The Flash: Is the Thinker Season 4’s Main Villain?

Season 4 is shaping up to have a very different type of villain.

While most of the chatter surrounding The Flash‘s Season 3 finale surrounds the shocking, status quo-altering ending, that wasn’t the only big development to be found in that episode. Savitar may have given fans a major clue as to which DC villain will be headlining the upcoming fourth season. And as promised, this villain won’t be another evil speedster, but rather a shadowy criminal mastermind known as The Thinker.

Full spoilers for The Flash continue below.

“Finish Line” is actually the second episode this season where one of Barry Allen’s time-traveling enemies has referenced a character named DeVoe. Earlier, Abra Kadabra spoke of DeVoe in the same breath as Reverse-Flash and Zoom, implying that this villain is in their league in terms of power and overall threat level. And in “Finish Line,” Savitar reminisced about building a machine to stop DeVoe’s telekinetic powers before reminding himself that Team Flash circa-2017 has yet to encounter this enemy. It would seem the writers are laying the seeds for their next major villain much in the same way Arrow set the stage for Damien Darhk in late Season 3. Here’s where we think the show might be headed with DeVoe as its main antagonist in Season 4.

Who Is Clifford DeVoe?

The “DeVoe” in question is Clifford DeVoe, the first of several DC villains to call themselves “The Thinker.” This disgraced ex-lawyer built a new career for himself as a sort of adviser to other criminals, reasoning that they had the drive but not the intelligence to dominate the city’s criminal underworld. That naturally put him in constant conflict with original Flash Jay Garrick.

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DeVoe became a real threat to Flash once he built himself a “Thinking Cap,” a device that granted him the ability to control minds and levitate objects. So while DeVoe is shaping up to be the first non-speedster villain to headline a season, he certainly has enough power to take on heroes like Wally West and Jay Garrick.

The Other Thinkers

DeVoe may have been the DCU’s original Thinker, but he isn’t the only character to use the name. He was succeeded by two other characters, Cliff Carmichael and Des Connor. Carmichael was a high school rival of Ronnie Raymond who went insane after accidentally paralyzing his cousin in a football game. Carmichael was taken to a mental institution, where the doctors (for whatever reason) chose to experiment on his mind using DeVoe’s Thinking Cap. Carmichael wound up having a miniaturized version of the cap implanted directly in his brain. He went on to become a recurring foe of Firestorm and a member of the Suicide Squad. Connor, meanwhile, was a minor Batman villain with the ability to project fear directly into the minds of other.

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There’s even a fourth version of Thinker in the DCU, a digital A.I. system designed from DeVoe’s Thinking Cap technology.

We wouldn’t be surprised if the Arrow-verse incarnation of Thinker borrows a little from all three versions. It wouldn’t be the first time The Flash has mixed and matched elements of different villains (i.e. – Hunter Zolomon/Zoom). We may see DeVoe’s  powers evolve over the course of the season as he upgrades his Thinking Cap to become smaller and more powerful. Perhaps he’ll even transform from flesh-and-blood villain to pure A.I. by the end of the season. How can even a family of speedsters hope to stop a villain with no body and limitless global reach?

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We could also see the writers delving into Carmichael’s back-story and connection to Firestorm. Maybe Thinker can serve as an excuse to finally bring Ronnie Raymond back into the picture.

The Rise of the Rogues?

One of the recurring criticisms of The Flash is that the show has often downplayed the traditional Flash Rogues in favor of speedsters like Zoom and Savitar. We’ve seen most of the core Flash Rogues by now, but they tend to be minor “villains of the week” rather than overarching threats to Team Flash. And with Captain Cold dead and Heat Wave now fighting alongside the Legends of Tomorrow, there’s been little hope of a full-blown Flash Rogues storyline.

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That could finally change in Season 4. Given DeVoe’s status as a an adviser to the criminal underworld, the new season might revolve around his quest to become the new criminal kingpin of Central City. Perhaps he’ll rally villains like Mirror Master, Top, Golden Glider, Weather Wizard and Trickster to his side, understanding that a united team of criminals stands a better chance of overcoming the Flash.

Assuming that’s the case, we’d expect that alliance to form the early basis for Season 4, but also that DeVoe’s plans will ultimately extend far beyond a desire to rule Central City’s criminal underworld. After three seasons of Barry Allen battling the worst the Speed Force has to offer, Season 4 will need some way of topping what’s come before. What that might be is anyone’s guess at this point.

Jesse is a mild-mannered writer for IGN. Allow him to lend a machete to your intellectual thicket by following @jschedeen on Twitter, or Kicksplode on MyIGN.

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