Tuesday, February 27, 2018

The Flash Episode Guide: Season 4, Episode 14 - Subject 9

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


The search for the ninth of the "bus Metas" created by The Thinker leads Team Flash to Izzy Bowin - a country-western fiddle player, whose metagene has manifested in an unexpected way.


The Flash comics of Robert Kanigher and Lee Elias.


You'd think Ralph and Barry would know better than to approach a strange woman and try to lure her away with some crazed story about her being a metahuman whose life is in danger. Even if Barry DID still have his police ID, it would be real tricky.

I'm with Ralph - you'd think one of the geniuses would have thought of checking Izzy's website before he did. (Then again, STAR Labs rightly has a reputation for employing the dumbest geniuses in television.)

Barry sure gives up on trying to work around that force-field in a hurry.

Why doesn't DeVoe grab Ralph's powers while he's there?  He has Barry and Ralph outclassed and dead to rights.


Miranda MacDougall proves an engaging presence in what is apparently her first major TV role, as Izzy Bowin.

If Hartley Sawyer is meant to be making Ralph seem sleazier and sleazier, he's doing a bad job of it. Apart from Caitlin, Ralph is about the only member of Team Flash I can stand anymore and that's all down to Harley's goofy but likable performance.

The chemistry between MacDougall and Sawyer is so fantastic you really don't mind that they basically fall in love over the course of a half hour.. Shame it only is good for this episode.


The special effects work for The Fiddler's sound attacks is impressive and one wishes we'd gotten something like this sooner for the various Black Canaries.

Flash Facts

Izzy Bowin is a gender-flipped, modernized take on the classic The Flash villain Isaac Bowin, a.k.a. The Fiddler. Strangely enough, The Fiddler was a magic-based villain rather than a metahuman.

First appearing in All-Flash #32 (January 1948), Isaac Bowin quickly became the arch-enemy of the Jay Garrick version of The Flash. A thief who was arrested and jailed in a prison in India, Bowin met a snake-charming fakir who taught him the secret mystic arts of music. Bowin was able to build an improvised violin from materials in the prison and learned to go beyond hypnotizing people and animals with music. He was able to unleash destructive waves of energy with his instrument as well as creating barriers of solid sound.

When his teacher declared that Bowin had surpassed him, Bowin arranged their escape, only to kill his teacher and the merchant who saw him arrested before fleeing to America. It was here The Fiddler attempted to replace Maestro Bowin - a violin virtuoso who turned out to be the lost twin brother Isaac Bowin never knew he had!

The Fiddler was one of the villains who united to form the second incarnation of The Injustice Society, to oppose The Justice Society of which Jay Garrick was a member.

The post-Crisis version of Isaac Bowin had virtually the same background as his pre-Crisis counterpart. The chief difference was that Bowin was established as part of the British aristocracy, who was an avid musician and world traveler who turned to thievery after blowing through his savings. He still learned the secret magic of music while in a prison in India and still attempted to murder and replace his twin brother, Maestro Bowin, though he was aware of his twin brother's existence this time.

The post-Crisis Fiddler was one of three villains (along with The Thinker and The Shade) who combined their efforts to hide Keystone City away from the world. Barry Allen accidentally bypassed the vibrational barrier The Fiddler placed around the city, leading to the first post-Crisis team-up between the Barry Allen and Jay Garrick Flashes.

The post-Crisis Fiddler was also part of the international villain group Injustice Unlimited, formed to fight The Global Guardians.

A slight retcon to The Fiddler's origins appeared in John Ostrander's Hawkworld series. One story established that the fakir who awakened Isaac Bowin's powers was truly a demon, who would later awaken similar powers in a guitar player who went on to a short-lived career as the criminal The Thrasher.

Isaac Bowin was part of the original Secret Six line-up formed by Mockingbird in the 2005 mini-series Villains United. He was killed by Deadshot, after a battle with HIVE agents in which his powers proved ineffective. To add insult to injury, Deadshot wondered out-loud why a man who was a classically trained violin player would refer to his instrument as a fiddle - a name nominally used by less-educated, lower-class musicians.

Gail Simone later introduced a new female version of The Fiddler into her follow-up Secret Six series. This villain was dubbed Virtuoso and armed herself with Isaac Bowin's old fiddle. Though she was never given a full name or origin story, she appeared to be of Indian descent and had a Hindu caste mark on her forehead. This seems to be a nod to the origins of the original Fiddler's powers.

The DCTVU version of Izzy Bowin has the metahuman ability to control soundwaves. She does not need her instrument to do this, as she is able to release a focused sonic blast that knocks Barry and Ralph to the ground and deafens them both.

We get a quick glance at Izzy Bowin's touring schedule when Iris goes to her website, which reveals the names of several familiar DC Comics cities. Among them are Central City, Keystone City, Blue Valley, Coast City, Star City and Bludhaven. These are, respectively, the hometown of The Barry Allen Flash, the hometown of The Jay Garrick Flash, the hometown of Wally West, the hometown of Hal Jordan, the hometown of Oliver Queen and the adoptive hometown of Dick Grayson when he became Nightwing.

Izzy Bowin's blog has an entry on 2/1/18 which says that she canceled her concert in Blue Valley because of "some sorta starfish situation." In JLA Secret Files #1(September 1997) and JLA #22 (September 1998), the telepathic alien starfish Starro The Conqueror tried to take over the Earth using Blue Valley as a starting point. This is also probably the incident Wally West referred to in 407 where he mentioned fighting an alien starfish in Blue Valley.


The additional dark matter introduced into The Thinker's system every time he absorbs a new power accelerates the deterioration of his current host's body. It has been about a week since he transferred his mind into Hazard's body and she is already starting to lose control of his motor functions.

Sound is the force of billions of tiny gas molecules colliding into one another. This means that a person who could harness and amplify kinetic energy in the same way as The Fiddler, it could create molecular shrapnel.

It is perfectly safe for most pregnant women to have one cup of coffee a day.

According to The Mechanic, Izzy Bowin's sonic powers were able to accelerate the deterioration of Hazard's internal organs. Specifically, the atrial flutter and bradycardia.

Harry builds a mental activity dampener made of ten pounds of cerebellum-proof anti-telepathy somani steel. He refers to it as a generational breakthrough in vibrational brainwave theory. It is not, as Cecile points out, comfortable enough to sleep in.

The 2.0 version of the mental activity dampener is more compact, but must be adhered to the supraobital ridge. It functions by disrupting inbound brain activity, but by reversing the polarity Harry is able to make it disrupt outbond brainwave broadcasts as well.

Harry dubs this new mental activity dampener, which can be used against DeVoe and block his powers, the cerebral inhibitor.

The cerebral inhibitor is equipped with a kill-switch microchip that prevents it from connecting to a network. Unfortunately, this does nothing to stop DeVoe from hacking it.

Harry speculates that the cerebral inhibitor didn't work because he underestimated the amount of time between each synapse router or overestimated the micro-combustion infrastructure.

Cisco theorizes that DeVoe's lair is in a pocket dimension, based on the fact that the effect produced whenever DeVoe teleports is that of a warping signature of someone moving into a pocket dimension.

Einstein postulated that it was possible for a region-specific fold in space-time to exist between the standard four dimensions that humans perceive - i.e. a pocket dimension.

Dialogue Triumphs

(Ralph and Barry are collapsed on the floor, having just been shot by one of Izzy Bowin's sonic blasts at point-blank range.)
I guess now we know what her power is!
Barry: (shaking his head., cupping a hand to one ear, shouting) What?!
Ralph: What?!

(Izzy Bowin has just declared that she doesn't need Team Flash to train her or protect her and stormed out of STAR Labs.)
Ralph: I dunno guys. I kinda feel like if I just followed her into that hallway and just gave her one of those "hey look" inspirational talks, I could probably get her to stay.
Cisco: (annoyed) Then what are you still doing here?!
Ralph: Sorry! I don't know if you like draw straws for this stuff or something?
Cisco: No! Go!

Ralph: Look, Izzy? I know how you're feeling. That day you got your powers? I was on the same bus. So that evil chipmunk? She wants to kill me too.
Izzy: Please. I think I'd remember seeing you on my bus.
Ralph: (chuckles) Actually, I was kinda... big boned back then. I was on a strict diet of gin, donuts and regret. But I got another shot at it. And I worked my tight butt off. And now I'm the hottest superhero in town.
Izzy: (scoffs) Please....
Ralph: My life has never been better. Kinda like yours.
Izzy: Yeah, but aren't you afraid of losing it all?
Ralph: Yeah. I am. Which is why I'm part of this team. You said that your family bailed on you, so I can understand why you wouldn't trust someone to look out for you, but Izzy - I can tell you that these amazing weirdos? They won't bail. They created a buddy system for me. And if you'll stay, they'll keep you safe. I promise.
(The elevator opens. Ralph and Izzy both stare at it expectantly. Finally, Izzy grins at Ralph.)
Izzy: So - who's gonna be my buddy then?
Ralph: (smiles) I may have to pull some strings, but I'll see if I'm available.
(Izzy smiles back and actually giggles a bit.)

(Harry has just noticed the odd expression on Barry and Iris' faces as he reveals the cerebral inhibitor.)
Harry: What's that? What are you guys doing?  What are - what are those faces?
Iris: When Savitar came to STAR Labs, he said we would build a device to use against DeVoe.
Barry: (smiling) The cerebral inhibitor.
Harry: Well, I wish I had known that before I spent all this time trying to come up with a second name. Naming is hard.


Despite having all the charges against him dismissed, Barry is still asked to take an indefinite leave of absence from the CCPD per the new Mayor's orders.

The new Mayor's last name is revealed to be Van Buren.

Publicly, Warden Wolfe is said to have died a hero trying to stop a break-out at Iron Heights, during the events of 413.

Again, it is affirmed that DeVoe has taken the powers of Brainstorm, Hazard, Kilgore, Black Bison and Dwarfstar.

Fallout is safe with Tracy Brand.

 Ralph is with Team Flash.

The Weeper is MIA, but we know that DeVoe has his powers as well.

This leaves four bus metahumans at large.

Ralph wears a retainer.

Ralph sweats a lot when he sleeps.

According to Cisco, Ralph's apartment has no lamps but neon beer signs and Ralph uses the kitchen sink as a shower.

Ralph also owns a futon.

After retrieving the lost-and-found box from Bus 405, Ralph discovers Izzy Bowin's demo CD.

Vibe is able to learn who Izzy Bowin is aver vibing her CD. He discovers she is playing a gig at The Busted Saddle Saloon.

Ralph hates country music.

The Thinker says that Izzy Bowin has not yet refined her power to the fullest but he does not have time to wait or locate another host. This means that The Thinker has not found the last three bus metas either.

Izzy Bowin's sonic blasts are capable of permanently deafening a person. Luckily, Ralph's eardrums stretched with the blow and Barry was able to heal the damage after a few hours.

Harry returns from his trip to Earth Two.

Cecile is being kept awake at night because she can't shut off her telepathy to stop from reading Joe West's mind when he's dreaming.

Harry offers to build something that can help Cecile with her telepathic insomnia.

Izzy Bowin's sonic powers are able to hurt The Thinker.

Caitlin suggests using Izzy's fiddle as a means of helping her to focus her powers.

Barry accidentally wounds Izzy by trying to throw skeet targets at her.

Izzy is able to knock Ralph out with one targeted whistle.

Harry creates the cerebral inhibitor - the device Savitar said Team Flash would make to fight DeVoe back in 323.  (It is pointed out, however, that Savitar never said it would work.)

DeVoe is somehow able to sense when Cisco is using his Vibe powers to focus in on a person or location and strike back at Cisco psychically.

This is later revealed to be part of Brainstorm's enhanced powers. Though Dominic Lanse never unlocked the potential himself, his powers allowed him to affects minds as well as read them. This allows DeVoe to attack Cisco while he is vibing on Izzy and to attack Barry with a psychic attack that gives him an aneurysm.

DeVoe is able to hack the cerebral inhibitor using Kilgore's powers, which also allow him to listen in on Team Flash's comm signals.

Cecile tells Harry that the MAD 2.0 worked perfectly and she is sleeping again.

Cecile suggests that Harry call his daughter and invite her to visit him on Earth One.

Ralph invites Barry to be his partner in his detective business.

Untelevised Adventures

Apparently Starro the Conqueror attempted to take over Blue Valley recently, forcing Izzy Bowin to cancel her concert there.

The Fridge Factor

Izzy is killed off to make Ralph angst over her death, to give his character more depth.

The Boomerang Factor

Honestly, most of the problems in this episode would have been solved immediately if Barry and Iris didn't act like idiots/jerks.

The Bottom Line

A likable character is introduced and fridged to give Ralph Dibny more definition. The sad thing is this is the best storyline in the episode and Ralph is the only member of Team Flash apart from Caitlin who isn't a total jerk. Barry suddenly pushes Izzy away so she can be put into danger. Iris and Cisco are pushing Ralph away, further cementing his insecurity about being a hero.

Honestly, if it weren't for the fact that DeVoe is an unrepentant murderer who is responsible for killing all the likable characters on this show while sparing the idiots and jerks, I'd be rooting for him.

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