Tuesday, April 10, 2018

The Flash Episode Guide: Season 4, Episode 17 - Null and Annoyed

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


With two of the so-called "Bus Metas" left to locate, Ralph and Barry butt heads over how to go about approaching them. This causes trouble when they find out one of them is a jewel thief named Janet Petty, who has the power to negate gravity and she has no interest in hearing out the heroes about how her life is in danger. Meanwhile, Breacher returns to ask Cisco for a favor.


X-Men (the new "danger room" in STAR Labs), Hawkworld (character of Null), the films of Kevin Smith (Jay and Silent Bob cameo) and The Flash comics of John Broome (general comedic tone)


Ralph is once again back to being carelessly brave after being an overly-cautious coward for the last two episodes.

Barry - who is meant to be the most lighthearted and positive of superheroes - is suddenly more serious than Oliver Queen, so as to provoke more drama between him and Ralph.


The floating effects for this episode are nicely handled.

Flash Facts

This episode was directed by Kevin Smith - the famous independent film director and superfan.

Ralph jokingly refers to the Thinker hologram as Doc Ock. This is a reference to Doctor Octopus - a Spider-Man villain whose mechanical tentacles resemble the mechanical arms on The Thinker's chair. This is one of another series of references confirming that Marvel Comics exist in The Arrowverse.

Ralph shouts the phrase "Turtle Power" before drawing his head into his body. This is a nod to the catch phrase of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles in their original 1980s cartoon series. He also mockingly calls Barry "Master Splinter" in reference to The Ninja Turtle's teacher and foster father.

Ralph's suggestion for a superhero improve group based in Washington DC called "The DC Comics" is, of course, a nod to DC Comics - the comic book publisher that publishes The Flash.

A career criminal metahuman called Null appeared in Hawkworld #28 (November 1992). This villain had the power to manipulate gravity in the area around him. This villain was a white male.

The DCTVU version of Null is an African-American woman named Janet Petty. The only thing she has in common with her comic book counter part is the code name, the powers and a criminal past.

Lord Crucifer was a vampiric overlord who first appeared in JLA #94 (May 2004) and was created by Chris Claremont and John Byrne. Part of a cult known as The Tenth Circle, who became vampires as a result of a magical ritual, they were banished into another dimension by Queen Hippolyta and the Amazons. They began to seek a way of escaping their prison, using metahumans as host-vessels for their essence since regular human bodies were not powerful enough to hold the vampire's spirits.

Breacher mentions The Arrowverse equivalent of The Tenth Circle and Lord Crucifer when he describes to Cisco how he lost his ability to "vibe-blast". He says he killed all of The Tenth Circle except for Lord Crucifer. This particular breed of vampire is not hurt by sunlight.

Kevin Smith and Jason Mewes - most famous for playing the roles of Jay and Silent Bob in various Kevin Smith movies - have cameos in this episode playing a pair of museum security guards. Though not identified by name, Smith's guard does not speak whereas Mewes' guard is as talkative and expressive as Jay.

The crown that Janet Petty steals was The Khandaq Dynasty Family Crown. In the original DC Comics, Khandaq is a fictional Middle-Eastern country located between Egypt and Israel. It is the home of the anti-hero Black Adam.

At one point, Janet Petty is sighted near the corner of Orchard and Broome. This name of Broome Street is a nod to John Broome - a legendary comic book writer responsible for creating several classic Flash villains and other characters, including The Elongated Man.

Ralph suggests that Barry can lower himself to the ground by burping like Charlie Bucket. This is a reference to the film Willy Wonka and The Chocolate Factory, where Charlie Bucket drank a "Fizzy-Lifting" Soda that caused him to levitate. Charlie was eventually able to get to the ground by burping the gas out of his system.

Cisco calls Lord Crucifer From Dusk Til Dawn. This is a famous vampire movie in which Danny Trejo, who plays Breacher, played a prominent role.

Breacher mentions a dragon ranch on Earth 47 that he always wanted to visit. In the pre-Crisis DC Comics Multiverse, Earth 47 was a world where Lois Lane was superhero called Krypton Girl and Clark Kent an ordinary human. Krypton Girl responded to his repeated attempts to figure out her secret identity by banishing her to The Phantom Zone. In the New 52 DC Comics Multiverse, Earth 47 is home to various superheroes inspired by the 1960s counter-culture movement, including Prez Rickard, Brother Power The Geek, Sunshine Superman and The Love Syndicate of Dream World.


STAR Labs now has a holographic combat simulation room.

Barry has created a maneuver called "The Double Scarlet Speedster' to perform with Ralph.

The Mechanic says it may be possible to prolong The Thinker's current host body's lifespan by adjusting the biomass index and recallibrate the energy distribution through The Thinker's chair.

Barry calculates that in order for the crate holding The Khandaq Dynasty Family Crown to have broken in the way it did, it would have to have been traveling at least 55 mph.

Caitlin says that Breacher's loss of power is due to his increasing age. The vibrational powers shared by Gypsy, Vibe and Breacher require a lot of energy to use and Caitlin determines that eventually they fade away. The loss of vibe blasts is the first sign this is starting to happen.

Caitlin says that Null's powers work by altering the density of whatever she touches, effectively making it like they are full of helium.

Harry calculates that the effects of Null's powers are temporary and what goes up must come down.

The Mechanic determines that her cortisol levels are low and that she is showing signs of tachycardia (i.e. a faster than normal heart rate) and repetitive pupil dilation. Her seratonin levels are 319 nanograms. All of these signs are consistent with those of someone on psychoactive narcotics.

Cisco suggests putting Breacher on an all-alkaline diet and pumping him full of antioxidants to give him more energy. Caitlin says this will not work.

Cisco also suggests making a super-shake full of enzymes and probiotics. Caitlin says that wouldn't work in the long-term.

Harry says that the fact that Null's fingers glow when she uses her powers means that her powers act as a dark matter accelerator which means her powers are generated from the optic nerve. In other words, Null can't alter things she can't see. This means that if Barry approaches her while vibrating beyond the speed of sight as he approaches her eye-line, he'll be invisible to her.

Barry notes that scientists have spent years trying to reconcile relativity and quantum gravity.

Dialogue Triumphs

Ralph: (referring to his idea that he can draw his head inside himself to keep The Thinker from stealing his powers with his brain sucking machine) I still think it's a pretty good plan. I hide my face, I save my ass.

(Barry is holding on to the lighting rack on the ceiling of the main lab room.)
Cisco: Is there a way to reengage his gravitational -
Harry: (putting on his Thinking Cap) Gravitational force.
(Iris struggles with the rope tied to Barry's feet.)
Harry: Huh. Turns out - not necessary.
Barry (To Iris) Do not let go!
Harry: Based on Barry's standard mass and the gravitational force G and taking into account the half-life determent of Null''s dark matter infusion, this effect should eventually just... wear off.
Barry: Wear off?!
Harry: Your cells should return to normal right about -
(Harry pushes Cisco as Barry gasps and falls to the ground where Cisco was standing.)
Cisco: - the hell?!
Harry:  - now.
Ralph: Two for the landing, but a perfect ten for the thud noise!

Breacher: I've tasted all your donuts. Where's my cure?!

The Mechanic: (on the recording) You must escape!
The Thinker: You always save it under the same name.
The Mechanic: (on the recording) Escape now!
The Thinker: Every time you discover it. It's quite clever, really. But I would expect nothing less from you.
The Mechanic: How many times have I been through this?!
The Thinker:  Too many. But that is of no concern. Because with the tears from The Weeper, mixed with Dominic Lanse's powers... I can alter your memory.
The Mechanic: So that is why you created The Weeper?!  You didn't need a potential host! He was-
The Thinker: For you, yes. I knew that the same thing in you that I fell in love with had the potential to destroy us - your humanity. I couldn't let that get in the way of us achieving our goal. The Englightenment!
The Mechanic: (sobbing) Clifford, I am your wife-!
(A tentacle snakes out from behind The Mechanic, latching onto her head and injecting her with something. She sinks to the floor as The Thinker kneels by her side.)
The Thinker: And I love you... but you are nothing without me.
(A happy expression comes over The Mechanic's face as she passes out.)

Ralph: I know this is serious. I watched Izzy die in front of me. (pauses) I'm scared out of my mind.
Barry: Well, you've got an odd way of showing it.
Ralph: Yeah, well, not everybody grew up with a super-dad like Joe West, who makes it easy to talk about your feelings.
(Barry nods.)
Ralph: When I was ten years old, my dad walked out on me and my mom. I was terrified. But my mom? She was even more afraid. So, you know, I just started making jokes. Started doing stupid gags and funny bits and whoopee cushions. Anything to push her fear away. And the thing is after a while it started to push my far away too.
Barry: I had no idea, Ralph...
Ralph: It's not that I don't care about beating DeVoe. It's not that I don't care about being a great hero. It's just that ever since then, anytime that I'm afraid, I either hide.. or I make jokes.

Dialogue Disasters

Ralph: We'd make a fortune! An improv group made up of superheroes? We could take it to Washington! We'd be the DC Comics.

Harry: Nor did either of you predict the location of a 120-pound woman using the curvature of spacetime caused by the uneven distribution of mass yet still somehow fail to account for the gravitational pull of a 4000 pound car floating right above her head!


Edwin Gauss disappeared the day Barry came out of The Speed Force.

Janet Petty is a career criminal who has lived a nomadic existence since she was 13. She was last seen in Iron Heights prison, serving a sentence for breaking and entering, trespassing and burglary. Her social media handle is Null.

Breacher was last seen in 404.

Breacher lost his ability to "vibe-blast" following a battle with a vampire named Lord Crucifer.

The Thinker's current host body - Izzy Bowin - has one week left before it burns out.

Despite his increased intelligence, The Thinker says his mind for engineering is still not the equal of The Mechanic's.

The Mechanic is unaware that The Thinker has already killed The Weeper and claimed his power.

Breacher's loss of powers is due to old age - not anything done by Lord Crucifer.

The Mechanic discovers that The Thinker has been lacing her drinks with The Weeper's tears.

The vase which Ralph accidentally broke was worth $40,000 and made of gold.

Janet Petty has used 17 different aliases, including Judy Newton, Jeannie Williams, Jackie Plumber, Jordan Smith, Jane Liksa and Jesse Rivers.

Harry uses his Thinking Cap to calculate that Janet Petty was last seen on the corner of Orchard and Broome.

Earl Cox - Ralph's sleazy detective associate from 413 - appears again. It seems that he acts as a fence for certain criminals and Ralph theorizes that Null might be selling her loot to him.

Cisco gives Breacher an antihistamine, saying that his problem is he has too much stamina. Breacher is able to unleash a vibe blast again, but the color is different.

Lord Crucifer is immune to the effects of sunlight.

The Mechanic attempts to leave a video message to herself warning her about The Thinker's manipulation of her mind, under the file name New Lemonade Recipe. She the discovers she has already done this and that The Thinker has altered her memory several times already.

Ralph's dad abandoned him and his mom when he was ten. Since then, Ralph has used comedy as a coping mechanism when he is scared.

Barry is sent flying by Null. Ralph saves him by slapping a pair of power inhibitor cuffs on Null's legs and then turning himself into a giant whoopee cushion to pad Barry's fall.

Earl Cox cleared Ralph's tab.

Breacher retires and decides to go visit a dragon farm on Earth 47. This Earth is the home of Harrison Lothario Wells, who was seen in 406.

Breacher says that he will never see Cisco again, but that he has recommended him to take over his job on Earth-19.

It is revealed that all of the work done to adjust The Thinker's chair was done by The Mechanic - she just had no memory of having done the previous work.

The episode ends with Harry going into The Time Vault, plugging his Thinking Cap into the power relay that used to charge Eobard Thawne's chair and activating Gideon. Gideon says that it has been 1,078 days since they spoke. This would correspond, roughly with 119 - the episode in which Barry, Cisco and Caitlin discovered that Harrison Wells was not really Harrison Wells. This suggests that "Harry" is Eobard Thawne.

The Boomerang Factor

Most of the drama in the episode is caused by Ralph's sudden recklessness and Barry's sudden need to look on the dark side of life.

The Bottom Line

Another lackluster episode, saved only by the ensemble cast giving a weak script far more effort than it deserves. Smith's direction helps somewhat, but it doesn't change the fact that Barry is out of character, Ralph's character has changed again and the villain of the week is poorly developed.

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