This article contains spoilers for The Flash season 4, episode 17, ‘Null and Annoyed’.
This episode, directed by Kevin Smith, had quite a few different things going on here — the least significant of which might be the main storyline of introducing Janet Petty (Bethany Brown), aka Null. Petty is a thief who likes to steal jewelry. The episode begins with her using her gravity powers to steal a gem-encrusted crown from two security guards that could be related to Jay and Silent Bob (Jason Mewes and Smith).
When Barry (Grant Gustin) and Ralph (Hartley Sawyer) go to the crime scene to investigate, Ralph seems distracted and making jokes, not listening to Barry. He ends up causing the destruction of a valuable vase, and when they go to a fence (Paul McGillion) to which Petty might be trying to sell the gems, Ralph take the shape of Joe West (Jesse L. Martin) and threatens the fence, who already knows who Ralph is. Petty is still there and makes Barry float, but it eventually wears off back at S.T.A.R. Labs. Ralph spent the whole mission making jokes, and Barry doesn’t think the can take things seriously, so he benches him.
The next time Petty shows up, Barry goes after her alone and is about to catch her — except she has an escape plan involving a victim in a car that she sends up into the sky, which is about to plummet to the ground. The Flash has to save the guy while Petty picks the lock on the dampener cuffs and gets away.
Iris (Candice Patton) gets through to Barry that Ralph is different and will be a different type of hero. Barry and Ralph talk, and Ralph admits that he has always used humor to cover his fear. They go after Null together at a big Museum event. Flash gets everyone out, but Null sends him way up in the sky again. It’s up to Ralph to save him, so he puts the dampener cuffs on Null’s ankles and then turns his body into an airbag to catch Barry as he falls. Ralph catches the bad guy, saves the day… and gets to make fart sounds as his body deflates. A good day for him.
The second story focused on the return of Breacher (Danny Trejo), who has come to Cisco (Carlos Ramon) for help. Breacher explains that he was in a battle with Lord Crucifer (Mikael Vierge) when his vibe blasts stopped working. Cisco and Caitlin (Danielle Panabaker) run some tests and discover that Breacher is far older than expected and his body just can’t do the blasts anymore. Scared to tell him, Cisco lies, giving him a bottle of antihistamines as a cure. Breacher takes them all and runs back to fight Crucifer, but his blasts fail again and Vibe comes to rescue him.
Getting him back to the lab, Cisco tells him the truth, which Breacher doesn’t take well. He tells Cisco he hates him and storms off. A while later he returns in a pair of shorts and a Hawaiian shirt telling Cisco that he’s retired and wants to go visit a dragon farm on Earth-48. Breacher — now Josh — tells Cisco he wants him to be the new Breacher and that will allow him to work with Gypsy (Jessica Comacho) and see her more often. We don’t get to see his answer.
The minor story has to do with the Thinker (Miranda McDougall) and the Mechanic (Kim Englebrecht) as we see that his time in Izzy’s body is starting to wind down. Marlize wants to upgrade the chair to compensate and discovers that the upgrades have already been started. DeVoe says he started them, but didn’t get far. She tells him he did well and she could finish them in a day.
Later, as she’s working she knocks over her drink and discovers an iridescent liquid in it that she analyzes and figures out is the Weeper’s tears. Putting the pieces together, she knows DeVoe is drugging her and she tries to leave herself a message to make her remember. When she goes to save it under a hidden name, she finds a file already saved under that name and it is a video of her explaining how DeVoe is drugging her… she’s done this exact thing before. DeVoe is prepared for this, telling her that it’s been many times, and his chair knocks her out with a mixture of Weeper’s tears and Brainstorm’s DNA. She comes back a little while later and the scene plays out almost the same again, except now the upgrades to the chair will only take an hour to finish.
The final important bit has to do with Harrison Wells (Tom Cavanagh), who has been wearing his thinking cap more and more, and becoming grumpier as he does. The final scene of the episode has him going to Reverse-Flash’s hidden room, putting his cap where the Reverse-Flash suit used to be and then firing up Gideon (Morena Baccarin). Gideon tells “Dr. Wells” that it’s been 1087 days since they last spoke — which is roughly three years and would put it near the end of season 1.
Is this telling us that the Harrison Wells we see now is not the Earth-2 Wells but rather the Eobard Thawne/Reverse-Flash Wells from season 1 that has popped up on Legends and a few other places and was part of the Crisis on Earth-X series? He did just run off at the end of the crossover. I don’t think he’s been Wells the whole time, as the episode with Jesse (Violett Beane) wouldn’t work if it wasn’t her father, but he might have switched at some point… or he could’ve been Reverse-Flash of Earth-2 all along. It’s kind of confusing, especially since Flashpoint.
This episode was all right, but felt a bit like filler, which is rough after a long hiatus. The subplots were interesting, but the main story of getting Ralph to be serious and fixing Breacher both felt like filler and Null didn’t really add anything to the story. It’s starting to feel like the Thinker story has been drug out too long and something big needs to happen soon.
Next week looks like they’re going to try and take down the Thinker, but there is still one more bus meta to meet and six episodes to go still means I doubt they take him down next week. But we have a visit from Citizen Cold (Wentworth Miller) to look forward to the week after.