The Flash 4.23

‘The Flash’ 4.23 Recap: “There Will Be No Defeating the Big Bad This Year, Mr. Allen”

As the culmination of a very messy, frustrating season, this week’s finale episode of ‘The Flash’ seemed almost doomed to be unsatisfying. Then again, haven’t all of this show’s finale episodes to date been unsatisfying?

While picking up a coffee at Jitters, Capt. Singh calls Barry to tell him the good news that he’s figured out a way to give him his job back. Given that the only reason Barry doesn’t have a job currently is that all his co-workers thinks he murdered Clifford DeVoe, shouldn’t the widely-disseminated public knowledge that Clifford DeVoe is not only still alive but a supervillain be enough for people to cut Barry some slack?

Singh’s call is interrupted by a city-wide power blackout. More like an EMP, it not only takes down the city’s power grid but any device that uses electricity. Purple lights fill the sky. The public begins to panic. When Cecile starts having labor contractions, Joe brings her to the lab because he can’t get to a hospital. Caitlin assures him that she has everything necessary to deliver a baby. Cisco gets some emergency power running in the lab.

Cisco also determines that Harry’s Thinking Cap was tampered with, and deduces that DeVoe intentionally rigged it to make Harry lose his intelligence as a guinea pig for his brain rebooting process.

Having convinced Marlize to help the good guys, Iris brings her to the lab. Marlize tells everyone that the only way to defeat her husband is for Barry to insert himself into DeVoe’s mind (which is a thing we’re just supposed to accept is possible) and find the good in him, the man DeVoe used to be before he turned evil. Cecile’s psychic power will be necessary to do this. They have to hurry, because the Enlightenment will truly kick in and turn everyone stupid as soon as a “Permeation Grid” counter hits 100%.

Marlize hooks Barry and Cecile up to a “trans-cranial link” and Barry sits in DeVoe’s fancy chair (which Marlize stole from him). The process begins and Barry immediately finds himself in a black-and-white flashback to the incident that created all the bus metas. He doesn’t see a good DeVoe anywhere, but he does spot the evil Thinker version skulking around in his chair. Barry hides from him. The team is able to communicate with Barry and they advise him to go to DeVoe’s house. He finds the place completely empty, stripped clean even of furniture.

Barry loses contact with the team briefly when Cecile has a contraction. Marlize warns that if Cecile gives birth, she’ll lose her psychic powers and Barry will be stranded in DeVoe’s mind. Caitlin administers a drug to suppress further contractions. From out of nowhere, Cecile blurts out in a voice that doesn’t seem to be her own, “I’ve found Thomas. He’s been this way all the time.” Noboby has any idea what that’s about. It’s pretty weird.

Rapidly losing what’s left of his intelligence, Harry begs Cisco to hook him up to the Thinking Cap one more time. Pitying him, Cisco agrees. The cap works for a minute, enough for Harry to come up with an idea to have Barry search for the good DeVoe at the place where he fell in love with Marlize. Then the cap shorts out and Harry returns to a state of near catatonia.

With this tip, Marlize directs Barry to race through DeVoe’s memories and search at Oxford, where she and DeVoe had their first picnic date. Once again, Barry comes up empty handed. However, he finds Ralph Dibny wandering around. (He seems to be wet for some reason that’s not explained.) Barry is elated to see him again. Ralph says that he’s never seen a good DeVoe, but the evil one comes to torment him regularly.

On that cue, the Thinker arrives on the scene. As with everything, he fully predicted and prepared for this eventuality and knows what Barry is up to. He shoots at Barry and Ralph with weapons from his chair. Barry scoops up Ralph and races him away.

While fighting a mental battle with Barry, DeVoe also busts into S.T.A.R. Labs to attack the rest of the team. Marlize blocks him with a forcefield and transports everyone else to hide in a pocket dimension.

Barry and Ralph finally locate the good DeVoe at his teaching job, but they’re too late. He’s already been murdered by the evil version. There is no more good in DeVoe. He’ll never be reasoned with. Ralph tells Barry to return back to the rest of the team, but Barry promises not to leave him. Theorizing that DeVoe needed to keep Ralph’s consciousness alive and a prisoner in order to control his body, Barry formulates a new plan. If they can get to the nexus of DeVoe’s mind, Ralph should be able to take back his body, killing DeVoe.

Foreseeing this as well, DeVoe confronts Barry and Ralph, bringing along a whole bunch of copies of himself a la Agent Smith in the ‘Matrix’ sequels. At first, Barry and Ralph can’t fight them off because DeVoe can read their minds and anticipate their attacks. Ralph then suggests that they act without thinking – his specialty. Distracting themselves with thoughts of other things, they battle back multiple DeVoes.

After getting everyone to DeVoe’s lab in the pocket dimension, Marlize moves the whole place to another pocket dimension. That’s not enough to evade DeVoe for long, unfortunately. He eventually catches up with them and throws everybody around, then strangles Cecile.

Barry carries Ralph through a crowd of thousands of DeVoe clones, knocking them out of the way with his speed. They race up to the big glowing red nexus thing and leap through it just in time before DeVoe kills Cecile.

DeVoe loses control over his/Ralph’s body and flails around. Marlize gloats that it was the team’s emotional attachment to Ralph that defeated him – emotions being DeVoe’s biggest weakness. Ralph then regains full control over his body and pops it back into its original shape. DeVoe is gone.

Marlize halts the Enlightenment process just as the Permeation Grid hits 99.8%. The satellites shut down. Power comes back on in the city. The sky returns to its normal color. The Enlightenment has been canceled. And what timing too, Cecile’s water breaks.

Lest they celebrate prematurely, DeVoe’s chair activates by itself and a hologram of DeVoe appears. It’s unclear to me whether he transferred his consciousness to the chair or if this is just a pre-recorded message he left in the event of his defeat, but probably the former as he calls it a “technological reincarnation.” Whatever the case, it’s short-lived. Marlize pulls the plug on the chair and the hologram vanishes. That seems too easy.

Just then, warning alarms go off. One of the satellites is decaying from orbit and will crash back to Earth. Worse, DeVoe had used his power to embiggen it to 1,000 times its original size. The computer labels this an extinction level event. That’s bad.

Of course, the satellite is falling directly toward Central City, because where else would it go? Cisco calculates that they have three minutes to evacuate the entire city, which seems pretty pointless when there’s nowhere for anyone to go if the whole human race is about to be wiped out. It’s damned difficult too, as most of the populace just stand around gawking while big chunks of flaming debris rain down on their heads.

Barry races around the city as fast as he can to build up enough momentum for the biggest speed-punch he’s ever delivered. He then runs up a skyscraper and lunges through the air toward the falling satellite. Just before he hits it, time freezes and reverses, returning Barry back to ground level. This time as he runs, the lightning trail of another speedster follows his own. When Barry’s fist hits the satellite, so does someone else’s.

The satellite explodes into a million pieces. The city is saved. (Uhhh… not really, guys.) An exhausted Barry runs down another building back to the ground, his suit in tatters. The crowd around him cheers for the Flash, once again the hero of Central City.

Dénouement

Cecile gives birth to a healthy three-month-old baby. (Seriously, there’s no way that huge kid is a newborn.) Marlize gives Cisco a device that she says will restore Harry’s brain, then announces that she’s going to return to her original goal of trying to use technology to heal the world, not destroy it. Barry tells Iris about the mysterious second speedster who helped him smash the satellite.

Cisco attaches Marlize’s device to the Thinking Cap and fires it up on Harry. After a moment, Harry’s eyes brighten and he seems to be back to normal. Not quite, though. He’s no longer a genius and doesn’t understand science anymore. Cisco is confounded but Harry doesn’t mind at all. He seems happy, even joyous, and says that he’s finally found “balance” in his life. He thanks everyone and then abruptly announces that he’s returning to Earth-2 to see his daughter. Is this the last we’ll see of Harry?

Cecile returns home from the hospital and everyone throws her a party. Even Wally pays a visit to celebrate and meet his new sister, named Jenna Marie West.

Unexpectedly, someone else knocks at the door. It’s the nerdy girl who’s been stalking Barry all season. She barges in saying that they need to talk, then looks around and declares, “This house is bitchin’.” (Callback!) Seeing her again, everyone remembers her previous appearances, but nobody knows who this strange girl is. She appears to be wearing one of Iris’ jackets, and claims that Iris gave it to her. Iris has no idea what she’s talking about.

Finally, the girl introduces herself as Nora. She’s Barry and Iris’ daughter from the future, and she needs their help because she thinks she’s made “a big, big mistake.”

Episode Verdict

Honestly, this finale is pretty much OK. It’s probably the best season finale the show has had to date, but that’s faint praise since all three of the prior finales were disasters. It’s definitely still not great.

I can nitpick the hell out of it if I want to. The ‘Inception’ stuff comes from out of nowhere. That the key to defeating DeVoe relies on it seems like a big cheat. The big red “nexus” of DeVoe’s mind is a lame idea, poorly executed. Don’t even get me started on the physics of Barry punching the gigantic satellite. Even if he did destroy it, the debris from that should still be catastrophic. Yet it all seems to just vanish in a magical puff.

The part that I find really galling is the fact that Marlize is allowed to simply go on her own way at the end so long as she promises to be good from now on. The woman was, at a minimum, an accessory to multiple murders and a planned genocide. You don’t get to walk away from that!

Even so, I’m willing to let most of that go. The episode is entertaining on the whole.

Save for the terrific ‘Enter Flashtime‘ episode, this season was largely a mess. I don’t really expect the next one to be better, but one can always hope.

1 comment

  1. Guy

    Worst season, second worst finale for me. This one flowed by with me feeling pretty meh about the whole affair, but S2’s finale made me actively angry. So kudos for producing something numbing rather than incensing, Flash staff. That’s apparently your bar now. I do find the possibilities with Nora interesting, so at least the S5 teasing landed. I just wish Ralph hasn’t come back though we all knew he would.

    Similarly, Arrow had an amazingly disastrous fourth season on both plotting and character levels yet managed to bounce back with a great fifth season, one that featured the show’s finest villain. Flash S4 may be the worst season any Arrowverse show has produced, so the swing would be extreme, but Legends went from a show I barely tolerated its first two seasons to the best of the four shows in 2017-18. The quality of these Berlanti shows make no damn sense from year-to-year. That means there’s always hope…yet also plenty to fear. It’ll probably get better, but could it get worse?

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