Monday, April 23, 2018

The Flash Season 4, Episode 18: Lose Yourself

This week on The Flash, the series goes really dark, as The Thinker finally puts his master plan into motion, and the Gang loses one of their own.

SPOILERS FROM HERE ON OUT! I have to say I wasn't expecting Ralph to bite the dust in this episode. Sure, the show's been alluding to it for weeks now, as DeVoe began circling Ralph like a shark, putting him in increasing danger with each passing episode. But somehow I didn't think it was ever gonna happen, and Team Flash would find an out. That's what heroes do, right?

I actually like Ralph, but Lordy, the writers sure don't make it easy. I think maybe I like the idea of him, more than the actual character. He has a lot of potential as an addition to the show, but the writers have botched his character at every possible turn. 

The hero's journey Ralph's been on all season has been incredibly frustrating, as each week he goofs up, learns a valuable lesson, then immediately forgets about it so it can happen all over again in the next episode.

I wouldn't mourn poor Ralph too strenuously though. This is a comic book show after all, so there's no way in hell he— or any of the other eleven bus metas— are gonna stay dead for good. I have no doubt Harry's gonna find a way to siphon them all out of DeVoe's body and restore them somehow.

Speaking of Harry, the scenes with him struggling with his Thinking Cap addiction were very well done, and I'm hoping this arc doesn't signal his departure from the show. I know it's a tradition to keep swapping out the Wellses, but I've grown to like Harry, and would hate to see him go.

The final battle in this episode was very well done, and it was actually amazing to see DeVoe— now with the abilities of eleven of the twelve bus metas— effortlessly deflecting Team Flash's attacks by combining his various new powers in cool and unusual ways. Well done!

SPOILERS!

The Plot:
Barry and Ralph locate the "meta bus," and scan it for dark matter. By doing so, they hope to find a clue to the whereabouts of Edwin Gauss, the last of the bus metas.

As usual, Ralph's reset button has been activated this week, so he can learn how to be a hero again for the fifteenth time. In the previous episode he was constantly joking around, but this week he's turned deadly serious. He says he hopes they find DeVoe soon, so he can end him forever. Barry scolds him and says Superheroes Absolutely Don't Kill (except when they do).

Just then Harry calls them back to STAR Labs. Once there, Harry demonstrates his latest Thinking Cap-inspired breakthrough— the Sonic Scepter. By tapping it on the floor, it'll shoot out a blast of powerful sound waves, which Harry believes will neutralize DeVoe.

Joe notices Harry acting squirrely and constantly talking about his Thinking Cap, and decides to keep an eye on him. 


Meanwhile, Caitlin, who in the past has always resisted turning into Killer Frost, announces she's found a way to willingly transform. She says the change is linked to her adrenal glands, so by injecting herself with an epi pen, she'll instantly turn into her murderous and unpredictable alter ego. Um... why would she want that?

Suddenly the Gang gets an alert that DeVoe's teleported out of his pocket dimension. Cisco vibes himself, Barry and Killer Frost to DeVoe's alleged location. Instead they find the elusive Edwin Gauss, aka the Folded Man, exiting his own little private universe. They try to talk to him, but Gauss gets spooked and teleports away.

Back at STAR, Harry uses his newfound smarts to figure out where to locate Gauss. Joe then takes Harry aside and says he seems to be relying on the Thinking Cap quite a bit, and worries he's become addicted to it. Harry poo-poos this notion, assuring Joe he can quit the Cap anytime he wants. Joe doesn't believe him for a second, but nods and leaves. Harry immediately enters the secret Time Vault built by his evil doppelganger Eobard Thawne. Joe sneaks around the corner and sees Harry dart into the room.

Barry, Ralph and Caitlin visit Gauss' location, which is located in the middle of a hippie commune for maximum hilarity. They eventually find and capture him. Just then one of DeVoe's Samuroids appears and runs his sword through Caitlin's shoulder (!).

The Gang rushes Caitlin and Gauss back to STAR. Fortunately Caitlin's Killer Frost powers quickly heal her (even though she's currently in normal Caitlin mode). Gauss is placed in the Secret Super Jail to protect him from DeVoe. Once again, Ralph says they should just murder DeVoe and get it over with.

Later Ralph chats with Gauss, who tells him about the various dimensions he's visited. He mentions one with a "crazy dude in a wheelchair and a lady in a white coat." Ralph realizes Gauss accidentally blundered into DeVoe's pocket dimension, and asks if he could find it again. Gauss says sure, and Ralph cooks up a plan.

A furious Harry enters Cisco's lab, accusing him of stealing his Thinking Cap. Cisco says he has no idea what he's talking about, and Harry shoves him against the wall, ready to kill him. Just then Joe appears, holding the Cap. He says his late wife Francine was an addict, and Harry's beginning to show all the same signs. He gives Harry the Cap, on the condition he that he stop and think (heh) about how using it will affect his friends.

Meanwhile, Ralph gets suited up, ready for Gauss to take him to DeVoe's pocket lair. He's even swiped the Sonic Scepter so he can use it to kill DeVoe. Barry appears, tells Ralph it's not gonna happen and demands he hand over the Scepter. Ralph sticks it deep inside his chest (ew!) and dares him to try and take it. The two fight, and Barry easily knocks out Ralph.

Later Ralph comes to and he explains himself to Barry. He says the reason he wants to kill DeVoe so badly is because he's worried about Team Flash. They're all the closest thing to a family he's ever had, and he'll do anything to protect them— even if that means killing. Barry finally understands Ralph's motivation, even if he doesn't agree with it.

Barry tells the others that Ralph had the right idea, sort of. He says now that they have Gauss, they can attack DeVoe's inside his little pocket dimension, giving them the element of surprise. He says it'll be dangerous though, and everyone has to be onboard. The entire Gang agrees with the plan.

Team Flash gears up for war. Gauss opens a doorway into DeVoe's lair, and Barry, Cisco and Killer Frost leap through. They see DeVoe (still in Izzy's body) floating in his chair. Barry uses the Sonic Scepter and blasts him with it. Unfortunately the shockwave goes right through DeVoe, revealing him to be a hologram. They realize they've been outsmarted yet again, and 
are now trapped in the pocket dimension.

DeVoe and The Mechanic then teleport into STAR Labs. He uses his Kilg%re powers to fry all the electronics, locking Iris, Joe and Harry inside the Cortex. Iris then reveals her earrings are actually miniature bombs, cooked up by Cisco. She plants one on the door and it blows a hole clean through it.

DeVoe enters the Secret Super Jail, intent on killing and absorbing Gauss' powers. Ralph protects Gauss, saying he'll have to go through him first. DeVoe then pulls a tiny dinosaur skeleton from his pocket, and uses Dwarf Star's power to enlarge it, and Black Bison's to animate it. The now full-sized T-Rex skeleton begins chasing Ralph around the Pipeline.

Iris sees DeVoe's chair and realizes she can use it to rescue Barry and the others. Before she can get to it, she's stopped by The Mechanic, who wields an electrified Samuroid sword. The two begin fighting.

Ralph stops running, faces the T-Rex skeleton and punches it into a million pieces. He rushes back to the Super Jail. He sees dead bodies strewn all over the floor, including Melting Point (!) and Izzy Bowen. He realizes that DeVoe's already taken over Gauss' body. Ralph then turns his hand into a replica of the Sonic Scepter (???) and taps it on the floor, knocking DeVoe off his feet. Ralph hesitates, as he knows that one more blast will kill DeVoe.

Meanwhile, Joe battles one of DeVoe's Samuroids, and somehow defeats it. Harry rushes to the Time Vault and puts on his Thinking Cap, in a desperate effort to come up with an idea to defeat DeVoe. When he comes up empty, he orders Gideon to increase the Cap's dark matter feed, well beyond safety limits. As the dark matter flows into his brain, he passes out and slumps to the floor.

Iris and The Mechanic continue their fight. Iris grabs a hidden blaster and fires away at The Mechanic. She easily dodges the blasts, then disarms Iris and pins her against a console with her sword. Suddenly Iris grasps the end of the sword and plunges it into her shoulder (!), drawing The Mechanic close enough so she can grab her head and bang it against the table, knocking her out. She runs over to DeVoe's flying chair and somehow figures out how to activate it. She transports to the pocket dimension, where she rescues Barry and the others.

Team Flash returns to STAR Labs. Barry rushes to the Super Jail, where he sees Ralph's had a change of heart, and decided to cuff DeVoe instead of killing him. Suddenly DeVoe uses Kilg%re's power to deactivate the electronic cuffs. He then uses Null's powers to alter Barry's weight and pin him to the floor.

Barry then watches helplessly as DeVoe then absorbs Ralph's lifeforce, killing him!

Cisco and Caitlin rush in and try to save Ralph, but they're too late. DeVoe, now in Ralph's body, uses his many powers to fling Cisco across the room. Killer Frost attacks, but DeVoe grabs her and absorbs her power as well. He then teleports away.

Sometime later, Team Flash lick their collective wounds. Caitlin has Cisco examine her, and they realize her Killer Frost persona is completely gone. Harry's apparently recovered from his dark matter overdose. Barry goes to Ralph's private detective office and cleans it out.

Back in DeVoe's hideout, he and Marlize celebrate their victory with champagne. He tells Marlize he has an extra surprise for her, and uses Ralph's shapeshifting abilities to morph himself into the original form of Clifford DeVoe. He then reveals he stole the dark matter from Harry's Thinking Cap, and plans to use it for... something.

Thoughts:

• I went into this in great detail last week, but it's still relevant— once again, DeVoe speaks in the accent of the person whose body he's currently inhabiting. I still don't think that should be the case. He should instantly begin speaking in his native South African accent.

• This week Ralph confirms the fact that he can stretch EVERY part of his body. EVERY. PART. Especially the one you're thinking of right now. I guess that's why he's called the Elongated Man, amirite?

Congratulations, The Flash writers, for this week's finely crafted dick joke.

• Hey, Dirty Hippie Humor, how you been, man? It's been what... twenty, thirty years since I've seen you? You're lookin' good. How's your mom?

Seriously, writers? It's 2018 and we're still doing tired old jokes about how weird and smelly hippies are? Are there even any active hippie communes left in this century?

• When Team Flash first confronts Gauss, he's so startled he reflexively forms a portal, falls backward into it and disappears.

Later they track Gauss to the hippie commune, and Barry tackles him and throws him to the ground. For some reason, Gauss doesn't "fold" away this time, and just lays there yelling that he surrenders.

So why the difference? Other than because the writers needed the Team to finally find and recruit him, of course? Did he momentarily forget how to fold?

• This week we discover that Cisco's apparently a Classic Trekkie! Good to know.

• At one point Ralph steal's Harry's Sonic Scepter, intent on using it to kill DeVoe once and for all. Barry orders him to give it back, prompting Ralph to hide it inside his body for safe keeping. Yuck!

So how does this work? Did Ralph sort of fold his skin around the Scepter, or did he open a slit in his chest, stick it inside his body and then seal up the seam? Either way, it's kind of gross.

• Ralph and Barry then get into a fight over the whole "To Kill Or Not To Kill" thing. Ralph forms his right hand into a giant mallet and tries to smash Barry with it.

Eh, I dunno...Wouldn't a hammer made out of human flesh be pretty soft? I suppose Ralph could have concentrated the tissue in his hand to make it harder and more rigid, but... I still don't see how it could ever be as hard as steel. At most I think it'd be like getting hit with a fist. A differently shaped fist, sure, but a fist nonetheless.

• In the third act, The Thinker invades STAR Labs and uses Kilg%re's powers to fry the electronics and trap Iris, Harry and Joe inside the Cortex. Iris says not to worry, pulls off a secret, explosive earring that Cisco cooked up for her, and uses it to blast their way out!

Let's hope Cisco added a very reliable safety switch on those earrings, lest Iris accidentally set one off while she adjusts them during the day!

• So Iris' earring blows a hole in the door of the Cortex. Curiously, this explosion is filmed from down the hall and around the corner, so we only see a bright light and a few chunks of debris hit the opposing wall.

Wondering why the cameraman's being so coy, and not framing the explosion in the middle of the screen? Welp, that'd be the show couldn't afford to damage the Cortex set by blowing it up just for one little scene, so they got creative and implied the explosion.

• In order to distract what's left of Team Flash, DeVoe turns a Samuroid loose inside STAR Labs. Joe tells Iris "he's got this," and then walks purposefully toward it, firing a gun with one hand while brandishing a sword in the other. Annnnnd, then we cut away!

Goddammit! I wanted to see Joe vs the Samuroid! You can't just set up something that awesome and then not show us what happens!

• I guess I missed the episode in which The Mechanic revealed she's secretly a Jedi. Seriously, where the hell did she learn to swing an electrified sword fast enough to deflect energy bolts?

• I get that Ralph's stretchy-leg stride is supposed to look goofy, but... it looked a little TOO silly. Even for this show.

Also, the Pipeline was pretty obviously a CGI environment as well. I guess every effect can't be a winner.

• Man, this episode took a dark and sudden turn in the third act! The Thinker and The Mechanic teleport into STAR Labs, and lock it down. At one point we see that DeVoe's broken into the STAR Labs Secret Super Jail and has apparently absorbed everyone inside it— including poor Melting Point! Dang! I really liked him, and was hoping he'd be a cool temporary addition to Team Flash! I guess not!

We then see DeVoe's also discarded Izzy's body, and absorbed Null (who made her debut in last week's episode) and is currently residing inside Edwin Gauss! Jesus Christ! I told you it was dark! DeVoe's been a busy boy in the five minutes since we last saw him!

• Harry sees the carnage caused by DeVoe, says enough's enough and finally decides to kill him. What follows is tough to make out, and I had to watch the scene several times to figure out exactly what happened.

Barry took the only copy of the Sonic Scepter with him to DeVoe's pocket universe. So apparently at some point when we weren't looking, Ralph pressed the Scepter against his  pliable skin, making a crude mold of it in his flesh.

He then de-solidified his right hand, allowing it to flow into the mold on his chest.

He then hardened his hand, forming it into a perfect replica of the Scepter. And once again, he somehow increased the density of his flesh so he could tap this faux Scepter on the floor and it'd resonate like the real thing.

• The third act darkness continues! During Iris' battle with The Mechanic, she looks over and sees The Thinker's chair. She realizes she can use it to rescue Barry and the others from DeVoe's pocket dimension, but she's too far away to activate it, as The Mechanic has her pinned against a table.

In order to end the battle and reach the button, Iris actually grabs The Mechanic's sword with her hands, then plunges it into her shoulder! This brings The Mechanic close enough for Iris to grab her and bang her head against the chair button!

Dayum! That is some hardcore strategy on Iris' part!

The Mechanic's actually startled and appalled by Iris' actions as well, as she gets a definite "This Bitch Be Crazy!" expression on her face (right before she's knocked out)!

• The final battle is a thing to behold, as DeVoe now possesses the powers of eleven of the twelve bus metas, and uses them against Team Flash. I especially liked the scene in which Cisco blasts DeVoe, only for him to open a portal next to him. This effectively reroutes the vibe energy, causing Cisco to blast himself! Clever!

• With Barry and Cisco down for the count, it's Killer Frost's turn to attack DeVoe. She rushes toward him, intent on stabbing him with an icicle. For absolutely no good reason at all, she runs right up to him and places her hand on his shoulder as she rears back with the ice dagger. DeVoe then simply absorbs Frost's powers and mind from Caitlin's body.

Gosh, it's too bad Killer Frost doesn't have some sort of long range offensive power, so she could have blasted DeVoe from a safe distance. OH WAIT, SHE DOES!

C'mon, writers! I get that you wanted DeVoe to absorb Killer Frost too, but there had to be a less... stupid way to go about it.

• At the end of the episode, DeVoe— now in residing in Ralph's body— uses his stretchy powers to morph back into a reasonable facsimile of his old self.

The best part about this? It means we get the long-awaited return of actor Neil Sandilands as Clifford DeVoe. The downside of this season has been the endless parade of other actors who've portrayed DeVoe since he "died" back in Don't Run. Let's face it, none of those other actors had the chops of Sandilands, and just couldn't pull off his sense of gravitas. Heck, they didn't even bother to try and copy his mannerisms or speech patterns! So it's nice to finally have him back on the show.

This Week's Best Lines:
Ralph: "Good old CCTA, bus number 405, where I was gifted with pretty much the best powers ever. If it wasn't for this old girl, I'd still have to leave the couch when I need to use the bathroom, you know, because I can..."
Barry: (horrified) "Yes, I know."
(Yep, you heard right, folks. Ralph can stretch his dick clear into another room.)

Barry: "Ralph, you think we're gonna kill DeVoe? "
Ralph: "The way that you're saying that makes me think I'm supposed to say no."

Ralph: "I think I may have left my wallet in my other pants."
Bus Driver: "Look, buddy, you either pay the fare or you hit the sidewalk."
Edwin Gauss: "Whoa, whoa, whoa! Mr. bus driver dude, allow me to pay his fare. Who are we to be the gatekeepers of whatever path this fellow traveler is on? Have a seat."
Ralph: "Uh, thanks."
Gauss: "Oh, namaste, hermano."
Ralph: "Na ma stay in the back of the bus!"
Gauss: "Funny fat dude!"

Joe: "Hey, Harry's really loving that Thinking Cap, huh?"
Cisco: "Oh, my God. It's like the best friend he never had. I mean, he wears this thing everywhere. I'm pretty sure I saw him step out of the shower with it. I want to know what kinda problem he was trying to solve in there. Nope. Nope, I I don't wanna know."

Cisco: "And figuring out those distinctions, I'm sorry, but that's too big even for your britches, Harry."
Harry: "My britches are plenty big, okay? I fill my britches."

Cisco: "This glue's really something else. I should probably wear a respirator."

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