Tuesday, November 21, 2017

The Flash Episode Guide: Season 4, Episode 7 - Therefore I Am

For a summary of the episode guide layout & categories, click here.


Barry comes face to face with the mysterious "DeVoe" he was meant to find... or does he? The unassuming, wheelchair-bound professor hardly seems like the criminal mastermind his future-self warned him about, but the truth is stranger than even Barry Allen might suspect. Unfortunately, the rest of Team Flash thinks Barry is tilting at windmills.


Neil Sandilands and Kim Englebrecht exhibit great chemistry together as The DeVoes. Indeed, they're far more sympathetic than most of the regular cast in this episode.

It's always a treat to watch Tom Cavanagh play Eobard Thawne playing Harrison Wells.

Flash Facts

The episode title is a partial quote by French philosopher and scientist Rene Descarte, who famously said, "I think, therefore I am."

In the original comics, Clifford DeVoe was a lawyer who turned to masterminding crimes for a gangster after growing disillusioned with his job. By contrast, the DCTVU version of Clifford DeVoe is a college professor who had an idea on how to make people smarter using advanced technology.

The Thinking Cap was The Thinker's primary tool in the original The Flash comics. In addition to increasing his already considerable intelligence, The Thinking Cap gave Clifford DeVoe telekinetic and telepathic powers. It is worth noting that DeVoe did not create The Thinking Cap on his own. Originally, he stole it for his own dark purposes.

The DCTVU version of The Thinking Cap was envisioned by DeVoe, but his wife built it, along with the rest of his equipment.

Barry makes a reference to his Spidey-Sense tingling regarding DeVoe. This is a reference to The Amazing Spider-Man from Marvel Comics, who possessed a precognitive power that warned him of immediate danger that he dubbed his Spider-Sense. He usually noted these warnings by saying his Spider-Sense was tingling.

At on point, DeVoe claims to have solved The Riemann Hypothesis. In mathematics, the Riemann Hypothesis is considered the most important unresolved problem in pure mathematics by some mathematicians. The Riemann Hypothesis, along with Goldbach's conjecture, is part of Hilbert's eighth problem in David Hilbert's list of 23 unsolved problems.

DeVoe also claims to have solved the 15th of David Hilbert's Unsolved Problems - Rigorous Foundation of Schubert's Enumerative Calculus.

When asked to solve the mystery of who was Jack The Ripper, DeVoe mentions Aaron Kosminski - a London barber who suffered from schizophrenic and delusional tendencies. Aaron Kosminski is indeed one of the more popular suspects among the many theories as to who was Jack The Ripper and he was indeed a barber with a history of schizophrenia and delusions who was housed at the Colney Hatch Lunatic Asylum.

The nurse whom DeVoe names as the real Jack The Ripper- Catherine Jewell - is entirely fictional.

Wally makes a reference to fighting a starfish from outer space while in Blue Valley. This is a reference to Starro The Conqueror - a frequent enemy of the JLA in the comics. Indeed, Starro was the first enemy The Justice League of America faced in their first appearance in The Brave And The Bold #28 (Februrary 1960).


Marlize DeVoe once taught a class about turbulent flow rates.

Water flowing through the axis of a tube is called laminar.

The Thinking Cap, once completed, did not have a power source capable of providing energy for so sophisticated a prototype. This led to The Thinker and The Mechanic deciding to make use of the STAR Labs Particle Accelerator.

Marlize DeVoe says it is more likely that a Higgs-Boson bridge will open when the STAR Labs Particle Accelerator is activated than that a black hole will open in the middle of Central City.

Shortly after his intelligence was first enhanced, The Thinker solves Riemann's Hypothesis, Hilbert's 15th Problem and the standard conjectures on algebraic cycles.

Clifford DeVoe's gastrochemius muscles begin to degenerate after his intelligence is enhanced. This is consistent in patients with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), though Clifford's degeneration is far faster than in a normal ALS patient.

DeVoe states that an increase in complex fasciculation potential explains the axonal membrane hyper-excitability. When gamma wave activity exceeds 50 hertz, his acetylcholine receptors draw away from his nerve receptors instead of toward them.

Life expectancy for a typical ALS patient is 2-5 years. With DeVoe's chronodispersion, it would be half that. Complete paralysis will come first.

Clifford asks his wife to build a temporal vortex distortion chamber - i.e. a time machine - to stop him from ever having enhanced his intelligence. Instead, she builds some manner of life-support chair that can extend his life.

Dialogue Triumphs

Clifford: Nothing matters to them if it's not digestible in YouTube videos of talking babies or inane pet tricks.
Marlize (enthusiastically) Have you see the husky singing Like A Virgin?

Clifford: Here's the thing. I love teaching. It gives me the opportunity to broaden perspectives. But you can't just inspire people to be better. You somehow need to change the way people think...

(Barry is trying to convince the rest of the team that DeVoe is their man.)
Barry: He likes samurai!
Cisco: Who doesn't?!

Barry: Guys, I'm telling you, Clifford DeVoe... he's not what he seems.
Cisco: That could just be the wheelchair. I mean-
Barry: (shocked) No!
Cisco: (giving Harry the side-eye while jerking a thumb at him) - you do kinda have a bad history...
Harry: (annoyed) That wasn't me.

(Eobard Thawne, masquerading as Harrison Wells, is taking questions from the crowd.)
Thawne Wells: Yes?
Marlize: Those protesting this accelerator believe it could open a black hole in Central City. But is it not more likely to cause a benevolent phenomena like a Higgs-Boson bridge?
Thawne Wells: The only phenomena that will occur this evening is one that has been calculated to the tiniest detail, to the tiniest decimal point.
Marlize: So you've foreseen every possible outcome?
Thawne Wells: Yes, I have, Miss...?
Marlize: Mrs. Marlize DeVoe
Thawne Wells: (trying to place the name) DeVoe? DeVoe? (suddenly remembering) I expect that would make the gentlemen to your right your husband... Clifford DeVoe?
(Clifford DeVoe nods politely.)
Thawne Wells: I'm a big fan. Of your work. Sir. I expect it will have an enormous impact on our future. Thank you for coming, Professor. Good luck.

(Clifford and Marlize have been left alone by their doctor, following the news of Clifford's lethal diagnosis) 
Marlize: This doesn't make sense!
Clifford: My mind is drawing energy from my body. Like a parasite feeding on an ailing host. We're so close to everything we've ever dreamed of, only for it to be ripped away by this body.
Marlize: No, no, no! We can stop this, Clifford!  I'll never give up!
Clifford: (bitterly) 2600 individuals developed the metagene. They use it to rob jewelry stores and summon tornadoes. I use mine to save humanity and I'm condemned. Dying wasn't part of our plan.
Marlize: Shhh!
(Marlize hugs Clifford tightly.)

Clifford: You may be The Fastest Man Alive, Allen. I'm The Fastest Mind.

(The Thinker and The Mechanic are watching Barry and Iris on a monitor.)
The Mechanic: You're really going to let them get married?
The Thinker: What is knowledge without love?
(The Mechanic smiles, taking The Thinker's hand and squeezes it.)


The Mechanic's name is revealed as Marlize DeVoe. She is The Thinker's wife. She has two doctorates - one in mechanical engineering and one in advanced robotics. She also makes the best macaroni and cheese in the world.

The Thinker and The Mechanic were both professors at Central City University.

The Thinker teaches history.

The Mechanic teaches engineering. One of her specific classes is Introduction To Fluid Mechanics and Physical Thermodynamics.

Clifford DeVoe grew up in South Africa. He studied history and econometrics at the University of Johannesburg before taking a teaching position at Oxford. It was there he met Marlize and the two fell in love. He came to Central City four years earlier, after being offered a tenured professorship.

DeVoe denies knowing Ramsey Deacon (402), Becky Sharpe (403) or Ralph Dibny (404). He does acknowledge knowing Mina Chaytan (406) - they were colleagues at Central City University before she abruptly quit. He refers to her as an animated woman.

DeVoe has a painting of a samurai in his living room which resembles the Samuaroid from 401.

The feudal history of medieval Japan is one of Clifford DeVoe's specialties.

Clifford DeVoe speaks fluent Japanese, French, Italian and Mandarin among several other languages.

There are 1122 DeVoe's in Central City.

Both Cisco and Harry are fans of the film Zatoichi - The Blind Swordsman and consider it's Criterion Collection to be the best box-set ever.

The Mechanic completed construction on The Thinking Cap just before The STAR Labs Particle Accelerator Explosion in 101.

Barry steals Clifford DeVoe's mug from work to get a DNA sample. Testing shows that he is not a metahuman.

Cisco and Harry determine that Clifford DeVoe has no criminal record, pays all his bills and mortgage on time, has a reasonable 401k plan, donates to The Sierra Club and volunteers as a Big Brother with a local orphanage.

Caitlin says that her colleagues at Oxford recall DeVoe as being a bit absent-minded, but generally likable.

Cisco attempts to vibe Clifford DeVoe's coffee mug. He has a vision of The DeVoe's eating dinner and confirms that Malize DeVoe does make fantastic mac-n-cheese.

The Amazing Spider-Man apparently exists as a fictional character in The DCTVU.

Eobard Thawne, masquerading as Harrison Wells, apparently recognized Clifford DeVoe's name when The DeVoes attended the press conference before the activation of The STAR Labs Particle Accelerator. He said the was a big fan of The Professor's work and wished him luck in the future.

Thawne's line about "everything being calculated to the tiniest decimal point" is a callback to a similar line The Thinker said in 406.

Despite seeing the problems with The Particle Accelerator (which Thawne had planned), Clifford decides to go through with his plan to power The Thinking Cap using the energy released by The Particle Accelerator when it explodes. The energy output stops his heart, his wife barely able to restart it with CPR after he is struck by lightning while wearing The Thinking Cap just as the dark matter wave hits him.

DeVoe files a harassment complaint against Barry. Eventually, this becomes a 500 foot restraining order.

DeVoe claimed to have determined who the true Jack The Ripper was.

DeVoe develops an accelerated case of ALS as a side-effect of the process that enhances his intelligence.

DeVoe says that 2600 individuals developed The Metagene.

Barry discovers the camera hidden in the head of The Samuraoid. He breaks into The DeVoe's house looking for a connection, during which point he is caught on camera.

Barry is suspended from the CCPD for two weeks.

DeVoe knows that Barry is The Flash and of the existence of The Council of Wells'. He says he is comfortable telling Barry the truth of who he is because he has already foreseen everything Barry and his allies can do.

Wally West returns from Blue Valley, which he left for in 403.

Cisco officially dubs Clifford DeVoe The Thinker. DeVoe foresaw this, saying there were 4900 possible outcomes of his confrontation with Barry including one where he was dubbed The Teacher. He says he likes The Thinker better.


The flashbacks depicting Clifford DeVoe's life take place in Central City, starting four years earlier.

The Boomerang Factor

It's hard to say what's worse in this episode - Barry's stupidity in breaking into The DeVoe's home at regular speed and not keeping his face covered, the rest of the cast's sudden unwillingness to trust Barry's instincts or Iris's concern over Barry's sudden paranoia being limited to complaining about him disrupting their wedding plans.

The Bottom Line

It's probably a bad sign that this episode has made me far more sympathetic of The DeVoes than The Allen-Wests. Suffice it to say the script does a great job of developing The DeVoes into a loving couple in the span of a few flashbacks and you wonder why the writers haven't been able to do the same with Iris and Barry over the last few seasons. Barry loses 50 IQ points and forgets how to use his powers to stay hidden, Iris is turned into a total bridezilla incapable of supporting the man she reportedly loves and everyone else... is just kind of there. Much like this episode in general - it's just kind of there.

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