'The Flash' Does Something Totally Surprising With The Thinker
Finally, this season is starting to get a little serious.
There’s a lot going on in The Flash this week while half the team struggles to identify “DeVoe” and the rest tries to track down a new meta that can animate and control statues. But by the episode’s end, The Flash does something totally surprising with its new big bad DeVoe, aka The Thinker.
But first, the show gets to have a lot of fun first, especially in developing the glorious buddy cop dynamic at work between Barry Allen and Ralph Dibney, former coworkers turned enemies turned frenemies turned dynamic superhero duo.
Ralph is as comically irascible as ever and continues to be a lot of fun, especially when he’s on coffee dates with Barry first thing in the morning and they have to randomly take down a mugger. (Why anybody tries mugging people in Central City when The Flash has been around for years at this point remains a total mystery.)
The Flash continues its comedic streak, and though the punchline are funny and land well — especially when the mugger gets a bullet in the ass — it’s hard not to feel like Season 4 comes off as a little hollow. Thus far, the scenes about DeVoe feel so far removed from this reality that it’s almost like we’re watching different shows. The show needs to figure out how to reconcile these two threads.
One place where it’s starting to do this is by giving Ralph some honest-to-goodness character development. After Ralph messes up royally in a pinch and gets a little girl injured, he learns a tough lesson about focusing on helping people rather than getting the bad guy. Dibney also gets his own supersuit that looks an awful lot like some bunched-up grey nylon. Hopefully, Cisco can deliver some much-needed stylistic upgrades to the mask at least.
Harry Wells offers up a fun B-plot that offers up the title “When Harry Met Harry.” He boasts that he has a bunch of “very smart” friends that can ehlp with their DeVoe problem. But those friends just turn out to be alternate reality versions of himself and they form the Council of Wells to crowdsource solutions to their problem.
Wells has hit peak vanity here, and when they all disagree, Cisco makes him realize that he’s literally and figuratively just frustrated with himself. He also gets some much-needed character development and gains some compassion that lets him collaborate with the other Wellses.
Seeing more variations of Wells puts the always excellent Tom Cavanagh’s acting chops on display. There’s a high-pitched German Wells cosplaying as Steve Jobs, a Wells that’s like Hugh Hefner doing a Matthew McConaughey impression, and a Mad Max Wells that’s half-cyborg. There’s even Wells the Grey that interrupts, who’s literally just Tom Cavanagh in a truly good Gandalf costume. What a delight.
Barry coins a fun new term early on in the episode: “bus meta.” Sure, it’s a bit on-the-nose, but it applies to all of the new metas like Ralph that got powers while on the bus.
This latest bus meta, called The Black Bison, has the ability to leave a psychic imprint on inanimate objects. It’s a pretty lame power at face value, but it means she can control things like tiger statues, suits of armor, and even a giant T.rex skeleton, which are all more than enough to handle the Allen-Dibney duo. Conveniently, she’s an anthropologist tracking down specific artifacts, and her justified motivations come from her own Native American heritage.
Usually, these CW shows, including The Flash takes perhaps a dozen episodes before it owns up to the season’s big bad and starts the real conflict. Amazingly enough, the ridiculous formula cooked up by the Council of Wells allows them to track DeVoe down, but instead of a creepy futuristic lair, they find the Mechanic dressed in a lovely dress saying she’s Clifford DeVoe’s wife and DeVoe himself is in a wheelchair, looking like an innocent professor with crazy hair.
Next week promises some crazy tricks as The Thinker messes with Barry’s head, but if there’s one thing Team Flash should know by now, it’s to not trust a smart guy in a wheelchair. Or have they forgotten that lesson already?
The Flash airs Tuesdays on The CW at 9 p.m. Eastern.