Grant Gustin/The CW

Like its namesake, The Flash never slows down for long. After a couple of episodes where the narrative engine stalled out, “The Trap” revs the show back up to top speed as we approach the season’s finish line. The pre-credit sequence alone is so dense with revelations, it could take an entire review to unpack them all. Having discovered the future newspaper headline in the “time vault,” Barry, Caitlin, and Cisco not only learn that Barry will disappear while battling the Reverse Flash nine years in the future, but that the tale is told by reporter Iris West-Allen. If that’s not enough, the future Siri herself, Gideon, addresses Barry by name and knows him to be the Flash (and also a founding member of…something that probably has the initials JLA) because it’s Barry who created Gideon. Or will create it. Time travel confusion abounds tonight.

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Once Barry figures out that Cisco’s dreams are actually memories of the timeline he erased while battling the tsunami, Caitlin rigs up a system that will allow Cisco to re-experience the memory through lucid dreaming. This may not make a lot of sense, scientifically speaking, but it does lead to a scene by turns creepy and funny as Cisco relives his deadly encounter with Wells and Joe has a good laugh over Cisco re-connecting with a now lost shirt.

Knowing what went wrong the first time, Cisco sets up the titular trap for Wells, but it turns out the good doctor has only been playing dumb all this time. His plan retroactively makes last week’s episode more interesting than it was, as he enlists the aid of the shape-shifter Hannibal Bates to literally take the bullet for him. I have to admit, I didn’t see that one coming; even though I didn’t expect Wells to stay dead (not quite yet anyway), I figured more time-travel shenanigans were in store. Team Flash may not have been able to capture a confession on tape, but they know his secrets now, including his real name.

That presents an interesting moral dilemma that I don’t expect Barry to seriously consider, although it should at least be discussed at some point. If Eobard Thawne is from the future, then the easiest way to make sure he never kills Nora Allen is to make sure he’s never born. And if he’s a direct descendent of Eddie Thawne, then the easiest way to do that would be to kill Eddie. Again, there’s no way Barry would actually do this, but I’ll be surprised if the possibility isn’t at least raised in the season’s remaining episodes. (In fact, the Reverse Flash’s capture of Eddie at episode’s end may have been a preemptive strike against this very possibility.)

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“The Trap” does some time-traveling of its own with a couple of visits to the past, back when Barry was in a coma. Joe recalls Wells asking him to allow Barry to be treated at STAR Labs, and the seeds of distrust that were planted then. Wells contrasts the youthful comatose Allen with the older Flash for whom he feels murderous hate. And Iris remembers a brief burst of electricity when touching Coma Barry’s hand. That’s important because she later feels the same electric charge when touching the Flash and YES FINALLY Iris knows the truth.

It’s a big relief, especially since the rest of the hour once again does her no favors. Iris figures out that the rise of the metahumans is linked to the particle accelerator explosion, which I had assumed was common knowledge (or at least widespread speculation) in Central City already. But she’s also once again left out of discussions that greatly impact her future, as Eddie decides to propose to her, Joe won’t give his blessing, and Barry is tasked with trying to find out why. I’d like to find out why it’s always up to the menfolk to decide what’s right for Iris. I love Joe and the way Jesse L. Martin plays him, but this aspect of his character always rubs me the wrong way. It goes beyond fatherly concern into an controlling mode that’s not very pleasant to contemplate.

With any luck, Iris will soon be a member of Team Flash and all that nonsense will be behind us. In any case, “The Trap” as a whole provides a big boost as the season’s endgame approaches. There’s no more time for messing around with third-rate villains who control robot bees. The Reverse Flash is on the loose and the battle of the speedsters is on.

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Stray observations:

  • Proving he can’t be all bad, Wells helps Barry develop a new skill in order to put out a fire and save Captain Singh’s fiance. (Although was I the only one yelling “Don’t just stand there!” as Barry talked to Wells amid the flames?)
  • Once the characters describe the trap they’ve set in great detail, that’s a pretty good indication that it isn’t going to work.
  • As if all this wasn’t enough, Grodd is finally unleashed next week. Grodd!

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