When The Thinker attacks the ARGUS facility holding Fallout disguised as John Diggle and starts using him as a battery to fuel The Enlightenment, it falls to Team Flash to stop him. The problem is that after the death of Ralph Dibny and Caitlin's depowerment, Barry is reluctant to risk the lives of his friends any further. But The Flash can't face The Thinker alone... can he?
As the episode opens, Barry, Cisco and Irish are checking space launch facilities for signs of DeVoe... apparently having forgotten that with his gravity control powers, DeVoe shouldn't have trouble getting his satellites into orbit.
It's a bit weird that Caitlin refers to Ronnie as her fiancee since they did get married. (Albeit it for only the better part of a day.)
Caitlin tells Dr. Finkel that her father died of ALS, yet in 211, it was said that he died of multiple-sclerosis - a similar but distinct condition. (Perhaps this is another thing that was changed by Flashpoint?)
Caitlin says that Melting Point's DNA powers could allow him to trick a DNA scanner. There's no evidence of this from anything we saw Melting Point do in earlier episodes. Perhaps it could be done, but he'd need to have a sample of the person's DNA for that to work.
Barry suggests absorbing electrical current to boost his speed. It has never been suggested that he is capable of doing this while in Flashtime.
Iris West is officially the worst reporter/detective in the world if she has to be told that the best way to find someone in hiding is to search territory that is familiar to them... or their apartment.
So... ARGUS just stands by and does nothing for 12 hours as a metahuman terrorist takes over one of their secure facilities and begins trying to push a living nuclear bomb towards exploding? (I am beginning to see why Oliver Queen didn't think to call them in to deal with Ricardo Diaz over on Arrow sooner.)
David Ramsey has a brief but fun moment playing the disguised DeVoe.
Both Grant Gustin and Carlos Valdes give powerful performances as Barry and Cisco unload on each other about their respective burdens regarding the current situation.
The sequence of The Thinker storming the ARGUS site to Hallelujah is perhaps the best of the season. The music, the effects work and the fight choreography all work together perfectly.
Barry mentions Blackhawk Island as a potential launch site for one of DeVoe's satellites. In the original DC Comics Universe, Blackhawk Island was the base of operations for The Blackhawk Squadron - a team of made up of the pilots of many nations, led my a mysterious man called Blackhawk, who flew against the Axis Powers during World War II. The original Blackhawk comics were second only in popularity to Superman during World War II and have the distinction of being one of only four DC Comics series (the other three being Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman) to see continuous publication from the 1940s through at least the 1960s.
Cisco makes reference to The Thinker being a "one man Legion of Doom" and says that means they have to send in The Superfriends. This is a reference to Challenge of the Super Friends - a 1978 superhero cartoon starring various DC Comics heroes and villains, who made up The Legion of Doom and The Super Friends. Apparently some form of this cartoon series exists on Earth One in The Arrowverse, which is interesting as two of the main characters in the original cartoon were The Flash and Captain Cold.
The theory that Caitlin and Cisco propose about how Barry can lend his speed to other options is perfectly in-line with how The Flash's powers work in the original comics. Wally West developed the ability to temporarily loan The Speed Force to other people. He could also drain the velocity from objections already in motion to boost his own acceleration or accelerate them using his own speed.
In order for The Thinker to place five satellites into a synchronous orbit around The Earth, he will need to do so from an airfield south of the 39th Parallel.
The Thinker plans to use a shrunken Fallout as he goes nuclear as a battery to power up his satellites before launching them.
The floors of The Castle are equipped with motion-activated electro-shock plates. Each plate administers a 70,000 volt shock. Their activation pattern is randomized every few hours. The plates also cause an electrical explosion when touched.
Caitlin and Cisco theorize that Barry does not just tap into The Speed Force when he moves - he generates The Speed Force, like he's generating electricity to power an aura that protects him from friction.
Barry's physical touch, while helping him to focus his ability to lend his aura to other people, is not necessary.
Caitlin guesses that they would only last 55 milliseconds of real time before they lost the aura after Barry let go of them, but they think that would be ample time to rescue the hostages while Barry chased down The Thinker.
Caitlin theorizes that the increased presence of the hormone Relaxin in Cecile's body is causing her to inhabit minds rather than just reading them, causing her to act like people her telepathy connects to. She gives her an albuterol inhaler to try and calm her down.
The Cold Gun will not operate in Flashtime, due to a need to offset the friction.
Cisco builds an wrist-mounted ice-shooter (Barry calls it The Frost Bite) for Caitlin to use in lieu of The Cold Gun. It solves the friction-offset problem of the cold gun by shooting ice. Cisco is content to call it an Ice Shooter, but Caitlin doesn't like the name.
Upon seeing Harry, The Mechanic confirms that he is in the penultimate stage of The Enlightenment and that he will soon lose his memories completely and be a total blank slate to be molded by The Thinker.
("John Diggle" starts to pass through the gates into the ARGUS site. Suddenly, the phone of one of the guards goes off, playing a stream of rap music.)
"John Diggle": Modern music. (scoffs) So lacking in the harmonic resources necessary for expressiveness.
(The headset of the guard starts playing George Handel's Hallelujah instead. We see Diggle's eyes flash purple - a sign that it is really The Thinker using Kilgore's technopathy.)
The Thinker: For profundity.
(The guards began to gasp as if being choked.)
The Thinker: Timpani in Handel's orchestra weighed 140 pounds. The exact gravitational force that I am now exerting on your lungs.
(Quick cut as the guards collapse to the ground. The Thinker now has the face of Clifford DeVoe.)
The Thinker: Music Appreciation 101. This evening's recital will be conducted by... your beloved professor.
(Caitlin is trying to talk to Dr. Finkel about Killer Frost.)
Dr. Finkel: So "your friend?" Is... she with us here right now?
Caitlin: Oh no! I'm not schizophrenic. She's more like... another personality.
Dr. Finkel: Disassociative Identity Disorder. That IS usually caused by trauma and... from your history you've had quite a bit.
Caitlin: Yeah. I did see my fiancee die. Twice. And then my next boyfriend turned evil.
Dr. Finkel: I actually meant childhood trauma. Tell me about your father.
Caitlin: My dad? He was the best. Loving. Supportive. Always pushed me to get smarter.
Dr. Finkel: And how did you feel when he passed?
Caitlin: He had ALS. He was always hiding his symptoms from us. He never wanted us to see him suffer.
Dr. Finkel: Sometimes when we're young, we repress things that scare us...
Caitlin: Oh, I'm not repressing anything from my childhood! My missing friend just appeared a couple of years ago.
(Caitlin's phone goes off inside her purse.)
Caitlin: It's my adult life that's got me like this.
(Caitlin looks at her phone.)
Caitlin: I'm so sorry. I have to go. Umm... do you charge by the hour?
Dr. Finkel: (forced polite smile) For you and your friends? The quarter hour.
Joe: Okay. So, I've got snacks. I got clothes for you. I got clothes for the baby. (snaps fingers) Damn! I forgot something!
(We hear the sound when Cecile's telepathy activates as Joe heads for the stairs.)
Cecile: Joe! We are not going to need a katana at the hospital!
Joe: Okay, so you're in my head again. And it is entirely possible that we get attacked by samurai at the hospital.
(Regarding Wally not returning his calls.)
Joe: He's literally on a time machine! So he has no excuse to not show up on time to meet his new baby sister!
Barry: It takes more than ten hours to learn Super Speed, okay? You guys could die in there.
Cisco: And if you don't take us, we'll die anyway. Our brains get wiped and that's it! That's the end of our world!
Barry: No! Losing both of my best friends and having it be my fault? That's the end of my world! You may think it's worth the risk, but I couldn't live with myself.
Cisco: (angrily) Barry. You cannot sideline us because of what happened to him.
(Cisco points to the picture of Ralph among the other Bus Metas)
Barry: All right. I don't need another therapist.
(Barry gets up and starts to leave the room.)
Cisco: Look, we all lost somebody, okay? But that never gives us the excuse to shut each other out.
Barry: I said, drop it! Alright?!
Cisco: You think you're the only one who feels bad about Ralph dying?
Barry: You know he came to see me in Iron Heights? He told me he was afraid. He warned me he wasn't ready. But I pushed him anyway! I said to go back out there and do my job! My burden!
Cisco: We made the Bus Metas. We gave Ralph his powers. You want to talk about burdens?! I started this!
(Barry stammers trying to speak but Cisco keeps going.)
Cisco: I shot that bazooka! I opened up The Speed Force! And I didn't do it so that you could stand here and tell me that you're going to save the world alone! Again!
Barry: (sighs) I ... I know. I know that. And I know we're running out of time, and... I can't do this by myself, but... everybody I've tried to teach has ended up worst than when I found them.
Cisco: And what about Ralph? Was he worse? You taught him that when his back was against the wall and the world was ending around him, he could always make the choice. Make the choice to be a hero! We deserve that same choice! All we need is someone to show us how.
Barry: (looking to Caitlin, who has been quiet this whole time) You guys really want to do this?
Caitlin: It's not a burden if we shoulder it together.
(Team Flash is running through the plan.)
Caitlin: And I'll protect the ARGUS agents from the blast, using this (looking at the device on her wrist)... ice shooter?
Cisco: (nodding) Ice Shooter.
Caitlin: Do I have to call it an ice shooter?
Barry: I thought "Frost Bite" sounded good.
Cisco: Guys, it solves the friction offset problem by shooting ice. Therefore it is an ice shooter.
Barry: (raising a hand at Cisco) Relax.
Cisco: It's just not that hard!
The Thinker: "Once upon a time, in some remote corner of that universe, there was a star, upon which clever beasts invented knowing."
The Flash: You're quoting Nietzsche at me?
The Thinker: You destroyed a satellite! Top Marks... quick boy. You can destroy a thousand more and you will still march closer to The Enlightenment.
The Flash: (sarcastic) I forgot what Nietzsche said about wiping minds. I must have skipped Philosophy class that day...
The Thinker: Did I teach you nothing this year? Did nothing pierce your thick cowl?! Think of it! Or rather, don't. You'll only end up hurting yourself, so let me explain...
Iris: She stabbed me with a katana, Harry! Our lives are what we have to lose! We can't save anyone if we're all dead! We are going to bring her in and we're going to stop her so she doesn't hurt anyone ever again! (Truly, the noble and heroic spirit of The Flash at play here.)
The Castle - the ARGUS Black Ops Site holding Fallout - is hidden inside of Wellbiss Paper Products, 1000 miles from anything.
The passwords at ARGUS appear to be built around the names of musicians and foods. (Elvis Banana, Hendrix Spaghetti.)
The Castle uses DNA scans to identify their agents. Presumably The Thinker uses Kilgore's powers to overcome the scanner or Ralph Dibny is capable of replicating someone on the molecular level with his shape-shifting powers.In either case, reference is made to the events of 322 and how one year earlier someone (i.e. Barry Allen and Len Snart) broke into an ARGUS base using s personal transmogrifier.
The Thinker is able to bluff his way into The Castle pretending to be ARGUS Agent John Diggle.
The Thinker somehow knows about John Diggle's injuries from A601 and the experimental microchip used to treat his nerve injuries.
One of the ARGUS scientists at The Castle is a follower of Iris' blog and attempts to post about DeVoe attacking the base.
Team Flash checks Cape Canaveral, Space-X, The Xichang Space Center and Blackhawk Island for signs of The Thinker attempting to use them as launch sites for his satellites.
Apparently, the cartoon SuperFriends exists in some form on Earth One. This was already suggested in Legends of Tomorrow's second season when Nate Heywood called the villain team made up of The Reverse Flash, Malcolm Merlyn, Damien Darhk, Heatwave and Captain Cold "The Legion of Doom" in honor of some cartoon he liked as a kid. Cisco actually mentions The Superfriends fighting The Legion of Doom, however.
Harry's memory has deteriorated to the point that he forgot about Iris's blog, forgot that she asked him to proofread her latest article and forgets Cisco's name. He also seems to be losing control of his fine motor functions, tripping over a chair he claims "jumped right in front of him."
Iris's blog about The Flash has over 400,000 views. Iris is fielding sightings of both The Thinker and The Mechanic.
Caitlin is now seeing Dr. Finkel about her separation issues with Killer Frost.
Caitlin's father dying of MS (or ALS) was first mentioned in 211.
The running gag of John Diggle throwing up whenever he is moved at super-speed continues.
Barry has apparently mastered the trick of absorbing electrical current while in Flashtime to fuel his speed.
The Thinker has six ARGUS agents (five guards, one scientist) held hostage, suspended by his gravity control powers over the electrical plates in the entrance of The Castle.
Wally has missed over a dozen calls regarding being there for Cecile's delivery.
Cecile is apparently now imprinting on the thoughts of people telepathically. This causes her to talk like a stoner pizza delivery boy.
Harry suggests that Iris can locate The Mechanic by researching her past and figuring out where she might go to feel safe, given her apparent falling out with her husband.
Cisco and Caitlin suggest that Barry bring them into Flashtime with them and that they can rescue the hostages before they freeze up.
Cisco encountered difficulty trying to open a breach in Flashtime in 415. He has apparently figured out a way to compensate for the usual lack of time that makes creating a breach in space-time impossible (or at least very difficult.)
Cecile says she sensed Caitlin was trying to ignore something big and suggests she has to confront it.
The Mechanic is finally given a full name - Marlize Malan.
Marlize Malan was born in Cape Town, South Africa. She graduated with a PhD in inflationary theory and engineering. She was tenured as a professor of Engineering at Oxford.
Harry suggests trying to turn Marlize and use her love for her husband and desire to save him from himself to stop The Thinker.
Caitlin prescribes an albuterol inhaler to try and calm Cecile down to where she won't imprint on people with her telepathy. Instead, it causes her to become focuses on one mind, thinking that she is Joe. Joe is able to bring her back to being herself
Caitlin has a repressed memory of getting her leg stuck in her bike and falling while young and getting hit by a car.
Iris eventually tracks Marlize Malan to England.
Team Flash has one extrapolator left. Iris takes it to go to England.
Fallout dies when his body goes nuclear.
Barry's plan works and he is able to destroy one of DeVoe's satellites.
The Thinker explains that his ultimate goal is not to destroy intelligence but destroy emotion, having concluded that it is the father of all error. He says Love is the worst emotion of all.
Cisco helps Caitlin to vibe into her repressed memory. She finds out that she somehow transformed into Killer Frost as a young girl - decades before The STAR Labs Particle Accelerator Explosion.
It should be noted that the idea that metahumans existed before The STAR Labs Particle Accelerator Explosion has been explored before. In A319, Cisco discovered that Deathbolt - a metahuman brought to justice by The Atom - had been in prison in Opal City on the night of the explosion.
DeVoe utilizes the Gideon AI in the Time Vault, his stolen Dark Matter, the battery made of the shrunken Fallout containment chamber and STAR Labs satellite to begin the Enlightment.
The Castle - an ARGUS Black Ops site hidden 1000 miles from anything.
The Bottom Line
Too much to cover and not enough time just about sums up this episode. Unfortunately, the best parts are the ones that have the least to do with the actual plot, to the point where the scenes with DeVoe and Barry and Iris feel like distractions from the fun bits with Joe and Cecile or Caitlin's efforts to restore Killer Frost. Even the cameo appearance by David Ramsey as John Diggle seems totally tacked on and unnecessary despite being one of the episode highlights.
Really, the biggest problem with this episode - and this season as a whole - continues to be the ridiculous lengths that the show has taken to try and make Iris into an active member of the team. Note that I have no objections to Iris helping out (and indeed I criticized the show for not doing that in earlier seasons) but she could do far more good as a reporter giving Barry Allen tips on where he could so some good than as a cheerleader on her blog.
Given that the next episode is called We Are The Flash, I doubt this will change anytime soon, particularly since this episode doesn't bother to draw any ironic parallels between Iris's thirst for revenge on The Mechanic and the path of revenge on the warlords who destroyed her work that drove her into agreeing with The Thinker. But whatever...