Central City's justice system moves as quickly as its hero
Barry Allen is an innocent man. But no matter how many times you repeat it, it doesn’t change the outcome of the trial that kicks off the back half of The Flash season 4.
Team Flash all agree that DeVoe planned to frame Barry even before he returned from the Speed Force, but for what reason? And why create the other metas on the bus? One possible source of clues is the gibberish Barry spouted following his return; Cisco’s footage shows Barry babbling, “Your honor, I’m innocent. I didn’t do this. I didn’t kill anyone.”
When Cisco suggests that even if he’s convicted, no prison could hold him, Barry calmly asserts that he won’t run. Yeah, we’ll see how long that lasts after a week of prison rations.
Before you know it, the trial of Barry Allen is underway. In his opening statements, prosecutor Anton Slater (Mark Valley) claims that Barry wears a mask. No, not that kind; he means that Barry used his police expertise and connections to stalk and murder beloved professor Clifford DeVoe in cold blood. Slater outlines the restraining order, the breaking and entering, the bloody knife — “He used a wedding gift as a murder weapon. That is a special kind of evil” — and Barry’s skin cells under DeVoe’s nails.
Capt. Singh reluctantly testifies that he found Barry standing over DeVoe’s body. Under Cecile’s cross exam, he says he hired Barry because Barry wanted to help the innocent. “Allen is one of the good ones,” Singh insists.
Then Slater redirects, pointing out Barry’s six-month sabbatical to the Czech Republic and his frequent tardiness — 72 times in the last two years — and argues that this could indicate a secret life. Um, if tardiness makes someone a murderer, lock me up. Slater suggests that Singh not disciplining Barry was actually a way of covering up the ugly truth and proves that Barry’s not one of the “good ones.” That is not the logical leap I’d make, but okay.
During a break, Cecile warns Barry that it’s not going well, but he rejects cutting a deal or pleading insanity. He also refuses to testify because he doesn’t want to perjure himself, and he extra doesn’t want to tell the world that he’s the Flash. Man, he’s a difficult client.
Marlize, however, is more than willing to testify and tearfully recounts the events leading up to her husband’s death: He went to Barry in the spirit of Christmas to ask him to stop the harassment. She slips in a tearful “my husband has…had…” and plays up her grief to the judge. She says she begged him not to go, but despite of his disability, he wanted to protect her. It’s truly a masterful performance.
Ah, but Joe’s been doing some work behind the scenes. He doesn’t want to fail another Allen man and asks for Ralph’s help — not the stretchy kind, but the “underhanded private investigator” kind. Their skulking outside of the DeVoe manse nets them a photo of Marlize kissing a strange man.
It’s Dominic, of course, who used his telepathy to realize that Marlize was struggling to accept her “new” husband. DeVoe-in-Dominic (DeVoenic?) urges her to look past his body and see Clifford. Hence, the kissing.
When Cecile triumphantly presents the photo as evidence that Marlize’s marriage wasn’t so great after all, Marlize bashfully explains that she and DeVoe met Dominic at an ALS function. Seeing their connection, DeVoe encouraged her to turn to Dominic for the “needs and comforts” that he could no longer fulfill as a way to strengthen their marriage. See, this is why lawyers should never ask witnesses a question they don’t already know the answer to!
When Marlize leaves the courtroom, Iris follows her out and tells her to drop the act. She does and tells Iris that she’s doing this because there are problems in the world bigger than Barry, although she declines to elaborate. Then she asks what Iris is willing to do for her husband, then encourages her to enjoy the rest of “the show.”
Iris takes this to heart and bursts into the courtroom to announce, “Barry Allen is—” and we cut to commercial, which is a hugely effective use of a commercial break.
After the break, Barry zips out of his seat and moves both of them so quickly that time essentially stops. He tells Iris that he’s keeping his identity a secret to protect her and everyone who stood with them for four years, even though Iris declares, “I would rather run forever with you than stand alone without you.” It’s dazzlingly romantic, but at the same time, revealing Barry’s identity is soooo not Iris’ decision to make. Not cool, Mrs. West-Allen.
She tells Barry that she can’t be strong, but Barry reminds her that his father went through this, too. Then he’s back in his seat, and Iris is stuck stammering out, “Barry Allen is innocent!” and scampering away. I’m boggled that the judge didn’t hold her in contempt for that outburst.
At this point, the trial’s going badly enough that Joe takes matters into his own hands, asking Ralph to elastic-open the door to the DeVoe manse. Ralph realizes that Joe has carpet fibers from Barry’s loft, which he’ll use to frame Marlize for dumping DeVoe’s body.
And then Ralph gives an incredible speech, applauding Joe for his crafty plan but warning him that he’ll sleep soundly for doing the right thing…for a while. But he’ll get caught, and they’ll take his badge and gun, and his anger will morph into self-pity. And then one night it’ll dawn on him that he did the wrong thing, and by then he’ll have lost his friends, his colleagues, his family. “It’ll be like you were never born because you turned into the very thing that you swore to protect them from,” he says. Then Ralph opens the door with his stretchy finger and wishes Joe luck.
WOW. I know Ralph’s been a divisive character this season, but what a fantastic moment. In the end, Joe shuts the door and leaves, and we better understand why Ralph is…the way that he is. (Next page: Barry gets his verdict)
In court, Cecile rests her case without mounting a defense. Um. Yeah. I would not advocate retaining Cecile as your defense attorney should you find yourself accused of a crime in Central City, particularly because her closing argument consists of “Barry sure is a good guy,” which isn’t terribly effective.
And then Barry receives a text, stands, and tells the judge that someone needs his help and he’s got to go. The judge blusters, but Cecile says there’s no law requiring Barry to be present for closing arguments. The judge warns Barry that he’s required to be back for sentencing. Soooo the judge assumes that Barry will be found guilty and require sentencing? I’m not a lawyer, but can you say mistrial?
Anyway, Barry bailed on his trial because he got an SOS from Caitlin, Cisco, and Wells, who’ve been tracking a new meta whose radioactivity has been sickening people all over the city. Neil Borman, a.k.a. Fallout, doesn’t know he’s been doing it, and he’s about to go nuclear — literally. Barry whisks the police out of harm’s way, but Fallout’s radiation burns Barry, too, and it’s too hot for Barry to self-heal.
Wells and Cisco realize that they need Killer Frost to cool him down and convince Caitlin that it’s not just when she’s scared or angry; she can call on her chilly side at will, particularly when every living thing is about to be blasted by a Hiroshima-size explosion.
“Puppies are going down,” Cisco shouts, and Harry joins him for, “because you didn’t want to show up for work!” They congratulate themselves as her eyes glow, and by the time Cisco opens a breach to the scene, she’s fully Frosty and hits Fallout with a layer of ice. But he melts it and blasts her away.
In the end, Barry runs circles around Fallout to create a vacuum, and at Wells’ suggestion, Cisco opens a breach to send the blast to Earth-15, a dead planet. It’s excellent teamwork, and in the end, Barry drops to the ground with radiation burns on his face. But why was Cisco not also burned?
Back at STAR Labs, a still-healing Barry catches a TV report announcing that he’s been found guilty of first-degree murder. But he’s still got a chin-up attitude and tells his team, “That doesn’t mean that DeVoe beat us.” I…think it does, Bare. He and Iris head back to court for sentencing, which in any real legal system wouldn’t happen the same day as the verdict, for goodness sake.
On the way there, Iris tells him that that just like his father was Barry’s rock, Barry is hers. “I’ll be strong for you.” Then Barry spots DeVoenic stepping through a door next to the courtroom and follows him in.
DeVoenic refuses to tell Barry what his larger plan is and remains a smug prat about how much smarter he is than Barry. Barry warns that he’s going to figure a way out of this and will come for him. DeVoenic is unconcerned.
At his sentencing, Barry speaks the words from his Speed Force return: “Your honor, I’m innocent. I didn’t do this. I didn’t kill anyone.” Oh, man, Barry’s ravings better pay off in a big way when the team starts to examine them.
Before delivering the sentence, the judge pontificates about Barry’s awfulness for betraying the city’s trust. Meanwhile, Singh gives a press conference praising the Flash’s selflessness in saving the city. It’s an effective crosscut: The judge says Barry was unmoved and inhumane, while Singh praises the Flash’s bravery and heroism. Singh presents the CCPD Award of Valor to the Flash at the same time that the judge sentences Barry to life without the possibility of parole.
And then we cut to Iron Heights Penitentiary, where Barry’s escorted to his cell in chains. He takes a seat on his cot and spots graffiti on the wall: HENRY ALLEN WAS HERE. Barry’s rock is with him, even as he hits rock bottom.
Wall of Weird:
- The Trial of the Flash is a well-known comics story line from the 1980s, although this episode deviated sharply from the plot, in no small part because Barry’s trial for killing the Reverse-Flash ran for two years in the comic, while this trial wrapped up frustratingly swiftly. It didn’t need to stretch for the rest of the season, but this was laughably quick from start to finish. And then there’s Barry’s maddeningly placid, lamb-to-the-slaughter acceptance of his fate. Sure, trust your friends, your abilities, and the rightness of the universe, but don’t surrender without a fight.
- Fingers crossed that Caitlin will start to exercise true agency over her Killer side now that she knows she can embrace the cold at will. Like Barry, her helpless passivity wasn’t a good look.
- Think we’ll see Fallout again, despite Tracy’s search for a way to neutralize him? You’ve gotta feel a little bad for a meta who doesn’t know he’s a meta.
- Cisco can hack ankle monitors. Good to know.
- I hereby nominate Iris for the line of the night: “They say the first year of the marriage is always the hardest, but I never thought my husband being on trial for murder would be one of the challenges.” Truer words, sister.
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