5 Point Discussions – The Flash S4.18: “Lose Yourself”

by Sage Ashford

Team Flash tracks down the remaining metahuman hunted by DeVoe, and he has an unexpected ability! But is it too late for them to prevent DeVoe’s plan?  Remember, if you like this article and 5 Point Discussions, please share it on Facebook or Twitter! It really helps. And if you’ve got any comments or questions, please hit me up @SageShinigami.

1. Killer Frost is gone! Yup, after barely a season of having her around, Caitlin loses her in a confrontation with DeVoe at the end of the episode. Just after she’s started to get used to it all, too. It’s written as a sad moment, but it’s kind of hard to feel anything for it at all. Frost has a few memorable appearances, but it still feels like she isn’t around enough. Plus she’s the most useless alter ego this side of the Hulk: never useful when fighting the villain, and gets the heroes into trouble more often than not. It sucks she lost her powers, but I got off the Killer Frost train when they introduced her as Caitlin’s other self instead of making Caitlin’s personality simply change in response to gaining powers.

2. The story surrounding Harry believing he’s not smart enough finally comes to a head this week.  Last week’s episode closed with him talking to Gideon to try and increase the power of the Thinking Cap to keep up with the Thinker. This week, we see the results, as he’s able to track down the last metahuman from the bus accident despite the meta’s ability to open rifts in space-time at will.
But continuous exposure to his Thinking Cap leads to something unfortunate: Harry’s become addicted to the high of being the smartest person in the room. This is easily the best plot point of the episode, as it pays off an entire season of Harry’s development in a logical way. Harry’s always thought he was the smartest person in the room, but he was also usually in a room full of geniuses.  He could deal with that, but once he realized DeVoe wasn’t just smarter than him, but smarter than an entire multiversal council of Harrison Wells(es?), it created an inferiority complex. It’s like if you’re the funny guy in a group of friends and a new guy who tells jokes comes along.
The Thinking Cap restored that desperately missing sense of control–not only could he believe he was as smart as DeVoe (proven categorically false by the end of the episode), but he was smarter than all of his friends as well. The intelligence wearing off becomes the high he can’t let go of.  He’s become so attached that when he even thinks Cisco took his helmet he gets violently angry.   Smartly, Joe confronts him about it and Harry…at least makes the attempt to give it up.  But when DeVoe makes his move at the end of the episode, Harry can’t resist trying to outsmart him one last time.  Overloading his thinking cap with dark matter, it’s left in the air what the full effects are on Harry, but it’s not looking good.

3. There’s a lot of discussion this week on what exactly Ralph and Barry should do when they capture DeVoe. Ralph is pretty set on killing him, which creates much of the conflict in this week’s episode…for some reason.
In the first place, it’s hard to understand why Ralph is even in the serious role. The guy was goofing off just last week, and the lesson wasn’t Ralph needing to shape up, but how Barry needed to calm down and joke around more. Now somehow, this episode is a complete 180.  It’s set up as your typical Heroes Don’t Kill, which would be fine if Barry hadn’t killed Atom Smasher in season 2 and his wife hadn’t killed Savitar just last season. Instead it reads as needless self righteousness, and the typical hero refrain of “We don’t kill, we find another way”. Which always winds up being “someone else kills for me so I don’t have to feel bad”.
It even winds up coming down to a fight between Ralph and Barry, though it’s the shortest one ever–Ralph goes down with a single punch. On the bright side, as it turns out Ralph isn’t killing to protect himself. After so many weeks of being around Team Flash, he views them as his family, and he wants to finish off DeVoe to save the rest of Team Flash from harm. But after so much debating between Barry, when it comes time to capture DeVoe he hesitates and chooses the “hero” route, which…well. More on that later.

4. DeVoe puts another major phase of his plan into action this week by infiltrating STAR Labs and finding the remaining few metahumans he hadn’t already killed and absorbed. During the break-in he brings along his wife Marlize and another Samuroid, resulting in a pretty great fight scene for Iris. Meanwhile Joe…takes out a Samuroid?
As much as I want to just call the moment cool, it’s hard not to think about how at one point this thing was such a threat they had to pull Barry back from the Speed Force. It made Wally West, a guy with speed just slightly under Barry’s, look like a total chump. That happened this season, which means someone in the writer’s room saw both the premiere’s ideas and this week’s possibly at the same time.  And this happened anyway. I…can’t even describe how stupid that is, even if it provided a few cool visuals for Joe.
Elsewhere Iris goes at it with Marlize…who is inexplicably able to dodge rifle laser blasts while holding a special electric sword. Sure, why not. She outdoes Iris numerous times in battle, until Iris just outsmarts her, letting herself get stabbed to get close enough to DeVoe’s chair to force teleport her back out. This was easily Candice Patton’s coolest moment all season, which is saying a lot considering she was a speedster at one point.

5. This week the group finds Edwin Gauss, a meta capable of opening and traveling through portals in space time just like DeVoe. After Gauss reveals he once transported himself into DeVoe’s place, Ralph thinks of a way to infiltrate the place to finish DeVoe off once and for all. Barry (stupidly) puts the kibosh on the killing, but agree it’s smart to sneak up on and attack DeVoe.
Of course though, he’s outsmarted them. Just as they reach his place, he teleports to theirs.  With Flash, Vibe, and Killer Frost gone it’s nothing for DeVoe to absorb the remaining metas. After having a brief bout against a T-Rex fossil, Ralph pops up to stop him after he’s absorbed Gauss’ powers.  Earlier in the episode, the group created a tuning fork capable of emanating soundwaves to injure DeVoe if he’s hit once, or kill him if it lands twice. He hits DeVoe with one attack, and starts to go in for the second…before having a crisis of conscience.
Choosing instead to use the meta-neutralizing handcuffs to bring DeVoe in, it almost seems like all is well. Except, y’know…DeVoe has Kilgore’s hacking powers, and shuts down the handcuffs before Ralph even put them on. From there, it’s nothing for him to take over Ralph’s body…just as Barry and the others arrive. Despite a second effort to finish him off, DeVoe’s basically in god mode at this point and it becomes easy to escape, leaving Team Flash broken. Ralph is “dead”, Killer Frost came in contact with DeVoe after he gained Melting Point’s powers and is now powerless, and Cisco nearly killed himself trying to save Barry after he’d exhausted himself merely escaping DeVoe’s lair.  Oh, and Barry feels bad, I guess.
This is usually the point at which I wash my hands of a storyline–the villain has everything he wants now.  With Ralph’s body, the dark matter that was a problem before no longer affects him, so he should logically just win, right? Guess we’ll find out soon.
The Flash airs on The CW, Tuesday nights.

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