This episode of Flash has enough flashbacks in it that it could have been part of Arrow. “Therefore I Am” is a pretty good title for an episode that focuses on the Thinker. It’s a lot of interesting background on the main villain of the season. Thinker, in this incarnation, is supposed to be a super-genius. I think he has a secondary power of absorbing other people’s intelligence, because Barry does some astoundingly stupid things throughout this episode.
The opening scene is four years ago at Central City University. DeVoe is far from the evil genius we’ve seen so far. He’s a very ineffective college professor. The woman who has been his aide, the Mechanic, is his wife, trying to reassure him. He has an idea for something to boost intelligence, and needs her help to build it.
The present day scenes pick up just a bit after last episode ended. Barry and Joe, clearly somewhat at a loss, are having a lemonade with the wheelchair-bound DeVoe. They more or less try and bluff their way through, saying his name came up in a few cases and they want to clear him. They talk about his background, and that he knew the woman who became Black Bison, one of the new metahuman villains. Barry also notices a Japanese painting that looks a lot like the Samurai robot they fought before Barry’s return. Both the DeVoes are very smart and multi-lingual. After a bit more awkward conversation, Barry and Joe leave, perplexed. They don’t quite know how to answer Harry’s question outside, if this was the right man.
Back at STAR, they debate the issue. Barry seems convinced it’s the right man, mentioning the picture and that the Council of Wellses picked him out of 1122 possible suspects. Me, I’m not sure I’d call that a good argument. They finally split up to cover their bases. Joe goes to check for any kind of criminal record for the man, Caitlin contacts friends at Central City University, and Wells and Cisco see what kind of digital footprint he has. We also hear the wedding is in a week, which they seem really not ready for.
In another flashback, the DeVoes ponder a power source for their “Thinking Cap” gadget when they get an idea from a well-timed press conference from the Wells that was really Eobard Thawne talking about the particle accelerator coming online. In the now, Barry makes a really questionable decision to sit on one of DeVoe’s classes. Then he asks the professor where he was the night of the STAR Labs explosion. DeVoe claims not to remember and asks how far back the investigation goes. Barry steals DeVoe’s mug using his super-speed, but then rubs his hand all over it, which isn’t great for either fingerprint or DNA tests. I presume that’s why he took it, unless Barry is just being a random dick.
Back at STAR, they regroup to find out they don’t have a lot. Caitlin finds nothing unusual in DeVoe’s DNA, and none of the others have any success in their various tasks. Cisco muses that Barry has wheelchair issues from the first Wells, which I thought was pretty funny. Barry argues with pretty much everyone until Iris pulls him aside and asks what he’s doing. He finally calms down and they go to look into the DJ for the wedding.
The next flashback moves to the night of the particle accelerator turning on and exploding. Wells and Caitlin are up on the stage, doing the press conference. I guess Cisco and Ronnie were inside at this point. After a lot of talking and even a question from DeVoe, who Wells/Thawne knew, it gets switched on and DeVoe’s experiment doesn’t go as smoothly as he hoped. Fortunately for him, his wife was on hand to help him .
The DeVoes play their game on many levels, as Barry and Joe find out. They get summoned to Captain Singh’s office, where the couple is filing a complaint for harassment. Since Joe and Barry can’t exactly tell the Captain what they’re up to, or why, he goes along with it, and warns Barry and Joe to stay away from the DeVoes. After this, Iris stops by and talks to Barry, who is even more obsessively studying what they have on the DeVoes. Iris finally tells him he needs to let it go, especially if they are getting married next week.
The flashbacks come faster now, as this one shows DeVoe enjoying his new-found genius, but having some serious side effects. Barry finds a camera hidden in the samurai head at STAR and then speeds to the DeVoes. He even breaks in after the wife leaves, and wanders around, not in costume. So no mask. Which is amazingly stupid for someone who processes crime scenes for a living.
The next flashback is DeVoe getting some really bad news from his doctor, and the DeVoes’ reaction to it. Barry brings everyone up to date at STAR, and they look at him like he’s crazy. He didn’t even trace the camera signal to the DeVoes, he just assumed and went. Barry is acting utterly paranoid, and obsessive, and out of character. It gets worse when Mrs. DeVoe comes back to the captain with pictures from the home security system Barry apparently missed entirely. Singh suspends him for two weeks and advises him to consider his future in law enforcement. I can’t blame Singh. Barry is acting nuts, and even the ones who know his secret think so. Barry goes home and talks to Iris, who sees that the DeVoes have filed a restraining order against him. Barry talks about having more to lose as he gets happier in life, and Iris essentially tells him he needs to calm down and stop focusing so much on the DeVoes. Great advice that someone isn’t going to listen to at all.
After another flashback of DeVoe’s deterioration and his wife’s idea to help him, Barry stupidly goes to his classroom. They talk, and DeVoe reveals that, among other things, he knows Barry’s secret (not that Barry is great at keeping it). The argue back and forth a bit, and they both sound overconfident. DeVoe definitely knows a lot more than he should, though.
Barry goes back to STAR and tells them he confronted DeVoe. At first, everyone’s mad at him, but then he tells them about DeVoe knowing his secret, and so many other things, and they start to see Barry’s point of view. They all agree they need to take this new threat seriously. Then the conversation gets derailed when Wally arrives. He’s been busy out in Blue Valley (comic book home of Kid Flash) and mentions fighting a giant starfish (presumably JLA foe Starro). Iris says for now, we get married.
The show ends with the DeVoes planning. He’s amused by the Thinker name. After he has some more health issues, they talk about his condition, and it getting worse. She’s surprised he’s going to let the wedding happen, and he ominously asks what knowledge is without love? That’s a chilling end to the episode.
What I liked: DeVoe is really sharp. Singh’s reactions to events make perfect sense, given what he knows. I don’t blame the team for wondering if Barry’s lost it, because I’m wondering the same thing. The Blue Valley and Starro references were good.
What I didn’t: Barry is acting like an obsessive nutjob. He’s going dark quick, and there really doesn’t seem to be a good reason for this deviation from his usual character. Wedding jitters? His mistake with the cameras in the house was just amateurish, and goes to what I’ve been saying about heroes wearing masks for a REASON. When the plot depends on your characters doing something stupid, this is bad writing. And that’s a lot of what’s going on here.
The Thinker is a great foe, but part of why he’s doing so well is Barry acting so uncharacteristically stupid. Bearing that in mind, I’m giving this one a 2.5 out of 5. Barry’s better than this.