ORIGINAL AIRDATE: 10.31.17
Another one of our accidental metas turns out to be fan favorite Ralph Dibny, The Elongated Man. This episode was the peak episode of the season so far. And somehow I still didn’t care.
Don’t Stretch Me, Bro!
All finished? Yeah that’s not really the man you’re going to meet tonight but let’s Flash forward!
They reinstated the ‘My Name is Barry Allen’ intro. Makes me think they read our tweets! So Cisco and Gypsy are seriously about to get it on. Cisco wants to know her name. She likes to keep it mysterious. And right when she takes a bathroom break, and Cisco starts humming about the score that’s about to happen, guess who shows up? The always excellent Danny Trejo as Breacher. Who is also Gypsy’s father. Talk about awkward. And this version isn’t the same as the comics. But we get his role in tonight’s ep pretty quickly. He’s the unnecessary driver of Cisco’s unnecessary Plan B plot and the catalyst for all the heroes coming together at the end. But we’ll get there.
Mayor Bellows is seeking re-election. Alrighty then. Barry comments on Joe’s glow. Said glow will be an episode long running gag which culminates in a scene I thought I wanted to see, until I saw it. More on that later. Joe and Barrister figure out that there’s a coordinated master plan behind all of the events that have happened, including bringing Barry back. Now hold on a second.
If they’re asserting that the Thinker knew ahead of time that all of the events would unfold as they did, how? How did he know? Is he from the future? We know he’s spying on Team Flash, but that’s through the Samuroid head, which was placed there after Barry defeated him. So to make this claim puts him in the Health Ledger Joker zone. Meaning he knows which choices people are going to make before they make them, and how all the dominos are going to fall thereafter. Yeah I didn’t buy it with the Joker in The Dark Knight, and I don’t buy it here, unless he’s from the future. And we still don’t know his motives.
The Chase is On!
So pretty much it’s clear that Carlos Valdes is the best at the comedic thing. Cisco isn’t annoying when he’s rambling, using his high boyish voice, and cracking wise. That’s kind of his thing. It also works extraordinarily well off of Cavanagh‘s Earth 2 straight man Wells.
So they find Dibny and Barry and Joe only allude to their shared history. Iris and Caitlin both agree that he’s hot in an Oliver Queen kind of way and whatever. So they go to meet Dibny at his office and right here is why I wanted you to read about him before you met him. They basically introduce him as a slime. He’s creepy, he’s sexually harassing a client, he’s eating day (?) old doughnuts out of a drawer, and he tries to shake down Joe n’ Barry. He even asks Joe if Cecile has a sister. Then we find out he’s a (supposedly) dirty cop. Later on we see that he’s extorting the mayor. Now by episode’s end, Ralph will have magically renounced all of this and become a hero. Ummmm…..this is not who Ralph Dibny is from the comics. He in fact is one of the nicest guys, one of the straightest arrow heroes, and is madly in love with, and faithful to, his wife Sue. He also studied contortionists and created an extract from the same substance they used, called Gingold, to gain his powers. He wasn’t this dude. So once again, non-comics readers are cheated out of the richness of a character. But whatever.
And for the record, this characterization was closer to Eel O’Brian. Plastic Man.
No Coffee on My World
So Diby discovers his powers by being hung off a wall. And yeah they’re pretty gross to behold. That’s another gag that will run all night. Back to S.T.A.R. Labs where Iris discovers our stretchy stud. He even sneezes his face off. (It’s impossible to not notice Barry and Caitlin being in sync in this scene by the way.)
We cut to the totally contrived scene of Gypsy, Cisco and Breacher in Jitters. It’s setting up Breacher’s later attack of EM, and okay. The whole angry father thing is kind of cliche, and we already know by episode’s end, somehow things will work out. He’s not gonna kill Cisco and he and Gypsy aren’t gonna break up any time soon. So it’s a big trying-too-hard-to-be-comedic plot thread.
The Hunt for DNA
So they give Caitlin and Barry their first real scene in a while. They re-establish Caitlin’s hippocratic oath, the fact that she is supposedly not Killer Frost anymore, Barry doesn’t believe in Dibny, and Iris STILL has to coordinate them all. Sorry, I’m never going to buy the way they shoehorned Iris into Team Flash. Because she and Barry are doing investigations together. She’s still not doing anything journalistic, and at least Barry and Joe acknowledge in this episode that they play fast and loose with the law.
Unfortunately they don’t seem to get that that makes them lose any moral high ground whatsoever. More on that later.
So one of the best scenes of the night, Iris discovers a bomb and Barry vibrate-phases them through the floor! That was awesome, and again, a totally Flash thing to do. I have to give them credit for making Barry more Flash-like this season. I just hate how they did it. They just zapped him there. No effort, no growth, no Flash facts, no study, no trial and error. He just comes out of the SpeedForce better. I KNEW they were gonna do that, but whatever.
Everybody needs some Slack
So they kind of put Barry and Caitlin at odds. Barry keeps accusing Caitlin of being wrong for believing in Dibny. Barry maintains that once a jerk, always a jerk. Then Caitlin gives an impassioned plea for Barry to understand that the man is still adjusting to his powers, as they both had to do. To the point where they make it look like Iris has to calm them down. Um, just no. Caitlin’s plea I could buy, but Barry believed in Savitar, enough to bring him around Iris when he’d sworn to kill her, remember? See, for me personally, it’s just too late. I’m too biased. They are repositioning Iris as the be-all character. The coordinator, the “boss” (I hate with a passion every time Joe calls her that), the peacemaker, the information source. Just no. She showed none of these characteristics in three years, and now all of a sudden, she’s all that. Just nope. They also have to do something to downplay the natural chemistry between Grant and Danielle. Such a shame. I know I keep saying it, but it’s true.
Ralph’s mayoral extortion plot comes to light, and he’s still a jerk when talking to Barry. Don’t forget, he’s going to have a total character change by episode’s end.
So Caitlin brings Dibny a solution to help him stabilize. Also they had the subtle touch of her hair having highlights. Lots of touches like that in this ep. Long story short, Caitlin’s potion gives Dibny the ability to normalize and control his powers. But she says, “think about the shape you want to be, and just….be it.” Nope, that’s Plastic Man’s powers. Ralph Dibny elongates. He stretches. Plastic Man forms shapes. But whatever. And he in no way looks like a Hemsworth but that line was funny!
Barry and Joe get the truth out of the mayor. Turns out the mayor’s dirty. Dibny has pics of him cheating on his wife. But the mayor is the one who put out the hit on him. And again, Dibny here is shown as asking for more hush money. The mayor even wants Barry and Joe knocked off.
Barry and Dibny go at it, because Dibny’s still convinced that Barry cost him his career. Barry tells him he’s still dirty. But then Barry says this line:
Good people don’t destroy lives and call it noble.
Now hold on just a second. I know Barry doesn’t call what he did (creating Flashpoint) noble. But he’s living with the lives he destroyed. Dante. H.R. Caitlin. And everything he changed in the Arrowverse overall. Have we forgotten that? I just find it ironic that he has this attitude now. It kind of pushes him really far into self-righteousness, a fact that he and Joe acknowledge later.
Here Comes the Judge
So more foolishness with Breacher chasing “Cis-cy.” And you can’t trap a trapper.
Barry and Joe then throw back a few beers and talk about all of their moral failings. Kind of casually. At least they acknowledge the lack of due process, and the devastating effect of changing the timeline. As well as breaching worlds and messing with their history. Only problem here is, again…Barry addresses it and moves on. Meaning, he doesn’t think that he should pay any further consequences or answer for his mistakes. Maybe he thinks his time in the SpeedForce was penance enough. But it still comes across is rather hypocritical.
He uses the ‘end justifies the means’ argument by saying that Team Flash was trying to help people and keep them safe. But that’s not completely true. He turned down Iris and went back in time to save his mom to make his life better, and no one’s life has been the same since. And he had moral objections to doing the same thing for Cisco regarding Dante. Barry’s always willing to take risks for what he thinks is right, but other people don’t get that same option.
So here we have the second best scene of the night. Barry is clearly faster than he was before, because he pulls a Quicksilver move, from the X-Men movies. And it’s awesome to behold. He effortlessly snatches the bullets out of thin air, moves the arms of the henchmen, and saves Joe. While walking, he’s not even running. That was so cool. So Flash. And the best thing about this season so far. As Joe says, “that never gets old.”
So somehow Breacher spots Dibny on the monitors and mistakes him for a member of an alien species called Plastoids. AND DID ANYBODY ELSE NOTICE THAT RALPH WAS TOTALLY SCRATCHING HIS CROTCH THE WHOLE TIME??? I was like, whaaaaaat? Yeah that was just…nasty. Also they seem rather determined to make him a combination of Elongated Man and Plastic Man in this ep.
So Dibster goes to meet the mayor and has his moral shift. He takes his blackmail back. He kind of spins on a moral dime, but the last time we saw him he was yelling at Barry. I don’t know, something changed in his soul, but it seemed rather abrupt. So he’s a good guy now and has renounced his extortionist ways. Yah that’s Eel O’Brian, the thief, not Ralph, but whatevs.
Beginning the JLA because why not?
So somehow Breacher’s blasts so knock the wind out of Barry, he can’t get up to speed to catch a fleeing helicopter. A helicopter carrying his father-in-law/father being held at gunpoint by the mayor. In no Flash World does that make even a little bit of sense. He did that exact thing when Iris was in trouble and snapped out of his beautiful mind state, but okay. It was an obvious setup to get Dibny into the action, and it works. So Cisco shows up and shuts down Breacher with a backbone having speech. Ralph needs to change his drawers. And he needs some encouragement.
So what does Barry do? He says “I know you Ralph.” Yeah that flies in the face of everything Barry’s been saying all episode. Caitlin was the one that believed in him. Even factoring in Barry and Joe’s beer conversation, Barry still shouldn’t be saying “I know you.”
They could’ve skipped right to the “now’s your chance to do something good” line. But in any event, in typical Barry fashion, he takes off his mask.
Shows his identity right there on the street. And that makes Dibny do his equivalent of “run Barry run.” He catches the copter (which has been in the air for a while now and would’ve been long gone) with one hand. And then somehow Barry super speeds up his arm, but wouldn’t have been fast enough to do that on his own? Aaaaaand I can’t with that lack of plot logic.
And Cecile’s pregnant.
Are We a Team Now?
So here comes the scene I thought I wanted, which was Team Flash having a fun moment together. But somehow the way they did that scene, it just felt pretentious. The music, Joe handing out cigars, Caitlin trying to dance, I don’t know. They were trying SO HARD to be cool, but it felt…I dunno, weird. Like people trying to convince us they are hardcore rappers from dem streets. And they’re really upper middle class dorks from the suburbs. It was more like a ratchet commercial for drinking alcohol at a bar. And you still haven’t convinced me that Iris and Caitlin are “friends.” But whatevs.
So the tag scenes. Cisco seems to be talking to the camera in almost a Booster Gold kind of way. Breacher still hates him, but he respects him, but seriously, was there ever any actual tension here? I miss the days of Thawne/Wells, because there was tension A’MIGHTY back then. So Gypsy, AKA Cynthia follows her dad, Josh, into another adventure. Oh well, we love those two together, somehow they work.
Caitlin gets a mysterious message scrawled on her door: “We miss you. Come back soon.” So we know that Amunet is not done with her, and we’ll be seeing Killer Frost again real soon.
Barry meets Ralph at his office and offers to train him. Again, this is beginning JLA stuff. Funny how Barry is ready to train someone, fresh out of the Speed Force. But he meant being a detective again, albeit a super one. “Plastic Man” as a name? Nope. Barry also discovers Devoe is behind it all. He flashes back to Kadabra and Savitar and the plot has officially thickened.
And Ralph does his nose-twinkle-when-he-smells-a-mystery thing. Something you’d only possibly get if you read the comics.
I’ve figured out exactly how to say what seems to be missing, and here it is:
The Flash has become so focused on being “light,” it’s forgotten that it needs to have heart.
Go back and do a Season 1 rewatch. You’ll see what I mean. All in all, I can see why a lot of people will like this episode. It just didn’t make me care any more. Mainly because, they don’t get that they can’t go back to Season 1. That’s gone. They pushed things too far. And more than anything else, Season 1’s relationships were natural and free flowing. Almost all of these are forced. Barry and Iris, Caitlin and Iris, Iris as Team Leader, Wally and Jesse’s breakup. The most organic ones are Gypsco and Barry and Joe as fellow cops, crimefighters, and family.
I must say I am also NOT looking forward to next week’s “Girl’s Night Out” with Iris, Cecile, Caitlin, and Felicity. Ugh. Why is Felicity even there? Also do you notice, no one from Team Flash has any friends outside the lab? They need lives. Again, I get what they’re trying to do, but they’ve gone down the wrong road for so long now, until they can’t make me care. And they won’t take any real chances. I just hope at some point we meet the Barry Allen that builds Gideon.
First Appearance of the Elongated Man