[Editor’s Note: This review may contain spoilers]
Director: Viet Nguyen
Writers: Sam Chalsen and Kristen Kim
Starring: Grant Gustin, Candice Patton, Danielle Panabaker, Carlos Valdes, Tom Cavanaugh, Jesse L. Martin, David Ramsey, Neil Sandilands, Kim Engelbrecht, Danielle Nicolet
As DeVoe infiltrates A.R.G.U.S. to complete his Enlightenment Satellites, Barry and Team Flash contemplate utilizing Barry’s “Flashtime” abilities to diffuse the situation.
The desperate hour is keenly felt as DeVoe enacts the final stage of his plan. The opening scenes that depict the ease at which he infiltrates “The Castle” and dominates A.R.G.U.S. is the perfect demonstration of the level of power The Thinker has attained. What is also eerie is there is no exertion on his part; his calm demeanor is as terrifying as the mastery of each of the powers he has stolen. The writers go to the lengths they have to in order to sell how dire things have become with both The Thinker and Team Flash. Neil Sandilands’s cold, monotone performance is excellent and his monologue to Flash indicates that Harry is right; this is a man who may preach about the uselessness of love, but it’s conveyed still from a man with a broken heart.
Speaking of Harry, Tom Cavanaugh’s performance of Harry has altered slightly; Wells is now more aloof, slightly unfocused, uncoordinated, forgetful, and at times at a loss of words. It’s funny and simultaneously tragic that the once brilliant mind Harry possessed has been reduced to this. What also works is that no one is laughing on Team Flash because they don’t know how to help him and the tensions are rising. Still, he has relevance given his “emotional intelligence” and his idea to turn Marlize.
Incorporating a brief cameo of John Diggle works given that A.R.G.U.S. is involved and it gives fans who haven’t been following Arrow a look at how things have changed as of late. The humorous moments – Diggle’s motion sickness and reaction to Barry zooming him over, Cecile’s assuming the minds of anyone she’s in the vicinity with, and the “Apartment 4” scene – work in that they are not forced. Rather, they serve their purpose of breaking the tension. Cisco’s taking Barry to task at his reluctance to use him and Caitlin in the plan may feel overused, but it’s worded in a way that’s fresh and addresses Barry’s buried guilt and fear. The climax of the episode shows off the best of Flash’s mastery of “Flashtime”, and the ease at which DeVoe snatches victory out of a possible defeat garners that much-needed “DAMNIT” from the viewer.
The decision to place the return of Marlize at the end is a brilliant move given the stakes. Iris’s reluctance to fit her in to this plan is understandable; this woman has willingly supported the monster her husband has become and even committed perjury to get Barry sent to prison without remorse. But given the dire need for options, she’s trying to stay open-minded and see things from Harry’s point of view. What also works is that Marlize, although separated from DeVoe, still believes in his plan. Her lack of belief in humanity to make the right choices runs deep from both her time with Clifford and her own trauma. Even seeing the effects of Harry’s dwindling intelligence mirroring what the Enlightenment will do to humanity does little to sway her, and leaving which way she’s going to fall on up in the air is a good decision.
Lastly, the curve ball involving Caitlin is surprising. Could she be the only naturally-born metahuman not empowered by the particle accelerator explosion? That would explain why the cryogenic anomalies still remain part of her. The Arrowverse’s first confirmed mutant, as it were. This leaves a barrage of questions, and yet explains why, last year, her mother wasn’t terrified of her daughter’s use of abilities. Overall, the cliffhanger ending is brilliant in that it shows the darkest hour and the gall of DeVoe to use S.T.A.R. Labs’ own technology to complete his work. The fact that he uses Gideon shows the level of intricacy his Enlightenment requires that his wife is no longer willing to provide. Great work overall.
David Ramsey is underused in this cameo. It’s an A.R.G.U.S. facility and the soldier that John is could have contributed to breaking in. At best, the writers only use him in the same capacity that DeVoe does; he’s only a familiar face. Granted, given the time frame in Arrow, Dr. Finkel’s scene wasn’t necessary because it brings back her ineffectiveness to really treat the members of Team Flash; all have sat on the couch, save for Cisco, when it was supposed to only be for Barry and Iris.
And while funny to watch Danielle act like her costars, I fail to see the point of it. Is it a hidden maguffin to tap into as a last-minute-save strategy? Also, Iris claims Marlize stabbed her, and yet it was her that chose to pull her sword in as a way to get in close with her counterattack during their fight. Is that just bad writing, or is it showing Iris being selective in how she recalls that encounter?
In spite of the negative points, the episode before the season finale has that right amount of heightened tension and stakes. It’s the end of the world and it’s keenly felt with a powerful delivery from both DeVoe and Team Flash. I look forward to how all of this will resolve itself, especially in the case of Harry. Given no effort has been made towards restoring his intellect, will we see the old Harry Wells by season’s end? Excellent work, everyone.