The Flash ended its fourth season with a thrilling cliffhanger, finally revealing that the mystery girl (Jessica Parker Kennedy), who has been making an appearance every few episodes since the crossover, is indeed Barry and Iris’ daughter, Nora, from the future. It’s the most exciting development in what’s turned out to be a mediocre season. Everything that came before the final scene, however, moved along somewhat sluggishly and the stakes continued to be practically nonexistent. That’s due to the fact that, somewhere along the line, DeVoe became less threatening (a waste of Neil Sandilands’ talent) and his lack of connection to Barry, in particular, fell flat. The finale, “We Are the Flash,” continued in the same vein and served as an underwhelming season finale, but not without some good moments.
Cecile went into labor just as DeVoe set off the satellites to dumb down humanity and rule over everyone. Barry is stressed, but Iris brings back Marlize and she suggests entering DeVoe’s mind in order for the speedster to find the potential good left inside him in order to stop him. What we got is an Inception-style trip into DeVoe’s subconscious. While there, Barry found Ralph, who was apparently alive inside the villain’s mind. Apparently, if DeVoe had actually killed, then he wouldn’t have been able to use his body. There were certain aspects to the plot that don’t necessarily make sense, but then The Flash has always used shortcuts to get to where they want to get to regardless.
The finale was truly a mixed bag. It didn’t have enough heartfelt moments or emotional character beats besides the conclusion of Harry’s subplot, which managed to be more touching than expected. The episode should’ve felt more like “Flashtime,” arguably the best episode of the season. In that episode, the stakes were high, the emotional beats were strong, and Barry saving the day felt satisfying on so many levels. And that was for a nuclear bomb exploding and taking out everyone in the city, so having someone out there who’s trying to wipe out the world’s intelligence and memories should have had similar stakes and tension. In many ways, the finale felt a lot like the rest of the season, and especially the second half of it, in that it was shaky and also felt like a seesaw.
For a man who could think steps ahead, there wasn’t enough of a push-and-pull between DeVoe and Barry. The fastest man alive against the fastest mind alive sadly came up short and that’s ultimately due to the lack of creativity on the writers’ part. It was another ambitious attempt at a villain, but because the show has become comfortable with its status quo and wasn’t interested in challenging Barry’s own mind when it came to the Thinker, a lot of the story beats felt like more of the same. The season started off strong enough, with the Thinker really messing with Barry in a way that made him analyze and problem solve, but that didn’t continue into the second half of the season.
The scenes of Barry being in DeVoe’s mind were visually fantastic and the idea of DeVoe erasing Marlize from his subconscious was an incredibly sad moment. However, given the fact that they really played up Marlize and Clifford’s relationship this season, it was disappointing to find that the show took the easy route and made the “good” part of DeVoe turn out to be his professor persona. It would have been more emotionally effective had Barry found a way to attain a memory of Marlize and work against DeVoe that way. There would have been more tension, with DeVoe realizing he did still have an emotional connection to his wife, rather than simply dismissing their relationship and leaving only a brief scene between them before DeVoe’s lackluster demise.
The idea that Ralph is alive because it’s his body that DeVoe was inhabiting makes little sense given that Ralph’s body “died” when Devoe stole only his powers, but I suppose I can let it go given that it makes Barry seem like less of a failure this season. Ralph’s character was far more muted during the episode, which was good. It allowed him to use what he’d learned from Barry and also help with his own idea without taking away from Barry’s own heroic actions or the episode overall, which had been a big problem earlier in the season. It did seem like his “hero” arc was finally over and since he’s sticking around for season five, it’d be wise for the writers to move past his story and make him more of a supporting character who won’t continue to regress.
One of the best aspects of the episode was that it allowed Barry to have a victory, think of a way out on his own, and stand confidently over DeVoe in victory twice. He had help, sure, but no one wants to watch a superhero constantly fail like Barry has this season. It dampens the mood and also makes him look less intelligent than we know he actually is. Barry had his freedom ripped away after going to jail, lost his job, and was unsuccessful in saving any of the bus metas. All of this, paired with a few other aspects of the season, brought it down. For a while, it did feel like Ralph was overshadowing everyone and especially Barry, so it was wonderful to see The Flash himself finally win.
While the episode lacked stakes and proper tension, there were still several memorable moments. For one, it was fantastic to see Barry running again. It was hard to remember that this show was about a speedster and yet, in the season where Barry actually is the fastest man alive, we’ve barely seen him run in the back half of season four. The scene where Barry was running through the city and helped by Nora was beautifully shot. The sudden rewind was one of the most surprising aspects of the episode and the visual effects team really pulled it off.
Harry gaining back some of his intelligence, but getting to keep his sense of empathy struck a nice balance and his goodbye scene and group hug were wonderful moments. Harry’s subplot came to a good conclusion and was one of the more intriguing and heartfelt aspects of the finale. Iris and Marlize got the chance to work together after being on opposing sides for so long and it was great that Iris, like Barry, had someone to go toe-to-toe with this season. The pair arguably had a more dynamic and personal vendetta type of relationship than what Barry had with Clifford and it was nice to see them get past all their previous animosity and stand together. Kim Engelbrecht’s Marlize was one of the highlights of season four and, thankfully, she didn’t die so there’s potential to bring her back at some point down the line.
There was also a through line with regards to the concept of Iris as Barry’s lightning rod, an emotional connection so strong it grounds Barry and helps to power him through anything. It parallels several other moments throughout the show and was showcased once again while Barry was in DeVoe’s mind. It was a bit more subtle this time around, but it kept that theme and continuity. What turned out to be comical was Iris bringing up babies and Barry getting jittery over having one soon (“Right now?”) only for their future daughter to walk through the door moments later. Nora’s reveal has been one of the most anticipated all season and the final scene, with confirmation as to who she is and that she’d also made a big mistake, lent credence and created genuine excitement for season five.
Ultimately, The Flash’s season four had a lot of promise that was squandered somewhere along the way. The finale felt a lot like the rest of the season in that it wasn’t horrible, but wasn’t the best the show could come up with. “We Are The Flash” was filled with good moments that stood out, but the episode itself was lacking in buildup, stakes, and needed a bit more character moments to balance it out. If the writers could come up with an episode like “Flashtime,” then all hope isn’t lost and that episode should be what a season should feel like overall. The finale’s cliffhanger, at least, brought a renewed sense of energy and momentum that will hopefully carry through into season five, where the theme has already been confirmed to be about family.
See you next season!