Learn the secret origin of Clifford DeVoe, aka The Thinker, in the latest Flash

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Sep 3, 2019, 8:24 AM EDT (Updated)

After three seasons of blazing-fast villains, The Flash is finally giving us a big bad who doesn’t share the same power set as Barry Allen — and it turns out a super-fast mind can be a lot scarier than super-fast feet. So who is Clifford DeVoe?

Spoilers ahead for “Therefore I Am,” the latest episode of The CW’s Flash, which aired November 21, 2017!

You could gather every genius on every planet and you still couldn’t outthink me.” -DeVoe

The pressure was certainly on to get the show’s first non-speedster big bad right, and with DeVoe, they seem to be hitting at something unlike anything Team Flash has faced yet. He might not be a speedster, but DeVoe looks to be just as formidable as Savitar, Thawne and the rest of the gang. After Barry and Joe confronted DeVoe at his home, Barry can’t seem to let go of that nagging feeling that the squeaky clean, suburban professor is up to no good. As Barry put it so eloquently, his Spider Sense is tingling (nice to know the Arrowverse still has a Spider-Man).

Thankfully, the cat and mouse game doesn’t last very long, and Barry finally lays his cards on the table — and DeVoe does the same. Seeing DeVoe spill all of Barry’s secrets is a shocking scene, and though Barry plays it tough, this new threat certainly seems to catch him by surprise. This isn’t just any meta human.


DeVoe is something new, and despite his frail appearance, is just as menacing as anyone Barry has faced to date. It’s rare this show has fully set-up and revealed its big bad so early in the season, but with DeVoe pulling so many strings, it stands to reason it’s all part of his plan.

Up to this point, Barry has always leaned on his speed in a crisis. It’s a lesson the Green Arrow tried to teach him a few years back, by setting a trap and shooting the speedster in the back with an arrow during a training exercise. Being fast can get you pretty far, but you also have to be smart. We learn DeVoe’s power set is literally a nigh unlimited amount of brain power, meaning he can put together the puzzle of reality in a way that Barry and Team Flash can’t even fathom. Put simply: DeVoe can see him coming — no matter how fast he’s running.

Telling DeVoe’s origin story was a clever storytelling tool, giving us an alternate look at the events of the particle accelerator explosion. It also gave DeVoe some much needed humanity. His super-smarts come at a very dear price, as his brain is literally eating his body like a parasite. His scary super-wheelchair will keep him alive for a while (complete with his exposed brain to jack into the suit’s upgraded helmet), but DeVoe is working on a timetable. Literally. We still don’t know his grand plan, though he must certainly have one. Here’s hoping its not quite as convoluted as the master plans we’ve seen before here. Looking at you, Zoom and Savitar.

Assorted musings


*In case you missed the half-dozen references to remind you, Barry and Iris’ wedding is next week in the Crisis on Earth X crossover event. It looks to be a beautiful ceremony, though we’re just assuming all the alt-universe Nazis weren’t invited.

*Barry is understandably looking a bit obsessed with his DeVoe investigation (and clever move by DeVoe to get Barry written up, taking shots at his “regular” life to keep him off his game), but why does the team almost instantly doubt him? Yes, the evidence isn’t overwhelming at this point, but the Council of Wells are pretty bright guys. If Barry feels something is going on, hasn’t he earned the benefit of the doubt at this point? But, yeah, dumb move by Barry to break into their house. At least put on a ski mask, Allen. C’mon, man.

*Another great scene: During the flashbacks, Thawne (as Harrison Wells) comes face to face with the young DeVoe, and certainly seems to be aware of the threat he’ll pose to the Flash in the future. It was a cool nod for fans, especially since we were already tying back to that fateful night.

*Should we be worried that Capt. Singh didn’t fire Barry outright over this, instead of suspending him? Seriously, the dude broke into a guy’s house and was caught redhanded. Obviously glad Barry didn’t get canned, but that was certainly an egregious offense for someone with a badge.

*Wally is back! Here’s hoping his few episodes away helped him clear his head post-breakup. But, umm, where was Dibny this week?

Next week: Crisis on Earth-X, the two-night event airing Monday and Tuesday. Be there. Fight Nazis. Repeat.