The Flash 4×07 spends an hour introducing our newest villain, The Thinker, in the best episode of the season so far
Season after season, Barry Allen (aka The Flash) is challenged as “The Fastest Man Alive.” Speedster after speedster appears, forcing Barry to run faster in order to truly hold this title. This year, The Flash has switched things up a bit. Rather than run faster, Barry (Grant Gustin) will have to think faster, in his quest to beat The Fastest Mind Alive. Helping him in this task are certified geniuses Cisco Ramon (Carlos Valdes), Caitlin Snow (Danielle Panabaker), and a whole council full of Harrison Wells (Tom Cavanagh), which should help. On the speed front, Barry will have assistance from Wally West (Keiynan Lonsdale), who made his return this week.
Perhaps the most valuable member of Barry’s team, however, is Iris West (Candice Patton). As stated by The Thinker himself at the end of this week’s episode, “What is knowledge without love?” Similarly, what is The Flash without Iris West? With Clifford and Marlize’s marriage mirroring Barry and Iris’s in many ways, something tells us that their relationship will be crucial to defeating this new foe. We got a lot of backstory for The Thinker this week, and got to see exactly how Clifford DeVoe became this menacingly powerful character. The STAR Labs particle accelerator explosion was involved, because of course it was.
Here to dive deeper into Team Flash, Team Thinker, and more, is our The Flash roundtable!
Holly (@hollyanderson30) – Social Media Addict who runs two fan pages and loves everything CW, especially The Flash
Fowsia (@iriswestallens) – Lover of all things Iris West and Westallen
Will (@willmpolk) – Blerd, Flash fan and producer of the @SceneNNerd podcast with host @sjbelmont
Tay (@candicekps) – Student, Iris West and WestAllen enthusiast
Katie (@melszorel) – Lover of DC Comics, writing, and pizza!
1. Tonight’s episode had a couple of flashbacks to the particle accelerator explosion in the show’s first episode. Did you enjoy the nostalgia?
Holly (@hollyanderson30): I did actually enjoy the flashbacks to season 1. I also find it kind of amusing that Barry is the fastest man alive and DeVoe the fastest thinker alive and both of them got that way by being struck by lighting and the particle accelerator explosion. Also, they didn’t overdo the number of flashbacks.
Fowsia (@iriswestallens): I absolutely loved the nostalgia! I mentioned earlier to a group of friends that the “extended-flashback” was actually my favorite part of the episode. Not only because of the nostalgia, but it was so well-done and actually believable that it was the same night of the particle accelerator explosion. I also loved how Devoe’s story was told in flashbacks.
Will (@willmpolk): I did enjoy the nostalgia. Each time they go back to the night of the accelerator explosion adds layers to a very good backstory and more texture to how Thawne built the device to serve his ends of getting back to the future. Plus, the thought it was a very good origin story for the Thinker.
Tay (@candicekps): I definitely enjoyed the nostalgia! I’ll be honest: I got a little emotional seeing season one WestAllen. Also, it was refreshing to see a consistent villain storyline — and one that actually ties together from season one to the current season. Knowing that the DeVoes have been on the sidelines all along makes their arc so much more intriguing.
Katie (@melszorel): I always love flashbacks! I feel like this episode actually used nods to the first season and just things from the past in general. That scene with Harry and Cisco was great too! I love the first season so much and I feel like the show is doing a great job at having some of that back.
2. Poor Barry! Watching him get into trouble for investigating DeVoe was so frustrating, right?
Holly: You could almost sense Barry frustration growing thru out the episode.To have a villain like DeVoe who planned for each attempt Barry made to find out all about him so knew what he was going to do must have been extremely frustrating. You could almost sense his relief when he finally confronted DeVoe and was told the truth.
Fowsia: It was super frustrating! Frustrating for the most part because the audience knows Devoe is the villain and Barry also does — just proving it seemed to be the difficult part. I was really proud of Barry for figuring this out on his own, but he just needed to be smarter. He needed to be “unassuming” much like Devoe. He made some rash decisions, but I’m glad in the end he had actual proof. Now the team can move forward to formulate a thoughtful plan in defeating him.
Will: Actually was not frustrating at all. It was good to see Captain Signh back this episode and made the story very more believable that Barry actually faced consequences for his actions.
Tay: So frustrating! It reminds me of how everyone (excluding Iris) treated Barry after his mother’s death and father’s imprisonment. Although, on the outside looking in, Barry definitely looked pretty compulsive and crazy. So, the reactions from the others, especially Singh, were pretty realistic and understandable. On a lighter note, it was exciting watching Barry think for himself without the assistance from the team. I’m glad that we get to see more of him being a free-thinker (no pun intended!)
Katie: I WANTED TO JUST TELL BARRY I BELIEVED HIM AND IT WOULD BE OKAY. Devoe was always a step ahead which IS frustrating!
3. Iris and the team made it pretty clear that they didn’t believe Barry about DeVoe. Are you disappointed in their lack of faith, or do you think their doubt is completely understandable?
Holly: I both understand why they didn’t believe Barry right away with the lack of evidence but disappointed that they that they didn’t atleast support him. Barry has never just accused someone of something unless there was good reason for it and sometimes you just got to follow that feeling.
Fowsia: I think, after everything that they’ve been through, their doubt was understandable. Considering Barry didn’t have any actual proof, it was hard trying to understand where he was coming from. The team’s past villains made it pretty clear that they wanted to dismantle Barry — so it’s easier when the villain makes his plans direct. With the Devoe, on the other hand, he’s “unassuming,” and smart, trying to paint himself as the victim of Barry’s actions. I’m sure it was frustrating for the audience considering we all knew, and I think that Barry’s irrational actions in trying to figure him out made the team a little more doubtful. It’s true that this isn’t what Barry does, so I don’t fault the team for being hesitant and questioning his actions. In the end, they apologized about being wrong — which I’m glad they did.
Will: I am disappointed, after all they have been through the last 4 years they should have believed Barry. Despite their doubts, I was happy to see Barry being the center of the show again. One of the problems this season is that the show has not been about Barry. I was actually very frustrated that all Iris was focused on was the wedding. It was too stereotypical of the nervous bride and didn’t like how she was discounting Barry’s feelings about Devoe. If they are supposed to be the “We are the Flash,” couple then she not so easily dismiss his feelings.
Tay: I think that their skepticism and doubt were completely understandable. I also think that if Barry wasn’t acting so obsessive over the DeVoes and wasn’t judgemental of Ralph Dibny, the team would have been more supportive. When Barry first presented his information on DeVoe to the team, I love how Iris attempted to help Barry by delegating groundwork. She at least tried to believe in what he presented. Also, it is evident that the team operates on proof, not just by hearsay, which I completely understand.
Katie: Okay this is a tricky question for me because…I guess there are reasons they could have felt skeptical. But we weren’t really shown it? So… I still feel like they should have believed him. Why would they all not believe them? Even Iris? I was just a bit confused I guess… and it seemed a BIT out of character for the entire team to not believe him.
4. Do you think Barry got a little too obsessive this episode, even if he had reason to be?
Holly: Barry might have been a little bit obsessive but I could hardly blame him. Once he started investigating I imagine he felt he had to prove himself both for himself and to all the others.
Fowsia: I do, but he had a good reason. As mentioned before, I’m proud of him for pulling the pieces together — he just didn’t have an action plan. It’s completely understandable when you think about how his past enemies have always been a few steps ahead of him — he got “excited” when he realized that he could be ahead for once. So, I’m proud — he just needed to be smarter about. Out think The Thinker!
Will: Not at all. Barry was doing good CSI work in that he was following his lead and seeing where the evidence was taking him. We need to see more of this Barry!
Tay: Yes, I do think Barry got a little too obsessive. There’s nothing wrong with doing research, but he was definitely thinking irrationally. By acting on his obsessive behavior, he quite frankly fell into The Thinker’s trap.
Katie: I feel like he was definitely paranoid for a reason…duh! But I don’t think he was necessarily “obsessive”. I completely understand his reactions to DeVoe. HONESTLY I WOULD HAVE BEEN REACTING THE SAME WAY LOL. but I also get paranoid easily about things.
5. This episode was a little less silly and humorous than this season as a whole – do you prefer one tone or the other, or do you enjoy the balance?
Holly: Personally I enjoyed the balance, I love the humor that this season has been having but to push forward every episode can not be humorous.I loved seeing This one I loved because we learned alot about our enemy, for one being that Eobard Thawne is a fan of his work.Also on a happy note of tonight it was great to see Kid Flash back
Fowsia: I actually enjoyed the twist of tone! I’ve always loved the light episodes, but I’ve never minded the dark episodes. I think it was well-paced, and after a few episodes of lighted-heartedness, The Flash perfectly showcased how to perform both light and dark episodes!
Will: I enjoy the balance. I felt the last two weeks got too far off to silly and humorous side and was beginning to take away from the show as a whole. I really enjoyed this week and hope they have more of these episodes. In addition, it was great seeing Wally back and having Ralph gone!
Tay: I enjoy the balance! I think that this episode had the perfect amount of humor and drama. Too much humor makes the episode hard to follow while too much darkness makes the episode emotionally draining. Therefore, the balance between the two is essential.
Katie: As I said in my first answer, I LOVE that they are adding the humor back. I personally don’t think it ever completely went away, but the first season was definitely a lot different than especially last season. I love the balance. I would love it if they did things like this regularly, but also maybe just not make it seem out of place. If that makes sense.
6. Even though they are villains, do you feel sympathy for DeVoe and his wife?
Holly: It’s hard to feel sympathy when they sought out to do this to him themselves just to make him smarter. I mean how many lives will he affect to achieve what he wants and who will die? But the fact that someone is dying be that it is their own fault, yes I still have sympathy for that but it’s no excuse for what they are doing.
Fowsia: I really love Devoe and Marlize! I don’t know if anyone noticed, but they had tons of parallels with Barry and Iris — almost like the evil version of Westallen. The actors have crazy chemistry, and I’m a sucker for duos (even villainous) who power each other. I love their dynamic, and this is the first villain(s) that I’m really excited about, seeing how they work their way around Team Flash. I totally ship Devoe and his wife. Mechanical Thinker/Marvoe for the win!
Will: Yes. It was a good origin story and humanized them both and did a great job of getting into their motivations for why they built the thinking cap and opening the story as to why they are tormenting Barry and team Flash. That sequence at the end when they were spying on Barry and Iris in their condo made me feel like his name outta be “The Creeper” instead of the “Thinker.”
Tay: I do feel sympathy towards the DeVoes! Their original intentions were subjectively pure, thus making it easier to sympathize with them. Also, Clifford’s condition definitely pulled at my heart strings. I honestly love this supervillain duo so much. They actually remind me of a supervillain version of Barry and Iris. I’m excited to learn more about them as the season progresses.
Katie: The one thing I really loved was the use of the thinking cap from the olddd comics! I looked it up after and it even looks the same and honestly, I always think that’s so awesome when they show clear nods to the comics. I don’t feel bad because they used it to their advantage when there are SO many good things they could have used with it! When he was a professor, he was on the right track… but along came that shiny new power… some people are just not meant to have something like that. So no I don’t really feel that bad.
7. The big crossover event is next week! Are you excited? What are you most looking forward to?
Holly: I am so excited for the crossover! I will admit that I am most excited that we will finally see a WestAllen wedding, but I always enjoy the crossovers.
Fowsia: I AM SO EXCITED. Mostly because my favorite ship ever is getting married, though it is interrupted. I’m looking forward to seeing Iris interact with other characters, and this the first time she is crossing over to other shows. It’s going to be difficult stomaching the Nazi imagery that will be prevalent in the episodes, though. Nonetheless, I’m excited to see Barry and Iris finally tie the knot. It’s been a long time coming!
Will: Cannot wait for the crossover!! It looks like it is going to be amazing! I am looking forward to seeing Citizen Cold and Earth X Thawne.
Tay: This is actually my first time that I’m actually excited for the big crossover event. I cannot even express how excited I am! I’m most looking forward to the highly anticipated WestAllen wedding. I’ve been waiting for this moment since season one. To celebrate the wedding of the century, I’m organizing a watch party with my close friends!
Katie: I am looking forward to seeing the actors and actresses do an amazing job with what they were given. I’m not happy about the plot. And I know it will be hard to see the characters we love so much portraying Nazis. But I’m excited about the fact about an actual crossover with characters. And new ones interacting that haven’t before.
Final Verdict: The Thinker serves as the perfect villain for The Flash’s fourth season – a welcome change from the pattern of speedsters and a character as interesting and in-depth as season one’s Fake Wells
The Flash made a fantastic choice by spending an episode fleshing out its new villain. Now that we have some depth to The Thinker, he’s much more interesting, not to mention terrifying, than he previously appeared. His tragic origin story provided a compelling basis to the villain, making him much more than a one-dimensional cartoon terror. Although we still don’t know exactly what he wants with Barry, we have been given a privileged look into his motivations, making him all the more terrifying.
We have to give a huge shoutout to Eric Wallace and Thomas Pound, who wrote this episode. The actor’s performances and the directing (by David McWhirter) were incredible, but they wouldn’t have had such a chance to shine without the writing team’s hard work and notable skill.
Next week, Team Flash teams up with the rest of the Arrowverse for a special two-night crossover! Our favorite heroes take down their evil Earth-X counterparts, and it’s sure to be a can’t-miss event.