The Flash Fixes Its Early Season 4 Problems With 'Elongated Journey Into Night'

There have been a few things that have been bothering me about The Flash early on in this fourth season. For a while, it was hard to put my finger on it. While there was a certain sense of upbeat fun that had returned to the show this year, it seemed to come at the expense of any true direction. While we have already been exposed to the season's Big Bad, The Thinker (revealed in tonight's episode to be the DeVoe that has been previously mentioned by time-faring villains), the show seemed to recede into a more procedural nature, content with a "meta-of-the-week" formula that felt incredibly dated despite how it was supposed to tie into the Thinker's plans. Of course, the presumption is that Hazard and Kilgore and everyone else this season will introduce us to will eventually come back into play, but the changing nature of TV has made it harder to stomach the slow to unravel mystery box puzzle that seems more fitting for a show like Smallville than a 2017 superhero show.

Luckily, the fourth episode of the season did a good job of reassuring us that this was merely a case of the show trying to find its footing amidst a bit of a soft reboot, which is to be expected after what transpired at the end of last season and resulted in a bit of a time jump. "Elongated Journey Into Night" solved The Flash's early season four problems by introducing us to a couple of new characters that can help pull everyone else out of the rut created by a vacuum in which Bary and the gang didn't have anything as dire to contend with yet as they did in previous seasons, at least not until The Thinker's plans are made more apparent.

At the center of that new blood is Ralph Dibny (portrayed by Hartley Sawyer), a disgraced cop turned private eye who was kicked off the force after Barry, then a rookie, ratted him out for perjuring himself to put away a murderer. He spends most of the episode at odds with Barry over how Barry ruined his life, and comports himself with a deep, sarcastic chip on his shoulder. But passed that tough, rye exterior lies a potential hero, one which Barry must be convinced exists after it turns out that Dibny was among the twelve souls on that bus doused in dark matter energy which has created this problem for Team Flash.

Dibny's power is elastic cells, which allow any part of his body to extend indefinitely. After Caitlyn injects him with a serum to stabilize him, he can pretty much control it at will, and eventually, he uses his newfound power to help Barry stop the evil mayor from making off with Joe in his helicopter (that part of the story doesn't really matter all that much, but anyway). So Barry opens up, reveals to Dibny that he's The Flash (because it's pretty much contractually required that he reveal his secret identity to someone every few episodes at this point) and invites him to join the team, where Barry can train him and test the limits of the abilities.

By now, you probably know that Ralph Dibny is the alter ego of the Elongated Man from D.C. comics, a hero who's graced the pages of The Flash and other comics for over 50 years and who shares similar (yet probably lesser) abilities to another D.C. hero, Plastic Man (who Barry even namedrops in suggesting names for Dibny). While I haven't been really personally exposed to Elongated Man very much prior to this, it's a big enough addition to the show that it has me excited. Outside of swapping Harrison Wells' and the occasional team up with a character from another earth, it feels as if The Flash hasn't added a major character in a good long while, juxtaposed with, say, Arrow, where the team has grown exponentially in the last year. And distracting from the show's existing problems by having them interact with new characters kind of fixed a lot of what was wrong about Arrow, so I have hope that Elongated Man might be able to do the same here.

And Dibny fits perfectly in the world of The Flash. He's different enough from anyone else on the show, but he's also sufficiently comedic. He has a cool power that, unlike other later additions to the team, are different and not speed-related. I'm excited to see what the show does with him. Season 4 promised a sort of rebirth, and with "Elongated Journey To Night", it seems like we're finally going to get it. 9 bullet boogers out of 10.

Notes & Quotes:

  • Funny enough, Dibny's addition comes with Wally's departure, who doesn't at all feel missed in this episode.
  • I can't believe I wrote all that without even talking about Danny Trejo's amazing debut on the show as Breacher, Gypsy's father, who hunts Cisco so that he can prove he's worthy to be with his daughter. Trejo is a delight who's game to do a lot in this episode.
  • Legends of Tomorrow Mini-Review: Don't have time to do a full one but "Phone Home" was another amazing episode of LOT. Their version of an homage to E.T. included a baby dominator who likes Singin' In The Rain, an important discussion about Billy Joel's best album, and Nate trying to hook up with Ray's mom. This show continues to be absolutely perfect and easily the best CWverse show out of the 4.