The Flash – Season 4 Episode 10
“The Trial of the Flash”
The Flash puts Barry Allen on trial as an irradiated Metahuman causes problems for the rest of the team while they work to clear Barry’s name.
One of the most striking things about this episode is that the end result of the trial is foreshadowed very early on. Barry mentions that there is overwhelming evidence against him so there’s pretty much no chance that he’ll be proven innocent. The rest of the team are hopeful but Barry knows enough about the legal system to know how these things go. He is wrongfully accused and has been framed but has no way of proving that while maintaining his secret identity so that means it’s more than likely that he will go to prison.
The episode rushes through the trial itself which is both good and bad. This is an action/adventure based superhero show not a courtroom drama so minimising the focus on the minutiae of the legal system is a good thing.. I can’t speak for the accuracy of what we do see as I know very little about it but it does at least fit together in a dramatic sense. Each scene is important for establishing something relative to a specific character which overpowers the legal details.
Captain Singh’s testimony was the best the episode had to offer. Cecille’s questions were few in number and brief to establish how Barry Allen was regarded as an employee. Singh talks about hiring Barry because his interview was more focused on helping victims rather than punishing victims. Barry’s morality has always been clearly established so having that reinforced by other characters noticing the sort of person he is strengthens that and adds further depth to a relationship that the show has spent almost no time on. This scene is also used to reference Barry’s recent sabbatical when he was in the Speed Force and his very frequent tardiness. It turns out that Singh has dismissed that because he knows that Barry always does his job so doesn’t concern himself with what time he comes into work. Whether that’s fair treatment relative to his peers or not is up for debate but it does address the issue of how he keeps getting away with being rarely seen at work other than his day-job being less interesting than being a superhero in terms of focus for this show.
Another strong scene was Marlize’s testimony where Kim Engelbrecht took the character to a really emotional place that could easily have seemed over the top but feels genuine on the strength of the performance. It’s clear that Team Flash see this as expertly deployed crocodile tears but the jury likely don’t see it that way and it’s an obvious part of the strategy devised by her lawyer Anton Slater (Mark Valley) to elicit the most sympathy possible.
Marlize establishes herself as someone in complete control of the situation and entirely confident that she is on the winning side. Every possible contingency has been prepared for as shown by her quick and seemingly sincere answer when photos of her kissing her husband in Dominic’s body are entered into evidence. She also knows that this is the last weapon Team Flash have in their arsenal and the casual countering of that feels merciless. Everything is going according to plan and Team Flash seem powerless to stop it.
The scene she shares with Iris after her emotional breakdown is really well done. At its core it’s two devoted wives out to protect their husband but there is a clear line drawn between them in what they are actually willing to do. Marlize has shown that she is willing to do pretty much anything to protect her husband where Iris clearly has limits.
It works so well as an exchange because of what each of them represent. Marlize is the picture of confidence, control and experience where Iris has little more than her emotions and is only able to make empty threats that she must know can’t be followed up on. The acting helps to sell Marlize’ resolve as a contrast to Iris’ bluster and Kim Engelbrecht’s instant transition from grieving widow to calm and collected was astonishing.
This conversation acts as the inspiration for Iris to take it upon herself to reveal Barry’s identity. It is seen as the only possible course of action that might prove his innocence but Barry refuses to do it because he believes in what the Flash represents to a lot of people. Revealing that he is behind the mask will put those he cares about in danger as everyone who has an axe to grind will track down anyone who has allied themselves with him in the past. It’s a sacrificial gesture for Barry who sees that keeping the secret is in service of the greater good even if he ends up in prison. Barry is completely calm about his decision when he explains the reasons for it to Iris when he uses his abilities to have a conversation with her at super speed. It’s a cool scene on a conceptual level and one of the few genuine moments for this couple where Iris actually thinks about the consequences in a much broader sense than she normally would.
I’m glad that the episode follows through on sending Barry to jail as a happy ending wouldn’t have made sense on any level. A very bleak picture of Barry Allen is painted throughout his trial and there are too many question marks for anyone to conclude that he is anything but guilty. If the knowledge of Barry being the Flash is removed and the evidence is considered on its own merits then it’s difficult to see anything but guilt. There’s no positive conclusion to that scenario other than something completely unbelievable so following through on that is definitely appreciated. The contrasting dialogue when the judge is pronouncing his sentence as Singh is honouring the Flash with a medal is really effective as it shows two entirely different perspectives on Barry while allowing the end of the episode to have some positivity and hope to it. Barry ending up in the same cell as his father and seeing his name written on the wall was really touching and an appropriate reference to The Shawshank Redemption.
Unfortunately I don’t think Barry’s incarceration will last long much as I would like it to. The disappearance of the Flash at the same time Barry Allen is in jail will raise too many questions for one thing so the team will have to find some way around that. My prediction is that this will resolve itself within two episodes and Team Flash will be back to full strength with renewed determination to stop DeVoe. I really hope I’m wrong as I like the idea of the team coming together to deal with the absence of their leader; we were robbed of this earlier in the season so it’d be a shame to have that happen twice. Cisco could even use a hologram to show Barry in his jail cell when the Flash is definitely needed though that should only really be used in extreme circumstances. There is an opportunity to let the rest of the team shine here and I hope they take it.
This episode gives us some idea of what Team Flash could be like without Barry to help them out. A new Metahuman named Neil Borman aka Fallout (Ryan Alexander McDonald) makes his presence known by causing radiation sickness everywhere he goes. He is introduced opening a bank account before accidentally causing everyone to collapse as he leaves. Later on he unwittingly hurts more people which leads Team Flash to think that he’s doing this on purpose. The twist here is that there is no malicious intent and the whole thing is just an accident. It’s refreshing to see this as non villainous Metahumans are rare on this show.
Unfortunately the character is very much an afterthought and the episode wouldn’t have changed an awful lot if he was cut entirely. I would have liked to see more focus on a man who can’t control his powers and keeps hurting people but the time wasn’t taken to develop this. It seems at one point that he isn’t aware that his powers are harmful to those around him which makes very little sense as he would have to be oblivious to all the people collapsing around him everywhere he goes. With a bit more work this could have been a memorable plot but it sadly comes across as an unnecessary addition to an episode that had its focus elsewhere.
Joe takes it upon upon himself to prove Barry’s innocence and enlists Dibny to help him. He does this because Dibny’s flexible morality will come in handy. The first thing he does is captures the afore mentioned incriminating photo that fails to be all that incriminating and later discusses the possibility of planting evidence with Joe.
Throughout the run of this show Joe has always been a character that can be counted on to say exactly the right thing at the right time. He’s the moral centre of the team and always encourages people to do the right thing. Seeing him so desperate that he considers compromising his principles to keep Barry out of Jail is shocking in the best way. It highlights how desperate the situation is as well as the emotional turmoil it causes everyone concerned.
Dibny has another moment of growth when Joe considers planting the evidence. He points out that it will probably get the job done but asks him if it’s worth it as the personal consequences are severe. Not only does he risk losing his job but his reputation will be in the toilet and he will have to live with the knowledge of what he did for the rest of his life. Dibny speaks from a place of experience as he did the same thing and knows what the consequences are. This signifies growth for Dibny as he is now able to reflect on his life choices and see where he went wrong. He doesn’t want that for Joe but also leaves him to decide for himself. It’s a powerful moment and Joe’s decision to do the right thing in the end is well earned and doesn’t compromise the character in any way.
Kendrick Sampson delivers his first proper outing as Clifford DeVoe here and he does a really good job. His performance does feel like an imitation of Neil Sandilands but I think that’s the point. DeVoe is still getting used to his new body so it makes sense that his voice and mannerisms haven’t stabilised yet. For now it’s clear that they’re the same character and I like that his relationship with Marlize comes across as somewhat creepy. The fact that she seems unsure of taking him as her lover and never quite becomes comfortable with it suggests that further problems will present themselves in the coming episodes.
Poor Wally is nowhere to be found this week. His absence is notable because of what his family are going through with Barry’s trial so he should be around for support or at least mentioned in dialogue to determine his whereabouts. This is definitely a time where another Speedster would be more than useful considering the circumstances so I remain confused about the decision to constantly leave this character out.
An engaging episode that deals with the trial plot very quickly but still manages to deliver engaging character moments. Barry’s certainty that there’s no way he’ll be found innocent is done well and plays out logically throughout the episode. His decision to not reveal his secret identity so that he might be found innocent has valid reasoning behind it and results in a great scene where Iris comes to realise it to. I’m glad that the episode follows through on this and sends Barry to prison even though I’m sure it will be very quickly resolved. There’s no possibility of a happy ending based on the setup of this episode so it just makes sense that a guilty verdict would be delivered to end the episode on a bittersweet note despite Singh honouring the Flash with a medal at the same time the sentencing is delivered.
Marlize really shines as a character here with excellent acting from Kim Engelbrecht who plays the different facets of her grief wonderfully. The crocodile tears scene is really effective and her instant transition to a more confident persona is astonishing. Her scene with Iris is impressive in general as there’s a great contrast between Marlize’ confidence and Iris’ bluster that has nothing to back it up. The Metahuman of the week is noteworthy in that he has no malicious intent though the episode does almost nothing with it which makes it less than worthwhile. Dibny’s personal growth shown by him pointing out the likely trajectory of Joe planting false evidence. It’s a rare moment of self awareness for Dibny and it works really well. Kendrick Sampson does a fine job as Clifford DeVoe though his performance feels like an impression of Neil Sandilands at this stage which seems to be exactly the point. Marlize being uneasy about a physical relationship makes a lot of sense and has a lot of development potential in the coming episodes.
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