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Wednesday, 1 November 2017

The Flash S4E4: Elongated Journey Into Night

The Flash
Series 4, Episode 4
Elongated Journey Into Night.

I had no idea Jim Carrey had a son!

What's that? Hartley Sawyer, who plays Ralph Dibny, has no relation to Jim Carrey whatsoever?

That sounds fake, but okay.

He's even doing the Jim Carrey jaw thing.

Okay, back on topic. We left off last week on what might be The Flash's most comedic episode yet and barreled into another really comedic episode, this time directed by Tom Cavanaugh who, it's worth noting, cut his teeth on sitcoms like Scrubs. It shows. It really, really shows.

When the team starts tracking down people on the bus that was exposed to dark matter, they encounter someone from Barry and Joe's past: Ralph Dibny, a former detective who Barry exposed for planting evidence and committing perjury, who has now acquired the metahuman power of elasticity. With Barry and Ralph determined to hate each other, they must deal with the goons of the new mayor of Central City, who wants Ralph dead in order to keep details of his adultery secret. Meanwhile, Gypsy's father, Breacher, arrives on Earth-16, and informs Cisco that for the next twenty-four hours, he will hunt him and try to kill him, forcing Cisco to go on the run.

I would've liked Gypsy to have a slightly more active role in this episode.

Okay, so if last week's theme was luck, and the theme of the week before that was communication, the theme for this week's episode is relationships, good and bad: Our villain is driven by the need to ensure that details of his own relationship don't get out, Cisco's relationship with Gypsy comes head to head with her father's relationship with Gypsy, and Barry and Ralph attempt to navigate their own fraught relationship.

This episode also introduces us to the newest member of Team Flash, the Elongated Man, and it rather shows the direction the show wants to go in and why they wrote Wally out: Rather than have a team full of speedsters, meaning that everyone fills roughly the same role and thus they all end up in Barry's shadow, the show is leaning towards having a team full of people with radically different powers: Barry has super-speed, Ralph has stretching, Caitlin has ice powers, and Cisco has his teleportation/premonition/energy blast/whatever the plot requires powers.

It's arguably a better tack to take, allowing each team member to shine a little more, rather than there constantly being a situation where Wally has to be shuffled out of the picture so that Barry actually has a chance to shine. I'm still bitter about Wally being written out, though. I'll always be bitter about that.

Man, either Barry is short or Ralph is quite tall.

Meanwhile, this episode is squarely split into two parts with two different tones, with the two storylines only meeting at the end.

There's the A-plot, which is very reminiscent of a first series episode with a marginally more absurd bent, and which capitalises on Barry and Ralph's relationship to pretty excellent effect -- Grant Gustin and Hartley Sawyer are both excellent actors (even if Sawyer is doing his best Jim Carrey impression), and the two clashing against each other makes for some pretty compelling television. The only thing that made me raise an eyebrow a little was Ralph's eager acceptance of Barry's offer to train him, since it felt rather out of character: We'd been shown up to that point that Ralph felt personally demeaned and insulted by how Barry's fortunes had improved, so it seemed odd that he'd then put himself in a subordinate position to him.

The B-plot, meanwhile, is pure sitcom, and it's a sitcom story you have definitely seen before: A guy trying to get away from and/or impress his girlfriend's scary father. I think just about every sitcom ever written has had that storyline. It's not tremendously original, but again, the acting sells it, with Carlos Valdes bringing his comedic A-game as ever, and with a few very nice laugh-out-loud moments (such as Cisco pulling out a machete mid-conversation, and Wells throwing out a 'too much,' in the most nonchalant fashion).

Or maybe everyone is regular height, idk.

This was actually a really good episode. I've enjoyed every episode this series so far, but this is by far the best, I think, with episode two coming in second place, episode three coming in third, and the first episode lagging behind in a distant fourth. Some of that is down to Cavanaugh's directing, but a lot of it is just down to the writing and acting.

Next week, we have a hen party/bachelor party episode, which should be a lot of fun, at the very least. Also, Felicity is showing up! But no Ollie or Diggle, which seems odd. Or Wally. Or Kara, for that matter. Honestly, I'd have liked to see this episode function as a big crossover.

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