Today we're going to look at the bad guys from the big superhero / comic book series this season. Part of the genre is that each season should have a big bad — the overall villain that drives that season's narrative. The Flash has had some very interesting big baddies over the four seasons with this year's specifically meant to be different than the previous, but did different end up being better?
In season 1 there was a bit of a bait and switch as we were introduced to Harrison Wells (Tom Cavanagh), and we learned early on that he was the Reverse-Flash and responsible for killing Nora Allen. But he was also a mentor for Barry Allen (Grant Gustin) as well as for Cisco (Carlos Valdes) and Caitlin (Danielle Panabaker). But this Wells had been replaced by Eobard Thawne (Matt Letscher), so we never really get to met the real Wells. Watching him do evil things and the anticipation of knowing he was evil and waiting for the team to find out made the character great to watch.
Season 2 brought Zoom, who in a lot of ways was just another Reverse-Flash without the anticipation build up. He was more of a bogeyman than a character as we got to know Jay Garrick (Teddy Sears) only to have it revealed that he's not Garrick at all, he's Hunter Zolomon and like Thawne, he is responsible for a death of one of Barry's parents, this time Henry Allen (John Wesley Shipp), but we get to keep Shipp around as he is revealed to be the Jay Garrick from Earth-2. What made this season good was the introduction of Earth-2, the second Harrison Wells, etc. But Zoom was too similar to Reverse-Flash.
Season 3 we met Savitar, the third speedster big bad that was faster than Barry, and I think Fans were tired of it. The writers put in some interesting twists like starting the season out with Flashpoint, introducing Doctor Alchemy (Tom Fleton) and playing with past and future along with the idea of a ticking clock towards the death of Iris West (Candice Patton). But many fans guessed Savitar's identity of Future Barry Allen and again there were too many common elements with Reverse-Flash and Zoom to make Savitar a strong villain.
That brings us to the Thinker, aka Clifford DeVoe (Neil Sandilands and others). This villain showed us that the writers do listen to fans and they got away from the big bad being yet another speedster. They also just showed us who he was early on. And I think he was a very strong villain at first. It was the whole playing checkers vs. chess thing as he was always 10 steps ahead. This was something unique and different.
However, it got to be a bit much that he thought out everything including exactly who to have on the bus, where to have them, how to case Cisco to bring Barry out of the speed force, and about a million other variables to make his plan work. His brain was what made him unique and then they started giving him all these extra abilities, making him too powerful. It got to the point where he was just toying with Team Flash and waiting for certain things to happen. It would've been nice to see the Flash get a win or two during the season and see how DeVoe adjusted his plan as he went. But instead he just went through his plan perfectly until the end, becoming almost omnipotent — which was too much.
Though I really liked the scene of him breaking into the ARGUS facility.
As villains go, I put the Thinker as #2 on the list of best big bads for the Flash with Reverse-Flash being #1. He was well portrayed, full of tricks and brought a completely different type of threat from the other villains. It gives me hope that next seasons big bad can be unique as well and not just another speedster.