Show runner Eric Wallace indicated in a recent interview that this week’s episode of The Flash, “License to Elongate” would provide some lighthearted moments prior to launching into the drama of Crisis on Infinite Earths. While I understand the reasoning, the tonal shift – and focus on Ralph Dibny’s search for Sue Dearbon – combined to make an episode that felt more like filler than the lead-in to the storyline that should be the biggest in the series to date.
His Name’s Dibny. Ralph Dibny. (And Allen Barry.)
The main plot of the episode involved Ralph’s search for Sue Deabon. Barry’s hoping to surprise Ralph by announcing at a press conference that Elongated Man will be Flash’s successor as the hero of Central City. Hoping to speed things along (no pun intended), he offers to help. There are countless references to James Bond throughout the episode, as Barry and Ralph don tuxes and infiltrate a fancy dance party. Instead of baccarat, mahjong is the name of the game. And, of course, in true Bond fashion, their escapade ends with the two heroes destroying a space laser of death called the Ring of Fire, which was being put up for auction.
The plot certainly had potential to be fun, and it did provide some humor. (Barry choking on some food and pretending to be drunk were stand-out moments.) But given the gravity of the overarching plot, the drastic shift to almost slapstick comedy was jarring. The focus on Ralph’s growth as a hero was in line with 6A’s focus on preparing each member of the team for the upcoming Crisis, and it did help highlight how far Ralph has come as a hero. But with Barry’s presumed death scheduled to occur in a few short weeks, it seemed odd to spend so much time on his relationship with Ralph. Particularly since this has to be one of the weakest relationships in the show at this moment. Barry and Ralph barely shared screen time last season.
For that same reason, it is somewhat jarring that Barry has tapped Elongated Man to be Flash’s successor. Of course, he’s more or less out of options. Kid Flash isn’t around. Vibe doesn’t exist anymore (at the moment). And with Killer Frost’s plot revolving around her immaturity, it would be odd to name her as the city’s next big hero. Still, even with the dearth of options, it seems an odd choice – one the show hasn’t really built to over the past year or so.
Chester Returns, Cecile’s Lost
Meanwhile, back at the lab, Chester has finally recovered from his time bonding with black holes. His eyes are no longer glowing, and he’s ready to ask his crush out on a date. Cecile offers to help after divulging her powers, but things don’t go as planned. It turns out that she’s feeling lost. The D.A.’s office replaced her after she quit, and without that perceived safety net, she’s scared about what comes next.
I’ve enjoyed Cecile’s character in the past, but as time goes on, I honestly don’t know why they insisted upon keeping her powers. I’m sorry, but I’m just not interested in that story. And when you have a scene where Killer Frost displays more emotional intelligence than the show’s empath, I honestly don’t know what we’re doing here.
At any rate, Cecile comes to terms with her feelings, and Chester decides to move on when his crush shoots him down. When she suggests he join the team at the lab, he’s all in.
Nash and Allegra…Bond?
Look, I really want to like Allegra Garcia as a character. I love the idea of Iris having a staff at the paper. I love the idea of her acting as a mentor. But they keep making choices with this character that I simply don’t understand. Choices that make her a hard character to like.
In a previous episode, Allegra was indignant that Iris…the paper’s editor…her boss…would dare to tell her what stories she should and should not cover. She’s been an intern at a newspaper for about five seconds, so why wouldn’t she get to dictate what stories she covers?
In this episode, Nash needs her help and displays all the discretion of a four year old hyped up on sugar. He even tells Allegra that Barry Allen is the Flash. I mean, she’s been on the show for the span of five episodes, so she was clearly past due to learn his secret. She responds by being indignant that she wasn’t let in on the secret sooner. I swear, I’m going to lose it if this results in a scene where she confronts Iris and demands to know why she didn’t reveal his secret sooner.
Why does Allegra feel like she’s entitled to know this secret? Or any of Iris’s secrets? Not only is Iris her boss, but the two have shared maybe five minutes of screen time. Not only does Iris not know Allegra, but the audience barely knows her. We certainly don’t have a deep investment in whether or not she is ever let in on the secret. And bear in mind, this is a secret that could put Barry and Iris’s life in danger. Why would Iris share that secret with someone she’s known for maybe a month?
Anyway, she’s feeling self-doubt, but she recovers her confidence after Nash gives her the shortest pep talk ever. There was an interesting moment when Nash gives Allegra a curious look after telling her that she reminds him of someone. I might be interested in that story, but if it results in Allegra being indignant that she didn’t know his entire life story after talking to him for five minutes, I’ll pass.
Missing in Action
Fans knew that Candice Patton hadn’t filmed much for this episode, so her lack of screen time came as no surprise. However, the show has a history of omitting Iris from scenes and moments where she would logically be involved. This episode continued the trend, as Ralph and Joe present Barry Allen with a medal in recognition of his service to the city as a CSI. (As a side note, it would have been nice to see him act as a CSI more over the years, for the audience to really feel what a difference he has made in this role.) While numerous reporters attend this press conference and witness Barry get his due, Iris does not.
Iris. His wife. A reporter at her own paper. Joe’s daughter, who he could have called to inform of his plans. Wasn’t at the press conference.
Whatever the reason for Patton’s relative absence from the episode (Carlos Valdez didn’t show up at all), it’s an odd narrative choice. These are the kind of emotional moments where Iris would naturally be involved, given her role on the show. It’s always glaring when she’s omitted from these moments – and this isn’t for the first time.
It’s an odd choice. Just as it’s an odd choice to have Ralph be the one to tell Barry that he’s just as heroic as the Flash. Particularly since Iris’s feelings about her own husband’s death have been put on the back burner for the last several episodes. Not only has nobody checked in with her regarding how she’s fared emotionally since the second episode of the season, but she hasn’t been given a moment to express her grief. Or anger. Or denial. Or whatever she’s feeling. Of course, it’s likely that she’ll be given space to explore her feelings in the next couple of episodes. However, that doesn’t negate the fact that this omission is a strange narrative choice – one that has led to a lack of emotional continuity this season when it comes to the heart of the show.
And in a season that ostensibly revolves around the death of Barry Allen, it’s a disservice to the characters not to maintain emotional continuity when it comes to the heart of the show.
The Flash airs Tuesdays at 9/8c on The CW.