Season 4 of CW’s The Flash came to a close on Tuesday night, garnering impressive ratings and setting up next season brilliantly. This year has been an absolute roller coaster ride with Barry and Team Flash facing their biggest threat yet in Clifford DeVoe, AKA The Thinker. Throughout the season, DeVoe remained several steps ahead of Barry and company at all times, even managing to sever the connection between Caitlin and her alter-ego, Killer Frost, in an earlier episode.
The season finale built up to be a spectacle, and it did not disappoint. The episode opens with a phone call from Captain Singh to Barry, informing the speedster that the article by Iris exposed DeVoe, meaning Barry was welcome to return to work at CCPD. During the call, we see The Thinker’s plan unfold as he uses Kilgore’s powers to shut down all technology in the city.
From the outset of this episode, Team Flash races against time to stop DeVoe. The Thinker’s beliefs throughout the season have been that technology and modern society have corrupted humanity. Using a collection of meta-powers and a network of satellites, DeVoe initiates his plan to reset the mind of every person on earth to a tabula rasa–a blank slate. He then intends to do away with technology and become humanity’s single almighty teacher. He calls his plan “The Enlightenment.”
When one thinks of speedsters, they think of fast-paced action and top-quality special effects. This episode had it all, but did it live up to the season finales of The Flash’s past 3 seasons?
DeVoe’s wife joining the team at the end of the previous episode set up Team Flash for an interesting dynamic in the finale. With Cecile close to delivering her baby, Marlize DeVoe conspiring against her husband, and Wells losing his IQ, the finale appeared to be a marathon of anxiety. Add to that a helping of Barry going for a jog through The Thinker’s mind, and you have an episode that is sure to have you on the edge of your seat.
In the episodes that built up toward the epic conclusion, we saw Barry destroy one of DeVoe’s satellites–the delivery mechanism to execute his plan–but DeVoe remained unfazed. As we discovered in the last episode, the former history professor had a back up–Star Labs’ own satellite. In the classic hero versus a ticking time-clock scenario, the desperate team decides to use Cecile’s telepathy to find something in DeVoe’s mind to stop him. While in DeVoe’s mind, the Flash encounters a friend; it’s a scene that brings a tear to one’s eye.
Barry: How are you here?
We all know that when it comes to comic book shows, the plan is always easier said than done; this finale showcases that perfectly. As we head towards the end of the episode, there is a scene that pays homage to The Matrix; it is sure to become a fan favorite.
Although the action and build-up to this point is spot-on and well-developed, the writing felt a bit below par compared to the other finales at the same point. In a nervy final battle between hero and villain, viewers can be forgiven for feeling slightly underwhelmed. The build-up and the premise felt like a season finale, but the conclusion came off as more of a mid-season finale.
Marlize plays an important role throughout the episode. This doesn’t change at the end, but again, it fails to evoke the emotions obviously intended. The apex of the episode sees DeVoe’s satellite crumble and enter Earth’s orbit at a speed that could kill everyone on the planet on impact. The viewer is literally shown the word extinction on Star Lab’s monitors. Overkill?
Barry and Team Flash head to the streets and begin pulling civilians out of the way of falling debris. Eventually, Barry decides he needs to build up speed and take out the falling satellite with a super speed punch before it crashes. In this scene, the Flash receives unexpected outside assistance, something he is unable to fully explain.
Near the end of the episode, a team member departs, and it is unknown whether or not they will return. In theory, this should be a scene of great emotion, but it is played off comically, which takes away any real emotion from the viewer.
The episode concludes like most finales of The Flash, with a surprising reveal and the beginning of the plot development for the next season. As the family is celebrating the arrival of the new baby, there is a knock at the door. In comes a familiar face that we’ve seen pop up at various point throughout the season–at Jitters and at the wedding of Barry and Iris.
Jitters Girl: I think I have made a big, big mistake.
Watching this episode was an absolute roller coaster ride from start to finish, and reviewing it without giving away the entire plot was extremely difficult. The Flash season finale provided viewers with everything they could want in a TV show, from emotional scenes–especially between Cisco and Wells in which we hear a familiar quote for most nerds, “I have been, and always shall be, your friend”–to some humorous scenes with Joe West attempting to be ready for his fourth child. This is a solid final episode to a solid season, but is solid still good enough?
The Flash has had its fair share of criticism over the years, but it is still top tier as Arrow and Legends of Tomorrow have fallen in the ratings. The finale was on the top of the CW’s 3-month ratings, which is not a surprise since the marketing and build up were great. The episode, however, was a bit of a let down in some parts, but in other parts amazing.
The Flash season finale may well be a victim of its own hype and the expectations set by its predecessors. Deviously smart Clifford DeVoe is a great villain who is played extremely well, but he is no Savitar reveal nor a FlashPoint tease.
Season 4 of The Flash has possibly been the most mixed of all the seasons. It gave us incredible character development and the slow burn of a villain’s master plan, but it also served us some below par dialogue and overly simplified solutions. The actors, however, knocked it out of the park. They made the best of the great and not-so-great elements of the season.
We see Grant Gustin continue to shine in his role as Barry Allen. A special mention should also be given to Danielle Panabaker; she is killing it as Caitlin/Killer Frost. Candice Patton (Iris), Carlos Valdes (Cisco), Jesse L. Martin (Joe West), and Danielle Nicolet (Cecile) also put in the quality performances we have come to expect and love from them since their respective introductions to the show.
The other main characters of the season are also worth mentioning. Hartley Sawyer absolutely killed it as Ralph Dibney, perfecting his transition from brash and cocky private investigator to caring and brave superhero. He became a vital member of the team that one cannot help but love. Neil Sandilands gave a top three villain performance for this show so far. He really brought The Thinker to life, and his performance made us truly hate this character.
Performance of the season, however, should be given to Tom Cavanagh as Harrison Wells. Cavanagh brought Wells to a whole new level, taking him from grumpy but lovable to emotionally deep and conflicted. In the finale, Tom delivers in a way that truly makes the audience empathize with his character.
Overall, The Flash season finale lived up to most of the hype. However, there were some moments of awkward dialogue and stages where the stakes did not feel high enough. For these reasons, it doesn’t get a perfect score.
In conclusion, the season 4 finale began with a race and ended with a shock.
4 out of 5 Speedsters