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