In a plot twist that mirrors an iconic story from the comics, Barry Allen is facing a murder sentence after being framed in the “death” of Clifford DeVoe. Put simply: This episode is basically Law & Order meets The Flash, and it’s pretty great.
Spoilers ahead for “The Trial of Barry Allen,” the latest episode of The CW’s Flash, which aired Tuesday, January 16, 2018.
“My name is Barry Allen, and I’m an innocent man.” - Barry
Doing what’s easy and doing what’s right has been a big theme this season, but never made more poignant than it was here. In the midseason finale last month Barry had the opportunity to escape in the seconds before being arrested but chose to face his fate over a life on the run. The fallout of that decision plays out here with a swift murder trial, where Barry is found guilty under a mountain of meticulously planted evidence put in place by DeVoe. Looking at the nuts and bolts of the case, Barry seems to be guilty as sin — and his defense of actually being innocent doesn’t do him any favors.
Barry faces a crisis of faith over possibly revealing his identity, and even has to talk Iris down (using a nifty Speed Force trick in the process) when she tries to do it for him. Though he could likely get out of the charges fairly easily by revealing his secret identity as the Flash, Barry knows that playing that card would only put his friends and family in danger for the long run, so he helps save the city one last time while on bail before settling into his cell at Iron Heights. The moment between Barry and Iris in the Speed Force is a sweet one, and shows just how much the tone of this series has shifted this season. Barry came back a more positive guy this season, and it’s sticking — even in the face of a lifetime prison sentence.
Even Joe considers going down a dark path this week to play dirty against DeVoe by planting evidence at his house, but Dibny is there to serve as a voice of reason (who could’ve seen that one coming?) to explain to him just how slippery a slope that can be. It’s not the first time they’ve used Dibny as a cautionary tale, but it’s easily the most obvious. Dibny faced the same dilemma and took the easy way out, and it was Barry and Joe who had him fired in disgrace for it. Joe will do anything to protect Barry, but he won’t sacrifice his moral compass along the way. The Flash is built on fighting not just for ideals, but with them, and it’s the reason his parting gift from Central City was an Award of Valor for stopping Fallout and saving the city.
That sentiment of taking the long, hard road for what’s right comes full circle as Barry spots a bit of contraband left on the wall of his cell: “HENRY ALLEN WAS HERE.” Barry has stepped into his father’s shoes, both literally and figuratively, in Iron Heights. You know the Flash won’t stay in prison forever, but letting this play out has the potential for a compelling story over the next few weeks.
*It might’ve been all about Barry’s court date, but that doesn’t mean there’s no action. There’s still a Metahuman of the Week to create some requisite do-gooding, as Harry and Cisco track a metahuman who is accidentally becoming a nuclear bomb. Fallout’s story gets a truncated tale (here’s hoping that poor guy does get some help), but it still helped provide one last hurrah before Barry headed to prison.
*The scene between Iris and DeVoe’s wife is ice cold. Seeing her turn off those waterworks on a dime was chilling, and this season really is shaping up to be one of the show’s best. All the speed in the world can’t help you outsmart someone, and DeVoe has been six moves ahead of Barry all year.
*Caitlin has been finding her balance with her Killer Frost persona for most of the season, and we even get to see her pull it out with a bit of prodding here. Is Killer Frost finally settling into being a hero? Or at least an antihero?
*We still don’t know much of anything about DeVoe’s plan, but whatever it is, he’s officially gotten the Flash out of the way so he can execute it. After all this buildup, his endgame better be worth it.
*Dibny hasn’t seen a ton of action lately, but it seems it’s finally time for the Elongated Man to become Central City’s No. 1 hero with the Flash behind bars. Harley Sawyer’s Dibny has made for one of the show’s best casting additions in years, and seeing his hero’s journey take a step forward should be the perfect counterpunch to Barry’s prison sentence.