This is what The Flash looks like without a metahuman of the week, and it’s great. As the episode title suggests, tonight was all about setting a trap for Dr. Wells. There are three episodes left this season, so we know going in that the trap won’t work. However, knowing the trap would fail created a sense of foreboding that was thrilling and supercharged the show with some (arguably, much-needed) dramatic tension. “The Trap” was yet another showcase for how well Tom Cavanagh plays an evil mastermind.
FLASHBACK: Nine Months Ago
Throughout tonight’s episode, we flashbacked to the first few weeks after the particle accelerator explosion; we were shown how Joe and Iris handled Barry being in a coma. We knew this already, but in the years that he has lived with them, Barry has become an integral part of the family. One night, Wells shows up at the hospital and convinces Joe to let S.T.A.R. Labs treat him by playing on Joe’s desperation and referring to Barry as Joe’s son. It’s clear that, even then, Joe didn’t completely trust Wells.
Iris pays comatose Barry a visit at S.T.A.R. Labs and updates him on her life—i.e. Detective Pretty Boy asking her out and she saying yes. She’s really there, however, to beg him to wake up and come back because the Wests need him to make their family whole again, she needs him. As she begins to leave, she touches his hand and is shocked by static electricity. (This detail will be important later on).
We pick up right where last week’s episode ended with Barry, Caitlin, and Cisco in Wells’ Time Vault. After a perusal of the Easter egg-filled newspaper and a discussion with Gideon, who Future Barry Allen apparently created, they rush out of there because Wells returns to S.T.A.R. Labs and starts heading toward the secret room. The one crucial bit of information that they learn from Gideon is that Wells came there to kill Barry.
From there they head to The West home to update Joe and Eddie. Seeking to convince Eddie that time travel is a thing, Barry opens up to the group about his most recent time-traveling exploit. With all of this new information, Barry makes a Superman-level leap in logic and concludes that Cisco’s dreams aren’t dreams—they’re memories of the original timeline. They decide that the only way to get Wells to confess to the murder of Barry’s mother is to access Cisco’s dreams. Thankfully, Caitlin and Cisco create glasses to do just that.
(ASIDE: It’s definitely worth noting how Barry is only concerned with recording Wells’ confession to his mother’s murder. There’s been very little thought to the potential danger Wells/Reverse Flash poses to people who aren’t his friends and family/the City. To be fair, this will definitely change by the end of the episode, and we’ve seen how much Barry does care for the innocent and how (justifiably) obsessed he is with his mother’ case. END ASIDE)
With their preparations made, the Team puts Cisco to sleep and sends him into his dream. Once under, he remembers all of the events from the alternate timeline, including his death. It’s that last part that almost causes Cisco to stroke, but his death, and some help from Caitlin, wakes him up.
There’s little time to post-mortem Cisco’s Inception-like escapade because Wells calls Barry to let him know about a fire that breaks out. He arrives on the scene, but can’t seem to put the fire out. Dutifully assuming the mentor role, Wells walks Barry through creating a vortex with his arms to clear the oxygen of the room. This works, and saves everyone’s life, including Captain Singh’s fiancé, who worked in the building. During their debrief, Wells tells Barry what we’ve known for awhile: The only thing holding him back from becoming all that he can be is himself. It’s moment like these that confuse Barry, and the audience, because it’s so easy to like Wells.
Based on Cisco’s “dream,” Barry knows that the only way to get Wells to let down his guard and confess is to put him in a room with someone he trusts and cares for: Cisco. They decide to recreate Cisco’s memory—Wells finding him in the containment room etc.—except this time Cisco won’t die because Joe and Barry will be there and he’s modified the force field to not let any speedsters inside. Caitlin is tasked with recording the conversation from The Cortex, while Eddie is instructed to protect Iris—an order he’s annoyed with because Iris is all he cares about.
NEXT: How the trap fails
It’s an unusual episode of The Flash when you find yourself slightly annoyed with Joe, but tonight we found ourselves there. Eddie asked Joe for his blessing to propose to Iris, but Joe denied it. Eddie asks Barry to talk to Joe because he’s worried Iris won’t be happy without Joe’s support. Noting the tension between Eddie and Joe, Barry pulls Joe aside to talk. Turns out, he’s a WestAllen ‘shipper. He doesn’t want Iris and Eddie to get married because he knows Iris has feelings for Barry and, if she marries Eddie, one day she’ll wake up and realize she married the wrong man. The Flash hopes that Joe’s meddling will be made more acceptable by the fact that the byline on the Crisis article in the future newspaper reads “Iris West-Allen,” but it doesn’t completely work. If the marriage turns out to be a mistake, it’s hers to make; however, it’s also hard to fault Joe’s parental instinct to protect his daughter from future heartbreak.
The trap is set, and upon hearing that Cisco has figured out what went wrong with the force field, Wells takes the bait and ventures downstairs. We’ve been through this before: Wells walks into the room, compliments Cisco’s cleverness and gets ready to vibrate through him. Cisco turns on the force field, but, no, it’s doesn’t work and Wells walks right through it. Joe opens fires on Wells while Barry tries to catch the bullets because Wells hasn’t confessed yet, but he misses one and Wells dies. Wait, sorry, not Wells, Hannibal Bates, a.k.a Everyman, who was pretending to be Wells, dies.
That’s when Wells’ voice comes on over the intercom and he starts to gloat that he’ll always been many steps ahead of Barry. Cavanagh seems to be having the time of his life now that he’s finally able to unleash all of Wells’ villainy on Team Flash and the audience. Although he didn’t anticipate how much he would come to love working with Team Flash, Wells admits that this changes nothing and that he and Barry will face each other very soon.
The Flash wastes no time in revealing how Wells knew about the plan. Barry rushes to the Time Vault and finds Wells’ extensive surveillance system. He had cameras everywhere: in The West home, Iris’ office, Barry’s lab. This situation is made all the more thrilling because it was setup so far in advance. The show revealed Wells’ cameras to us in “Things You Can’t Outrun.” And we saw Wells’ willingness to use metahumans for his own gain twice in the first half of the season: once with Plastique and the other time with Girder. For Team Flash, this situation must be very disheartening because finding Wells’ extensive surveillance network forces them to realize that they never had the upperhand; Wells has known what they were up to all along.
But, there’s no time to dwell on this because Barry thinks Wells is going to go after Iris, who is currently enjoying a nice stroll along the bridge with her beau. Except, this is no ordinary stroll—Eddie is about to propose. Sadly, he’s interrupted because the Reverse Flash shows up, steals his ring, tosses him aside, and goes to kill Iris. Thankfully, The Flash arrives in time to save her, but Reverse Flash manages to kidnap Eddie. The Flash promises Iris he’ll save Eddie, and as he speeds away he shocks Iris, which causes her to realize it’s Barry. (Honestly, I’m so excited for the aftermath of her finding out she’s been lied to all this time. The secret identity trope is by far the most annoying trope of this genre.)
In the episode closing stinger, Wells reveals to Eddie, who he calls his insurance, that they’re related. Clearly not an idiot, Eddie realizes that’s why Wells allowed him to live the last time they tried to capture the Reverse Flash. We then flashback to Wells promising a comatose Barry that reckoning is coming and that he will die.
Wall of Weird:
- Tonight, Iris figures out the connection between the particle accelerator explosion and metahumans. She talk to Barry about it, and we’re forced to watch him stammer his way through lying to her.
- Barry, Caitlin, and Cisco’s trip to the Time Vault is filled with many Easter eggs. In addition to the “Iris West-Allen” byline, there’s also Gideon describing her future maker as a “founding member” of something. She’s cut off before she can say, but let’s be real, it’s the Justice League. On closer inspection of the newspaper, we see that The Atom and Hawkgirl are also mentioned.
- By “insurance,” Wells probably means his life insurance. We can infer that he kidnapped Eddie to protect him from the possibility of Barry trying to kill him to stop Wells from ever being born and being able to kill his mother. We know Barry will never do this, let alone seriously consider it. However, it will still be interesting to see if someone proposes this and who supports it.
- In the final flashback, we learn that Wells has been at all of Barry’s science fairs and soccer games.