After the winter break, The Flash returns with “The Trial of the Flash.” Flash has been one of my favorite of the hero shows, and I was really looking forward to seeing how they resolved the big cliffhanger. I hate to say it, but as a fan of the show, a comic book fan, and someone with decent knowledge about the criminal justice system, I was disappointed on all fronts.
In the comics, The Trial of the Flash was a major storyline when The Flash was forced to kill the Reverse Flash in order to save his fiancé, Fiona Webb. It ran for a long time, especially back then, and was an original and well written and executed story. A big part of it was Barry drawing strength from his parents, which is among the reasons I strongly dislike his new history after his resurrection several years ago.
The episode by the same title was a lot less satisfying by every measure. In a truly unbelievably short amount of time, Barry is booked, arraigned (I guess, we don’t see it), a jury chosen, trial date set and then we’re at opening arguments. It’s like the process is moving at Barry’s speed. Even less believable: Barry is accused of Murder in the First Degree, and he’s been let out on home detention, complete with ankle monitor that Cisco has hacked. Cecile has taken leave from the DA’s office to defend Barry, which is also unlikely. Barry, after Cisco makes a joke, says he refuses to run. He won’t be a fugitive, he’ll go to prison if convicted. While I get the law and order stance, it’s an odd choice, depriving Central City of its premier hero.
While Joe goes to find Ralph to try something sneaky, the Thinker, in his new body, is declaiming about his evil scheme. His wife, Marlize, is having trouble adjusting to the changes, but makes progress after he gives a pretty good pep talk. He does talk a good game, no matter what body he’s inhabiting.
As DA Slater starts his opening remarks, and makes Barry look really, really, bad, we meet the villain of the week. Although he seems to be an accidental villain, as he makes everyone at a bank pass out while he leaves, apparently without even noticing. In case there was any doubt that he’s a meta, he gets a green glow on his way out.
Joe and Cisco get called away from court to deal with the new event, while Slater lays out the pieces of the case against Barry: the weapon with his prints, the restraining order, the breaking and entering at the DeVoe home. At the bank, Joe and Cisco are puzzled: not only is this a new meta, but nothing was stolen and there was no hacking. Captain Singh is running the case, and offers his sympathy to Joe about Barry’s case, and a sort of apology that he’s been called to testify.
Singh’s testimony goes back and forth as Slater and Cecile ask their questions. You can tell Singh likes Barry and is very conflicted here. As Slater hammers more nails into Barry’s coffin, they manage to screw up another piece of procedure. The restraining order against Barry comes up, and Singh mentions the evidence convinced him to grant it. Police don’t grant restraining orders. Judges or magistrates do that. Yes, it’s a small thing, but you could find that out in roughly thirty seconds on Google. Did they do any research for this episode at all?
Ralph and Joe are spying on Marlize and getting pictures of her kissing Thinker 2.0, Cecile is debating options with Barry. He won’t reveal his secret, but not for himself. He wants to keep all his friends and family safe from his many enemies. Cecile also mentions the insanity defense, and Barry makes her job a lot harder. He won’t testify because he refuses to lie. Barry feels if he lies under oath, he’ll be as bad as everyone now thinks he is (lying=murder?). While this goes on, Cisco and Wells bicker, and dub their new villain Fallout.
Things continue going horribly in court. Marlize is on the stand and she’s giving an Academy Award-worthy performance. Joe gives Cecile his newest attempt to make Marlize look bad, and the “widow” even manages to spin that into sympathy. Caitlin, Cisco, and Wells keep working on their problem, and have a close encounter they don’t even realize.
The next scene is one of the weirdest ones in the episode, and with this one, that takes something. Iris bursts into court and insists she has something to say, at which point Barry somehow or other extends his powers to her, so they are isolated as the world around them isn’t moving because they’re going so fast. Even Barry says he doesn’t know how he’s doing this, and it’s a really random, plot-convenient power. That to one side, the discussion is about Iris wanting to tell the jury everything to get Barry out of trouble, and Barry refusing. They snap out of their speed bubble and she looks kind of foolish. Then she goes to confront Marlize, who is unhelpful and smug and enigmatic and really needs a good thumping.
One of the few scenes I really liked was Joe almost falling to the dark side, and even this one had issues. Joe brings Ralph to the Devoe home, to use Ralph’s powers to get inside and plant evidence. This is exactly what got Ralph fired and ostracized all those years ago, and he talks Joe down in a really direct way. The big problem with this plan, aside from the moral issues, is that Barry got caught here by the surveillance cameras when he stupidly was prowling around out of costume with no mask. What did Joe think was going to happen?
The prosecution rests, after a not great case, but that’s ok, because Cecile does… nothing. Granted, she’s handicapped by Barry’s secrets and morals, but still, give it a whirl lady. As they prepare for closing arguments, Barry gets texted that Cisco and Wells need his help. Barry leaves, which isn’t popular, but is allowable… even though he’s under house arrest? Really? Both sides proceed to their closing arguments. Cecile is impassioned, but Slater has all the facts on his side. It’s not looking good.
Cisco and Wells recruit Killer Frost to help them, but, as frequently happens, the fearsome villain is a lot less impressive when she starts working for the good guys. Barry shows up as Flash for a last minute save that involves his speed, Cisco’s breeching power, and Wells’ knowledge of other Earths. They were lucky this was a very reluctant meta, considering how powerful he is. To one’s surprise, the jury comes back quickly, which is rarely good for the defense, and Barry is found guilty. On the same day? Almost never. Barry returns to court for sentencing and has another session of snark from DeVoe 2.0.
In the only other good scene, they cut back and forth between the judge condemning Barry and Singh praising the Flash. Barry is sentenced to life without parole, which also never happens this fast, and the Flash gets a big award from the Central City Police. This part is done very well. The episode ends with Barry in a cell at Iron Heights, escorted by Warden Wolfe himself. He’s also in what appears to be general population, not protective custody as anyone from the police should be. He finds a message in his cell that could be either inspiring or depressing, depending on your point of view.
What I liked: Not a lot, sadly. Ralph playing conscience for Joe was nicely done. Cisco and Wells trying to keep things covered while Barry was busy was good, if ultimately ineffective. I felt bad for Cecile, who had both hands tied behind her back in this case. Fallout not being a bad guy per se was a nice change of pace.
What I didn’t: Most of it. Almost every detail having to do with the courts was wrong. The defense case was virtually non-existent. Joe apparently forgetting the cameras at the DeVoes’ place was amazingly stupid. Killer Frost got taken out ridiculously easily. If the DeVoes really have a master plan, I’d like to see at least a hint of it, aside from superior smirking. If they needed help that badly, where the hell was Wally? Sure, the actor left the show, but the character should be around. Cisco used to have more powers than just making doorways.
This was a really bad episode. I’m sorry, but I’m giving it a 2 out of 5. I hope they get better than this soon. I’ve really enjoyed the series, but this was just… not good.