Photo by Katie Yu/The CW
THE FLASH: 4.10 “The Trial of the Flash”
Last night’s episode of the The Flash brought Barry Allen face to face with a judge after being arrested for the murder of DeVoe. We know before the break that this was all DeVoe’s plan, and Barry made the very difficult decision not to use his powers to run.
I didn’t make note of the episode title until after the episode started, so I was surprised that last night’s episode would bring us to the trial already. There was no real aftermath of seeing Barry taken away, seeing Iris and Joe respond, any sort of arguments against what was happening. We got right to the point where we find out Barry’s fate by the episode’s end.
I was invested in the trial as I watched the episode, though in retrospect, many nitpicks have come to mind, and I now see a number of issues with the episode. I don’t normally write about The Flash (though I do usually live tweet it, if you follow me on Twitter), but I thought I’d air out some concerns here.
First, the meta of the week. We have to remember that while many of us were tuning in to the the trial of Barry Allen, we’re watching a superhero show. Not every viewer wants to see such human events as the justice system in action. Plus, with a large cast of talented people, what do we do with Caitlin, Cisco, and Harry, rather than leaving them sitting on a bench watching the trial? Enter our nuclear meta.
The problem here is I was not in the least interested in seeing what happened with this meta—which is especially unfortunate, given that the meta could actually cause a nuclear event that would decimate the city, if not the globe. This is a pretty high-stakes villain (even if he wasn’t aware of his own power) to shove in the background of another bigger plot.
As strange as it sounds, I would have argued for no meta B-plot. Just focus on the trial. Sure, by cutting Barry’s final act of heroism before being placed behind bars, we might not get that great juxtaposition of speeches between the police chief and the judge. But we would have a lot more time to devote to other trial-related plot points, like more time with DeVoe. Or Joe’s decision to do whatever it takes to keep Barry from prison, including planting evidence (by the way, the scene between Joe and Ralph was so good it was worth having Ralph added to the series, even if I haven’t been a fan of Ralph in previous episodes). They could have done something more interesting with Cisco and Caitlin (I have a suggestion below). And more importantly, they could have presented a legal defense for Barry.
Cecile should have done more. It was nice to see Cecile step away from being a prosecutor to Barry’s defense lawyer, but at the end of the day, you wonder if he would have been better off with someone else.
That’s not to say Cecile didn’t have a lot stacked against her. We all knew from the start that Barry was probably not getting out of this trial with a “not guilty” verdict. DeVoe is too smart for that. But Cecile barely tried. She tried to convince Barry tell everyone he was the Flash…and that’s it.
I feel like there’s a lot more that could have been done here. First, why wasn’t Cisco all over Barry’s apartment, trying to find evidence that pointed to someone else? Why weren’t they hacking police records to see what might not be noticed? Why weren’t they hacking DeVoe’s own technologies to figure out his plan? Sure, some of these attempts may be unsuccessful, but at least they could try.
In fact, it would have been a good way to keep Cisco and Caitlin occupied, as they desperately tried to use every means imaginable–maybe even Cisco’s power–to track down evidence that proved Barry was innocent. Imagine the heartbreak on Cisco’s face when he finally realized there was nothing he could do. Trust me, that would have had impact.
But even in the courtroom, Cecile could have done a lot more to prove reasonable doubt. Now, keep in mind that the majority of my legal knowledge comes from shows like Matlock and Drop Dead Diva, but here are just a few questions and points I came up with:
- The prosecutor mentions that DeVoe was defending himself from Barry while in a wheelchair. Where was the wheelchair at Barry’s house?
- He also points out the Barry’s DNA was found under DeVoe’s fingernails, and again, this came from defending himself. If that were the case, why would Barry show no scratches or bruising?
- Barry’s apartment alarm went off, and he has witnesses showing that he was at Joe’s house moments before the murder. How could he have gotten home in time to kill DeVoe, and if he were home with DeVoe, why would the alarm go off? Clearly, that indicates potential signs of a break-in.
- DeVoe was stabbed with a knife. Why was there no blood on Barry?
- The prosecutor also notes that Barry was late to work 72 times. How is that really relevant (and who hasn’t been late to work on numerous occasions)? Certainly, Cecile could have found someone else on the force with a great track record and similar number of tardies.
Could Cecile not think of any of these points? She just needed to prove reasonable doubt. At the very least, pointing out the alarm along with the suggestion that Marlize killed DeVoe at Barry’s apartment in order to continue her relationship with Dominic Lanse would at least give the jurors pause. Barry still may have lost, but she would have tried.
And for the viewers, it would have given a brief moment of hope, where you thought that maybe, just maybe, Barry would be set free. What was missing from this trial was surprise (I’m still trying to figure out how everyone else was so shocked at the guilty verdict). The best law shows make you wonder if the guilty man will walk free or the innocent man will not. The cards were stacked against Barry, but there was no hope during any of that trial, and we needed a little more of the ups and downs.
I get it. The Flash isn’t a legal show—and it’s not meant to be. In fact, they still could’ve kept in the reveal of Barry’s new power with Iris, even with these adjustments. But in making these changes, they could have ramped up the tension in the episode in a more human, non-meta way. And the ending would have been that much more heartbreaking.