TV REVIEW: The Flash S4E22, ‘Think Fast’ (CONTAINS SPOILERS)

With only one week to go before the big showdown, The Flash crafts a strong episode with “Think Fast” that nevertheless can’t make up for the show’s previous lack of momentum. Now that Barry (Grant Gustin) knows what the Enlightenment is and how close Devoe (Neil Sandilands) is to enacting it, he makes a last ditch effort to stop it by bringing Cisco (Carlos Valdes) and Caitlin (Danielle Panabaker) into Flashtime with him. Meanwhile, Iris (Candice Patton) and Harry (Tom Cavanagh) attack the problem from a more emotional angle, tracking down Devoe’s wife Marlize (Kim Engelbrecht) despite their very different ideas about what to do with her.

Before getting into all the story arcs that “Think Fast” blessed us with – and I do mean blessed, because once again The Flash spreads the wealth with nicely proportioned A and B plots for the whole cast – I have to commend the writers and director for the opening sequence. Diggle’s (guest star David Ramsey) arrival at ARGUS, only to reveal himself to be Devoe moments later through pointed dialogue and purple eyes, was chilling in the best way. And, of course, the stirrings of his beloved orchestral music paired against his acts of violence perfectly summed up his character more than any monologue could do. Then there was the tech who cleverly sent the team an SOS through Iris’ blog, which was the first of many ways that the episode subtly incorporated her journalistic passion and even hinted at its future.

But despite boasting some of the best cinematographic work since “Enter Flashtime,” “Think Fast” still suffers from a backlog of several episodes worth of slow pacing and prolonged failure. Barry’s frustrated attempts at training his friends on how to use his speed wind up tying directly back to his guilt over Ralph’s death, which is a nice lesson on not shouldering blame alone but unfortunately also reminds the audience that their hero has not managed to keep a single person alive in this storyline. Every minor victory that Team Flash achieve, even in this episode, seems to experience a setback almost immediately afterwards – and it’s a lot of loss to take over 23 episodes. That being said, Valdes especially shines in this plot when Cisco is given the chance to air his own grievances and guilt. Caitlin’s Killer Frost dilemma moves forward an inch as well but, outside of a visit to the always welcome Dr. Finkel and an interesting flashback that raises more questions than it answers, she doesn’t learn much that she didn’t already know.

On the other hand, Iris and Harry are much more successful in their endeavor even if it’s a bumpy road for them to get there. First, it’s great to see the lessons from the previous episode stick for Harry, as he tries to apply empathy to every situation instead of scientific knowledge. What’s most interesting about this is that being patient, logical and understanding is usually Iris’ purview; it’s disconcerting and intriguing to see the tables turn in “Think Fast” due to her personal vendetta against Marlize. The Flash rarely switches up its cast dynamics, which makes the new team-up a breath of fresh air that uncovers new facets of both characters while nearing the key to stopping Devoe. It’s a shame that this particularly story didn’t pick up sooner, because Harry as the living embodiment of the Enlightenment gives the fight a personal stake that it’s been missing for weeks. Not to mention that Patton and Engelbrecht’s scenes crackle with an intensity that may even outmatch the face-offs between Barry and Devoe.

Iris and Harry’s mission to win over Marlize relies on empathy, but so do the other plots in “Think Fast.” Barry learning to understand Cisco and vice versa in order for the trio to effectively use Flashtime is another metaphorical interpretation of the theme, but Joe (Jesse L. Martin) and Cecile take it to the literal level with her re-emerging pregnancy powers. Not only can Cecile read minds due to her gestational metagene, she now inhabits the minds of those around her – which of course leads to some awkward and hysterical shenanigans on the eve of her delivery date. While their scenes felt superfluous in this particular episode, they laid the groundwork for what will most likely be a useful weapon against Devoe in the finale. And more importantly, they gave Martin a chance to flex his comedic muscles alongside his lovely scene partner Danielle Nicolet.

If “Think Fast” wasn’t preceded by a string of episodes with more lulls than highs, it would probably rate much better on its own. But since it’s tasked with setting up so much in anticipation of the finale, it doesn’t quite shine as much as some of the standalones earlier in the year did. But at least it does restore some faith that the writers have exciting character-driven stories left to tell.

Rating: 3.5/5

Reviewer: Tatiana Hullender (@myrcellasear)

The Flash airs Tuesdays on the CW at 8/7c in the US.

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