Returning from the holiday break, ‘The Flash’ picks up with an episode predicated on some pretty flimsy plotting. That’s not exactly unusual for this show, but it seems especially pronounced this time.
As a reminder, Barry was framed and arrested for the murder of his latest nemesis, Clifford DeVoe, a.k.a. The Thinker. This should be easy enough to disprove, especially for someone who works as a forensic scientist. For one thing, an autopsy should quickly reveal that DeVoe didn’t actually die from the stab wound in his chest. That ought to be an easy giveaway, but I guess nobody bothered to perform that autopsy because it’s never mentioned.
Barry’s case goes to trial seemingly the day after he’s arrested, with Joe’s fiancée Cecile handling the defense, which is weird considering that she’s the city’s District Attorney and that’s a huge conflict of interest for her. The prosecution is instead left to a guy named Slater (Mark Valley). Although it would be plenty easy for Barry to escape and buy himself enough time to prove his innocence, he quickly resigns himself to the fact that he’s going to prison. Not only does he refuse to run, he doesn’t even offer much of a defense beyond shrugging his shoulders as if to say, “Nah, didn’t do it. I guess. Whatever.” His friends repeatedly beg him to come out and reveal his identity as The Flash, but he won’t even consider it, under the pretense that it would put all of them in danger.
Joe enlists Ralph Dibny’s help to spy on DeVoe’s widow, Marlize, and take photos of her kissing Dominic, the young body that DeVoe transferred his consciousness into. Cecile presents these photos in court to cast aspersions that Marlize may have murdered her own husband, but Marlize, putting on an epic crying jag for the benefit of the jury, turns this back on her by claiming that she and Clifford had an open marriage and he was totally cool with her banging a younger guy. Cecile, who is apparently incompetent at her job, can think of no further questions to ask, and the entire jury instantly believes the widow.
Feeling desperate, Joe wants to plant evidence in Marlize’s house. Dibny, whose career was destroyed for making that same mistake, talks some sense into him.
While all this is happening, the rest of the team are busy dealing with the city’s latest meta-human threat. This one’s not a villain, but an oblivious guy who doesn’t realize or notice that his body is emanating intense amounts of radiation that cause everyone around him to pass out. Cisco dubs him “Fallout,” and warns that his body will imminently turn into a nuclear bomb and destroy the city. Fallout cannot control his power and inadvertently attacks Killer Frost and Cisco when they try to contain him.
Inconveniently, Barry gets a meta-human alert in court and asks to be excused during the lawyer’s closing arguments. The judge scowls, but tells him that he is only technically required to be present during sentencing. I’m not a lawyer, but that sounds dubious to me. In the meantime, Barry is free to go, so he zips over to help his friends.
As Fallout goes into meltdown, Barry races around him in a circle to create a vacuum, then Cisco opens a portal that sucks up the radiation and sends it to the dead world of Earth-15. Once the radiation is depleted, Fallout seems harmless again.
As Barry returns to court, DeVoe (in Dominic’s body) pulls him aside to gloat. The jury then pronounces Barry guilty and the judge sentences him to life in prison without possibility of parole. At this same moment, Capt. Singh holds a press conference to award The Flash a medal of valor for saving the city yet again.
At episode’s end, Barry is shipped off to prison and locked in the very same cell where his father served so many years for a crime he likewise did not commit.
Why does Barry have such a martyr complex this season? This is the second time he has resigned himself to spending the rest of his life in a prison (first the Speed Force, now a literal prison) for BS reasons. He had every opportunity to prove his innocence in court, even without coming out as The Flash, but doesn’t even seem to want to. He complains that revealing his secret identity would put his loved ones in danger, and never considers the fact that not being around to save the world from destruction for the umpteenth time would put them (and the rest of the world) in even more danger.
For a while, it seemed like this season was trying to steer ‘The Flash’ back to being lighthearted fun again. Sadly, now we’re right back to the doom-and-gloom drudgery and the weak plot doesn’t do much to compensate.