For a lot of fans, The Flash's third season left a lot to be desired. Despite the constant threat of Iris's death looming, the show never felt as fast-paced and thrilling as it did in its first two seasons. Rather, it seemed to be a reworking of the same old story that it had played out before. This resulted in sinking ratings (multiple series lows) and less fan engagement on social media than before. It didn't help that Arrow had redeemed itself so spectacularly that The Flash's flirtations with its dark storyline (something that Arrow has always handled well) felt at best theatrical and campy, and at worst, boring. Lucky for us, The Flash Season 4 has us heading in a completely different direction then before with the arrival of a new non-speedster big bad: the Thinker, to be played by The 100's Neil Sandilands.
Who Is The Thinker?
Although the Thinker has appeared under multiple names since his creation by writers Garnder Fox and E.E Hibbard, the villain is most commonly known as Clifford DeVoe. Avid Flash fans will remember that this name was when he was talking about the Flash's greatest foes.
In the comics, Clifford DeVoe was a lawyer who decided to try his hand at becoming the kingpin of Keystone city by working with, and then outsmarting a crime lord by the name of Hunk Norvock, which eventually lead to him becoming the head of the underworld. The Thinker is most known for his genius level intellect and his invention, the "Thinking Cap", a device that allowed him to have mental abilities.
How Exactly Will The Thinker Wreak Havoc In The Flash?
#TheThinker will be the first major non speedster villain for the Scarlet Speedster and will thus be a whole new ball game for the show. After three seasons of fast-paced baddies, it'll be great to see Barry face someone who is using his smarts to get ahead of the team. A later version of the Thinker was resurrected in the comics after his death, by Mister Terrific a character that has already been introduced in the Arrowverse as an AI. Given that The Flash already has an active AI (Gideon, who is set to return when Legends Of Tomorrow begins its new season this fall) on the show, it wouldn't be too far fetched to assume that somewhere down the season the Thinker is going to use Gideon to wreak havoc on Team Flash, especially considering that the Thinker has done so using an AI in the Justice Society headquarters in the comics.
Another event that will most likely be adapted from the comic books will be the Thinker's manipulation of other villains to serve his purposes. This trend of the main villain using others to do his bidding his been explored heavily in the last two seasons (Zoom used villains like Doctor Light, whereas #Savitar used Dr. Alchemy, Magenta and others) but since many of The Flash's 22 episodes serve as a filler, expect to see something like this happen again. This also fits with the announcement of Season 1 metahuman Peek-a-boo's return in the Season 4 premiere.
Furthermore it's said that we will learn more about how Caitlin is dealing with her post-Killer Frost life. The Thinker's intelligence might just help him get Killer Frost to work for him too, while Caitlin tries to get a handle on her powers, possibly even splitting her two halves.
The Thinker's endgame could also be his plan to control the minds of everyone in Central City, as this was an arc from one of the popular Thinker-focused issues of The Flash comics.
Since most of the Thinker's comic book history is tied to Jay Garrick, we can most certainly expect to see the return of Jon Wesley Shipp. We also know that the Flash is going to use a cerebral inhibitor to defeat him as stated in The Flash Season 3, so we can expect plenty of gadgetry from Cisco. What's going to be interesting is how Barry Allen's return from the speed force (which of course, is going to end up happening in the premiere), will change the tone of the show.
The Thinker's Impact On The Flash Season 4
We've seen how the choice of the villain has affected the show in the past — not to mention how well-written previous villains were, or weren't. While Supergirl has yet to face a truly formidable opponent, the choice of the antagonist has clearly defined how well the show does each season. Arrow was particularly memorable in its most recent, as well as its sophomore season and The Flash fared much better with evil-doers like the Reverse-Flash and Zoom than Savitar. Even the once mocked Legends of Tomorrow delivered a standout second season when it decided to employ a team of the #Arrowverse's big-bads to form the wicked Legion of Doom.
Thus, it's going to be very exciting to see just how fearsome the Thinker will be as it will clearly decide whether Flash will able to rise up from the ashes, come Season 4.
What do you think: Will the Thinker be the terrifying villain The Flash needs to revive itself? Drop me a comment below!