Ralph learns an important lesson about being a hero, while he and the Flash track down a meta with the power to control statues! Also, the Flash comes face to face with DeVoe, but can he really be responsible for all their problems? Remember, if you like this article and 5 Point Discussions, please share it, it really helps! And if you have any questions or comments, hit me up on Twitter @SageShinigami!
1. Since this season’s overarching villain is all about intelligence, there’s a lot of posturing over who’s got the biggest brain in the room lately. The Thinker is apparently so intelligent that he can calculate several thousand ways a conversation can turn out, going so far as outright skipping to the end of a conversation with his assistant…before the conversation even starts. It makes DeVoe a cocky sum’bitch, but I’m honestly not mad at that. The last three Flash villains never really seemed smart so much as it felt like Team Flash was holding a collective Idiot Ball while dealing with them–but the Thinker is just smart. He doesn’t need time travel like Reverse Flash or Savitar, and he hasn’t infiltrated them like Zoom did–he’s just outsmarting them, 4D Chess-style.
He IS however, underestimating his opponents. His assistant points out that Team Flash is already close to discovering his identity far faster than they’d planned–due no doubt to the tiny bit of future knowledge that’s actually proven helpful for once–but he writes it off as a non-factor in his plans because he simply assumes that everything will always go his way. Looking back, this will doubtlessly be the first step towards his downfall, but being arrogant and being stupid aren’t necessarily the same thing, and as long as it stays that way we’re on a good path.
2. Council of Wells: Over at the “ya’ll could at least hire a mall cop” Team Flash HQ of STAR Labs, the team has been breaking their backs trying to discover exactly who DeVoe is and why he’s created a bus full of meta. They’ve been well over a day focused on just that task alone and come up with no luck, and it isn’t until Harry Wells decides to summon his “friends” that they make any headway. But of course, someone as egotistical as Wells could only have one group of real friends: alternate versions of himself, from across the multiverse. One that’s from a planet of human-AI hybrids on a dystopian Earth, another that’s a total playboy with a Southern accent, and lastly one that’s…German? Yeah, I dunno either.
If you’re a comic fan the whole thing is reminiscent of Jonathan Hickman’s Fantastic Four, where the super-scientist Reed Richards decides to solve all the problems in the world by seeking out help from the only other people who would ever think to achieve such an insane feat: alternate universe versions of himself. It’s a pretty clear shout out too, as FF referred to their group as the Interdimensional “Council of Reeds”, while here all the HRs become the “Council of Wells”. Fortunately, it works out a bit better in Flash than FF, which ended in massive amounts of death and destruction.
Here we get the opportunity to develop Wells as more of a character–we aren’t quite done with seeing just how many different versions of the same person Tom Cavanaugh is capable of playing, but at least this time they’re used to define the one they use the most in greater detail. Harry’s high and exacting standards have failed him time and again–he couldn’t take down Zoom on his own, and they led to the one person he cared the most about on Earth(-2) essentially kicking him out of her life. It’s resulted in something of a personal crisis for him as to how much he’s capable of believing in himself, and it’s not until Cisco convinces him that it’s okay to not be so hard on himself that he’s able to recover, leading the Council of Wells to come up with a way to discover who DeVoe really is.
3. It’s arguable, but Ralph Dibny’s development might just be a more compelling, straight-forward story than Wally’s ever was. That’s a shame, but Wally’s story came drenched in all this junk of a dying mother and never having known his father, and he was around for half a season before they finally set him on the path to being Kid Flash…and even THAT has to come with the spectre of Savitar.
On the flipside, Ralph has an easy in–his powers do come from The Thinker, but since the Thinker’s plans are more in the air and not this overbearing thing that’s going to affect the whole team on a specific date, we’re allowed to see him develop more freely. He starts out as a guy who DID good work once–as a cop, he’s not new to the idea of helping the people, it’s just taking him some adjustment. As a cop he was only ever focused on the bad guy, so when he’s forced to incorporate rescue work it’s a big change of pace for him but after making a near-fatal mistake in an attempt to catch the villain of the week he starts to learn quickly that in the hero career there’s a lot more to things than just stopping the crook…Even if he was totally right and Barry should’ve been fast enough to save the guy who nearly got murdered and catch the villain at the same time.
There’s a real journey to be made here that’s different from most CW characters. Most of them started out noble, and the choices they’ve had to make over the course of their series have muddied their characters and darkened their moral fiber. Ralph is seeming more like the reverse: there’s clearly a good guy in there, but it wasn’t until he got these powers that he even dreamed of trying to see where that good guy was.
3. The villain this week was Black Bison, a Native American teacher-turned-activist who basically started murdering once she got her powers because she couldn’t stand anymore cultural appropriation of her Sioux heritage by “Americans”. Flash has really experimented with villains that aren’t your typical 45 minute drama jerks–for sure the rich neckbeard was a misfire, but Hazard was fairly likable and Black Bison would’ve been completely acceptable if she’d been less Talia Al Ghul and more Catwoman.
Her powers granted her the ability to make any statue move around like a human, and that gave us a lot of cool imagery that I was actually surprised to see in Flash. After three and a half years of metahuman powers, you never really expect to see a giant T-Rex skeleton be the Flash’s biggest problem for an episode, but here we are. By the end of the episode Black Bison/Mina Chayton is caught, and we’re roughly a fourth of the way through the bus meta…and I’m starting to realize just how screwed Flash is going to be when the Thinker convinces all eleven other meta to work together to try to take him down. This is quite the set of “new rogues” to have to go up against, and I can only wonder who our group will have to rely on in order to avoid whatever fate this season’s villain has in store.
5. By the end of the episode, the Council of Wells have successfully tracked down the DeVoe most likely to be their culprit. But when Joe and Barry try to investigate, they’re given the biggest surprise of the series–the person they believe to be the Big Bad is paralyzed and works from a wheelchair. The episode ends on a cliffhanger, but it wouldn’t be a bad guess to assume that they’ll both assume this isn’t the villain. DeVoe even managed to set up some kind of disguise for his real location, making the place look a lot less like the warehouse for Spacely Sprockets and a lot more like an average suburban home. This almost makes me want to see DeVoe win, too–that’s what they get for being all ableist and thinking a guy in a wheelchair can’t kick their butts. But since both sides are underestimating one another, for now we’ll call it a draw.
The Flash airs on CW, on Tuesday nights.