TV REVIEW: The Flash S4E7 ‘Therefore I Am’ (Contains Spoilers)

After a minor lull in the last few weeks, The Flash is back on track with ‘Therefore I Am.’ The audience gets their first extended look at the new supervillain couple in town, and the writers seem to have added some real gravitas to the light and breezy tone of season 4. As stressful as it is watching Barry (Grant Gustin) fall apart in the face of a new threat to his happiness, it makes for some excellent television.

‘Therefore I Am’ is primarily an origin story for the Thinker (Neil Sandilands) and the Mechanic (Kim Engelbrecht), because of course he is nothing without the woman beside him. Not long ago, they were Clifford and Marlize Devoe, college professors with a dream for a better future filled with brighter minds willing to learn. They even came up with a device to make their vision possible, which they called the Thinking Cap. All they needed was for the Particle Accelerator to activate it and strengthen Clifford’s mind, but the night their plan went into action was the very night it all went tragically wrong.

The nearly seamless continuity between the original pilot scenes and the extended version present in ‘Therefore I Am’ was one of the many highlights of the night, presenting Harrison Wells’ (Tom Cavanagh) purposely doomed experiment from a fresh new perspective. The flashbacks detailing the Devoes’ lives before and after the Accelerator explosion are both illuminating and heartbreaking, as Sandilands and Engelbrecht give electric performances that mark them as some of The Flash‘s most memorable villains. Part of this is because they work as a team, instead of one lone masked man in the shadows with no specific plan or motivation. We still don’t know exactly how Mechanic and Thinker hope to realize their vision of improving humanity, but for the first time in two seasons I believe there is something to know. It’s clear the writers have thought out a complete trajectory this time around, and Devoe’s backstory is a big part of it.

The teamwork between Clifford and Marlize is also echoed in Barry’s relationship with Iris (Candice Patton), even when he starts going off the rails in ‘Therefore I Am’ because he’s so consumed by his latest nemesis. Iris must pull him back and ground him, just as Marlize grounds her husband when he veers too far into his mind. There’s no doubt this was done on purpose, and perhaps it’s setting up a showdown between the two pairings that extends beyond the usual Flash-versus-speedster finales of previous seasons. Thankfully, Barry is not too far gone this week – despite doing some incredibly questionable things that would have anyone worrying for his sanity. But he manages to end the hour in good enough shape to attend his own wedding next week, and this time he’s equipped with knowledge of his enemy and the faith that his team will be ready.

For once, there weren’t really any subplots to tackle because everyone on The Flash served a purpose within the larger story arc. Caitlin (Danielle Panabaker) and Cisco’s (Carlos Valdes) technical skills helping Barry uncover more information about Devoe, although they fell short of being able to conclusively prove that he was the man they were after. Joe (Jesse L. Martin) actually got a chance to exercise his detective skills. Even Captain Singh (guest star Patrick Sabongui) joined in on the action, showcasing that sometimes Barry’s Flash needs are directly at odds with the requirements of his job. And finally, Wally (Keiynan Lonsdale) made a triumphant if brief return. The only character who didn’t see much action in ‘Therefore I Am’ was Ralph Dibny, and I don’t think he was greatly missed at all.

The Flash delivered a tense episode this week full of mind games and teamwork, and one which achieved the difficult balance of utilizing the vast team while still reminding audiences that Barry is intelligent in his own right. It also got back to Iris and Barry as the heart of the story – something even the Thinker recognized and respected… for now.

Rating: 4.5/5

Reviewer: Tatiana Hullender (@myrcellasear)

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

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