I try to do my reviews without spoilers. That’s not going to be the case this time. They did both things I don’t like and things badly in this episode. I can understand the first, but I have some real issues with the second. So if you haven’t seen Flash’s episode “Lose Yourself.” don’t read this yet. And if you really liked this episode, you might want to skip this review.
The episode starts in what I presume is police impound, with a lot of trashed vehicles lying around. Barry and Ralph go to check out the bus that all the infamous “bus metas” were on. They find the bus, and something Ralph dropped that day. Using a new gadget from Cisco, they sweep the bus for dark matter, and get some really confusing readings. Personally, given how his powers work, I think bringing Cisco himself along would have made a lot more sense. Their missing meta is a weird hippie guy, from what they can gather. More poking around will have to wait, as Harry calls and wants them back at STAR.
Harry has designed a new gadget– a powerful tuning fork, since so far, the only thing they’ve seen affect the Thinker at all is sound, as the late Izzy demonstrated. Cool idea, but it brings up something else they overlooked. Last time we saw him, Piper had become a good guy due to another one of Barry’s time-line changes. His specialty is sound. Shouldn’t they have called him? At any rate, the fork, dubbed the Sonic Scepter, has no tech so Thinker can’t use the Kigore powers he stole to mess with it. Cisco comments to Joe that Harry is using the Thinking Cap a lot.
Caitlin is in her lab, working on a way to change to Killer Frost that doesn’t involve her being scared to death. She’s worked out something about the dark matter in her body, and has come up with what seems like a good idea. Caitlin and Frost are now leaving each other notes, which is an entertaining idea. Wells has given them a lead on how to find Gauss, the missing meta, and the team suits up and goes to the new location, Scepter in hand. What they find is surprising and leaves the team really confused.
The heroes return to STAR and go over what they know about Gauss. He was off-grid before the bus-meta incident, and apparently makes portals to pocket dimensions like Thinker’s chair. After a long and loud rant, Harry shows them a new map of portal activity, which he has narrowed down to show just Gauss. When most of the team goes to check the map, Joe stays behind and has a conversation with Harry about some of his recent behavior. Harry’s not really inclined to listen. Joe leaves, but doubles back to see Harry sneak into the Time Lab.
The team ends up out in the woods at some kind of hippie commune. Despite the fact they are looking for a meta and don’t know when Thinker might show up, they’re in civilian clothes. I really wonder what the method is they use to determine when they’re in costume or not. After a weird run-in with a hippie out there, they get a few clues before everyone goes off to find enlightenment and walk their spirit animals. Caitlin gets a good joke in as they go looking for Gauss. They find him, but so does Thinker’s Samurai-oid robot. They rescue Gauss, but after Caitlin gets stabbed. So, if fear triggers her transformation, why doesn’t getting stabbed do it?
Back at STAR, Caitlin has already healed, which is some weird new power of Killer Frost’s that I don’t recall ever hearing about before on the show or in the comics. Ralph argues with Barry and Iris yet again over what to do about the Thinker. Finally, Ralph stalks off to his hangout spot lately, the Pipeline. He talks with Gauss, and shares some chips with him, and learns that Gauss, contrary to what Cisco has said, actually can access Thinker’s hideout.
Cisco, embracing his geek self as usual, is finishing a model of the Enterprise and suffering a bit from glue fumes. He suffers more when Harry comes raging in, accusing Cisco of stealing his Thinking Cap. Harry is in full jerk mode, worse than I’ve ever seen him, until Joe pops up to reveal he has the Cap, not Cisco. He points out how Harry is acting, and how closely it parallels the addictive behavior his late wife went through. Harry starts to snap out of it a bit, and Cisco walks off.
Ralph has suited up and is planning on going after Thinker, using the Scepter and Gauss’ power. They have sensors in the Pipeline, so Flash shows up and tries to talk Ralph out of this. This degenerates to an actual fight, which is as one sided as you’d expect for novice stretchy guy vs. accomplished speedster. Ralph did absorb the Scepter into himself before Barry knocked him cold.
Ralph wakes up in the medical unit, with Barry, now in civilian clothes, sitting by his bed. They talk, with Barry being worried that Ralph would throw away everything he’s worked for in becoming a hero. Ralph reveals his real motivations: fear not for himself but for the team. Barry is touched, but still pleads with Ralph not to kill Thinker.
They decide Ralph was misguided but had a decent idea, and Flash, Killer Frost, and Vibe go after Thinker in his hideout, via Gauss’ power. This proves to be a trap, as they are met by Holo-Thinker, who the Scepter does nothing to, as you’d expect. Meanwhile, Thinker and Mechanic take advantage of the heroes’ absence and attack STAR. Thinker hacks into the systems, which turns everything purple, as we’ve seen before with Kilgore’s stolen power. The fight turns into Ralph vs the T-Rex skeleton he’s fought before courtesy of Black Bison and Dwarfstar powers; Joe vs yet another Robo-Samurai; and Iris vs. Mechanic. Iris does poorly in her fight, but then she’s not a fighter. Joe kicks ass eventually, and Ralph gets clever to beat the T-Rex (must be the week for it, since Mon-El fought one on Supergirl earlier). Ralph’s fight has some really bad looking blue screen effects, which is disappointing on a show that usually has such great visuals.
The Thinker hasn’t been waiting for the heroes during all this, and has claimed Gauss for his own now, so he’s killed yet another decent person. Ralph manages a clever trick with his earlier imprint of the Scepter and beats him, so all’s well, right? Not so much. The heroes get back, although Vibe had to push his powers and is bleeding from his ears. Barry and Ralph are making jokes, which is way out of character for Barry with Gauss just dead at their feet, but they pay for it. Thinker manages to recover, hacks the cuffs (do those things ever work these days?), beats Flash and Killer Frost, and then kills Ralph in one of the more depressing scenes of the series. Seriously, what the hell, guys? Elongated Man is a big part of the Flash mythos, and in the comics becomes a good member of the Justice League. Now, they toss him aside for a cheap plot twist. The Thinker leaves and gets a celebration with the Mechanic as he toasts their success and uses Ralph’s power to turn back into himself.
So the bad guys get their happy ending, the heroes have lost every single bus meta, but we’re not done yet. Caitlin’s powers are gone after the fight, so they’ve effectively killed Killer Frost, too. It seems to me like they’re also hinting Harry’s mind was damaged in Thinker’s attack, as well. Unless they’re building up to Barry time traveling again, I don’t see how the heroes are going to pull this off. The Thinker is brilliant and has a vast array of powers now, as well as everything Team Flash taught Ralph about fighting.
Just to hammer home the depressing nature of the episode, Barry goes and closes out Ralph’s office. He promises to keep the team safe, like Ralph was worried about, although how I don’t know. Barry is arguably the heaviest hitter of the CW DC Universe, especially now that Firestorm is gone, and he can’t seem to do a damn thing against the Thinker.
What I liked: Gauss was entertaining (Rest In Peace, dude). I’m glad Ralph decided to be a hero, even if it killed him. Joe was pretty bad ass. I liked the idea of the notes with Caitlin and Killer Frost, even if I’d seen that before with, among others, Banner and the Hulk.
What I didn’t: Just about everything else. They’re killing off characters left and right, and the heroes seem utterly helpless. Barry making a joke effectively standing over Gauss’ body was horribly out of character and rotten writing. Ralph’s death was heart-breaking and disappointing. I hope I’m wrong about Harry, but I don’t think I am. Caitlin not changing to Killer Frost when stabbed made no sense, nor did ignoring the Piper.
I haven’t liked most of this season, and I’m troubled by the CW’s high body count in general these days. I’m giving this a 2 out of 5. I really hope they pull something good off to wrap this up. That or they just give up and let the Thinker win, which I don’t want to see, but damn if I can work out how else they do this barring time travel or fetching help from Supergirl and company on their world.