In ‘The Flash’ recap we learn how Clifford DeVoe became ‘The Thinker’ and Barry’s attempts to expose him turn from need to obsession…
By Damon Martin — Editor/Lead Writer
All season long ‘The Flash’ has been skewed more towards the fun and frolicky adventures as the team faced off with a meta-human of the week once again but the latest episode turned a bit darker as Barry confronted his big bad in season 4 and his name is ‘The Thinker’.
Perhaps it’s because of the flashbacks to the night the particle accelerator exploded in Central City or due to the real origin story attached to the villain this year with no mystery surrounding his identity, this felt like the strongest episode yet of the season.
DeVoe isn’t like all of the other enemies who have gunned for Barry in the past because he’s not looking to out run the fastest man alive. He’s trying to out think him and that’s an entirely new premise.
In fact, DeVoe is so smart that he calculates Barry’s every reaction all the way until he finally reveals himself as the big bad but he’s still got plenty of secrets.
Like why is ‘The Thinker’ targeting Barry in the first place? We’ve got a theory about that one as well.
With that said, let’s recap the latest episode of ‘The Flash’ titled ‘Therefore I Am’…
How Does It Feel to Be the Enemy?
This week’s episode picks up right where we left off with Barry and Joe showing up to interrogate Clifford DeVoe after the ‘Council of Wells’ determined him to be the most likely candidate to fulfill the role of super villain.
Of course, Barry and Joe are taken back to see Clifford bound to a wheelchair with his wife Marlize taking care of him. The two gingerly ask about any possible connection to the new meta-humans that were created after he escaped the Speed Force but of course DeVoe denies knowing any of them outside of the ‘Black Bison’ because she used to be a professor alongside him at Central City University.
DeVoe says all the right things and there’s not much that Barry and Joe can do to connect him to the wave of attacks in Central City so they are forced to leave without any real answers. Still, Barry has an uneasy feeling that DeVoe is hiding something and he’s not convinced that this isn’t the enemy they’ve been trying to find.
Barry decides to take the investigation into his own hands as he visits DeVoe at work after one of his classes at the university. Barry continues to slyly ask DeVoe questions, trying to get him to slip up in any way that would give up the fact that he’s the mastermind behind these meta-humans being created but once again he’s too smart to say anything incriminating.
Thanks to his super speed, Barry is able to swipe a coffee cup from DeVoe to take back to STAR Labs for testing to see if perhaps he’s a meta-human. Unfortunately, Caitlin confirms that he’s just a regular human with no DNA characteristics shared with a meta-human. Barry is stumped but still convinced that DeVoe is their man.
The next day at work, Barry walks into a meeting already in progress as the DeVoe’s have filed a complaint with the Central City Police Department over continued harassment from their CSI tech. Barry is warned to stay away from Clifford and Marlize DeVoe but the fact that they showed up only serves to infuriate him even more than he’s getting closer to the truth.
Back at the lab, Barry hears a strange buzzing sound coming from the Samaroid head that’s been sitting in there ever since he defeated the robot back in the first episode of the season. Barry dismantles it and finds a camera inside and now he’s convinced that DeVoe has been watching them this entire time.
Barry races over to the DeVoe house and phases his way through the door after seeing Marlize leave in her car. Barry tries to search for answers, but Marlize returns before he can dig too much. He leaves in a hurry but the next day at work he’s drawn back into his captain’s office where Barry finds the DeVoe’s once again filing a complaint after showing proof that he broke into their home the night before.
Barry knows he’s been played like an instrument but Clifford and Marlize are playing the victim so well that nobody believes him. Marlize even slaps Barry across the face as they leave because she’s so outraged with his continued harassment. Barry gets suspended for two weeks with a threat that continued action like this could get him kicked off the force.
With all of Team Flash convinced that Barry is stepping over the line from paranoid to flat out obsessed, it’s only Iris who is able to walk him back from the edge.
Barry explains that he’s been so overjoyed since returning from the Speed Force that he’s scared that an encounter with another ominous villain could put him back in the same dark place where he lived through Zoom and Savitar. Iris promises no matter what gets thrown at them that they will face it together because they are the Flash.
That all makes Barry feel better but he still can’t give up this terrible suspicion that Clifford DeVoe is hiding far more under the surface that no one can see.
In a series of flashbacks, we learn how Clifford DeVoe transformed from a mild-mannered history professor into ‘The Thinker’ and it all started with his desire to access parts of his brain that had never been used before.
It seems DeVoe was not satisfied with just being an intellectual but instead he wanted desperately to be the smartest, fastest thinking man on Earth but the only way to get there was to build a device that would allow him to access his brain to its full capacity. To reach that goal, DeVoe needs his wife Marlize to build his invention — ‘the thinking cap’ — which will allow him to achieve these goals.
It’s clear throughout these flashbacks that DeVoe may be the brain but he’s nothing without his wife by his side. She’s as much a part of this plan as anything DeVoe has devised thus far.
When Marlize finally constructs the thinking cap, she runs into a problem — there’s no electrical source on Earth strong enough to power the device. Thankfully, Dr. Harrison Wells was just about to introduce his particle accelerator to the world at STAR Labs and that’s exactly what Clifford needs to turn his thinking cap from fantasy into reality.
We return to that day four years ago when Wells held a press conference to introduce his scientific marvel and we find out that DeVoe and his wife were both there with questions. Wells, as sinister as ever because he’s actually Eobard Thawne, smirks at the couple and even acknowledges DeVoe’s work and how he’s going to be an incredible influence on the future.
Perhaps that’s a nod to DeVoe’s eventual rivalry with the Flash considering Thawne had already seen this play out seeing how he’s from the future.
DeVoe and his wife know that Wells’ particle accelerator is going to fail but they need the explosion to power his thinking camp. As dark matter washes over Central City creating hundreds of meta-humans — including the Flash — DeVoe is also transformed through a bolt of lightning from the explosion that turns on the thinking camp and ignites parts of his brain he never thought possible before.
Back at home, DeVoe is solving theories and hypotheses that have boggled scientists for centuries but just when it looks like he’s about to solve the world’s problems with his powerful mind, he collapses on the ground in a full blown convulsion.
At the doctor’s office, Devoe is diagnosed with advanced ALS — Lou Gehrig’s disease — but his body is deteriorating at a rate much faster than this disease typically cripples a human. DeVoe figures out that his brain is drawing so much power from his body to function now that his mind is literally killing him. It’s only a matter of years before DeVoe is completely wasted away in mind, body and spirit.
That’s when DeVoe devises his next master plan — a chair built by his wife Marlize that will allow him to continue to function and stay alive long enough to figure out a way to cheat certain death. The disease continues to eat away at DeVoe’s body, which is how he ended up in a wheelchair, but he’s confident that this new strategy will give him new life and that’s where he begins plotting against the Flash.
The Fastest Mind Alive
Despite being warned off from dealing with Clifford DeVoe by his bosses at the Central City P.D. as well as all his friends telling him that he’s paranoid for no reason, Barry takes one last stab at visiting the man who he believes actually is his arch nemesis.
This time, DeVoe comes clean with his true identity — while also revealing that he knows Barry is actually the Flash. DeVoe taunts Barry with how much he knows about him and his encounters with past villains such as Zoom and Savitar. While Barry may be the fastest man alive, he’s not ready to deal with the fastest mind alive and that’s what DeVoe possesses.
DeVoe promises no matter how Barry tries to beat him, he’ll be ready to out think him at every turn. When Barry finally turns to leave, DeVoe wishes him well on his upcoming nuptials with his wedding to Iris only one week away.
Back at STAR Labs, Barry tells the rest of Team Flash that DeVoe finally confessed to his true identity and Cisco gives him the name ‘The Thinker’ but the problem is no one knows for certain what he’s planning to do next or his ultimate goal in targeting the Flash. Thankfully the team will have some extra muscle as Wally shows back up after his soul searching exodus a few weeks back.
As for DeVoe, he gets back into his chair after his body is weakened from being away from it for too long. It’s an elaborate device that literally plugs into his brain before attaching itself to his body.
Clifford and Marlize sit and watch Barry and Iris from a video screen as she asks why he’s allowing them to go through with getting married. Clifford responds by saying what is knowledge without love.
By this point it seems abundantly clear what Clifford DeVoe has in mind for Barry Allen. Because Clifford’s mind draws power away from the rest of his body, he needs to heal faster and that’s exactly what Barry’s meta-human power allows him to do. My guess is DeVoe plans to either transfer his consciousness into Barry’s body, which would allow his mind to thrive without his body failing. The other idea is that DeVoe plans on stealing Barry’s abilities so that his body will be able to heal itself faster than his brain can destroy it.
Whatever the end result, DeVoe has plans for Barry Allen and none of it is good.
‘The Flash’ returns next week as part of the four-episode crossover ‘Crisis on Earth-X’ that centers around Barry and Iris’ wedding when invaders from another parallel universe decide to interrupt.