The Flash: We Are The Flash

“Now it ends.”

We’ve reached the culmination of the season-long march towards the iconic image of Barry sitting in The Thinker’s chair. You didn’t have to be a comic buff to see that coming.  You just needed to spend five minutes on the Internet once The Thinker was named this season’s Big Bad. Was it worth the wait? I think so.

I’ll be honest. My first response to the finale was disappointment. After last week’s cold open I was so hyped, I don’t know if anything could have lived up to my expectations.  The idea it took all of Team Flash to the defeat The Thinker was a given. I originally thought (and hoped) it would be a combination of the gifts and skills they brought to the table but I should have known better. If that was the case they could have defeated him at any point in the season. It made far more sense for it to be the strength of Team Flash’s emotional bonds.

As DeVoe’s intellectual abilities grew, his emotional awareness deteriorated to the point where emotions no longer figured into his calculations. This left him vulnerable and thanks to his increasing hubris, oblivious to those vulnerabilities. Thus we have the final confrontation. Barry traveling into DeVoe’s mind in search of the last shred of goodness based on Marlize’s belief that part of the man she married still lives in The Thinker. Wrong. He literally killed that part of himself in the mistaken belief that aspect had no value.

Yet her theory was sound. There was still goodness there. It was just in the form of Ralph Dibny. His willingness to sacrifice himself to save Barry completed his redemption arc and confirmed him as a hero. In addition to everything else this episode accomplished, it solidified Ralph’s position as a member of Team Flash. His actions, along with the others, led to The Thinker's ultimate defeat. And the name of the episode.

Cecile has become more than just Joe’s loving partner and the mother of the latest addition to his growing brood. Over the season she has become the mother that Iris and Barry never had, a friend and confidant to Caitlin, and a full-fledged member of Team Flash. Cecile's telepathic abilities from her bond with her unborn child are the literal representation of those connections. It granted her the power both to connect with the other members of Team Flash and enabled her to be the conduit Barry needed to link to DeVoe’s mind.

Joe’s love for his family gave him the ability to resist DeVoe’s mental control. While it wasn’t enough to stop DeVoe, it was proof of the power of love. Just as Barry’s love for Iris was what enabled him to hide his thoughts for his final mental showdown with The Thinker.

The sheer amount of narrative ground covered pushed Cisco’s story to the background but his relationship with Harry has been one of the highlights of the season and it was paid off here in both his vow not to lose anyone else and his heartbreak at learning that while his friend had been saved, Harry’s brilliant mind was lost forever.

Caitlin’s journey this season was more about coming to terms with the darker and lighter parts of herself and integrating this new version within Team Flash. Yes, I know that Killer Frost and Caitlin are separate identities. However, since they resided within the same body and Caitlin came to the conclusion that she is incomplete without Frost, I think my argument is valid. Besides, is there anyone who thinks Frost is gone for good?

Which leaves Harry. Harry thought of his intelligence as a force for good. The means of keeping Team Flash safe from any who would harm them.  However, he was not devoid of hubris and that arrogance could brook no intelligence greater than his own. This led to more and more reckless choices culminating in the loss of that intelligence. In a reverse image of DeVoe, as his intellect dwindled his emotional intelligence increased. And at several crucial moments, it was his emotional awareness that ultimately allowed him to succeed in protecting his team despite the exorbitant cost.

The idea Harry’s sacrifice would be the price necessary to defeat The Thinker made narrative sense though logistically problematic. Given their love for Harry, he would always have a place with Team Flash whatever his intellectual shortcomings. Unfortunately, those shortcomings limited his narrative contributions which led The Powers That Be to have their cake and eat it too. Marlize’s cure restored Harry’s personality but not his intellect. This saves a beloved character and leaves open the possibility of him returning and/or regaining his intelligence at some later date while not entirely negating his sacrifice. Unfortunately, it also undercuts the power of that sacrifice.

The Powers That Be made other unexpected choices. Chief among them appearing to resolve the war with the Thinker in the first half hour and leaving the rest as a prologue to next season. However, this year’s focus on the bonds forged by family and friends also serves as the setup for the next. Both in terms of how Killer Frost intersects with Caitlin’s father and Barry and Iris’s daughter Nora.

No episode is perfect and finales have the additional burden of tying up all the threads of the past season. That said, I thought this was a fitting end for one of the Flash’s better Big Bads and it left me with enough questions to torture me over the long hiatus. Success.

4 out of 5 world-saving sonic punches

Parting Thoughts:

Barry might actually solve cases as Barry next season. It looks like the Mayor had a change of heart and he’s getting his job back.

They did a much better job of making me care what happened to Harry then last year’s finale. Or was it simply the product of knowing Harry longer than I knew HR?

After his misogynistic introduction I was surprised both that I missed Ralph, and that I’m looking forward to seeing him next year.

And while I know they aren't going in this direction, shouldn't Ralph have all the abilities The Thinker stole from the other metas?

I don’t know what pleased me more. Seeing Wally back in the bosom of his family. Or, the acknowledgment that there is no place for him with Team Flash. He’s a good fit over on Legends.

My suspicion that our mystery girl was Barry and Iris's daughter proved true, although I thought she'd be Dawn from the comics.

Quotes:

Iris: “What do you see?”
Barry: “Nothing.”
Cisco: “A little vague for the viewers at home. What do you mean, ‘nothing’?”

Cisco: “Everyone chill. It’s not like Cecile is going to lose her powers if she has this baby. Cecile’s going to lose her powers if she has this baby? Won’t that leave Barry stranded in DeVoe’s mind?”
Marlize: I’m afraid so.
Cisco: “Information you may have wanted to share, like, way before now!”

Cisco: “I won’t lose anyone else today.”

Barry: “Have you seen him?”
Dibny: “A good DeVoe? No. Just the evil, floating chair variety.”

DeVoe: “They’ll be no defeating The Big Bad this year, Mr. Allen.”

DeVoe: “We are gathered here today to worship in song. I suggest ‘Kumbaya.’”

Dibny: “Allen, you said the only way to save the world is by finding the good that’s left in DeVoe. It’s right here. With a hole in its chest.”

Barry: “They can read our minds.”
Dibny: “Then we do this Dibny-style.”
Barry: “What?”
Dibny: “We don’t think.”

DeVoe: “How did you beat me?”
Barry: “I didn’t. We did.”

Marlize: “Goodbye, My Love.”

Harry: “Don’t worry. You have been and will always be my friend.”

Barry: “Who are you?”
Nora: “I’m your daughter, Nora. From the future.”

Shari loves sci-fi, fantasy, supernatural, and anything with a cape.

2 comments:

Billie Doux said...

Shari, thank you *so much* for finishing season four for us! I was okay with this finale, although as you said, it was easy to see a lot of it coming. One of the things I like most about this series is what they do with Tom Cavanagh's character...ssss. I'm really interested in where they go with him from here.

Everyone, we're still looking for a Flash reviewer. I'm currently planning to post a season review for season five, but individual reviews are always better. If you're interested, apply here!

Shari said...

Thanks. I had a blast. I'm just sorry it took so long. Now, if only I had Barry's speed...