“Remember who you are, Ralph; a hero.”
It’s finally here: the Enlightenment. Clifford DeVoe—the Thinker—is on the cusps of his dream to reset humanity; to save them from the perils of technology and to lead them into a new age of prosperity.
I’ll say this: his plan is nothing if not ambitious. But like all (or most) supervillains, he will fail because he is missing the one thing the heroes have in spades.
[Sorry, forgot this isn’t a review of a Fast and Furious movie]
No, DeVoe may possess the conviction that his is ‘The Way’ but he lacks the support of others. Stolen powers don’t count.
From the start, this season’s The Flash finale seems as if it’s loaded for bear, ready to deliver the goods on a hard hitting finale. Unfortunately, it’s also obvious that there’s just too much going on and there’s no way a satisfyingly coherent story will be told. In the first five minutes, we have the first consequences of the Enlightenment assaulting Central City (and, presumably, the world), Cecile going into labor, and Marlize offering the solution to stopping DeVoe—having Barry enter his mind and finding the good within him. Sure, on the surface, three plotlines that are so intimately interconnected wouldn’t seem to be an overload but it’s the chaotic nature of the script that takes away from what could have been an epic conclusion of the Thinker arc.
That’s not to say that “We are the Flash” is a failure. It’s a halfway decent season ender that expertly sets the table for next year’s Central City shenanigans and even delivers a few heartfelt moments. What it does not do is tell a streamlined narrative or even a true ‘holy crap’ moment, a la Supernatural’s Season 13 cliffhanger. The Thinker’s demise, though we all knew was going to happen was just as underwhelming as the villain himself. This is through no fault of the actor. Neil Sandilands plays his character with an arrogance that, while not likable, is somewhat admirable. Once he hijacked Ralph’s body, that confidence went through the roof and Sandilands’s villainous strut offered the presence of an unlikable and formidable black hat. Where his character failed was the lack of punch to many of his monologues. Bland and uninteresting, they failed to take advantage of an excellent actor and passable, if not unique, villain. Worse than his show arc though was his demise.
As mentioned, with the help of Cecile’s telepathy and Marlize’s technological know-how, Team Flash is able to toss Barry into DeVoe’s mind. His search for the good in DeVoe does offer one of the better feel good moments: Ralph’s consciousness/persona. It turns out that Ralph is the key as his existence is the only good aspect of DeVoe left. More importantly, if Ralph is able to cross the nexus of DeVoe’s mind, he’ll retake control of his body and expel DeVoe. It’s not surprising to see the white hats win the round but the battle inside DeVoe’s mind is boring but not without a geeky moment or two.
Yet, even in defeat, DeVoe refuses to go away quietly. After stopping the Enlightenment, the team is faced with the Thinker’s fail safe: cascading a satellite down to Earth with enough mass to cause an extinction level event. This secondary plan is a testament to DeVoe’s true nature: so sickened by technology and humanity as it was, he’d rather destroy it all than to see it continue as-is. Does this lessen DeVoe’s convictions? Maybe, maybe not. What it does do is put a capstone on the reign (albeit temporary) of a villain whose potential could have been so much more.
With all the criticism, one would think “We are the Flash” is a clunker. It’s not that, just one of those hours of television that fumbled its potential. Also, it delivers a message both good and somewhat disingenuous. It’s been hinted at for some time that DeVoe’s fatal flaw was his interdependence of facts and knowledge alone. The season’s through line seems to be that technology or intelligence without an emotional backbone can lead to ruin. Yes, lacking any sort of emotional lodestone allowed DeVoe to see people as nothing but biological computer systems in need of a reset. Never once does he acknowledge mankind’s freedom to choose their fate or the implications of wiping the minds of billions. Just as dangerous though is allowing emotion to dictate your actions. People often react emotionally to circumstances and many times said reaction can have debilitating consequences to them and others. It’s a blend of both emotion and intelligence that is the key. Facts and science may guide us but we can never lose ourselves to the information, lest those around us will cease to be living, breathing souls and nothing more than ones and zeroes.
- While the Thinker’s defeat was wholly underwhelming, there were a few moments of cool within it. Ralph’s resurrection was the best of the bunch, as was the plethora of pop culture references. The Agent Smiths/Thinker vs Flash/Ralph was straight from The Matrix trilogy. Dibny also references the nexus as the “Hellmouth”, one of a couple nice homages included to Buffy the Vampire Slayer. An Inception reference or two, some Attack of the Clones jibes…well, you get the picture.
- As with all things, balance is key. Harry’s journey from the cantankerous genius to the more wholly balanced intelligent man ran parallel to the entire season’s philosophy of combining intelligence and emotional connection. Unfortunately for Harry, to gain more of the latter, he lost much of the former. By no means is he dumb now, but he’s not the genius we’ve come to know. Though he’s still able to throw out movie references. His “you have, and will always be…my friend” was straight from Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan. He may be returning to Earth-2 but I’m sure he’ll be back next season.
- So we finally got the “this house is bitchin’” line. Not only does the mystery girl say it but she also helps save the day when Barry needs to destroy the falling satellite before it destroys the world. It turns out that she’s Nora West and she will be integral to next season because, as she said, she’s “made a big, big mistake”. Speedsters and time travel—they never go together.
- Speaking ofS eason 5, Cecile’s mention of “Thomas” to Caitlin hints at a mystery in Ms. Snow’s backstory. We recently discovered that Killer Frost has always been a part of Caitlin so this ‘Thomas’, does he have something to do with that revelation? I’d think he’d have to and will be an integral part into Caitlin rediscovering her alter ego.
The Flash: “We are the Flash”