5 Point Discussions – The Flash S4.14:

by Sage Ashford

Barry and Ralph track down the latest metahuman being hunted by the Thinker!  But will they be able to save her before DeVoe claims her powers too?  Remember, if you like this article and 5 Point Discussions, please share it on Facebook or Twitter! It really helps. And if you’ve got any comments or questions, please hit me up @SageShinigami.

1. Well, at least Barry’s actions have some consequences.  He was exonerated for DeVoe’s murder, but much of the department doesn’t exactly approve of his return.  He tries to talk to Singh about it, but doesn’t escape being suspended indefinitely from the force because they still believe the DeVoe that appeared in the courts…isn’t DeVoe.  It’s one of those times where the characters show some awareness of the universe they exist in, and know it’s not entirely out of the realm of possibility for a meta capable of illusions or…y’know, shapeshifting powers, to simply be pretending to be DeVoe.  Seriously, there’s no way the morgue didn’t actually have DeVoe’s real corpse, right?
Still, now we’ve got a hint of how the big climax of the season will play out.  Commissioner Singh specifically says Barry wouldn’t be allowed back until they proved without a doubt DeVoe was alive, which suggests sooner or later the lid has to blow on DeVoe being the Thinker.

2. With Barry no longer tied down by CCPD, he’s free to take a deeper look into the remaining metas from the bus incident.  The group tracks down one after a bit of detective work: Izzy Bowen, a country singer who’s on the cusp of making her career finally pop.   Barry and Ralph meet up with her, but their first experience goes poorly when Barry freezes up because he can’t hide behind being a member of the police any longer.   That’s a good call, and it becomes obvious how much of a crutch his career had been for his activities as the Flash.
Barry freezing up causes Izzy to dismiss him and Ralph, then attack them when they can’t take the hint.  They track her down a second time in costume, and this time DeVoe does their work for them, as he shows up as Rebecca Sharpe and does creepy scientist bit.  Barry tries to stop him and fails, which makes Izzy stand up for herself, blasting DeVoe with her sound powers and allowing her to escape with Flash and the Elongated Man.  Now, a normal person would see this for the unexpected fluke it was, but not the leader of Team Flash!  More on that later.

3. Let’s discuss a couple theories related to our season villain and where the story is probably going.  While talking with his wife Marlize, we learn DeVoe’s bodies are lasting less and less time as the dark matter energy builds up inside them.  Though a human body can seemingly handle the powers resulting from being exposed to dark matter once, the subsequent experiences are becoming more deadly, burning out these bodies faster.  Clifford’s original body lasted years.  Dominic’s body lasted a few months.  Rebecca Sharpe’s has lasted weeks.
There’s also something else Marlize hints at to give us an idea as to how DeVoe might ultimately fail.  As his body absorbs more dark energy, his brain is becoming more erratic.  He’s making mistakes he didn’t before.  The best way to describe it?  He’s succumbing to hubris, something he certainly had before, but he was still careful about it.  Now he’s rapidly approaching a cartoon villain levels.
Lastly, this also helps us understand a tiny part of his ultimate plan.  Despite long being capable of reaching Ralph whenever he wanted, DeVoe’s never really gone after him.  That’s because Ralph’s molecular structure is becoming more malleable the longer he uses his powers.  Battling DeVoe and the crime in the city is making him stronger, and by the time the Thinker has finished absorbing all the powers, Ralph will be strong enough to absorb the dark matter DeVoe’s collected and remain stabilized.

4. The B plot this episode is a cute little story where Harry helps Cecile (“D.A. Cecile Horton”) by inventing a method to stop her from reading minds at night while she’s sleeping.  For whatever reason, Cecile’s mind reading abilities don’t just extend to reading conscious thoughts, but subconscious ones like her boyfriend’s dreams. Harry invents this massive, comical ten pound headset at first, but because this is comic book science and things advance exponentially faster than they would in real life, after she complains he finds a way to reduce it to something which sticks to her forehead.
Developing the device causes Harry to realize they could also use it to neutralize the Thinker’s advanced intelligence with some tweaks, resulting in their creation of the neural inhibitor.   There’s a brief call back to the moment when Savitar brought this exact moment up from the past, and it almost feels like we’ve finally hit a turning point for Team Flash where they’ll be able to shut down some of DeVoe’s abilities and get the upper hand.
…But of course it fails, because they forgot to account for Kilgore’s technology control abilities.  It lines up; Savitar said they built it, not it would work.   This leaves Harry once again doubting his own intelligence, which is a plotline I’m not really buying at the moment.  If Harry were more than a footnote in the Team’s confrontations with the Thinker it’d be different–for this to work, you’d think they would go out of their way to show the two characters constantly facing off, with Harry failing again and again. But nope, he spends most of every episode on the sidelines.  His drama concerning not being on speaking terms with his daughter is more believable, because the Flash is usually at its best when its dealing with some aspect of family–being a father, being a son, being a daughter–these are the most compelling moments the show offers.  Still, it’s possible they come back to this later.

5. The most frustrating part of this episode comes with how the team deals with the meta of the week.  Izzy isn’t some misguided villain–she’s a woman with dreams and the talent to make it happen who gets dragged into this stupid war between the Flash and the Thinker and suffers for it.
When she just barely manages to hurt DeVoe by catching him off-guard, Barry operates under the mistaken delusion she can help the team, so he starts training her.  The training makes sense–she needs to be able to defend herself–but that she can actually do anything to beat him?   After training her for an entire day non-stop, Izzy finally decides to face off against the Thinker like Barry’s been suggesting, and it goes…about as badly as you’d expect.  Prepared for her, he easily takes her out and leaves Flash and Ralph trying to take him on instead, confident about their ability to use the Neural Inhibitor to shut his brain patterns down.  It’s a working plan for…half a second, before DeVoe uses his powers to shut down the Inhibitor, then generates a forcefield to stop Barry and Ralph from saving Izzy again.
And thus, outstanding mismanagement results in another life being taken.  Any number of solutions could’ve been used: they could have placed Izzy on another Earth.  They could’ve not drafted one of DeVoe’s targets to actually fight DeVoe.   But against all better judgement, they fail.  What’s so frustrating about this is how life seems to just…go on for the rest of Team Flash.  Barry and Iris lovingly kiss like their mistake didn’t just allow a life to flame out.   Ralph gets drunk and cries because he lost a love interest, but that short-changes a character who was quite developed and would’ve fit in pretty well on other shows.  The only way these guys aren’t the worst is if they find a way to bring all of the metas DeVoe attacked back to life.  Which is certainly possible, but is that where the story’s headed?
The Flash airs on The CW, Tuesday nights.

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