This The Flash review contains spoilers.
The Flash Season 4 Episode 4
Now that’s more like it!
First of all, allow me to apologize for the lateness of this review. It was Halloween night, so I was out drinking the blood of my enemies or something. Second of all, holy moley I am so happy that I’m happy with “Elongated Journey Into the Night.” This is the first episode this season where I felt like all the little pieces (and the show’s cranked up sense of humor) have all worked at once.
It’s still a fairly thin story with no real villain to speak of. I don’t care this time, though. For the first time this season it felt like it was all by design. The point here, after all, is to introduce Ralph Dibny, and anything else would be a distraction. But when you do need a distraction, you’re not gonna find a better one than Danny Trejo.
Hartley Sawyer is an absolute joy as Ralph Dibny. The casting for all of the Arrowverse shows is always on point, but every now and then they find an actor/character match that’s just that much more perfect (Wentworth Miller’s Captain Cold comes to mind). That’s what we have here with Sawyer, who walks the line between an almost Deadpool-esque charm and full-on screwball comedy, without ever tipping over into irritating, shouty, face-pulling nonsense. Sawyer has immediate comedic chemistry with Grant Gustin, and I expect the Dibny/Allen show could be a highlight of the rest of the year. I can’t wait to see what happens as he gets more time with the rest of Team Flash.
As what I have to imagine was a calculated, deliberate counter to that, we get Danny Trejo as Breacher. Trejo kicks things off with an absolutely tremendous entrance into Cisco’s bedroom while the poor guy is rummaging around in his nightstand for a condom. This would be nightmarish for anyone even if their girlfriend’s father wasn’t an interdimensional bounty hunter who looks like Danny Trejo. Breacher spends the rest of the episode tormenting Cisco in ways great and small, and while the outcome here is never really in doubt, it’s great seeing Carlos Valdes play off Trejo for so much of the episode.
For an episode without a ton of action (or even a lot of time with Barry in costume), I was impressed with the visuals, particularly the representation of Dibny’s stretchy powers. I realize they’re unlikely to overuse this stuff, but I just hope that the VFX remain this consistent for Dibny throughout the season. I loved the bit where Barry not only catches the bullets, but repositions the guns so the kick of the gunfire is used to his advantage. One of the best “funny” action moments the show has done, I think.
There are other little touches throughout the episode that made me feel better about the overall direction of the season, too. The fact that Barry has now physically as well as mentally moved on from the murder of his mother (we see that with the removal of the case from his board) is exactly what I was hoping would come from his time in the speed force. The recognition of Devoe’s name at the end of the episode was just what I was waiting for. I can’t handle another season where Barry’s overconfidence is what trips him up. He should be beyond that now, so now that he knows that Devoe is lurking, that should change his approach a little, and I imagine it will help bring a few things back down to earth, as well.
Well-paced, reasonably well-balanced, and the funniest episode of an already funny season, “Elongated Journey Into the Night” has me back on board after what I felt was a wobbly start. The promise of more Hartley Sawyer as Ralph Dibny for the rest of the season makes things even better.
Let’s talk about the Elongated Man!
Ralph Dibny first appeared in The Flash #112 in 1960, and was co-created by none other than the great John Broome (along with Carmine Infantino), the same team who brought Barry Allen to life. Notice that Ralph is skeezing on a “Mrs. Broome” in his office.
His “I smell a mystery” line is right out of the comics, as is the rubbery nose twitch. I cannot tell you how happy that made me.
His origin story is nothing like the comics, though, which involved an extract from the active ingredient of a soda known as Gingold. There is indeed a bottle of Gingold soda in Ralph’s desk, though!
Barry makes that “Plastic Man” reference, which obviously isn’t accidental. But there’s definitely another Plastic Man connection here. Plastic Man’s origin involved him being a thief who was betrayed and left for dead by his fellow criminals. Giving Ralph a shady background feels like kind of a wink to that.
– Nice to see the return of Vito D’Ambrosio (from the original Flash TV series) as Mayor Bellows where he played (wait for it) Officer Bellows.
– Been awhile since we’ve seen the “vibrate through the floor” trick (have we ever actually seen it?) and it seems like it has been forever since Barry has used his vibrating voice disguise. Goes to show you how much he trusts Ralph Dibny!
– Breacher is indeed Gypsy’s Dad in the comics. He first appeared in the short lived but really, really good Vibe comic by Sterling Gates and Pete Woods. His real name isn’t “Josh” there, though, it’s Quell Mordeth.
Yes, Cynthia is Gypsy’s real name in the comics. It’s Cynthia Reynolds in the olden days, but Cynnthia (not a typo) Mordeth in the aforementioned Vibe comic.
– When trying to figure out how he’s going to take on Breacher, Cisco grabs (and discards) a machete, a fun reference to one of Danny Trejo’s iconic roles. When he finally takes him on, his “now I have a hologram projector ho-ho-ho” is, of course, a reference to Die Hard.
Spot anything I missed? Want to yell at me for turning this review in so late? Twitter is for yelling! Yell at me there!
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