“You can’t just inspire people to be better. You somehow need to change the way people think.”
We’ve hit that magical point in The Flash where Barry comes face-to-face with his greatest adversary (to this point) and if the past has taught him one thing it’s that it’ll be a team effort to take down this Clifford DeVoe…the Thinker.
The aptly titled “Therefore I Am” is a tale of two distinct halves interspersed together. The first is that of Clifford DeVoe and his wife, Marlize. Taking place four years ago during—you guessed it—the Particle Accelerator incident, DeVoe was a boring, somewhat erratic history professor who wanted to find a more efficient way to transfer data/information to people. Long story short, Marlize builds the thinking cap he designs and they use the Accelerator explosion to power the device. And for a time, it seems as if everything has gone as planned. As DeVoe says, “I know every answer to every question ever asked.”
Unfortunately for DeVoe, all that new brain power needs a power source. Thus, he finds that his mind is drawing said energy from his body, a problem very similar to ALS but even more aggressive. He has a year, maybe two to live until the brilliant Marlize, aka the Mechanic builds DeVoe his infamous chair. Though we see him in a normal wheelchair the vast majority of the episode, that final scene with him plays like the Borg queen from Star Trek: First Contact, as wires connect to her torso and situate her in the rest of her synthetic shell. It’s a brilliant piece of work but even that won’t be enough to sustain him for long but, as he tells her, it’ll work long enough.
The second half has Barry front and center as he and Team Flash investigate DeVoe based on the information derived from the Council of Wells. The problem lies that every piece of information they dig up on DeVoe points to him being a regular Joe. DNA seemingly confirms this when Caitlin tells the team that “Clifford DeVoe is not a meta”. But Barry knows this guy is hiding something though no one else believes him. You’d think that, for all they’ve been through, the team would have trust in Barry and his instinct regarding DeVoe. Instead, they treat him like he’s going a bit crazy (though the whole breaking and entering thing was a bit far…notwithstanding the fact that it played right into DeVoe’s hands). It’s only when DeVoe outs himself to Barry that they get on the “DeVoe’s the Thinker” train.
I have to say, that Barry vs DeVoe standoff was the highlight of the episode. The two go back and forth with DeVoe having the confidence of seeing all moves before the pieces are on the board. He knows this game is his to win and, despite an intellect one would think would prevent the exercise of such overt hubris, I guess DeVoe sees it as nothing more than telling the truth of things to come.
But what is to come? What is DeVoe’s endgame? It has to do with his deteriorating condition and finding a permanent energy source to halt it and quite possibly repair the damage his body has already incurred, right?
I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.
- Another strong scene not mentioned above is Barry’s conversation with Iris after he’s suspended from the force thanks to DeVoe playing him like a violin. Admitting that he’s truly happy since returning from the Speed Force, Barry’s fears are based on having more to lose now more than ever. Iris reminds him that, as time goes, and children become a reality in their lives, they will continue to have more to lose. “You just have to live in the moment and face it as it comes.” I’ve been overly harsh on Iris’s character in the past but this season the writers have done a yeoman’s job fleshing her out. She’s become one of the strongest characters on the show.
- Though the Thinker has been billed as Barry’s greatest villain to date, I have a tough time thinking (hehe) he’s deadlier than the Reverse Flash. Considering Eobard Thawne was faster than Barry, was from the future, and knew how history was going to unfold, DeVoe’s limitless intelligence may be able to simulate many, if not most of what Thawne did (in some way, that is), projecting how events unfold will never be as certain as actually living through those events or traveling through time to experience them. I guess I’ll just have to wait and see.
- First Felicity and now Barry. That’s twice now that we’ve had Marvel character references on The Flash. Felicity referenced the Hulk two weeks ago, comparing Caitlin’s transformation to the ‘Big Guy’. Now Barry’s “Spidey senses are just tingling off the charts” as it related to DeVoe being the big bad. Well, those Spidey senses were correct. But more than that, it’s pretty cool seeing cross-references like that on competing properties.
The Flash: “Therefore I Am”