All season long, The Flash has been trying to pull off a tricky balancing act by bringing back the humor and Silver Age fun of the first season while still delivering a dark and dramatic Big Bad arc. Never have the seams shown so badly as they do in “Lose Yourself,” an episode that could be diagnosed with split personality disorder. There’s plenty of humor in the first half, not all of it well-executed, while the back half brings little but failure and misery to Team Flash. There’s some breakneck action mixed in there, too, but the whole is less than the sum of its parts.
At least now we know where the long and winding personal growth journey of Ralph Dibny was leading: straight to an early grave. “Lose Yourself” finds Dibny once again needing tutoring in the ways of the superhero, as his plan to put an end to DeVoe’s reign of terror once and for all by killing him meets with Barry’s disapproval. Maybe Elongated Man would have been better off signing up with Team Arrow, where the whole “heroes don’t kill” philosophy is on much shakier ground. Barry’s point is that their meta powers give them enough options for dealing with bad guys that killing is never a necessity, but Ralph’s counter that DeVoe will always be smarter than them and one step ahead is self-evident by episode’s end.
Still, this is not the same Ralph Dibny who feared for his life earlier in the season. He wants to kill DeVoe because he’s worried about the rest of Team Flash, who have become the closest thing to a family he’s ever known. He absorbs Barry’s latest (and, it would seem, final) lesson and spares DeVoe’s life, but as soon as he starts talking about finally deserving to live the life of a hero, there can be no doubt what’s about to happen. DeVoe fries his brain and takes on the powers and form of his final bus meta. Another job well done, Barry! I find this whole turn of events irksome for any number of reasons, but mostly because the character of Ralph Dibny deserved better. I enjoyed Hartley Sawyer’s performance, at least when he wasn’t being forced to go through the Barry Allen School of Superheroics, and Ralph’s powers brought a welcome dose of comic book goofiness to the proceedings. In the CW-verse, death is often just a temporary inconvenience, so here’s hoping that’s the case this time.
All of this comes about because Harry is able to track down a location on the remaining bus meta: Edwin Gauss, the Folded Man. Gauss has his own pocket dimension powers, but he’s also an opportunity for the writers to dig up some hippie jokes that have been stale since Woodstock. All the stoned cosmic ramblings and spirit animals don’t add up to much beyond “get a load of these weirdos,” in the hackiest way possible. Although his characterization never gets more sophisticated than a Cheech and Chong routine, Gauss is powerful enough to zap Vibe, Killer Frost, and the Flash into DeVoe’s lair, where—inevitably—a trap has been set. Yes, once again DeVoe knew exactly what they were going to do and counted on it happening. Somehow Team Flash still hasn’t learned this lesson, and once again it spells disaster.
On the plus side of the ledger, this results in one of the most head-spinning set pieces of the season as the Thinker and the Engineer bust into STAR Labs. I couldn’t even take notes quickly enough to get it all down, but it involves round two of Ralph versus an animated dinosaur skeleton, Joe going mano a mano with a Samuroid, Iris fighting the Engineer, and Harry zapping his thinking cap with dark matter courtesy of Gideon. (Joe had rightly accused an increasingly manic Harry of becoming addicted to the cap, but was at least relieved to learn there was no dark matter involved. Oops.)
There’s not much for Team Flash to feel good about once the dust has cleared. They lose not only Ralph but also Killer Frost, as DeVoe is able to drain all the dark matter from her body. DeVoe not only has all the powers he set out to acquire, but a vial of dark matter to boot. Barry returns to brooding mode, packing up Ralph’s office and toasting him with Gingold. Making The Flash lighthearted again was a noble effort, but here we are again, right back in bummer city.
- So...I guess Harry must have made more than one Sonic Scepter, seeing as how Barry used it on DeVoe (or rather, the DeVoe hologram) while Ralph still had it embedded in his chest.
- Not only is Ralph no longer in the picture, but Hartley Sawyer doesn’t even get to keep playing DeVoe, as he uses his transformative powers to return to his original form. (Albeit with a haircut that more closely resembles Ralph’s.)
- Caitlin figures out how to summon Killer Frost anytime she’s needed, which appears to be a moot point now. It’s a shame, as they were starting to get along, at least through post-it notes.
- “I fill my britches.” Nobody doubts that, Harry.