Team Flash Must Stretch to Protect Central City
Barry Allen is being framed for murdering Clifford DeVoe, The Thinker, and receives a life sentence in prison. With Allen in Iron Heights, it’s up to the rest of Team Flash to protect Central City. In this episode, Ralph Dibny gets a chance to shine and put on the superhero suit. To stop The Trickster and his mother, Prank, Dibny must rise past his fears of getting hurt. How does Team Flash handle crime without their fearless leader? How does Allen survive during his first week in prison? And who is that mystery girl helping Cisco and Ralph at CC Jitters?
With Allen in prison, it’s up to Team Flash to take down the villains in Central City. “The Trial of the Flash” sent the team into disarray when Allen was sent to Iron Heights for the rest of his natural life. This week, Allen faces a foe from his past, the son of the original Trickster villain from the 1990s series. I was surely hoping Mark Hamill would find his way on to the screen in a surprise cameo. He’s been busy with Star Wars, though. We do get a nice nod to him during the episode as Prank, his girlfriend, shows up to do evil too.
Meanwhile, Allen must survive Iron Heights and runs into the new Trickster almost immediately. This is a very campy and cartoonish episode. From the poisoned pudding to the “Wheel of Misfortune” show, the writers have delivered on their promise to make this season more fun. The villains this season have been silly and kooky, for the most part. After some backlash against season three for being too dark, I can understand why season four needs to be more lighthearted. The comedy gets inspiration from Cesar Romero’s Joker of the 1960s. It doesn’t always work, especially when it comes to Dibny and the actor who portrays him, Hartley Sawyer.
The episode starts with Allen torn between being a fly on the wall and saving people when there are riots as The Flash. He can take care of himself, but he’s in such a position that he can’t reveal his secret. That would put a huge target on his back both in prison and when he gets back to Central City. Bringing in the big muscles as Big Sir is Bill Goldberg, professional wrestler and former football player. Hiding in the shadows, Big Sir keeps to himself until Allen finds himself in trouble in the prison gym. Big Sir helps Allen out of the fight because he has a past with Allen’s father, Henry.
Speaking of Dibny, I think I’m finally warming up to him. He started off this season as a sleazy private investigator out for revenge on Allen for getting him fired. After this episode, Dibny is beginning to earn his place on Team Flash. The title of the episode, “The Elongated Knight Rises,” hearkens back to the 2012 film The Dark Knight Rises. Batman’s enemy, Bane, breaks his back and Batman spends most of the film recovering. When Dibny gets hurt by The Trickster’s new “Axid” formula, he’s ready to quit. He thought himself to be invincible. Dibny doesn’t realize superheroes are sometimes afraid and get hurt. The juxtaposition of the pep talk by Allen and speech by Dibny was excellent, in my opinion.
Allen and his wife Iris West have the worst luck of any couple I know. The happily-married couple has to fight on separate fronts now. The two communicate during phone meetings and it was lovely to see them carry on even though they are apart. “I’ll see you tomorrow,” Allen says. “Every tomorrow,” Iris replies. Every day at 1:30 p.m. This kind of dialogue warms my heart and it was a nice touch for Allen to phase through the glass to hold Iris’s hand in the end. I’m tearing up just thinking about how sweet their relationship is!
Finally, we get a surprise visit from a minor character in the four-part crossover in December. Supergirl introduces her as one of the guest service attendants at the Allen-West wedding, and she now shows up mysteriously at CC Jitters. Sporting an Oregon Trail shirt, she babbles about being a friend in time of need and leaves the two men confused. When she returns to her table, she is writing the same symbols Allen carved into the walls when he emerged from the Speed Force. Who is she and where (or when) did she come from? Rumors are circulating she could be either Dawn Allen, daughter of Iris and Barry, or their granddaughter, Jenni Ognats.
Earlier in my review, I touched on Hartley Sawyer as Dibny. It is clear to me he watches Jim Carrey films of older days, like Liar Liar and Batman Forever, to tap into his role. I feel like Sawyer is in his own world and is trying to stand out as the comedic, cartoony hero. His power is the ability to elongate like Mr. Fantastic and Mrs. Incredible. This gives him the opportunity to stretch his comedic chops (pun intended) when he takes damage. Central City is the opposite of Arrow’s Star City. Sawyer is really having a blast playing this character, which makes his performance memorable.
Grant Gustin and Candice Patton as Allen and Iris West bring my heart joy. Probably more so than Stephen Amell and Emily Bett Rickards in Arrow. Their character moments define this season and it’s clear to me they can withstand even this great obstacle. I’m intrigued to see how they are going to grow as a couple. Everyone else is so comfortable in their roles, including Carlos Valdes as Cisco and Tom Cavanaugh as Harrison Wells. The pair shared a great moment with Caitlyn Snow to scare her into becoming Killer Frost to save the day. Basically, if anyone agitates Snow, she will turn into her alter ego.
Up until the very end, I thought this would be a filler episode to give us a break from the larger crisis at hand. Allen is still in prison, but he can still move freely throughout Iron Heights. He mentions to Iris, “things aren’t that different in here than they are out there.” That line gave me pause, as it seems everyone is handling Barry’s absence from Team Flash just fine, except for Dibny’s near-death experience with The Trickster. The matchup between Dibny, The Trickster and Prank seems to fit perfectly for the type of character and hero Dibny is becoming. The fun thing about The Flash is we never know where this series is heading. Barry is going to be fine in prison, especially with Big Sir watching his back. Team Flash can handle themselves too with the newly reinvigorated Ralph Dibny ready for new challenges ahead.
Next week, Barry Allen is going to help Big Sir with his case and Team Flash will be pitted against Dr. Shrinker.
Images courtesy of The CW.