Friday, April 20, 2018

The Flash 4x18 Review: "Lose Yourself" (Death by Ethics) [Contributor: Deborah MacArthur]

"Lose Yourself"
Original Airdate: April 17, 2018 

This week, The Flash spends a decent amount of time debating the ethics of a superhero killing a supervillain, before accidentally implying that vigilante murder is the best option for everyone and should always be done if given the chance. Oops! Beyond that, the writers’ weeks and weeks of counter-productive character anti-development ends as we are led to believe the team has lost its most elastic and odious member.

And if there seems to be an air of doubt in that sentence, it’s because I can’t genuinely believe this show spent so much effort and screen time on the Dibny character, only to kill him off with five weeks’ worth of shows left to air. But I don’t know, maybe he really is gone for good, in which case all those Dibny-focused episodes were an even bigger waste of time than I had previously thought.

(Also, jeez. Five weeks left. The pacing of this show really is horrendous.)


There’s one bus meta left to save from DeVoe’s clutches, but he appears to have disappeared without a trace. While scanning the actual “bus meta” bus for dark matter clues, Barry and Dibny discuss the team’s inevitable confrontation with DeVoe. Dibny thinks they should just kill DeVoe outright. Barry disagrees, saying that the only way to truly be a hero and keep one’s soul intact is to avoid killing. His plan is to keep DeVoe in the pipeline, locked away forever until he... dies of natural causes, I guess? Lifelong imprisonment, outright murder — either way, Barry’s really skirting the whole due process thing, so he should probably get off that ethical high horse.

Finding the last bus meta’s residual dark matter energy in his seat on the bus jogs Dibny’s memory of a hippie dude who paid his bus fare. According to Barry’s science stuff, the hippie’s reaction to the burst of dark matter was to just... disappear. It’s not great news to bring back to S.T.A.R. Labs, but it’s news.

Harry has news as well: a tuning fork, designed to deliver a blast of sonic waves even stronger than the waves Izzy could produce (which, if you don’t remember, was the only thing to successfully injure DeVoe). The tuning fork — which Harry dubs the Sonic Scepter — even has a “one shot to stun, two shots to kill” feature that nicely ties into this week’s ethical dilemma of killing vs. not killing The Thinker.

Harry has also managed to find a way to predict where DeVoe will appear next. All of Harry’s announcements, by the way, are delivered with the manic enthusiasm of a man high on speed — and not the Speed Force kind of speed, either. As a little subplot, Harry has become addicted to the Thinking Cap he created, probably because he cheated and got Gideon, the giant floating computer head that lives inside his wall (an odd sentence, but probably not the oddest I’ve ever written in a review for this show) to load the cap up with dark matter. Joe, because he’s a cop who probably sees junkies every day and because his ex-wife was an addict, catches on to Harry’s behavior and later unsuccessfully tries to talk him down.

An alarm sounds, indicating that DeVoe might be leaving his pocket dimension, and the metahuman members of Team Flash go to meet him. Except when a portal opens up, it’s not DeVoe who steps out — it’s the bus meta hippie. His power is creating pocket dimensions like the one DeVoe’s chair makes, which means he’s an especially good find for DeVoe because getting his power would allow DeVoe to hop through pocket dimensions quite freely. The hippie, Edwin Gauss, escapes capture and the team must hunt him down by differentiating his pocket dimensions from DeVoe’s pocket dimensions.

The team does hunt Gauss down, tracking him to a hippie commune in the middle of the woods. He’s apparently very famous amongst the hippies, earning the moniker “The Folded Man.” Caitlin separates from Barry and Dibny, mostly so Barry and Dibny can continue their debate over killing DeVoe. Dibny seems like he’s been talked over to Barry’s side of non-murder, but when the team finally catches up with Gauss, they get attacked by a robot samurai like the one from the season premiere. In the fight, Caitlin gets stabbed, so Barry rushes her back to the lab to get patched up, leaving Dibny with Gauss and the decapitated robot head. The head says mean things about killing all Dibny’s friends.

Oh by the way, Ralph Dibny is back to his whining, antagonistic, “nobody is taking this DeVoe thing seriously except me!” personality this week, so that’s just as annoying as the jokester personality, frankly. Don’t know why I thought to mention it. A bit like going, “This garbage is in a black plastic bag and this garbage is in a white plastic bag, which would you like me to throw at you?” Doesn’t matter! Still garbage! Please stop throwing garbage at me, The Flash!

At least the show makes up for it a fraction by giving Dibny non-selfish motivations for his whining. He’s grown to love Team Flash and thinks of them as family, and it’s out of fear of losing them that he acts like a jerk and does stupid things like trying to take on DeVoe alone, only to be stopped by Barry and hauled back to S.T.A.R. Labs. If any of this appreciation for the team had shown through in the last fourteen episodes since Dibny appeared, maybe I’d feel something for the character other than annoyance.

Team Flash formulates a plan inspired by Dibny’s failed plan. They’ll use Gauss to pocket over to DeVoe’s lair in a surprise attack. Unfortunately for them, DeVoe predicted this, so when Barry, Killer Frost, and Cisco arrive, all that’s there to greet them is a hologram. DeVoe and his wife have teleported to S.T.A.R. Labs while the main metahuman heroes are away. A battle ensues.

Iris is kind of the shining light of this whole fight sequence, by the way. She starts it off by throwing an earring that’s apparently loaded with enough explosives to blast a hole in one of the lab walls, then takes on Marlize and handles herself incredibly well while Mrs. DeVoe swings a sword around. The crowning moment of awesome, however, is when Iris reminds Marlize of that time when she asked what Iris was willing to do for Barry, and then answers that question by straight-up stabbing herself with Marlize’s sword just to get close enough to slam Marlize’s head against The Thinker’s hoverchair and shove her into a pocket dimension. Listen, I don’t think it’s said enough: Iris West is capital-A Amazing.

What a pity that her hard work is all for naught, as Ralph Dibny’s final act of ineptitude is to forget to properly lock the metahuman handcuffs he puts on DeVoe, and DeVoe escapes. Then takes Dibny’s body and powers. The bad guys win. Team Flash not only loses one of their team members, but the remaining bus metas as well, and a touch from DeVoe during the melee removed Killer Frost from Caitlin. Also, I’m pretty sure Harry accidentally fried his brain when he overloaded his Thinking Cap with dark matter in his hurry to think of something that could win the battle.

Yikes, this is a bit early for the fake-out downer ending, The Flash. You guys usually wait until the penultimate episode to pull this sort of thing and we’ve got five episodes left in the season. Where can you go from here?

Other Things:

  • Aw, I hope Killer Frost comes back. I really like the idea of Caitlin and Killer Frost becoming besties through post-it notes.
  • Barry looks so strangely angry at the bubbles floating around Gauss’s hippie commune camp.
  • Ha! I was totally right when I predicted that DeVoe would get Ralph’s powers and use them to shapeshift back into himself.


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