Grant Gustin, Candice Patton
Photo: Jack Rowand (The CW)

Is the DeVoe storyline threatening to get interesting at last? I haven’t been a fan so far, but the concept of a supervillain who is constantly absorbing new powers is a bit more intriguing than that of a really smart guy floating around in a chair. “Subject 9" refers to the ninth out of twelve bus metas DeVoe has set his sights on draining of their abilities (and in some cases, taking on their physical form). Subject 9 has a name, Izzy Bowin, which will be semi-familiar to comic book readers who remember the Fiddler. The Israel Bowin of the Golden Age has been gender-swapped, played here by Miranda MacDougall as a country singer who happened to be riding the city bus that fateful day it was zapped with dark matter.

DeVoe is now in the form of Sugar Lyn Beard’s Becky Sharpe, while Ralph is evidently still taking on the form of original recipe DeVoe whenever he’s called upon by the CCPD to confirm that, yes, DeVoe is still alive. It’s a bit surprising to see the show doubling down on this ridiculous plot development, but it turns out that many in Central City see this improbable resurrection for the fake news it is. As Captain Singh explains when telling Barry he’s about to agree to an indefinite leave of absence, in a city full of metas, it’s hard not to be a little skeptical. This again raises the question of why the authorities aren’t doing more to confirm that the man claiming to be DeVoe actually is him, but this matter isn’t even addressed.

Once Team Flash has identified Izzy as one of DeVoe’s remaining targets, they are determined to protect her. In usual Team Flash fashion, however, they are a little too determined. First Barry and the country music-hating Ralph show up as civilians at the Busted Saddle to warn her, but their unsubtle approach gets them a sonic blast for their trouble. When they show up in costume next time, DeVoe crashes the party, only to find out that Izzy’s power is strong enough to hurt him. The next step is to take Izzy back to STAR Labs so Barry can reveal his secret identity. When I think about the fact that Barry refused to identify himself as the Flash to keep himself out of prison, I can only imagine that was because his plan was to introduce himself to everyone in Central City one by one.

Miranda McDougall
Photo: Jack Rowand (The CW)


The real plan is to train Izzy as a superhero in order to use her as a weapon against DeVoe, and here’s where I start wondering whether getting Barry sprung from Iron Heights was really such a great idea after all. Barry pushes too hard, if you can believe such a thing! He gets Izzy injured by flinging plates at her too fast. And eventually he gets her killed, although to be fair, that was really more of a team effort. That’s par for the course; we’re at the point in the season where the stakes have to be raised, and I’m at least thankful they didn’t go the route of killing off a regular just to accomplish that. Ralph’s developing feelings for Izzy are sketched in well enough to make her death land as a crucial turning point, albeit one that highlights what a downbeat hour this is overall.

There are a few lighter moments, mostly courtesy of the subplot involving Harry’s efforts to build a cerebral inhibitor for Cecile (excuse me, “DA Cecile Horton”) so Joe’s dreams won’t keep her up all night. (That Harry would design a helmet that was perfectly functional yet impossible to use for its designed purpose...well, that was classic Harry.) Ralph’s elongation effects continue to be impressively amusing, even as they’re used as sparingly as the budget dictates. DeVoe provides a fun highlight reel of the season so far by deploying the meta powers he’s collected along the way against Team Flash. None of this is quite enough to make up for the enervated, by-the-numbers quality of too many scenes in “Subject 9,” but it’s always nice to be reminded what this show can do when it’s not straining for dark melodrama.

Stray observations

  • You learn something every day, and today I learned that the execrable Sunday Night Football theme is based on the hit country song “Somethin’ Bad” by Miranda Lambert and Carrie Underwood. I was really confused for a second there when Izzy started singing it.
  • This is the second episode in a row where the writers have hung a lampshade on the whole “better go give a pep talk” trope. They know they’ve drained that well completely dry, but they just can’t help themselves.
  • Barry has a new job as Ralph’s private eye partner. Not that Ralph needs a Hooch to his Turner.