Ah, damn, looks like the villain on ‘The Flash’ has won and turned everyone on Earth stupid like he planned. Wait, this isn’t the finale? That’s next week? Why is super-speedy Barry just standing around and letting him monologue?
This week’s episode starts with a mini ‘Arrow’ crossover as John Diggle enters an A.R.G.U.S. black ops site called “The Castle.” Except that, it’s of course not really Diggle, but Clifford DeVoe impersonating him. Once inside, he takes delight in murdering countless soldiers by using all of his powers in creative and playful ways. He’s basically invincible at this point and loving it. Working his way into the heart of the facility, he finds the radioactive Neil Borman (a.k.a. Fallout) under lock and key.
Back in S.T.A.R. Labs, the team struggles to identify locations that DeVoe might launch his satellites from. (It turns out later that he can do it from just about anywhere.) Harry’s intelligence has degraded to the point that he’s pretty much a bumbling idiot. Iris’ blog is blowing up with reports of DeVoe and Marlize sightings, but Barry worries that she may be putting innocent citizens in harm’s way. Iris brushes off these concerns.
Barry rushes the real Diggle to the lab, learns about the break-in at the Castle, and rushes him right back. Cisco and Caitlin theorize that DeVoe is using Borman’s radioactivity as a power source for his satellites, and Cisco uses his science magic to determine that they have exactly 12 hours to stop him.
Unfortunately, the Castle is so secured that Barry can’t easily break into it. The primary obstacle is a series of high-voltage electrical plates on the floor. (If Barry can run up the side of a skyscraper, why couldn’t he just run along the wall to avoid the plates?) Barry then suggests that he can use the electricity from the plates to super-charge his speed, which should finally make him fast enough to enter DeVoe’s pocket dimension and follow him to his launching site. DeVoe has thought of this, of course, and is dangling hostages above the plates. If Barry gets too close, the hostages will drop onto the plates, and if he slows down to save them DeVoe will get away again.
Cisco and Caitlin believe that the best solution is for them to enter Flashtime with Barry so that they can rescue the hostages while he goes after DeVoe. Previously, Barry could only bring another person into flashtime by maintaining contact with them, but that rule gets conveniently discarded when Cisco discovers something called a “Speed Force Aura” that will allow Barry to extend flashtime even when not touching them. However, because they have so little experience in flashtime, Barry needs to train them first. Initial attempts go poorly when both Cisco and Caitlin lose control of their bodies and drop out of flashtime prematurely. Barry calls off further training because he worries that they’ll hurt themselves by falling down or slamming into something at super speed.
Barry and Cisco argue about this until Barry eventually relents and agrees to train them again. They run out of time before he can do that, however, and have to race to the Castle. Caitlin suits up in a new hero costume equipped with “ice shooters” in the wrists similar to Spider-Man’s web shooters. They get inside and enter flashtime. Barry absorbs the electricity from the floor plates as planned and leaps through DeVoe’s breach just before it closes. Caitlin and Cisco rescue the hostages without much fuss, leaving us wondering what the big deal was.
DeVoe pops out in the middle of Central City and tosses his satellites into the air, propelling them toward space with his powers. Right behind him, Barry runs up the side of a building and tosses a shard of Amunet’s special metal at one satellite, blowing it up before it gets away.
Barry is stunned. He did it. DeVoe needed all the satellites for his plan to work. Barry thinks he just saved the day.
DeVoe seems only mildly perturbed by this. He’s still cocky and speechifies about how the human race needs a reboot, and how much he hates emotion (especially love). Even though he has a prime opportunity right now to enter flashtime and capture DeVoe (or kill him), Barry simply stands there and lets him blather until DeVoe opens another pocket dimension breach and gets away once again.
As Cecile’s due date approaches, her psychic powers progress from merely reading people’s minds to adopting their personalities. This first manifests when she orders a pizza and suddenly turns into Jeff Spicoli because the delivery boy is a stoner moron.
Caitlin says that Cecile’s hormones are stretching her meta powers. Cecile turns into Caitlin for a few moments and later even turns into Joe.
Caitlin attends therapy to cope with the loss of Killer Frost. Apparently the only therapist in the city, Dr. Finkel suggests that Caitlin is suppressing memories of a childhood trauma. She really has no reason to suspect this, other than that it’s supposedly a thing that all psychologists get hung up on.
Caitlin conks her head during her flashtime training and indeed uncovers a repressed memory of being hit by a car as a child. What’s more, she sees a young Killer Frost’s face in a mirror. This means that Killer Frost has been part of her since long before the particle accelerator meltdown hit her with Dark Matter.
Home Is Where I Want to Be
While the rest of the team focuses on the Castle, Iris searches for Marlize. Despite his reduced mental capacity, Harry actually gives her good advice about considering Marlize’s feelings to understand where she would have gone. This points Iris to Marlize’s home in England from before she married DeVoe.
Harry believes they can turn Marlize to their side and get her to help defeat her husband, but Iris still feels resentment about Marlize stabbing her and vehemently objects. “You can’t save monsters,” she says.
Iris and Harry travel to England and confront Marlize. Even though she disagrees with his methods, Marlize says that she still believes in her husband’s plan for the Enlightenment. She notices Harry acting like a dummy and says that his brain is rebooting just like everyone else’s will soon. Iris sets aside her anger and makes a plea for Marlize to help them.
Barry barely has time to celebrate his victory before DeVoe breaks into S.T.A.R. Labs, locks himself in the Time Vault room, hacks Gideon to do his bidding, and takes over a S.T.A.R. Labs satellite to replace the one Barry shot down. He had a contingency plan all along. (Good thing Barry didn’t shoot down more than one satellite.) The team can do nothing to stop him. The Enlightenment has begun.
The episode gets off to a good start with DeVoe’s raid on the A.R.G.U.S. building. The action is well-choreographed, inventive, a lot of fun and just plain cool. Unfortunately, the plotting after that point has some issues. Barry makes a big deal out of needing to train Cisco and Caitlin in flashtime, and it seems at first that they’re terrible at it, but even though he doesn’t get to finish the training they somehow master it without much further effort.
Once again, Barry also fails to use his powers at a critical moment. DeVoe may seem invincible to attack, but none of his powers allow him to move as fast as Barry does. Just this season, an entire episode was devoted to Barry saving the city from a nuclear explosion in fractions of a second. While DeVoe is standing in front of him, Barry has every opportunity to grab him, whisk him to S.T.A.R. Labs, and lock him in the Pipeline before he even realizes what’s happening. But he doesn’t, for seemingly no reason other than we have another episode left this season and it’s too early to take out the villain.