‘The Flash’ 4×09 Review: ‘Don’t Run’

When it comes to midseason finales, you’re expecting it to go down. You know there’s going to be a cliffhanger. You know something is going to seem beyond hopeless. You know that the bad guy, for however a short time, is going to feel victorious.

But in The Flash’s midseason finale, titled “Don’t Run,” it almost seemed like we weren’t heading down that path for a while. Usually, things start happy and end badly. But “Don’t Run” started off with the abductions of Barry and Caitlin, respectively, and it seemed as if we were looking at their journey back to Team Flash as a way to wrap our flashy Christmas.

But when you start feeling good, when you start feeling comfortable, that’s when shit usually hits the fan. As per usual.

In the final moments of The Flash’s final hour of 2017, things went from merry to confusing to upsetting to downright floored as we saw DeVoe’s plan begin to play out.

While it seemed as if Team Flash had rid themselves of DeVoe — they should’ve known better — Barry got a call about a security breach in the loft. When he arrived, all appeared well. Until a phone call from our new meta friend Dominic sent us spiraling. That’s right, DeVoe found his new body. Not only is DeVoe the smartest man alive, he’s now inside the body of a freaking telepath. How does this guy get so damn lucky?!

Oh, but the fun didn’t stop here. The Flash set up a huge storyline for the new year as DeVoe left Barry a Christmas gift in the form of his old body left bleeding with a knife riddled with Barry’s fingerprints. And just in case you thought Barry was the fastest man alive, the CCPD arrived much quicker than expected which left Barry with two options: leave the body and flee or stay and let them find DeVoe’s dead body at his feet. While the former was appealing, Barry remembered the promise he made to Iris: No more running.

So he stayed. And he was arrested. But he didn’t run away even though that would’ve been incredibly easy to do. It would’ve been the easy way out. Perhaps DeVoe was counting on Barry fleeing town? Well, perhaps Barry just put the first notch in DeVoe’s expectations.

Can we talk about the wonderful character growth?! Considering Barry’s biggest flaw over these past few seasons has been his selfishness, he did the selfless thing in leaving himself subjected to jail time for a murder he didn’t commit set up by a psychopath set to destroy the world. He decided to own up to what is happening trusting in the truth of what actually happened. The guilty run. The cowards run. The innocent stay. The heroic stay.

Let’s further break down this midseason finale, including discussion about the good and bad of a hero’s secret identity, the mistreatment of women in this universe, and how Barry and co. can possibly defeat the smartest man alive that also happens to now be telepathic.

 

The Secret Identity Crisis

Arrow — “Crisis on Earth-X, Part 2” — AR608a_0168b.jpg — Pictured: Grant Gustin as Barry/The Flash — Photo: Jack Rowand/The CW — © 2017 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved

The final moments of The Flash’s midseason finale set the stage for what’s sure to be a dramatic start to the New Year for Barry Allen. We watched as DeVoe so impressively outsmarted Barry to the point where he had him walk into his own crime scene; where he was eventually arrested for the murder of DeVoe, who is alive and well inside the body of telepathic meta Dominic.

Joke’s on Barry.

From watching the preview for the midseason premiere, Barry is encouraged to come clean as The Flash in order to strengthen his reputation and good name. You know, reveal his secret identity and put his loved ones in the middle of harm’s way. But is that something that Barry would actually do?

There has yet to be a hero openly reveal that they are indeed The Flash or Green Arrow or Supergirl. While it appears Oliver Queen is getting dangerously close to that admittance, it’s something that hasn’t been done in this universe yet. And for good reason.

For Barry, revealing his true identity puts a target on the back of every person he knows. If the villains know who to target, they can easily get their way with Barry. It’s all about knowing your opponent’s weakness. And the one thing that some of these lesser known villains haven’t been able to uncover is The Flash’s true identity.

But what if Barry did decide to come clean about him being The Flash? He’d surely be embraced by Central City and commended for his heroics. He’d surely be let off the hook in regards to DeVoe’s murder. Perhaps he’d get more help.

But the reason why a hero’s secret identity is never revealed isn’t only because they want to keep their loved one’s safe. A hero stands for something. For justice, for hope, for protection, for strength. People don’t usually bother to wonder who’s underneath the mask. They see that mask as a symbol of what they look for in their city’s guardian.

Heroes aren’t about stealing the spotlight. They’re not actively wandering the streets taking in all the perks that come with being a hero. Heroes are selfless. They’re there to protect their city and take out the evil that rule the world. Not pose for selfies.

So when it’s all said and done, I believe that Barry will maintain his secret identity as The Flash. No matter what consequences await him. Because the hero does whatever he or she has to do to keep their city and loved ones safe.

The Mishandling on Women on DCTV

The Flash — “Don’t Run” — Image Number: FLA409a_0120b.jpg — Pictured: Danielle Panabaker as Caitlin Snow — Photo: Katie Yu/The CW — © 2017 The CW Network, LLC. All rights reserved.

One of the ongoing concerns in not just The Flash but the Arrowverse as a whole is the continued mishandling and mistreatment of the women in this universe and their relationships with other women. If anything, I think Supergirl is the only show to get it as close to right as it can be, which is no surprise considering the show’s lead hero and the writers.

But following the Arrowverse’s best collective handling of women as a whole in last week’s crossover — it was far from perfect, but a step in the right direction — the way The Flash handled its female characters this week rubbed me the wrong way. And made it so blatantly obvious that not only are there way too many male writers, but that they have no idea how to write women.

The first signs of trouble came in the opening minutes of the show regarding both Iris and Caitlin. As Iris and Barry were unwrapping their wedding gifts, Iris made a snide remark about Oliver and Felicity not getting them something on the registry, and added that them getting married wasn’t either. “Not that I’m bitter,” she says, clearly bitter.

Now, Iris has every reason to be a little unnerved about Oliver and Felicity also getting married. And I’d have no problem with that shade if this show hadn’t showed us the exact opposite to be true the previous week. Iris nor Barry appeared upset that Oliver and Felicity were getting married alongside them. In fact, the entire crossover event consisted of Barry and Iris encouraging Oliver and Felicity that they could indeed have a happy ending and get married

So that remark just really rubbed me the wrong way because it felt like The Flash was trying to set Iris up for unwarranted hate. And it wasn’t just that scene. Making Iris choose between Barry and Caitlin, come on now. These writers were putting her in a situation where they almost want her to get that hate because it keeps the talk going.

Speaking of Iris choosing between Barry — “my husband” — and Caitlin — “my friend” — how unbelievable was that entire thing? Barry is Iris’ husband. Caitlin is just a work friend. This show didn’t actually believe that we think Iris and Caitlin’s super close friendship just sprouted overnight with no lead-up? If they did, then they’re even more out of touch than I thought.

It’s deeply upsetting because ever since that episode where The Flash acknowledged the issue with Iris and Caitlin and how they aren’t “friends” outside of work, I thought that we’d be getting some steady progression in that department. You know, friends leaning on each other in times of need. Actively seeking each other out when they needed to talk things through. But we’ve gotten none of that since that episode. All we got were false promises and teases regarding a female friendship that is four years late already.

Then you have Caitlin, who was reduced by a sexist new member of Team Flash as being much more boring than her super hot alter ego. Because obviously guys would rather sleep with the super villain than the accomplished doctor. Once again, another poor excuse of male writing that doesn’t understand its female characters or the many women — young and old — that watch this show clamoring for fair representation.

I’m even angrier — didn’t think it possible — that these writers don’t seem to care about how they’re mistreating these women and those all-important female friendships. Any progress that appeared to have been made has quickly disintegrated.

Defeating the Smartest Man Alive

The Flash — “Don’t Run” — Image Number: FLA409b_0135b.jpg — Pictured (L-R): Grant Gustin as Barry Allen, Tom Cavanagh as Harrison Wells, Danielle Panabaker as Caitlin Snow, Jesse L. Martin as Detective Joe West and Candice Patton as Iris West — Photo: Katie Yu/The CW — © 2017 The CW Network, LLC. All rights reserved.

While The Flash’s midseason finale certainly had its moments, for a while it didn’t feel like it had the umph that comes with midseason finales. Midseason finales are about setting up the rest of the season and, presumably, presenting the next significant obstacle in our hero’s path. Well, In the final moments of “Don’t Run,” we got all of that and more.

While DeVoe’s plan consists of bringing forth the enlightenment with his wife, there was an immediate problem in the form of his human body that was running on its last legs. That was the more immediate complication one that was significant and yet the resolution was something that I didn’t see coming until it was too late.

Earlier in the episode, Caitlin was tasked with saving a telepathic metahuman named Dominic, who had a piece of shrapnel stuck in his head. But there was an even greater force at work here. Considering Amunet is someone that sells metahumans to buyers, I really should’ve seen it coming that Dominic would be sold to DeVoe.

Even after Caitlin saved Dominic and Team Flash saved them both, it appeared as if things were falling into place. Until Barry got a security alert at the loft. Until Dominic called Barry, and we realized that Dominic was now DeVoe. Until Barry found DeVoe’s Christmas gift: DeVoe’s former body, stabbed, bleeding, and lying next to one of the knives he and Iris had gotten for their wedding.

But instead of running — as we know he well could’ve — Barry opted to stay. After all, he promised Iris that he wouldn’t run anymore. “Don’t run,” he told himself, as the police came barging in to find DeVoe’s body, Barry at the scene of the crime, and Barry being escorted out of the loft in handcuffs.

So what happens now? How can the fastest man alive defeat the smartest man alive?

After all, DeVoe knows that this is mental warfare. This isn’t about physical superiority. This is about mental superiority. And DeVoe, right now, seems damn near invincible. After all, DeVoe was already the smartest man alive. And then he took over the body of a telepathic metahuman. Things couldn’t be more unfair or seem more hopeless.

But that’s how it’s supposed to feel. If DeVoe had perished in the river, if Barry had defeated him in the midseason finale, the season would be over. There would’ve be a struggle. There wouldn’t be growth on the part of our hero. There wouldn’t be a valuable lesson learned by season’s end that’ll strengthen Barry moving forward.

I’m not going to lie, it’s hard to theorize as to how Barry and Team Flash can possibly defeat someone that has a brain beyond imagination with telepathy to boot. But we’re going to get the next 14 episodes to explore just how that’s possible. How do you defeat a single strong mind? Strength in numbers, baby. Team Flash is going to need everyone — everyone — to defeat DeVoe.

10 Things About “Don’t Run”

  1. The Flash — “Don’t Run” — Image Number: FLA409b_0281b.jpg — Pictured (L-R): Tom Cavanagh as Harrison Wells and Carlos Valdes as Cisco Ramon/Vibe — Photo: Katie Yu/The CW — © 2017 The CW Network, LLC. All rights reserved.

    I have to admit, that was a nice twist at the end. And I’m not talking about DeVoe taking over Dominic’s body. I’m talking about DeVoe leaving his former dead body in Barry’s apartment for the police to find it and Barry.

  2. How out of character was Iris’ shade towards Oliver and Felicity’s nuptials in the crossover? If they’d appeared bothered in the crossover,sure. But both iris and Barry were incredibly supportive. They basically begged them to get married. Well, that’s what happens when you have male writers that don’t understand how to write women.
  3. Speaking of, why did The Flash make Iris choose between Barry or Cailtin?
  4. Also, why did The Flash try to make it seem like the choice wasn’t obvious — Barry is her husband. Caitlin is her work friend. So much for my hope in this show cultivating that friendship on screen. We’ve yet to see it since that episode.
  5. Caitlin is so much cooler than Killer Frost. My opinion.
  6. Joe’s fierce protectiveness regarding Barry is something that will never get old.
  7. Barry and Iris’ first Christmas as a married couple! Of course DeVoe had to ruin it. Can’t they just get a single episode of happiness?
  8. I just realized that Barry being in jail, as he’ll be in the midseason premiere, was something that he glimpsed back in the season 1 finale as he went through the Speed Force. I love how we’re getting to see every single one of those play out.
  9. “I’m the dick.” Well, at least Ralph admitted it.
  10. Why can’t we ever get a happy Christmas on this show?

The Flash airs Tuesdays at 8/7c on the CW.

Alyssa Barbieri

Senior Managing Editor

Teacher by day, writer by every other free moment. Obsessed with sports, TV, books, movies, and superheroes. Proud shipper and supporter of strong female characters. TV Editor and Sports Editor. I write about DCTV, This Is Us and so much more.
Contact: alyssa@fangirlish.com.

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