Remember that very brief period after the Season 1 finale when it looked like Tom Cavanagh had been killed off and written out of ‘The Flash’? That didn’t stick for long, and these days the show is positively bursting with more Tom Cavanaghs than it knows what to do with.
In this week’s episode, Harry becomes obsessed with finding the identity of the villain named DeVoe that he and Barry believe is orchestrating the recent wave of meta-human attacks. When he can’t figure it out on his own, he consults with the smartest people he knows – himself(s). Via a hologram projector, he convenes a meeting with three other Harrison Wellses from alternate Earths. One is an effeminate German snob who has watched too many Mike Myers “Dieter” sketches on ‘SNL’; one is some sort of Hugh Hefner lothario doing a Matthew McConnaughey impersonation; and the last is a cyborg ‘Road Warrior’ outcast (complete with Australian accent) from a post-apocalyptic world. Cisco dubs this group the “Council of Wells.”
Each of them being just as pig-headed as regular Harry, all the Wellses mostly bicker and argue amongst themselves, accomplishing little until Cisco gives Harry a pep talk and convinces him to play nice with his friends.
Meanwhile, Barry gives Ralph lessons in superheroing. This starts on a comical note when an idiot criminal makes the mistake of trying to mug them, only to shoot himself in the butt with a bullet that bounces off Ralph’s rubbery body right back at him. Ralph doesn’t take Barry’s tutelage very seriously or pay much attention to his lectures about how saving innocent people should take priority over catching the bad guy.
Ralph claims that he can’t remember much about his fateful bus ride because he was hung over at the time. Hoping to clear up his memories and help them identify other passengers exposed to Dark Matter, Barry and Iris bring Ralph to their therapist. While under hypnosis, he remembers seeing a woman wearing a jacket with an image of a bison stitched on the back. This leads them to a Native American activist named Mina, who goes by the meta nickname Black Bison. Her power is the ability to bring inanimate objects that are shaped as effigies of people or animals to life. Trying to reclaim the three pieces of a sacred Sioux necklace that has fallen into the hands of white collectors who don’t respect it, Black Bison has no compunctions about murdering an auctioneer with a tiger statue and attacking a rich douchebag with a medieval suit of armor.
Cisco makes Ralph a super-suit with an infinite elasticity that can stretch with his body. Although excited at first, Ralph is sorely disappointed to find out that the costume is a sort-of mauve color and quite ugly. Barry brings him along when Black Bison tries to hijack an armored car. Ignoring Barry’s instructions to rescue bystanders first, Ralph focuses on trying to capture Black Bison and inadvertently causes a little girl to get hurt. For all that, Black Bison gets away anyhow. Ralph feels terrible guilt over this.
During an attempted museum heist, Black Bison brings a Tyrannosaurus skeleton to life. Ralph slows it down by wrapping himself around its snout. This gives Barry enough time to capture Mina. After she’s shipped off to Iron Heights, Barry learns that the necklace is still missing. As it turns out, Ralph mailed it to the Sioux people where it belongs. He’s actually sympathetic to Mina’s intentions, just not her methods. He also visits the little girl in the hospital (she’ll be fine) and makes balloon animals out of his hands. (This is seriously creepy. Does the hospital allow any creep who walks though the door into the room with a child patient?)
Finally, the Council of Wells determines that DeVoe’s full name is Clifford DeVoe. Barry, Harry and the team head straight for his house, and are flummoxed to discover that this Clifford DeVoe is a man in a wheelchair. Because they assume people in wheelchairs can’t be villains, I guess?
The writing staff is obviously working very hard this season to make the show seem breezy and funny again. Some of it works and some feels forced. I like the idea of the Council of Wells, but the three other Harrys are too silly and cartoonish. Barry’s frustration with taking on Ralph as a protégé is better, but the big lesson Ralph has to learn this week is quite heavy-handed.
I also question whether it’s a good idea to make the meta-human criminal this week a minority whose legitimate gripe about cultural appropriation is undermined by portraying her as a full-on murderous sociopath. What kind of message is that supposed to send?