerator explosion,” which is not only a correlation/causation problem as a journalist, but also just kind of seemed like common knowledge for anyone aware of metahumans.

the trapAll this is to say: Iris not being involved in The Flash’s exploits is a problem because Iris hasn’t been given (or done) anything else. So, at that, while throwing in a weird little static shock touch that has her suddenly figure out Barry’s identity is a cheesy, kind of forced moment to be sure, it’s also a pleasingly cute and even cathartic one. It’s in line with (and may be a direct homage to) Lois/Superman moments of TV past, replacing a kiss or touch with something more platonic but still intimate. It’s totally there for the Tumblr shippers to GIF — it makes a perfect GIF, let’s be honest — but it feels like something you could only do with a comic book superhero romance. It’s much better than the “Out of Time” reveal because of its abruptness, and that it paints Iris as a more intuitive character. As much as Iris’s “big news” falls kind of flat, her late-connection of the metahuman dots surely plays into how she figures out Barry’s identity at the end, implying that she’s been subconsciously piecing together the details for a while. This sudden revelation is built on a whole bunch of little clues that she’d picked up on but never processed, which speaks to the character’s awareness and intelligence. Now, hopefully, she’ll be able to use that newfound intuition to do more with the story.

That, again, is solid evidence of the show’s self-awareness of its past mistakes. With the Iris reveal at play, this episode is something of a delayed sequel to “Out of Time,” which justifies nearly all the complaints of that episode and the following one. The biggest problem with Barry’s time travel exploits was how little impact it ultimately had on everything…until now, where it’s become both a cipher for current parallel events and plays the absolute biggest part of this season’s titular trap. It doesn’t look like we’ll ever get a definitive explanation for how Cisco retains memories from the alternate timeline, but it plays so well into this episode’s narrative that it’s not hard to overlook. The replay of the scene in Cisco’s dream is beautifully horrifying, with the colder, lens flare-heavy lighting and disorienting off-focus turning an already stellar scene into a literal nightmare. It’s a real credit to Carlos Valdes and the writers that a character so often grating and superfluous as Cisco in the early days has grown into one of the most pivotal players in the show. Cisco is essentially the key to unlocking the entire Wells mystery at this point, but he’s never lost his penchant for comic relief, a perfect example for how to keep a funny character relevant without losing his charm.

FLA120B_0445rAnd, of course, there’s Tom Cavanaugh, who’s been this show’s not-so-secret weapon. Wells doesn’t directly play much in the story until closer to the end, but even still, Cavanaugh makes his presence known throughout it all. As Craig said in his advance review, Cavanaugh is really good at playing Wells as believably unaware, but with just a hint of underlying nefariousness to everything — less than you’d notice on first viewing, but plenty you can see on multiple viewings. Wells’s (or Thawne’s) motivations are pretty straightfoward: he hates Barry and wants to get home. But Cavanaugh never plays him like anything less than a layered man. This is the villain who has come to care deeply for the STAR Labs crew, which is why his efforts to protect them have never come across as fictitious. But his ultimate goals are far too important to ever be overshadowed by  the people he calls his family — to him, they’ve been dead for centuries — and after all, being at STAR Labs and helping Barry put out fires has simultaneously played into his ultimate goals. Exactly what those goals are is unclear, but it’s made explicit that he needs Barry to be a good Flash in order to get Wells/Thawne back home. As convoluted as the time travel shenanigans may be, it doesn’t really feel that way, because it’s all rooted in motivations that make sense and actions that are justifiable in the context of the season.

The same can be said for the ultimate trap Wells sets for the team — it seems kind of convoluted if you think about it, that he’d use Everyman to fake his death for a few moments to get extra time to kidnap Eddie (and maybe kill Iris if Flash hadn’t intervened.) But this is also a character that very clearly loves to taunt; he enters the hangar by leaning on the elevator with crossed legs in about the coolest “I’m going to murder you” pose possible, for example. All of his motivations are rooted in selfishness, and I think we can attribute his own ego to the joy he gets in tormenting his “friends.” It’s not unlike his infamously petty comic book iteration. We even get a reference to Reverse-Flash being around for Barry’s entire life, as Wells mentions watching him grow up as an unremarkable boy for years. Reverse-Flash is a total creeper, basically, and Cavanaugh is wonderful at playing that.

FLA120B_0306rGrant Gustin as Barry is also extremely engaging in this hour. At times Barry’s traumatic past and determination conflicts with the optimism that’s made us fall in love with him, but much like “The Man in the Yellow Suit,” “The Trap” also strikes a delicate balance in tone for both the character and the episode. Barry is angry and obsessive, but he’s also incredibly smart about it all. This is Barry Allen at his best — someone who can play a little dirty to get what he needs, but whose goal is still rooted in getting his dad out of prison rather than getting revenge on Wells. Joe potentially killing Wells isn’t just dramatic because of the lack of confession, but because we know how much Barry needs that confession, because he has so much hope that it could work. It feels extra terrible when bad things happen to Barry, because bad things just shouldn’t happen to such a nice, hopeful guy.

“The Trap” is built on nearly everything we’ve seen on The Flash up to this point, with potential to collapse as much as it would be to succeed. But things have been built extraordinarily well throughout this season, so that even the worst aspects of the show can coalesce into something great. This isn’t just one of the season’s best (if not the best) because it utilizes the plot so well. It’s also an immensely thrilling hour of television in general, with surprising twists that are obscured enough to remain hidden, but make perfect sense in hindsight. It’s tense, fast-paced, and everyone brings their A-game. The show is no longer amping up towards the season’s endgame, we’re seeing it unfold before our eyes, and it shows no signs of slowing down.

Odds & Ends

  • The lighting is very, very good throughout the episode, with strong use of shadows and close-ups, particularly in the flashback.
  • Jesse L. Martin gets some good scenes in the flashback, but I really don’t like how his recent characterization recategorizes his overprotectiveness as a bothersome controlling attitude. That’s mostly because that plays him as old-fashioned in the worst way, when it comes to Iris. Eddie and Barry both thankfully call him out for it this week, sort of, but it’s definitely been a big hindrance on letting Iris work as a character.
  • There’s a split second in the beginning of Eddie and Joe’s scene in Jitters where we see Eddie rehearsing what he’s going to tell to Joe. It’s really cute.
  • Hey, look, Vibe sunglasses! But is the second layer Cisco wears over them supposed to be a reference to Captain Cold’s comic-style visors?
  • Maybe I’m wrong here, but if Flash sucked all the air out the room to stop the fire…wouldn’t everyone lose consciousness because there’s no oxygen in the room?
  • Let’s a get a Captain Singh wedding episode next season, please?
  • “If we’re wrong about this and he is paralyzed, I’m going to hell for that one.”

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1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Jeff Spencer

    May 6, 2015 at 12:24 pm

    “Maybe I’m wrong here, but if Flash sucked all the air out the room to stop the fire…wouldn’t everyone lose consciousness because there’s no oxygen in the room?”

    Only if you assume people lose consciousness whenever they hold their breath. There is still oxygen in your bloodstream, and while they will pass out eventually, it isn’t instantaneous.

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Blu-ray Review: The Flash: The Complete Sixth Season

Review of The Flash Season 6 Blu-ray set from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment

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The Flash: The Complete Sixth Season is now available on Blu-ray, DVD, and Digital from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment, and we have been provided with a copy of the set to review on the site!

The set features all 19 episodes of The Flash Season 6 plus extras — the Blu-ray includes all of the Crisis on Infinite Earths crossover!

Here’s what’s up:

Packaging & Design: Starting with this because it’s probably the first thing you’ll notice. The box art for this set has changed since the original press release — the fired Hartley Sawyer’s Ralph Dibny is no longer on the packaging. While I understand the show distancing themselves — Ralph was indeed an important part of Season 6, with his Sue Dearbon story, and I’m not 100% sure how I think they should have handled it. As it is, it looks odd with just the other four members of Team Flash on it. Though, to be fair, Nash Wells isn’t on the cover either.

With that said, The Flash sets usually have some of the best designed packaging and menu art and this set is no exception.

The Episodes: Also seems I am repeating myself but the Blu-ray presentation on The Flash is loads better than what we see on TV and is pretty cinematic. All 19 episodes of Season 6 are here, and — spoiler warning — because of COVID-19, they were cut off at 19 episodes, so that means some storylines aren’t completely wrapped. With that said, this season saw Eric Wallace taking over as showrunner, and with him came a new tactic that he referred to as “graphic novels.” The first “graphic novel” included the character Bloodwork (Sendhil Ramamurthy) as characters are facing death, and the second, after Crisis, dealt with a new “Mirror Master.”

I will say that The Flash under Eric Wallace has a great vision and I love his enthusiasm, which you can actually hear on the “Kiss Kiss Breach Breach” commentary. He’s as big of a geek as we are, and I mean that in the absolute best way. The only thing I’d have to say negative about Season 6 is that the mirror storyline has gone on way too long — and I wonder, if they had known all along that we’d end with 19 episodes (an impossibility, because who would?), it might have been a bit shorter.

This “graphic novel” set-up, however, does offer the chance to binge the season in parts, which is pretty cool, and the Blu-ray bonus disc of all of Crisis on Infinite Earths is a good thing to throw in the middle to tee up Graphic Novel #2.

The other thing I will say about Season 6 is that I really liked some of the new characters that are set up. Chester P. Runk, Sue Dearbon, Kamilla, and Allegra — all fun characters that add to rather than detract from the series.

The Extras: The set includes a bonus black and white noir version of “Kiss Kiss Breach Breach” with commentary by Eric Wallace. Commentaries don’t happen too often these days, so I’m so glad they put something on this set. There is also a gag reel and deleted scenes. And, of course, all of Crisis which has a lot of great Flash content!

Is It Worth It? If you’re a Flash completist or want to see the most recent season in high definition, sure. You might want to start at the very beginning, though. Still, I think The Flash is on its way back to its former glory and Season 6 is the start of that journey. Can’t wait for Season 7, and for now, this set will be revisited often.

Get your copy of the Blu-ray from Amazon.com at a discounted price and support FlashTVNews!

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Blu-ray Review: The Flash: The Complete Fifth Season

Review of the Flash Season 5 Blu-ray set.

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Disclaimer: Warner Bros. Home Entertainment provided FlashTVNews with a free copy of this set for review in this post. The opinions shared are my own.

The Flash: The Complete Fifth Season hits Blu-ray and DVD this week, containing all 22 episodes of Season 5 plus bonus episodes from the Elseworlds crossover. In addition to the entire season, there are few extra features for all to enjoy, though some are duplicated from other sets that were made available this year. Here’s the review.

The Episodes: As mentioned, all 22 episodes plus extras are on this set. And as I tend to write every year, the show isn’t quite at the high level it was in its first season, but there are definitely standouts in Season 5. A big theme for the season is family, and the conflicts between parents and their children. Caitlin and her parents are a part of that. The season’s villain is a part of that. And the biggest part of that is Nora West-Allen (Jessica Parker Kennedy), the daughter of Barry and Iris brought back from the future. Kennedy is fantastic in the role, though it is at times disappointing to see so much attention on a new character when we are here for the ones we’ve seen for 100+ episodes.

The Flash Season 5 contains the series’ 100th episode which is a great journey through the five years of the show. Sadly absent from Episode 100, though, is Joe West (Jesse L. Martin) who was recovering from an injury for a good part of the season. Martin’s presence was certainly missed though it is nice that the show upgraded Danielle Nicolet (Cecile) to series regular this year.

I’ll be honest: I wasn’t very invested in the Cicada story, at least not as much as I probably should have been. And I was even less into the latest Wells, “Sherloque,” which was a joke that stopped being funny within about 2 minutes, with no offense meant to the writers or Tom Cavanagh. It was nice to see the talented Cavanagh in another role, though part of me still is wondering why it was not Matt Letscher, though I’m forgiving that because, again, Tom Cavanagh.

I’m also not sure what to make of Vibe’s eventual fate, unless it is a way to make things less easy for next year’s crossover. In any event, watching these episodes still has me excited for Season 6, and The Flash is certainly a series that is worth the Blu-Ray upgrade.

The Extras: There’s a fantastic featurette about the origins of Killer Frost which is really well put together. I was, however, surprised that such attention wasn’t paid to XS/Nora as she was also a major arc for Season 5. Was there only room to cover one story? I’m also surprised there wasn’t some kind of 100th episode spotlight, especially since Warner Bros. did have press kit people on the line interviewing the cast.

There are Elseworlds, villains, and Comic-Con featurettes that you can find on the other DC TV shows this year, which I can only imagine is a cost-cutting measure to include them everywhere.

The set also has deleted scenes, with the most notable being Superman running with Oliver Queen from “Elseworlds Part 1.” It’s a shame that was cut. There was also a “My Name Is Barry Allen” from “Elseworlds” with Stephen Amell replacing Grant Gustin as Grant replaced him in the aired Part 2 — this was surely cut and unfinished so as to not blow the reveal that Oliver was Barry in Part 1. It’s still really cute and fun.

Finally, there’s a gag reel. While they are introduced with credits like The Office, they’re still a bit… meh.

Packaging and Design: Seeing Barry and Nora running side by side is the perfect way to sell this. Very nice looking.

Is It Worth It? I’ll always recommend picking up Flash Blu-Rays from the beginning, but this is certainly worthwhile, especially to prepare for Season 6 to premiere on October 8. You can purchase this set (and support this site!) here.

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Blu-ray Review: The Flash: The Complete Fourth Season

Review of the Blu-ray set for The Flash: The Complete Fourth Season

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The Complete Fourth Season of The Flash hits Blu-ray and DVD this week (Tuesday, August 28), and we’ve got our hands on a review copy!

Before we get to the review, here’s how the season is described:

In Season Four, the mission of Barry Allen, aka The Flash (Grant Gustin), is once more to protect Central City from metahuman threats. First, he’ll have to escape the Speed Force. With Barry trapped, the job of protecting Central City falls to his family – Detective Joe West (Jesse L. Martin); his fiancée, Iris West (Candice Patton); and Wally West/Kid Flash (Keiynan Lonsdale) – and the team at S.T.A.R. Labs – Dr. Caitlin Snow/Killer Frost (Danielle Panabaker), Cisco Ramon/Vibe (Carlos Valdes) and brilliant scientist Harrison Wells (Tom Cavanagh). When a powerful villain threatens to level the city if The Flash doesn’t appear, Cisco risks everything to break Barry out of the Speed Force. But this is only the first move of a life-or-death chess game with Clifford DeVoe aka The Thinker (Neil Sandilands), a mastermind who’s always ten steps ahead of Barry, no matter how fast he’s running. Shocking surprises come fast and furious in all 23 action-packed adventures featuring The Fastest Man Alive.

So, how’s the set?

The Episodes: It’s going to be very hard to ever replicate the greatness that was the first season of The Flash. Unfortunately, one thing that The Flash Season 1 did so well that still didn’t connect for Season 4 is a strong villain. While I have more appreciation for The Thinker after rewatching some episodes and checking out the extra interview features on this set, I still don’t really feel that empathy and care for him that I had for, say, Eobard/Wells.

Season 4 also tried to course correct with more humor to varied success. Sometimes it worked; others the show was far too amused with itself. (I don’t need to see any more Wellses no matter how much I love Tom Cavanagh, for example, and “psychic pregnancy” will never not be too campy for me.)

There’s some good stuff, though. The best version of Barry’s suit so far premieres in Season 4, and Barry and Iris finally get married this year, even if every time they got married, they ended up interrupted. There are some episodes that worked to innovate, and there are also things like Barry in jail which seem to go on for too long. But at least with a DVD or Blu-ray you can fast forward, right?

Season 4 is also where we meet Ralph Dibny. He grows on you until you finally stretch your appreciation levels. By season’s end, you love Ralph as much as everyone else might.

The Extras: Of all the DC TV shows, The Flash usually gets the best treatment as far as extras go. We’ve got deleted scenes (including some WestAllen!), bloopers, and the all-encompassing Comic-Con video… and some other great extras, including Sterling Gates and Eric Wallace with Katee Sackhoff offering commentary on Amunet (who I do enjoy more after seeing Sackhoff speaking about her, but I still don’t understand why the silly accent was a thing). There’s also a really nice feature about the Elongated Man, and all four episodes of this year’s DC TV crossover are represented.

There’s also talk about The Thinker, and as I said, I appreciate the storyline more but I still didn’t have that emotional connection with the character that I feel I needed. The other bodies thing at midseason made that all even worse.

Packaging & Art: This is one of the best looking Flash Blu-ray sets so far. Dynamic design on the box art and on the discs. I like it.

Is It Worth It? As I said, nothing will be Season 1 again, but if you’re a fan of The Flash there are a lot of extras to make this worth it. Order yours from Amazon.com at a discounted rate and support this website!

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