“It’s not a burden if we shoulder it together.”
Things aren’t looking good for Team Flash.
It’s a position our fearless gang of white hats have faced before: Reverse Flash, Zoom, Savitar. The penultimate episode always has the good guys on the defensive, doing what they can to stay above the tide of evil before them. But this time it’s different, more critical. For they are not just trying to save each other or even Central City; this time, they are trying to save the world and, to be honest, the deck is stacked against them.
“The guy’s a one-man Legion of Doom. So let’s send the Super Friends.”
Absent since his Marlize left him, DeVoe makes himself known early on. While many are not a fan of the Thinker as a big bad, one has to admit that his re-introduction this week was nothing short of brilliant. Trite as his explanation past the meta-dampeners of the ARGUS black site was, his complete destruction of the security force to the tune of Handel’s Messiah almost made up for a season’s worth of cringy moments. Spectacular sequence aside, DeVoe has begun the countdown to his endgame as he plans to use the nuclear-powered meta, Fallout, to power his satellites into orbit and begin the Enlightenment.
With DeVoe holed up in ARGUS and hostages to boot, Team Flash is at a crossroads: how do they save the hostages but also prevent the dummification of humanity? Leave it to Cisco to formulate the plan: have Barry bring both he and Caitlin into Flash Time. Now, let’s not waste time going over the scientific mumbo-jumbo but the short and sweet of it is if Barry charges his pals with the Speed Force, they’ll theoretically have enough juice to save the hostages and get out of the facility before it goes boom while Barry (charged by one of the defense mechanisms) will gain the speed necessary to follow DeVoe through the pocket dimension and towards his next step in Operation: Enlightenment. Easier said than done, of course, but it’s a plan that works but not without a hiccup or two and Cisco’s defining moment.
Still reeling from his failure at keeping Ralph safe, Barry is hesitant to put his best friends in danger. This despite knowing that, should they fail, it won’t matter. It’s a classic example of a hero seeing the short-term in sacrifice of the long-term. Barry doesn’t want to be responsible for another death and, despite the world’s first Avenger’s thoughts on never trading lives, there are moments where only by risking everything can you break free or, in this case, stop DeVoe. It takes a wonderful speech by Cisco to Barry for the latter to see the truth: hero’ing is not an easy gig and its mantle must be taken on by choice. Those who take it on are willing to pay the ultimate price for the greater good. Cisco and Caitlin understand that and Barry relents, knowing that not only does he need them but it’s their choice to make, not his.
While the ‘A’ storyline is in the foreground, there are some good tidbits playing in the background. Caitlin’s suppressed memories of a childhood trauma, Cecile’s telepathy going to the next level, and Iris and Harry trying to figure out what they can do to help stop DeVoe are all important but the latter pays the most dividends by episode’s end.
“You asked me what I was willing to do for my husband. And now I’m gonna ask you: what are you willing to do for the world?”
Though Harry’s intelligence is in rapid decline, he’s not as useless as he thinks. One negative is the way they initially play his dwindling faculties, as almost a light-hearted thing. Sure, his sounds more like H.R. as time goes by but levity can be found in other aspects of the show, not a genius mind losing what makes it special. Still, thanks to the Harrisons, Harry has tapped into his empathetic side and makes a bold suggestion: turn Marlize to their side. Considering she skewered Iris a few weeks back, it’s understandable that Iris is not a fan of this idea, going so far as to say “you can’t save monsters”. Harry reminds her that Marlize is not a monster and may be their only hope in saving the world. Pettiness for Iris’s role this season aside, when they track Marlize down, she ends up making a heartfelt plea to DeVoe’s better half, and though we do not see if it worked… is there really even a doubt that it did?
One thing that doesn’t work, however, is derailing DeVoe’s satellite deployment. Sure, Barry destroys one of them but, ever the Thinker, DeVoe’s backup plan (or was it Plan A all along?) is to requisition the STAR lab satellite and Gideon to make the connection heard ‘round the world. Team Flash can do nothing but lament as, despite their best efforts, the Enlightenment has begun.
- This week almost seemed as if the primary goal was to make DeVoe cool again… er, for the first time. It works. Not only does the introduction rank up there for best use of a villain’s powers in Flash history but we’re also privy to DeVoe’s undying conviction that he is right. Similar to Thanos, DeVoe believes that, left to their devices, humanity will destroy itself and he is the savior the world needs. And like Thanos, DeVoe can’t connect to the fact that it is in his power to help steer humanity from that brink instead of unilaterally deciding what’s best.
- Though Cecile’s telepathy is initially played for laughs—instead of reading someone’s mind, she becomes that person’s mind— it provides her a chance to touch base with Caitlin and the latter’s fears regarding that suppressed memory. “You cannot hide from anything forever,” she says at one point and that advice gives Caitlin the strength to face her past fear. Interestingly enough, said fear is the truth that her Killer Frost’s persona was not born of the particle accelerator explosion; she’s always been a part of Caitlin. Considering we’ve always thought metas were created by the explosion, the fact that Caitlin’s killer side has always been there brings forth questions that probably won’t be answered until next season.
The Flash: “Think Fast”