The Flash 4.07: Therefore I Am
Therefore I am is essentially the Thinker's origin story that is unorthodox by design. Fun, positivity and an abundance of humor generally are the elements that make a good The Flash episode. This however was the complete opposite, offering a dour and gloomy atmosphere that, although suiting the story perfectly, had me questioning how truly enjoyable it was.
We start with DeVoe and his wife being interrogated in their house by Joe and Barry, being asked strange questions about their history and whereabouts. After some back and forth the pair leave, suspicious and with no evidence to take it further, they’ve no choice but to leave them be. This was a perfect encounter, although revealing very little, provided valuable information like his natural intellect and fearlessness around Barry, even though DeVoe is fully aware of his true identity. This was a great start and illustrated how the fastest man on earth’s foe is the fastest mind on earth; it’s exciting that’s for sure.
As mentioned, this is an origin episode for the Thinker that doesn’t disappoint, compacting tons of information into a short timeframe (perhaps it’ll be expanded on but frankly, what we get is plenty). Flashback to four years ago, DeVoe is a university professor getting increasingly frustrated with his pupils' lack of eagerness to accept the gift of knowledge. Keen to gain as much himself, he designs a cap that will improve his brain capacity exponentially. His wife; an engineer, builds it for him. Unfortunately it requires a power source greater than anything in existence, thus enter the particle accelerator explosion from season 1. During the explosion he, like Barry, was struck by lightning but instead of super speed he was bestowed the gift of unlimited knowledge. This came with a price, his brain now drawing energy from his body causing him to develop ALS (Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis). His wife also builds him a chair and modifies the cap to recharge his body, effectively keeping him alive.
Neil Sandilands (DeVoe) and Kim Englebrecht (his wife) both portray their characters excellently; they have great chemistry and show their complexities while hiding their motives. Although they’re the master villains there’s a lot to love about them. They clearly still have empathy, showing compassion, citing “there’s no knowledge without love” while watching over Barry and Iris discussing their wedding (oh, its next week just in case you missed that in the episode).
Grant Gustin also gave a fantastic performance, showing Barry’s decent into paranoia after his suspicion of DeVoe was not reciprocated by the rest of his team. His portrayal wasn’t overplayed; he successfully combined his experience from past seasons and used it to fuel his investigation. Several mistakes have been made by Barry that have caused disaster due to his overconfidence, so it was nice to see a progression with him determined not to let that happen again. Subsequently the lack of team support bothered me, completely disbelieving their friend and team leader, working against him rather than with him. This was completely unwarranted and came across as forced tension building, although I suppose it could also be DeVoe’s manipulation.
The most fascinating part is the mystery around the Thinker, knowing so many situations have been orchestrated by him, like Barry’s release from the speed force and creation of the bus metas. This leaves each situation with a thought-provoking taste, wondering is there more of his master plan that still remains to be divulged.
Although a well thought out, well written episode, there’s a lot to process that takes you by surprise, the light-hearted humor and happy tone is almost longed for. Since his arrival, Ralph has been an enjoyable character that is slowly becoming part of the team, his absence in this episode was heavily noticed as his whereabouts wasn’t even mentioned. The tone may have fit the episode but the dramatic difference was noticeable and jarring at times. The final confrontation between DeVoe and Barry was palpable and electric, both revealing their true identities that leads to Cisco officially given him the name The Thinker. Regardless of how entertaining this episode was or wasn’t, it has set up our foe perfectly for the season and he will no doubt be a formidable opponent for The Flash.
In an episode about the Thinker, we’re ironically given an awful lot to think about. Coincidence? … I think not.