There has been one common problem in the Arrowverse this year. All four shows part of this world have had trouble in following through and giving payoff to the audience. Arrow didn’t do much to build on the incredible finale of Season 5. Likewise, The Flash was able to wipe away almost the entire fallout of the Season 3 events in one episode. Even Legends of Tomorrow was unable to do anything good after the finale of the second season. But, The Flash got a second chance at the end of the midseason finale when Barry Allen’s life changed completely, once again. It was a good opportunity to make good on some of the potential they had wasted in the beginning of the season and it seems that the writers are really going to try.
It was definitely interesting to see in The Trial of The Flash how the happy-go-lucky and lighthearted tone of the fourth season receded as DeVoe’s master plan began to take shape. Any hope that Barry would remain a well-adjusted and happier hero is simply out of the window now. His current predicament is an indication of exactly how dangerous and strong a villain DeVoe has become over time. In all previous seasons, the villains Barry has faced were all speedsters like him and they didn’t come up with anything cleverer than killing Barry’s friends and family to get to him.
DeVoe, on the other hand, has managed to cut Barry off from his family in a very different way altogether. While doing so, he has transformed Barry Allen into his father and has done it in a way that Barry had never thought of. The ending scene where Barry comes to terms with his new ‘home’ was a tough one and the irony was just hammered in by the tag ‘Henry Allen was here’. There is no denying that DeVoe has proved to be a capable villain, but there is one concern. Will the character have the same impact now as Neil Sandilands has been replaced with Kendrick Sampson?
The former had a sad touch and certain charm that doesn’t come as strongly in the latter. However, it is difficult to say if this is intentional or just due to the change in actors. At this point, DeVoe seems very confident of his abilities and this arrogance will eventually be his undoing in the future. But, the most intriguing part of this episode was that it focused more on Marlize than it did on her husband. Previous episodes have given us hints that she was not in full agreement with her husband regarding his plan and now it is apparent that she has reservations about his mind now occupying this new hunky body.
Even though we are aware that by furthering the plans of her supervillain husband, she is running another man’s life, it is still possible to sympathize with her character. There was a ring of truth in her tearful testimony and we are hoping that in the second half, the show will downplay DeVoe in favor of Marlize because she has the potential to be a more unpredictable and compelling villain than her husband. The grim tone of this week’s episode had another side benefit; the writers were finally able to make use of Ralph. It was very frustrating to see him being used only for comic relief in every episode.
Now, with his interaction with Joe, Ralph was able to demonstrate exactly how much he has grown since he joined Team Flash. Also, he reminded Joe of something that even Barry knows very well; you don’t become a bad guy just because you want to fight the bad guys. This is a good setup for Ralph in the upcoming episode where he will have the central role of filling up the void left behind by The Flash. It is surprising to see why the writers have not let Wally step in and take Barry’s place, but then again, his character seems to be a very low priority this season.
Nonetheless, the episode was not without its problems. The writers were unsure of what story they wanted to tell in The Trial of The Flash so they simply added a ‘villain of the week’ storyline. The battle with Fallout didn’t really make use of the supporting characters in Team Flash and didn’t have much to add to the narrative. As a matter of fact, it seemed as if the storyline was directly in conflict with the darker tone of the one going on in the courtroom. The only thing that can be said is that the award ceremony for The Flash and Barry’s sentencing made for a smart bit of juxtaposition.
It served as another reminder of how much of his personal life Barry has had to sacrifice in order to be the hero Central City needs. It also sheds light on the struggle he will have to face going forward. Physically, there is nothing that can stop him from running out of Iron Heights, but in order to feel that freedom, he has to give up being Barry Allen and become The Flash. Therefore, redeeming his name is more important for now. Yet, this might become difficult as DeVoe begins to execute the next part of his plan.
As a matter of fact, it may give rise to a situation where Barry will have to decide if his selfish desire of clearing his name is more important than saving his city. This dilemma has no easy answer and it actually bodes well for the show as Season 4 marches ahead towards its climax. All in all, there were some definite problems in the episode as the courtroom drama didn’t exactly mesh with the subplot of villain of the week. But, as far as things to come are concerned, the episode seemed very promising. Moreover, with this episode, Clifford DeVoe has cemented himself as a villain to be reckoned with and the series has embraced the challenges of our hero’s new status quo in a much better way.