After a not-so-great outing last week, The Flash was back and once again firing on all cylinders in this week’s episode, “Therefore I Am.” Clifford DeVoe and The Mechanic’s (whose real name we learn is Marlize DeVoe) backstory was revealed, Barry was figuring stuff out for himself, the heart was back and there was an intensity to this episode that easily made it the strongest outing of the season.
Over the course of three seasons, it’s become easy to forget that Barry is a smart guy in his own right, what with his tendency to rely too heavily on the team to figure stuff out for him and the show not showing him at his CSI lab enough. So, it’s nice to see him taking things into his own hands and using his own knowledge (or gut feeling) to try and take down DeVoe. But while Barry’s heart is in the right place, he’s rushing through investigating and accusing DeVoe and only ends up making himself look bad in the process. In this instance, his behavior was full-on stalker, obsessive, and so sure about DeVoe being guilty that he isn’t thinking about the situation in a way that would have been smarter and it ends up costing him his job (at least for two weeks, anyway).
DeVoe has so far proved himself a highly skilled and intelligent man. He’s a professor at Central City University, a brilliant man who wants to change the way the world thinks and so desperate to do so that he uses the particle accelerator explosion to do it. But the explosion doesn’t give him physical powers; it gives him more brain power. And although Barry is finally the fastest man alive, his speed isn’t what’s going to help him defeat The Thinker. Honestly, with the backstory of The Thinker revealed, it’s hard not to believe that he will truly be Barry’s greatest adversary with the way everything’s been set up.
The episode points out so many parallels between DeVoe and Barry, and subsequently between their relationships with Marlize and Iris, respectively. Both DeVoe and Barry are smart men, are dedicated to (very different) causes, intensely love their significant others (and also claim they’d be nothing without them). Moreover, both have intelligent and strong partners who are beacons of strength in their own right. And while they function just fine as individuals, the DeVoes and soon-to-be Allens are better when together. The episode dropped these parallels not-so-subtly, but didn’t hit us over the head with them either. They served the story and created a setup that could prove very powerful later on.
We’ve seen Neil Sandilands and Kim Engelbrecht as Clifford and Marlize DeVoe in every episode so far this season, secretly hiding away. However, they were particular standouts in “Therefore I Am” after moving into the forefront. They are both strong actors and in one episode are able to sell their relationship, their struggles, and so much more. They complement each other very well and play both unassuming, kind couple and devious, plotting couple so wonderfully. More importantly, both characters are being portrayed as equals. DeVoe is sure of himself and is threatening in a way that’s not immediately apparent. What’s even better is that he isn’t necessarily doing all of this to spite Barry in particular, nor does he have a personal vendetta against him. This is a nice change from past villains.
I actually like the fact that the team isn’t immediately on board with accusing DeVoe. Sure, they’ve had their fair share of bad guys who seemed trustworthy at first, but their reluctance gives the episode some great tension and lives up to one of the season’s themes of not immediately pegging people as villains. Team Flash isn’t calling Barry a liar or crazy, or even saying they don’t believe him, but their skepticism is understandable. They wanted to be cautious and Barry’s erratic behavior wasn’t helping, even though his arguments are sound. Barry’s actions get him suspended from his job and turn him into someone he usually isn’t.
Barry later admits he’s scared that DeVoe is so powerful and has the ability to take everything. DeVoe is someone the speedster sees as a bigger threat than everyone who has come before. Barry “has more to lose now than ever before” and so the fear of that being taken away has him acting out. And it’s absolutely a valid fear. We’ve seen how much Barry has lost in the past, but he can’t go after DeVoe in a way that is illegal or in a way that risks his job and his life. What would be the purpose of catching DeVoe if Barry goes too far and loses himself in the process? Barry obviously knows DeVoe’s cunning and smart and so reacting simply out of fear makes for irrational decisions. Iris tells him that, no matter what, they’re always going to have more to lose, but together, they can face everything as it comes. It’s a great moment that infuses the episode with some heart and hope and re-centers Barry’s frame of mind.
The Flash has been fun and much more light-hearted this season, but it’s also nice to have some of the tension and suspense back; this episode has this in spades. There can be light and dark and they can exist together without cancelling each other out. It’s how this show has generally functioned, with certain exceptions. Pacing-wise, the episode never misses a beat and ramps up the suspense at every turn. The scene in which DeVoe reveals himself to Barry was so full of intensity and a true showcase of the confidence the mastermind has in his plan. The callbacks and tie-in to the pilot episode are a nice touch and prove to be fantastic story-wise.
All in all, “Therefore I Am” showcased the best of The Flash. There were some light moments and dark moments, but they were balanced. DeVoe revealing himself to Barry so early on is incredibly refreshing and makes him seem all the more threatening. A battle of the minds in the vein of a chess game is a pretty strong setup and challenges Barry in a way that no other villain really has. With a strong plot, great pacing, suspense, and plenty of great moments between the characters, this episode was the strongest of season four so far.
- I find it incredibly disturbing that DeVoe also has cameras at Barry and Iris’ loft. Does he watch them when they have sex? Because, that’s just… a level of creepy I don’t want to think about.
- Wally is back! I’ve missed him.
- Joe calling Iris “boss” never gets old.
- I felt kind of bad for Barry throughout the episode… until he broke into DeVoe’s house, that is.
- I absolutely think this storyline is leading to The Trial of The Flash. Especially after this episode.
- Marlize saved her husband after being zapped by kissing him. True love’s kiss continues to save men on this show.
- If this eventually leads to a villain couple vs. a superhero couple, then sign me up.
- Harry must remind us that he wasn’t Eobard Thawne in a funny exchange with Cisco.
- So happy that Ralph was in the episode for only a minute or so. His screen time definitely needs to be reduced.
- The queen’s the most important chess piece, yes?
- The list of people who know Barry’s secret identity continues to grow. The ice cream man will find out next.
- Captain Singh has so much patience. Honestly, Barry is lucky to still have a job at this point.
- DeVoe and Marlize have such great chemistry.
- I found the explanation of why DeVoe’s muscles deteriorating because his brain is sapping all the energy to be very intriguing.
- Enlightenment? Does DeVoe have plans for the entire city to reach this enlightenment, whatever it may be?
- I love that DeVoe also thought the Council of Wells was ridiculous.
With a strong plot, great pacing, suspense, and plenty of great moments between the characters, "Therefore I Am" was the strongest of season four so far.