This The Flash review contains spoilers.
The Flash Season 4 Episode 11
Disclaimer: my local CW affiliate was having some ridiculous audio issues tonight, where chunks of the episode sounded like they were being broadcast from a very small and very busted AM radio in 1973. If I missed any details, this is why.
I…really don’t know what to make of “The Elongated Knight Rises.” I wasn’t a fan of “The Trial of the Flash” and as long as Barry remains in prison, I feel like everything is a little bit tainted by the laziness of that particular episode. But this week was certainly, um, different.
I’ve run hot and cold on Hartley Sawyer’s Ralph Dibny. I do like Sawyer’s performance in general, but I think the writing has let him down on a number of occasions. For one thing, his irritating tics with regards to his interactions with women in particular aren’t charming character flaws, they’re annoying (at best). I think some of it is to add that layer of scuzziness to Ralph since his characterization owes more to ex-con Plastic Man than it does the Ralph of the comics. But Sawyer is genuinely funny, and there does seem to be a heart to Ralph. His moment with Joe West in “Trial of the Flash” was not only one of that episode’s best, but perhaps his best all season long as well.
And I guess it’s natural that Ralph would want to step up while Barry is in jail. So why, even with Barry’s platitude-riddled pep talk, did it feel so hollow? Has Ralph not earned it yet? That’s probably the case, but on the other hand, I don’t think anybody wanted this element of his journey to be (sorry) stretched out over the course of a season.
I do love the Elongated Man costume, though. And I kinda love the stupid way he gets his dopey name. And I’ve gotta give it up for the special effects department, because doing the whole stretchy thing on a TV budget can’t be easy, and I think this has all looked really good.
But I dunno…”Elongated Knight Rises” just never got my blood pumping. Sure, Cisco and Harry are amazing, and Cisco and Ralph are fun, and there was that kinda moving moment with Barry and Iris but it all felt hollow, perhaps because no matter how much fun Sawyer was having on screen or how cool the costume and effects look, it couldn’t change the fact that the silliness of Barry doing hard time in Iron Heights is just going to cast an inescapable shadow over the proceedings. I wish this wasn’t the case, but if you break it, you buy it. (Note: I’m not implying this season is broken…yet)
I guess The Trickster and Prank were the right villains to pit Ralph against, but I think the clashing tones just kept things from lining up the way they should. Yes, I get it that they were going for the tone of the Trickster episodes of the ’90s Flash TV series. I watched those when they aired because I am old af, dear readers. But I still think you could have gotten the same effect without a significant percentage of the episode feeling like it was bolted on from a completely different TV series…and I say this as someone who loves the original show. On the other hand, Joe West’s undisguised disgust/annoyance with them at the end of the episode might have been worth the price of admission.
Bill Goldberg as Big Sir (more on him in a minute) was a treat. But if Barry’s entire time in prison is going to be defined by assorted “hey, you knew my Dad” or “this happened to my Dad” or “I feel so much closer to my Dad now” moments, then we’re in bigger trouble than I thought.
I was going to write this episode off as pure filler, until those last few minutes reminded me that there are still some bigger mysteries waiting to be solved. And compelling ones, at that! In fact…
– So, our mysterious young lady from the wedding returns. And…I still think she is Dawn Allen. But what was she scribbling in that notebook? Like Barry’s weird scratching early in the season, it looked more like Kryptonian than anything else to me, but it’s not. And it’s not quite Interlac, either. Or is it? Maybe this is just what Interlac looks like when someone is just jotting it down? Are they perhaps trying to distance their version of Dawn from the Legion of Superheroes since that team is technically in the alternate universe of Supergirl?
Or maybe she’s just not Dawn Allen after all. Nah, sorry, I’m not giving up on this one!
– Big Sir! Big Sir was just on my TV screen!
OK, so maybe Big Sir isn’t worth getting that excited about. But it is for me. See, the “real” Trial of the Flash story (from the comics) introduced Dufus P. Ratchet (that…is not Bill Goldberg’s characters name on this show). The comics version of Big Sir is, charitably, not very bright, because despite being of ridiculous size and strength, his brain never fully developed. He’s not a great character.
He does get himself a pretty wild costume, though, and ultimately paid an important (if unwitting) role in how Flash ended up getting out of that murder conviction. I don’t think they’re going that route here, but in any case, it was a gruesome, powerful moment for a mainstream superhero comic in the early ’80s.
Big Sir was created by Cary Bates and Carmine Infantino, which is a hell of a creative pedigree. Now give Goldberg some power armor!
– Kinda cool that they brought Corinne Bohrer on to reprise her role as Prank from the old TV series. I wish things were a little less over the top, but on the other hand, they even used snippets of the music from those Trickster episodes, so how can I stay mad, right?
Feel free to ask Mike Cecchini about the Big Sir moment from the comics that traumatized the hell out of him. But you have to ask on Twitter.