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The Flash: Did We Just Find Out Season 4's Big Bad?

Are producers thinking The Thinker?

Noel Kirkpatrick

Way back when H.R. (Tom Cavanagh) first showed up on The Flash, I tossed out some theories about who H.R. Wells might end up being. It's a fun pastime, after all, playing "Which villain is Tom Cavanagh playing this season?!"

But it seems I was not only wrong about H.R. being a bad guy (there's still time, but it's really unlikely, I think), I was also ahead of the curve on who a forthcoming big villain was going to be... or I was just giving the producers ideas.

One of my guesses was that H.R. would actually be Abra Kadabra, but this week proved that idea incorrect as the episode actually presented us with Abra Kadabra (David Dastmalchian), a time-traveling criminal from the 64th century who leaned in hard on the whole "My future tech is practically magic to these fools" shtick. The episode did a nice job of allowing Dastmalchian to be a little hammy and arrogant while never undercutting the fact that Kadabra's actually a pretty smooth operator. After a lackluster Mirror Master (Grey Damon) earlier in the season, it was nice to see this particular rogue be entertaining.

The Flash: Don't expect a Barry-Iris wedding anytime soon

Kadabra also proved to be pretty pivotal to a lot of Flash's goings-on, too. What with being from the future and all, Kadabra had the inside track on all of Barry's (Grant Gustin) highs and lows, including the lowdown on who Savitar is. While this tidbit went unrevealed -- naturally -- Kadabra still revealed something else to both Barry and to us, a villain worthy of being mentioned in the same breath as Eobard Thawne (Matt Letscher), Zoom (Teddy Sears), and Savitar: DeVoe.

Grant Gustin, The Flash​
Jack Rowand/The CW

There's only one villain the DC Universe worth mentioning with that name, and that's Clifford DeVoe, aka The Thinker -- one of the characters I put forward for whom H.R. might actually be. I'm now convinced I'm giving the show ideas (not really). Like I said then, Thinker's a bit of a deep cut, a villain from the 1940s who used a psionic device called a thinking cap to give himself mental abilities, like telekinesis, to fight Jay Garrick's Flash.

Now, assuming that Thinker is the Season 4 big bad may be a little presumptuous, but there's already been a little bit of groundwork laid to indicate that he may be waiting in the wings.

First, there's the fact that the Arrowverse has played this particular name-dropping card before. Back in Season 3 of Arrow, Damien Darhk (Neal McDonough) was mentioned a couple of times before he made his official appearance in the Season 4 premiere. Kadabra's mention of DeVoe could be serving as a similar bit of foundation for Flash's own Season 4.

Second, executive producer Andrew Kreisberg revealed at PaleyFest recently that Flash would not be doing a speedster villain next season. And while I was hoping for a prolonged battle with a newly formed Rogues, I'll take Thinker as an alternative.

And I'll take Thinker as an alternative because, well, I support any excuse to get away from another speedster villain. I think we've all had our fill of them at this point, and so far, Zoom and Savitar haven't really measured up to Thawne in terms of sheer narrative excitement.

Second, though, is that Thinker offers up a whole different sort of threat to Team Flash. Thinker isn't something you have to outpace to defeat. You'd have to outsmart him (or her; there's no reason Clifford can't become Charlotte or Clarice, and, honestly, I'd be super-game for a lady big bad), and a fairly common complaint about Flash is that despite many of the members of Team Flash supposedly being pretty darn smart, they tend to act like idiots. It's for the sake of dramatic storytelling, but it has often undercut them as a group of sound intellects.

When you add on that there have been a few different versions of Thinker to draw on, including an accidentally-created artificial intelligence, there are a couple of different ways to play Thinker on the show, including having him start out as human, get defeated somehow, and then go on to to become something more ephemeral and harder to catch as an AI.

Or, Flash could adapt Thinker's big story when he, along with a couple of other Golden Age Flash villains, trapped Keystone City in a time bubble, effectively erasing it from existence. It wasn't until Barry Allen figured out what was going on that the bubble popped and Keystone came back. While Flash's Thinker may not team up with anyone to do this, imagine the fun the show would have with erasing Central City from existence and trapping it in a time bubble. Sounds like just the sort of thing this series would do, in fact.

In any case, we'll have plenty of time to think about the potential of The Thinker and a whole slew of other Flash-related thoughts, since the series is taking some time off and will be back on April 25.

The Flash airs Tuesdays at 8/7c on The CW.

(Full disclosure: TVGuide.com is owned by CBS, one of The CW's parent companies.)