SPOILERS for The Flash season 4, episode 12 ahead!
With Barry behind bars and Team Flash struggling to protect Central City in his absence, it didn't seem like things could get any worse. Until they did, when in the final moments of 'Honey, I Shrunk Team Flash' Barry gets kidnapped and sent to Amunet for some as-of-yet undisclosed but undoubtedly terrible punishment. But that was only the episode's cliffhanger of an ending, and while it's an unexpected turn of events, just how The Flash season 4 reached this moment isn't surprising at all.
The inciting incident which leads to Barry's capture is the warden of Iron Heights Penitentiary learning that his annoyingly altruistic inmate in none other than The Flash. And how does he learn this? Because the same Barry who was so insistent on keeping his secret identity a secret that he chose to go to jail rather than reveal the truth, couldn't stop using his powers while in jail and under 24 hour surveillance. It was Barry's assurance to Big Sir that his friends could clear his name that caught Warden Wolfe's attention, but it was the flagrant use of his powers that got Barry caught - and on camera no less! That's a trail of evidence which may not only blow his cover to Wolfe and Amunet, but to everyone. Before he went to jail, it was Barry's choice whether to reveal his secret identity or not, but in refusing to do so, that choice has been stripped from him and with it any control over how this information is used.
The fallout surrounding these final minutes will be the main thrust of next week's episode, but in the meantime, the rest of Team Flash took part in what's easily been the most entertaining 'meta of the week' case since season 4 began. Last week's episode made sure to include a light-hearted and funny plot alongside Barry's dreary jail time, but 'Honey, I Shrunk Team Flash' manages to make its silly plot not only entertaining but also connected to the season's arc and its villain. (Y'know, The Thinker, remember him?)
Since landing Barry in jail, the DeVoes has been largely absent from the proceedings. However, it's becoming abundantly clear that they've been orchestrating everything that's happened this season. 'Honey, I Shrunk Team Flash' is seemingly filled with coincidences, building off the reveal that Big Sir only befriended Barry because Barry's father saved his life by adding in the new detail that the metahuman Team Flash is hunting this week - another bus meta, Sylbert Rundine, who had stolen dwarfstar-powered shrinking tech on his person when the dark matter wave hit - is who actually committed the crime which landed Big Sir in prison! Were it not for The Thinker, this would be a wholly unbelievable development, but The Flash season 4 has made sure to establish that the DeVoes have been ten steps ahead at every turn, making it only all too plausible that everything is connected. Like Harry says: "There are no coincidences."
That 'Honey, I Shrunk Team Flash' can feel like a important step in this season's arc and be such a funny episode is The Flash at its best. Ralph got the chance to shine last week, but pairing him with Cisco and having them shrunk is just comedic gold. Visually, the episode had fantastic gags like Ralph getting stepped on and pulled off Caitlin's shoe like a piece of chewing gum, or Cisco desperately trying to breach his way back to full size. Even Harry accidentally making everything worse with his Embiggening Bazooka™ is played for laughs and adds a sense of peril to their predicament. Not too mention, it leads to a wonderful scene in which the miniaturized Cisco gets Harry to open up about the guilt he carries over not being able to outsmart The Thinker. ("Your face is huge! It's like reading your emotions on IMAX.")
Tying everything back to The Thinker's grand scheme makes this episode matter more than if it were just another week of filler, as does the addition of actual stakes to Ralph and Cisco getting shrunk. The 'Barry in prison' plotline was beginning to wear thin last week, so having it tossed aside in favor of Barry becoming Amunet's prisoner is a neat twist. It's still unclear exactly how The Thinker managed to pull all these strings, but further endangering Barry (and by proxy, the rest of Team Flash) is sure to lead to some answers.
• Another Kord Industries shout out! Will Ted Kord/Blue Beetle ever appear in the Arrowverse?
• Cecile developing gestational telepathy doesn't really make any sense, but it sure does make for some very funny scenes. Poor Joe, the guy can never catch a break. Giving Cecile a brush with meta powers but having them exist on a timetable is also a great plot device, introducing a means for Team Flash to potentially uncover some information they otherwise couldn't, but removing the ability before it can become a crutch for them and the writers.
• The 'Savitar Murders Iris' LEGO Set, pick yours up today!
• Let's all take a moment to appreciate Big Sir, because Barry doesn't deserve such a humble and amazing prison buddy. Seriously, when Barry gives him the bad news that Rundine won't confess, it would have been perfectly acceptable for him to go off on Barry for promising something he couldn't possibly guarantee. But he doesn't! How great is this guy? One hopes life in China treats him well.
• Is it merely a coincidence that this episode airs the same day a new trailer for Ant-Man & The Wasp debuts? Hmm...
The Flash season 4 continues next Tuesday with 'True Colors' at 8pm/9c on The CW.