‘The Flash’ finally fills us in on evil genius The Thinker’s end game and the brilliant diabolical plan he intends to make that happen. Honestly, it’s pretty dumb.
This week’s episode spends a lot of time in flashback to show us Clifford DeVoe’s evolution into The Thinker and how Marlize came to be his wife and henchwoman. We start at Oxford, where Marlize is speaking on a discussion panel about how technology can bring a new age of enlightenment to the world. Her cranky colleague DeVoe interrupts and contradicts her with a very pessimistic outlook about mankind’s reliance on technology being its downfall. This is not exactly the sort of meet-cute that should kick off an enduring love story. Frankly, it’s mystifying what Marlize would ever see in this jerk.
Nevertheless, we next find them on a picnic date, where Marlize’s resistance to the arrogant ass is breaking. She seems like a nice woman with a sensible head on her shoulders. What’s the attraction here?
Before you know it, they’re in a relationship and moving in together. While unpacking, Marlize discovers a journal Clifford had written, and is greatly disturbed when she finds it to be a Unabomber-style manifesto about the evils of technology and the modern world. When she confronts him about it, DeVoe launches into a diatribe about how true enlightenment can only come by “rebooting the masses’ brains.” He sounds so crazy that Marlize breaks up with him.
Some time later, Marlize is working in the Peace Corps, building a water purifier for a small African village. DeVoe calls on a satellite phone, distraught without her, and begs her to take him back. She resists, but their conversation is interrupted when Marlize’s camp is attacked by corrupt militia forces.
Marlize (obviously) survives. DeVoe rushes to her side in the hospital. Marlize declares that watching the militia slaughter a village over the piece of technology she brought to it allowed her to see the truth of Clifford’s belief system. She also now believes that technology is nothing but a destructive force in the world.
Cisco receives a message from Gypsy pressuring him to give her dad an answer about taking over as Breacher. He doesn’t respond because he’s afraid to tell her that he doesn’t want the job.
While repeatedly failing to find a way to bring Killer Frost out of Caitlin again, Harry becomes so forgetful that Barry and the rest of the team notice. He then has no choice but to confess that his intelligence is fading.
DeVoe and Marlize break into a high-tech steel mill and steal something called Alloy 1771. In the process, DeVoe murders a young security guard by forcing him to turn his gun on himself. Marlize continues to be troubled by the way her husband cavalierly harms the innocent with no hesitation or regret.
Joe, Barry and Cisco arrive at the scene the next day and determine that Alloy 1771 is the basis of a special type of solar panel that can magnify any energy it absorbs from the sun by 400%. (That’s scientifically impossible, of course, but never mind…) Barry wants Cisco to vibe on the security guard’s gun to get a sense of what DeVoe is up to, but Cisco resists, remembering how badly his previous attempts to vibe anything to do with DeVoe have gone. He says that he’d need to double his powers to even try. Barry quickly jumps on that by suggesting he bring in Gypsy to help. Unhappily, Cisco agrees.
When Gypsy arrives, she and Cisco co-vibe on the gun and see a shipping container at the city docks. Believing they finally have the jump on DeVoe, Barry, Cisco and Gypsy portal over there. Unfortunately, Cisco and Gypsy had the right place but the wrong shipping container. Also, DeVoe expected them and set a trap to trick Barry into running straight into a portal to the Arctic Circle. He then blasts Cisco and Gypsy before they can attack him, and escapes with whatever booty he came for. He’s gone by the time Barry runs back from the Arctic.
Joe asks Harry to distract Cecille for a while but won’t tell him why, because Cecille can read minds now. Harry brings her into the lab with an excuse about needing to recalibrate her brainwave blocker device. This quickly leads to Cecille noticing that Harry is losing his intelligence. What’s more, she can tell that the more he tries to use his brain, the faster it degenerates. That sounds like really bad news. However, Cecille also realizes that she can read Harry’s thoughts before they disappear, allowing her to act as an interpreter for ideas that he’s no longer capable of expressing.
A series of further lab thefts leave Barry and the team puzzled, because the various pieces of tech stolen don’t seem to go together. They can’t figure out what DeVoe is trying to build, until they eventually determine that he’s not building just one thing, but multiple separate things. Specifically, he’s building a bunch of satellites, and will need a quantum computer to coordinate them all.
With this information, the team once again race off to confront and attack DeVoe. This time, they seem to catch him by surprise. Cisco and Gypsy have some success knocking him back, and Caitlin freezes him with the spare cold gun. With all of his combined abilities, though, DeVoe is just too powerful to stop. He overcomes them all and threatens to kill Gypsy.
Finally reaching the point where she can take no more, Marlize demands that her husband stop. When he won’t, she tells him she won’t watch him become a monster and tries to walk away. This really pisses DeVoe off, and he forces her to turn around and watch. She finally gets through to him a little, fortunately, pleading with her husband, “Is this truly the lesson you wish to bestow today?” In a huff, DeVoe releases Gypsy and storms back to his pocket dimension with Marlize in tow.
Working together, Harry and Cecille believe they’ve figured out DeVoe’s plan for the so-called “Enlightenment.” His satellites will turn everyone on Earth stupid, leaving him the only intelligent person to rule the world.
Cisco admits to Gypsy that he doesn’t want to take her father’s job, and she admits that she didn’t want him to either. Sadly, this leaves their relationship with an insurmountable obstacle. Cisco wants more than the occasional visits across Earths, but can’t ask Gypsy to leave her job for him. Cisco drops her off on Earth-19 and they break up.
Trying to bring a little happiness to everybody’s misery, Joe reveals that he wanted Harry to keep Cecille busy so he could throw her a baby shower. This lightens most people’s moods for a little bit, except Cisco, who mopes through the party. The doorbell rings with a package delivery, and it’s the nervous nerdy girl we’ve seen periodically throughout the season. Not only does she drop another hint that she knows more about Team Flash than she should, we learn that she’s another speedster.
In the pocket dimension, Marlize takes a stand against her husband. She commandeers his fancy chair and protects herself with a forcefield. DeVoe is not pleased by her disobedience.
The fact that Marlize would eventually turn against her husband has been telegraphed for quite a while this season, so that comes as no surprise. I assume she’ll have to be instrumental in defeating him. This episode tries to humanize Marlize and rationalize DeVoe’s actions, but I have a hard time buying the details of their backstory, especially Marlize’s quick turnaround to blaming the concept of technology in a general sense for the incident with the water purifier. How can DeVoe and Marlize believe that turning everyone on Earth stupid will make anything better, rather than even worse? Even if DeVoe doesn’t really care about humanity and just wants to rule the world, would he really be happy lording over a planet full of idiots?
Also, has no one pointed out the hypocrisy that DeVoe and Marlize rely on a shit-ton of fancy technology for literally everything they’ve done so far? How do a couple of college professors afford all that junk, anyway?