The Flash: The 8 Biggest Questions We Still Have About The Thinker

clifford devoe the flash

Spoilers for anyone who isn't yet caught up with The Flash's current episodes.

With each new season of The Flash, it's imperative for viewers to steadily exercise their brains in order to handle the multi-layered prognostication that each episode inspires, usually in the final seconds. While the speedsters from earlier seasons made time travel the most maddeningly debatable element, Season 4 turned potentially everything we've seen and heard into questionable mysteries, thanks to The Thinker's thought-provoking plot.

With only a handful of episodes left before Season 4 has gone off into that pocket universe in the sky, I still have almost too many questions remaining about so many different aspects of The Thinker's twisty and exposition-averting arc. So let's go over a bunch of them, shall we?

What Is The Enlightenment?

In the simplest terms, The Enlightenment can be defined as "Clifford DeVoe's grand plan for The Flash and Central City," but by this point, we're needing a lot more than just the simplest terms. DeVoe first mentioned a seemingly a lower-case enlightenment back before Barry ended up in jail, and it hasn't really been fleshed out any further since, though vocal shoutouts have been scattered. I have to assume he has been or will be developing a device meant to take over the minds of everyone in the city, or on the entire planet. But is he actually going to make them smarter and more logical? Or dumber and more subservient? Will anyone actually be enlightened here?

Seriously, Why Those Twelve Specific Bus Metas?

Throughout Season 4, The Thinker has targeted a dozen metahumans whose powers sprouted when Barry escaped the Speed Force, and it's been made abundantly clear The Thinker orchestrated it all for very specific outcomes, thanks to his powers of projecting such specific outcomes. It all made fine enough Arrow-verse sense for him to want metas with relevant abilities like Ralph's, Brainstorm's, and Melting Pot's. But was Hazard really necessary? Or Null? OR THE FIDDLER? Could six or seven metas not have been enough for DeVoe? Considering Ralph Dibney's arrival in Season 4 made a continuity error out of Ralph's Season 1 namecheck as a victim of the first particle accelerator explosion, I'm wary a comprehensive answer may not arrive.

marlize the flash

How Will Marlize Factor Into The Thinker's Defeat?

While the DeVoes' backstory made it seem like Clifford and Marlize were going to forever be an intellectual match made in heaven, that love has been consistently poisoned to the point of no return. Whatever natural emotions existed got vanquished once The Weeper's tears entered the mix. The couple's bond has been destroyed layer by layer with each episode that passes, and it's very clear that once Marlize is able to come into full-realization-mode without the chance of losing her memories, then Clifford in in for a world of pain. He had just better hope he doesn't accidentally give her someone else's powers on accident.

Why Didn't The Thinker Just Get Ralph First?

Once the dots connected between Ralph's morphing abilities and DeVoe's consciousness-swapping abilities, their intersection was oh so obvious. DeVoe's body was too weak for The Thinker's endgame, and he needed something regenerative, but he didn't actually take Ralph's body until way late in the game. Stepping aside from this being a pivotal learning point for Barry -- but still keeping to the laws of probability with Central City -- I cannot comfortably believe that in every other potential timeline, The Thinker taking Ralph's body earlier on would have been SO detrimental, and that it HAD to wait until when it happened. Ralph was alone a lot. Barry could have learned this lesson another way. Marlize could have had less to be disgusted with with DeVoe's alternating appearances.

Why Is The Thinker's Plan Taking So Long?

As much macro-appreciation as I have for how The Thinker has shaken up The Flash's storytelling, it is increasingly hard to understand how Earth-1 is such that Mr. Smartest So-And-So's probability calculations only allowed for these specific and seemingly disparate events that have transpired in Season 4. Calling back to DeVoe's inability to immediately target Ralph -- along with the over-wrought plots of some other Flash villains -- how hadn't the DeVoes culled together a wealth of other plans and machinations that legitimately helped mankind (beyond a presence in the educational field)? Why did he have to set his vast mind on a such a particular scheme that has been slow as molasses on a show about the fastest man on Earth?

the flash jesse quick

Wouldn't The Thinker Want Other Earth's Metas, Too?

Sure, it's possible The Thinker's plan will work. But considering he hasn't really made a name for himself within Central City, he doesn't seem destined for the kind of infamy that Savitar would have been chatting about. It's possibly because DeVoe has (maybe) kept his mission tied to Earth-1 without trying to aid the Enlightenment by bringing in metas from other dimensions. We're obviously not calling for Cisco to get sacrificed, but would it have been so impossible for Thinker to have shifted the odds by taking over the bodies of Gypsy or her father? That would have been scandalous enough, I know. But was that to intentionally avoid overusing other Earths? Or have we yet to see that come into play? What if there are other Thinkers set to work together?

Here, I'm using the word "related" in either the familiar way or the familial way. Although Mystery Girl turned up during the Thinker-avoiding "Crisis on Earth-X" crossover, her successive appearances have both tied her to Barry's weird symbols (formerly seen on DeVoe's head), and also made her appear a little bit villainous. So is there some connective tissue between the two characters, or is she tied more to the Speed Force? Theories range from her somehow being a younger version of Marlize to her being a DeVoe offspring to her being The Thinker himself. And then some. We know she's setting up Season 5's storyline, so how will these worlds collide before then?

Will Harry Die Trying To Stop The Thinker?

Of all The Flash's versions of Harrison Wells, Earth-2's Harry would be quickest to verbally judge someone for being foolhardy. So he's obviously the one who fell down a well(s) of obsession with his own quasi-magical thinking cap, to the point where he's gone rogue with dark matter usage, people! Not good for the brain. Harry's contact with Gideon birthed theories about him actually being Season 1's Wells/Thawne, and his unquenched thirst to keep boosting that thinking cap is uncomfortable. What's actually happening with Harry, though? Could The Flash turn him into a short-time villain, only to later have him sacrifice himself for the greater good? The show doesn't need to carry on its "kill a Harrison Wells every season or so" tradition, just to put that out there.

Hopefully with answers being zapped into our brains with each of the remaining episodes, The Flash airs Tuesday nights on The CW at 8:00 p.m. ET. Head to our summer premiere schedule to see what shows will be coming up after all The Thinker's mysteries have been solved or put on hold for the hiatus.

Nick Venable
Assistant Managing Editor

Nick is a Cajun Country native and an Assistant Managing Editor with a focus on TV and features. His humble origin story with CinemaBlend began all the way back in the pre-streaming era, circa 2009, as a freelancing DVD reviewer and TV recapper.  Nick leapfrogged over to the small screen to cover more and more television news and interviews, eventually taking over the section for the current era and covering topics like Yellowstone, The Walking Dead and horror. Born in Louisiana and currently living in Texas — Who Dat Nation over America’s Team all day, all night — Nick spent several years in the hospitality industry, and also worked as a 911 operator. If you ever happened to hear his music or read his comics/short stories, you have his sympathy.