Over the past three seasons, Barry Allen has faced three dangerous speedsters, all of which required Barry to be the “fastest man alive.” While each speedster provided a new test and a new threat, it was getting old fast. Plus, it’s nearly impossible to top Reverse Flash in Season 1.
But in The Flash’s current fourth season, we’re getting a glimpse at a new kind of villain. A villain that’s different than all the rest. A villain that’s not a speedster. A villain that just might be more terrifying than the others.
As we near the midseason finale, where the big storyline for the remainder of the season are usually alluded to, it was only a matter of time before The Thinker became a part of Barry’s real life. As in, he poses a legitimate threat, and Barry knows it.
“Therefore I Am” was an episode that will serve to set the stage for Clifford DeVoe’s rise to villain status as Barry and Co. firmly have their sights set on him moving forward. In this episode we got to see how a husband and wife’s dream of innovation prompted dangerous risks and have led them to a present that’s far from perfect. But it’s also led them to a present where they have an endgame in mind. And that could prove quite dangerous.
This wasn’t an episode that was action-packed. This was more of a backstory episode necessary to flesh out your villain; to get a better understanding of him. Remember, every villain believes he/she is the hero of their own story. And that’s certainly the feeling I get with DeVoe.
“He feels more dangerous than all the others.”
The thing that’s so unnerving about DeVoe/The Thinker is that he does feel more dangerous than the other big bads Barry has faced over the years. This isn’t a matter of physical superiority — of being able to run the fastest. This is a matter of intellect. And the fact that DeVoe is not only 12 steps ahead but has orchestrated everything from the start — including Barry’s return — there’s a real fear in the unknown.
What does DeVoe want? Aside from his body to not deteriorate. He talked about some sort of enlightenment, which makes it seem like this is more a big-world picture. This isn’t personal like the rest of the Big Bads Barry has faced. At least, it doesn’t feel that way. This feels more like Barry gets in his way and thus becomes an enemy.
The killer speedsters have got nothing on DeVoe, whose limitless thought presents DeVoe with the upper hand and poses a great deal of unknown for the rest of us. He’s predicted every outcome for every event. He’s prepared for them all. There’s a fear that comes with that. In feeling like you’re being watched. In feeling hopeless to prevent something from happening. In feeling hopeless to move exactly as the puppet master wants you to.
The Thinker will certainly be Barry’s biggest threat to date. Barry can’t just outrun him. He has to outsmart him. And outsmarting someone isn’t necessarily about intellect. It’s about instinct. And that might be key.
“Live in the moment.”
Perhaps the one weakness that is clouding Barry’s judgement isn’t the fact that he has people that he loves — that could be targets. It’s the fact that Barry is so caught up in the possibility of “what ifs” and scenarios of the bad things that could happen to his loved ones that is a weakness of his right now.
And why shouldn’t Barry be concerned? He’s loved and lost and loved again and each threat and each Big Bad threatens to take his loved ones away. But that’s life. Tomorrow is promised to no one. It’s all about living in the moment, as Iris so wisely told Barry.
Iris isn’t afraid. She understands the risks that come with just living life; and the risks that come with being a member of Team Flash and Mrs. Flash. But given the events of last season where Iris nearly died — where she had to confront the possibility of dying — it reshaped her perspective on life. She realized that it’s not about counting the number of days, it’s about living each and every day you’re given.
And that’s exactly what Barry needs to do. He needs to not think about everything bad that could happen, but instead focus on living in the now and facing whatever life may bring. Actually focusing too much on “what ifs” could present an even bigger threat.
“You may be the fastest man, but I’m the fastest mind.”
That’s the challenge. That’s going to be Barry’s obstacle this season. To somehow figure out a way to out think a man that is legit the smartest man alive. Someone that has caused everything that’s happening with the new metas; someone that is always 12 steps ahead; someone that has literally moved Barry and Co. around like chess pieces for months.
But the thing is that when DeVoe said that — “I’m the fastest mind” — I believed him. More than that, I believed the threat that he poses. Speed? That’s one thing. But intellect? That’s something else entirely.
So how might you go by defeating the smartest mind? It seems like an insurmountable task. Even with the best laid plans. But what about several smart minds? This might just take the entire team — not just Barry — to ultimately defeat this guy. And while it won’t be an immediate victory, it should ultimately be enough to do the job.
“You’ve already lost.”
DeVoe is so convinced that he already has Barry beat. And why shouldn’t he? He hasn’t lost yet. He’s been able to predict every possible outcome involving Barry and Team Flash up to this point. He’s already seen the possible outcomes — and to him, Barry loses each time.
But the fact that DeVoe seems to be underestimating Barry and Team Flash just might be the key to defeating him. Sure, DeVoe is the smartest man alive. But what happens when you put several of the smartest minds together? You just might stand a chance.
This is The Flash. And has Barry really lost yet? I don’t expect him to lose this time, although it’ll be intriguing to see just how Barry and Co. defeat the smartest man alive.
7 Things About “Therefore I Am”
- The Thinker may just be the most threatening Big Bad yet. It’s both intriguing and terrifying as a viewer. Just as Barry and Co. will attempt to predict his next move, the audience will, as well. And we’ll no doubt be wrong the majority of the time.
- Westallen is just so pure. I loved their conversations — where they talked through the things that were causing a divide. They didn’t ignore them. They addressed them and came to a solution. Because they are, indeed, The Flash.
- This was a great use of flashbacks as we got to see DeVoe’s journey to becoming The Thinker.
- But what the hell is his endgame? Clearly it has something to do with enlightenment. But might that change with his body failing him? Or are both of these endgames linked?
- Yes, Barry, you were right from the start about DeVoe. But you’ve gotta be smarter than that when investigating DeVoe. No mask? Really, Barry? You’re better than that. You’re smarter than that.
- Wally is back! Is it for good? It sure sounded for good. But if they take him away again, I’ll be pissed.
- Next stop: Barry & Iris’s wedding!!!
The Flash airs Tuesdays at 8/7c on The CW.