On this week’s episode of The Flash, Barry meets Clifford DeVoe. Even though nothing about the man screams supervillain, our hero obsessively pursues him.

At the end of last week’s episode, Team Flash seemed to be ahead of the game, a rarity for them! They found a match for their mysterious opponent DeVoe, first name revealed as Clifford. But when Barry and Joe arrived at his place, they found an unassuming middle-aged man and his loving wife, Marlize. The interview goes nowhere, nor do any background checks on the couple. Of course, we know that Barry’s on the right path, but there’s no evidence. Rather than trying to find subtle ways to uncover DeVoe’s secrets, Barry becomes paranoid and fanatical, making idiotic moves he’s mostly avoided this season. It makes for a pretty frustrating hour of television.

It feels like The Flash has lost its ability to go dramatic without making serious stumbles. While the purpose of the plot is to show how The Thinker is a hundred steps ahead of our heroes, Barry makes it easy for him. He visits DeVoe twice in one day, making accusations with no evidence. Then, when he discovers the hidden samuroid camera, he breaks into their house and snoops around with no mask on. DeVoe has cameras in his home that captures Barry’s trespassing, leading to his suspension from CCPD.

Why is Barry doing all this? Since everything’s going right in his life and his friends’ lives, he feels he has more to lose than ever before, and is worried about another big threat. It’s a fair reason, but not enough to create this level of obsession, especially with no hints that he has the right guy.

Much more interesting is seeing DeVoe’s history of how he got his powers. Working with Marlize, a Robotics expert, he creates a thinking cap to improve his brain capacity. The particle accelerator explosion gives the cap the power to work, boosting DeVoe’s mental abilities to unheard of levels of genius. DeVoe wants to use his abilities to help the world, but the change causes his body to experience accelerated ALS. He only has a few years to live, and that’s with the help of a mechanical hovering chair. Neil Sandilands gets across the bitterness over his situation but also the remarkable focus and control his brainpower lends him.

While the episode is a mixed-bag, the ending confrontation between DeVoe and Barry is masterfully done. In an intense dialog, DeVoe finally reveals his abilities and knowledge to Barry, as there’s no way for the team to stop him. The Thinker calmly explains that all of Barry’s foes so far, Savitar, Zoom, Thawne, are nothing compared to limitless thought. It’s pretty chilling and is a nice change from the usual Big Bad battles.

Even better, we know practically nothing about DeVoe’s plan. After years of metas looking to rob banks, get revenge or cause chaos, The Thinker is a thrilling, new type of adversary altogether.

Show Notes:

  • Wally’s back from his journey of self-discovering in Blue Valley! That self-discovery of course includes a battle with a “starfish from outer space.” That must be none other than Starro! It was a quick journey, but I imagine Kid Flash has a role to play in “Crisis on Earth X.”
  • Cisco and Harry have a mutual love of Zatoichi: The Blind Swordsman.
  • With his accelerated brain power, DeVoe figures out the identity of Jack the Ripper: Catharine Jewell, the nurse of suspect Aaron Kosminski at Colney Hatch Asylum.
  • In addition to being a robotics and physics expert, Marlize apparently makes a killer mac and cheese!

The Super Cinco

  1. – Clifford DeVoe / The Thinker – With little effort, DeVoe runs mental circles around Barry, leading to his suspension from the CCPD and getting a restraining order filed against him. His speech when he reveals himself at the end is one of the best villain introductions this show has done.
  2. – Iris West – When Barry starts to go off the deep end over DeVoe, Iris gets to the bottom of what’s really bothering him. She tells him to let this go and although he doesn’t, he backs off on the need to take DeVoe down immediately. Plus, it’s her wedding in a week!
  3. – Wally West / Kid Flash – Not much for our supporting cast to do this week, which makes Wally’s return a standout moment. He went to Blue Valley, did some self-reflection and fought Starro! Sounds more fun than this week’s ep!
  4. – Barry Allen / The Flash – Barry blunders after DeVoe in a variety of stupid ways this week, looking worse and worse as the episode goes on. His reasoning behind his obsessiveness isn’t great either. But he was right about DeVoe in the end.
  5. – Cisco Ramon / Vibe – Not really much that he does this episode, but he gets our fifth spot for giving DeVoe his metaname, The Thinker.