Despite The Flash being back and forth throughout Season 4, the show does still do a good job with certain aspects that are introduced. Throughout the entire DeVoe saga this season, the show has introduced a lot of new metahumans that have created a nice change of pace. Although fans will never get tired of seeing any of the Rogues or Gorilla Grodd, this season has brought some fresh characters and fresh powers into the fold. While they have mainly been antagonists, episode 14, “Subject 9” changes that dynamic.
One of the most frustrating points in The Flash has been that at no point has Barry or Team Flash been able to catch a break against DeVoe. Despite all of their efforts, the villain seems to have no potential outplay and is getting to the metahumans before Barry. “Subject 9” introduces viewers to Izzy Bowin, a country musician who packs a punch when she really rocks out. The character stays pretty lowkey until she is confronted by Flash, Ralph and DeVoe all at the same time, but it is revealed that her musical powers can actually damage DeVoe to an extent. The idea brings a fresh development to the show because Izzy has little control over what she can do, and it opens the door to a new character helping the team. The episode opens up a really nice connection for Ralph, who has lacked development as of late, but being the new guy to the team, Izzy’s arrival allows him to finally step up.
Ralph has pretty much been constantly treated as the new guy on the team, which doesn’t give him much to do. The character has always just been present when events are taking place but gets focus whenever The Flash needs to fill the gap between episodes and plot points. “Subject 9” allows the character to take everything that he has learned and try to pass it on to the new rookie. Despite having a goofy personality and sometimes not displaying traditionally heroic traits, having Izzy around seems to give him a real form of inspiration. The episode gives Ralph a push that he has needed because even as he’s been learning from Team Flash, the episode finally shows him have some conflicting with Barry on their teaching methods. Ralph obviously has interest in Izzy but seems to generally understand how pushing people too much can be an ineffective method of teaching.
Showcasing Ralph’s increased level of care as a character is the highlight of this episode though. While he’s learning how to be a hero, Ralph really has no connection to DeVoe as a villain. The end of the episode starts to push that point and unfortunately it comes when Izzy loses her life. Once again, DeVoe beats Team Flash to the punch and is able to be one step ahead of them; however, this is the first time that someone outside of Barry has watched him absorb and kill a person. After all of the self-doubt, Ralph has had about becoming a superhero he was finally able to connect with someone and relate to someone as being new to this lifestyle. Izzy gave Ralph hope and inspiration, especially reiterating the idea that if he could make this transition, so could she. Yet, while it is sad to see him suffer this loss, it should help to add an additional layer to his character and, more importantly, gives him a reason to personally want to take down DeVoe.
Ralph has by no means been a great character, but the show has been giving him some good moments in certain episodes. “Subject 9” is an episode that provides further development for Ralph’s character that is more meaningful than him finding new ways to continue doubting himself and his morals. On top of this, the episode gives Barry a nice change of pace too, showing him that while he is determined to take down DeVoe, he cannot go overboard or else he will end up pushing everyone away. Moving forward, hopefully, this is another bonding factor for Team Flash that will allow them to put their heads together and finally create a good plan to challenge The Thinker. While The Flash has been stalling at points in the past couple of issues, “Subject 9” did a nice job of changing up the dynamic and adding a little more emotion to the latest victim of DeVoe.