It was only a matter of time. It was only a matter of time that Barry Allen was freed from Iron Heights. I just didn’t expect it to go down the way it did.
In The Flash’s latest hour, we saw the return of our main storyline — involving Clifford DeVoe — which provided a sense of purpose in a sequence of episodes that have felt like filler episodes. Because, honestly, they were. But all shows — with 20+ episodes — have them.
“True Colors” was an episode that chose to showcase Barry’s intelligence in place of his super powers proving once again that intelligence is as much of a superpower as super speed. It’s something that hasn’t been said enough on these DCTV shows that tend to focus on the costumed, powered heroes. It was amazing watching Barry being Barry in helping to free those metas — using his smarts but also being compassionate when surrounded by the dangerous metas he was around.
But this episode also highlighted one huge fault in its narrative: Powers don’t define individuals. The Flash tried to convince us that it’s the truth. Which it should be. But The Flash has shown that it isn’t the case. Case in point: Caitlin Snow, who has been deemed a villain, evil, and killer because of her abilities. It makes moments like that — with a powerful quote like that — fall silently and without impact.
Let’s talk about this episode, including its laughable “powers don’t decide who we are” bit, a possible key to defeating DeVoe, and Barry’s freedom.
Powers Shouldn’t Decide Who You Are
“Our powers don’t decide who we are, we do.”
It’s a quote that initially made me nod my head fervently in agreement. Of course having metahuman abilities shouldn’t determine if you’re a good person or a bad person. It’s the individual that decides who they are.
But then a name immediately came to mind: Caitlin Snow.
What about Caitlin? When she was given her frosty powers and Killer Frost identity, she was suddenly “evil.” Caitlin, the one person who you’d never expect to have a bad bone in her body, was an evil killer because she developed metahuman abilities. I’m sorry, but that quote loses all credit after what The Flash has done to Caitlin Snow.
It would make sense if Caitlin would’ve showed signs of harboring that rage. But she never did. In fact, her icy alter ego has been defined by her powers matching her killer demeanor.For a show that spent time preaching about metahuman abilities not making you evil — with a minor character, no doubt — what about the disservice you’ve done to one of your main characters? What about Caitlin’s handling? What about Caitlin’s choice? She never got a choice. She just became evil when she inherited her powers. Now tell me how the hell that’s fair.
The Key to Defeating DeVoe?
I pride myself on speculation in terms of big bads and how our heroes can ultimately defeat them. But I find myself, honestly, speculation-less when it comes to Clifford DeVoe. How is Barry Allen, the fastest man alive, supposed to defeat the smartest man alive? It’s as if every move is DeVoe’s moving a pawn in Chess. You can’t catch him off guard. He’s always expecting it.
But the one thing that DeVoe didn’t expect, from the looks of it, is his wife Marlize’s doubt that has surfaced following the midseason finale, in which we saw him go off the deep end. Marlize’s doubt couldn’t have been made more apparent in this hour as she watched her husband, now in a new body, act unlike himself; act like this isn’t a partnership. And we’ve seen that DeVoe is someone that wants to control everything and everyone. Including his wife.
Marlize doesn’t like the person he’s becoming. She’s seeing her husband do unspeakable things that even surprise her. She doesn’t want him reading her thoughts. She doesn’t’ want him near her. It’s as if DeVoe could see her eventually turning on him. Which might just be the key to Team Flash defeating DeVoe.
Eventually, as all big bads do, you have to expect DeVoe to become wildly out of hand. To the point that even his drugged wife can see something’s wrong. At that point, she’ll want to something, anything to preserve the man he was. It’s not about living forever, it’s about making the most out of the life you’re given.
Marlize thought she was in on this whole Enlightenment thing. Who knows now. Maybe the plan has changed. Maybe she’s more concerned with preserving the man her husband was than watching him destroy himself.
Barry Goes Free
Ever since Barry Allen was imprisoned in the midseason premiere, we’ve been biding our time waiting for his freedom. While Barry could’ve taken the easy way out — on multiple occasions — he chose to remain imprisoned until he could be freed the right way.
“We all have to decide who we are. This is who I am.”
Barry hasn’t been perfect. Nobody’s perfect. But I continue to remain impressed and proud at just how far Barry has come from season 1 to now in his character growth. He’s embraced being a pillar of inspiration and a role model for what it means to be a hero.
He was content to remain in prison. Well, not content. Understanding is more like it. Even after so many rescue attempts, Barry never wanted to take the easy way out. Even though he was being framed for a crime he didn’t commit. He decided to remain in prison even if it meant not getting a chance to go free. Otherwise, Barry would feel like he’d never truly be free. He wanted to do it the right way.
And while I don’t know if you could call how Barry was freed “the right way,” it’s hard to argue that when he was wrongly imprisoned. Kind of an eye for an eye here. Justice served. Also the first time that I’ve actually felt grateful for Ralph Dibney, as he used his new morphing abilities to change into Clifford DeVoe and show the court that he is in fact not dead. So, obviously, Barry went free.
But was this all part of the plan? You can’t help but ask that when DeVoe’s involved. There’s so much going on in his mind — even in a new body. But at least Barry has been freed — and he was freed without changing as a person, as a hero. It was Barry’s goodness that inspired change. So it inspired his freedom in a way. Welcome home, Barry.
The Flash airs Tuesdays at 8/7c on The CW.