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THE FLASH “Therefore I Am” Review

By on November 22, 2017

The Flash — “Therefore I Am” — Pictured (L-R) Kim Engelbrecht as Marlize DeVoe and Neil Sandilands as Clifford DeVoe — Photo: Dan Power/The CW

 

THE FLASH “THEREFORE I AM” REVIEW

 

By Justin Carter

 

It’s safe to say that over the last three years, The Flash has had something of a main villain problem. Each one was a different variation on “secretly evil speedster,” which was well told the first time, but had long worn out its welcome with last year’s Savitar. The Thinker is the first season Big Bad who lacks any super speed at all, instead trading that for a supreme intellect and powerful techno-chair. After Barry and Joe go to confront him at the end of last week’s episode, the resulting confrontation between Thinker and Team Flash is … something, to say the least.

Let it be said that Neil Sandilands, the man playing Thinker, definitely gives the right amount of innocence to go along with his genuine menace. His unassuming looks helps you think that this guy isn’t the threat he truly is, and his relationship with his wife Marlize does feel genuine in both the present day and in flashbacks. Much like Becky and her cosmically hilarious bad streak a few episodes ago, the flashbacks for pre-powers Devoe that paint him as a somewhat clumsy college teacher are well presented. In particular, the moment where he stands in the rain in the midst of the accelerator exploding is both a powerful and visually arresting moment that gives us that familiar pivotal scene from the perspective of a character who isn’t Barry. The reveal that his enhanced intelligence is ultimately what’s killing him is effective, and I would be lying if I said it wasn’t unsettling to watch his head get popped open so he could transfer into his techno-chair.

But even with that in mind, there’s no denying that the episode falls into the unfortunate trope of having a disabled character be evil because he’s disabled. An argument could be made that when doing this with Wells three seasons ago, he was already evil long before being disabled, creating a distinction between the two baddies. And there’s something…off about how the Devoes use his identity as a way to get everyone to turn against Barry, intentional or no.

It’s nice of Flash to get the forward momentum going on its season long arc so short in the game, but that also means that nearly everyone in the main cast needs to be nerfed down in terms of intelligence. Barry’s the only one really convinced that Devoe is Thinker, while everyone else is just taking the couple at their word that they’re normal. Given that these guys really have a bad track record in giving their villains the benefit of the doubt at first — Iris even tries to pass off Barry’s paranoia as pre-wedding jitters — it’s frustrating how no one really thinks that Barry is right until the very end.

The show tries to frame the majority of this as Barry being a paranoid weirdo and everyone rational, but we’ve already seen the Devoes be appropriately evil for the last five episodes. Kim Engelbrecht sells the fear of a normal woman learning someone broke into her home, but we’re just waiting for the other shoe to drop. When it comes and Devoe just stops screwing around to tell Barry he’s out of his league, it’s fine enough, even if his arrogance will surely lead to his defeat at the hands of Team Flash. (He’s evil, but also kind hearted enough to “let” Barry and Iris get married next week, because he understands science can’t exist without love.)

With his enhanced intelligence being his defining trait, it’s very possible that Thinker could just become a villain who views every setback as a victory for his larger grand scheme. Turning his life into a ticking time bomb may be the only way to really get around that in order to heighten the tension for when he’ll really bring out the big guns. With Marlize as the one behind his fancy chair and having two doctorates in robotics and engineering, it’s possible that Thinker’s a smokescreen and she’ll be the one to take the spotlight later in the season. They’re a deadly duo together, but something tells me that there’s more under the hood of the Mechanic than there is the Thinker.

Additional Notes

  • Oh hey, Wally’s back! And he…fought a telepathic starfish. Which apparently required the help of no other character with superpowers. (The implication is that the starfish is Starro, a mind controlling alien who’s actually pretty deadly and lead to the formation of the Justice League of America.)
  • Good on Barry for finally realizing the Samuroid head was bugged, but breaking into Devoe’s house and not considering cameras was a boneheaded move.
  • Hey, did you know Barry and Iris are getting married in a week? I sure didn’t!

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