By Mario Wario
Warning: this article contains light spoilers for season 4, episode 9 of The Flash.
Think. Think. Think…that’s right, Thinker mania is back! With the ever crazy but fun side quest of “Crisis on Earth-X” put to rest, the series is going back to the norm to showcase the future of season four. This is the main story that we, the viewers, have been invested in so far. Using that thinking cap of his, plus that magical chair, the Thinker has a major plan for Central City. But beside knowing his backstory and what his brain looks like literally – which I’m sure Hannibal Lector found delicious – we still do not know his true endgame. We also don’t know why he dislikes the Scarlet Speedster so much. (Maybe Barry told a bad mom joke that the anti-hero didn’t like?) As for “Don’t Run,” I’m afraid to say we still didn’t get any answers to those questions; we are still left walking through the wasteland searching for more. Luckily, the Thinker still did something crazy. Either a Get Out fan or quite possibly a Captain Ginyu supporter (Dragon Ball Z), the main villain made use of a ‘cheat’ that led to a major plot twist. This was a worth wild mid-season cliffhanger, minus a few problems along the way.
The first issue I had was a recurring theme that I thought was over with: the Caitlin/Killer Frost subplot. Aside from getting word 24/7 that she will always be the heart and soul of Team Flash, Caitlin still thinks she’s second fiddle to Killer Frost, the one everyone wants to hang out with, due to his being cooler (no pun intended). Of course, Ralph opening his big mouth didn’t help the situation. Speaking of Ralph, he became annoying again (as if the progress he made in “When Harry Met Harry” never happened), and his jokes just fell flat. He did, however, have a touching moment during a Christmas party. Also, where’s Kid Flash? Heck, where was Ralph during the Earth-X arc?
Oh, it should be noted that Amunet Black did make her triumphant return, but unlike her first appearance, her comeback didn’t feel special. She was only there to do a simple job – which anyone could have done – and to only create trouble for Caitlin. Why does this villain only show up when Caitlin is part of the focus? I do get the connection between the two, but I wonder about that. Looking back, Amunet and Caitlin were only used to introduce a new metahuman, which was somewhat annoying to see. At least Katee Sackhoff was still good portraying this baddy. Her positive energy is great. But going back to Caitlin, it’s becoming increasingly overkill that the writers keep returning to this subplot. Amunet did provide some form of motivation to get Caitlin going, so maybe that gets the job done. It is just that this type of storytelling is only hindering her growth into becoming a stronger person. She’s already cool, so tone it down a bit.
The second problem I found curious is that everything I saw on screen never seemed dreadful. Barry got in trouble as usual, but came out ok until the very end (although a simple action by Barry could have stopped that pickle from happening). Iris got tested again as a leader of Team Flash, like a weekly television show, but her decision didn’t have many consequences attached to it. Again, everything turned out fine. Yet I do like seeing her being the captain of this ship. The action, meanwhile, was almost nonexistent. I guess that the Earth-X arc took a lot of the budget for now. The pacing also took a hit for this week. (Think slow cooker for this subject.) Humor was sprinkled in, but majority of the time the episode was gloomy. As a result, I still wonder if every Thinker-centric episode is going to be like this from now on? The writers are still having trouble finding that balance between being humorous and being deadly serious.
But enough with the bad stuff. There were a couple of good moments that need to be pointed out. For example, with Marlize DeVoe, I liked what I saw for her personal story. She’s starting to doubt her ‘career path’ with her husband (in truth, she never started out being a baddy; she was pushed into it because of a terrible situation). Marlize also pointed out that she isn’t a mindless minion; she is in total control. Overall, this was very good character development as I see the writers setting up something big for Marlize. As for Clifford, he is becoming more machine-like each day, and less human with all that technology under his disposal. Their love for each other is about to get tested even more. It feels like it will be. The best example of this was when Marlize was putting on Clifford’s wedding ring towards the very end of the episode. I noticed some hesitation on her part when doing that simple action. Everything has become different for the DeVoes now, due to the ending.
Now as for the ending, I found it to be very satisfying. The Thinker used that ‘Konami code’ of his on another metahuman whom he found unique. Think Get Out, but minus a few story elements that film had. By the way, Clifford also left Barry a nice Christmas gift which will keep our hero quite busy for a little bit. But what does this new story popping up mean for the future of Neil Sandilands? He’s been so good on the show. Been loving his appearances so far.
So, while “Don’t Run” had its fair share of problems that hindered it from being great, it still had a few enjoyable moments in it. It’s a decent mid-season finale that presented the further rise of the Thinker, a force that the Arrowverse has never seen before. Onward to the second half!
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