The Flash dives into discussions of heroism, fear, hope, and the need to help people in “The Elongated Knight Rises.” Filled with some humor to counteract the angst, the episode is paced a lot better than last week’s outing and puts into place several new plot elements that drive the story forward in some way.
Ralph has a, dare I say it, fairly decent hero storyline this episode. It continues to be annoying that the rest of the team (with superpowers anyway) have to be left aside in order for him to get his due, but at this point The Flash has made its bed and is lying in it with regards to how it handles its metas. Ralph is still the least deserving of a hero arc at this point, but I digress. Thankfully, his story doesn’t overtake the entire episode and I have to begrudgingly admit that his character has gotten much more tolerable. Even the humorous beats of this episode land quite nicely.
One of my worries going into the back half of season four was that there would be a tonal change. With Barry being put on trial and going to prison, wouldn’t that get too dark? Miraculously, this isn’t the case at all and one of the best things about “The Elongated Knight Rises” is that it balances silly, campy humor with some jail angst. Pacing-wise, it flows very nicely and never feels like it drags for longer than it should on any given thing. It does seem that the writers were intent on getting Barry to jail faster than necessary and it’s nice to see the payoff because the prison scenes are some of the better ones in the episode. The episode also lets itself be zany, as it’s wont to do when any story includes the Trickster. Ralph is still not any real kind of hero, but he’s trying and Hartley Sawyer’s portrayal is occasionally hard to resist despite the character starting off on the wrong foot. It seems strange that Ralph has had to learn how to basically be a decent human being, but the writing for him in the last couple of episodes is decidedly less offensive than with his first few appearances. Maybe it’s because the writers are no longer trying as hard with him and it’s certainly showing.
Very quickly, we find out the real reason Ralph decides to help the team and become a superhero and it’s because he thought he’d be invincible. At least until the metas of the week–Axel (guest star Devon Graye) and Zoey (guest star Corrine Bohrer), the respective son and girlfriend of Trickster James Jesse (who’s been played in the past by Mark Hamill)–prove that he can be hurt. But a nice chat with Barry, that finds Ralph breaking into his jail cell, changes that. Ralph is scared of dying and Barry tells him that being a hero doesn’t mean being devoid of fear. The worst thing that can happen is having the means to help and not being able to. Barry gives himself as an example. Stuck in prison and not wanting to reveal his powers, Barry is no longer saving anyone, but left to become just another number in the system. Heroism is a choice one makes despite the fear of the unknown and what ifs. It’s a nice moment between two people who once disliked each other and also allows for Barry to rise up once again and be a mentor rather than the mentee he’s been in the past. He’s had so much progress as a person and it always shines through in moments like this.
Speaking of Barry and prison, it’s only his first week there and already he’s making enemies (and one friend). There are so many parallels, what with his dad having been imprisoned and all. Not only do the two Allen men end up in the same cell several years apart, but Barry also befriends Dave, aka Big Sir (played by wrestler Bill Goldberg), a man who knew Henry. The two take turns saving each other from the other prisoners who wish to do harm and Barry learns that his father was still helping people even while in prison. It sparks a sense of hope within Barry. Perhaps he’ll stop feeling like he can’t help, or maybe he’ll feel closer to his father through Dave, but his demeanor feels a bit different by the end of the episode after all of its events. Some of the jail scenes start off a bit slow, but the outcome of it all feels genuine to who Barry is as a person and also of the expectations of a storyline coming from inside prison walls.
Whether or not you’re into romance, it’s always been a staple within the superhero and sci-fi genres. The Flash is no different. Specifically, the show gets credit for continuing to break the mold with Barry and Iris. The writers are obviously very invested in them and they’ve ensured that their newly cemented marital status isn’t just an excuse for there to be any serious internal drama that so often claims other couples. Many writers have said that once a couple is married, they become boring and there’s always been a myth surrounding married fictional couples in terms of the once flaming fire to die once they tie the knot. Thankfully, Barry and Iris’ fire continues to burn and seems to only be getting stronger. The fact that all of the angst is external really says a lot about the importance to maintain and center this relationship as the heart of The Flash. Grant Gustin and Candice Patton’s chemistry is still strong and intense. Separated by a glass window, Barry and Iris are close enough and yet so far apart; you can clearly see their longing for one another. Their scenes together feel really intimate despite the physical distance and despondent prison setting.
The Flash’s metahuman choices this week prove interesting. Axel and Zoey create such silly fun and even Axel’s reasoning is somewhat understandable. Give it up for daddy issues being the reason for his villainy. One of the issues I have with the meta storyline, however, is the fact that Zoey, who seems intent on getting Axel and running far away from Central City and leaving their past behind, is suddenly all aboard the plan with messing with Ralph and helping her son. However, this happens only after she stops taking her medicine. So the show alludes to Zoey having perhaps some kind of mental illness and uses the lack of medicine excuse to make her go stereotypically “crazy.” While the metas are mostly silly fun, this aspect stuck with me throughout the episode.
Finally, this review wouldn’t be complete unless the mystery girl from the Supergirl portion of the “Crisis on Earth-X” crossover is mentioned. This is her second appearance and it’s looking more and more likely that she is indeed Barry and Iris’ daughter from the future. Played by Jessica Parker Kennedy, she is the perfect cross between Barry and Iris, from her mannerisms to her physical appearance, her casting is perfect. We don’t learn much about her except for a final tidbit: she’s seen writing in her journal using the symbols Barry was writing after escaping the speed force in “The Flash Reborn.” What this could mean is anyone’s guess at this point, but it’s certainly clear that the writers at least have a plan.
- I guess Barry spending the night in jail after his failed bachelor party was just a warm-up for the big leagues?
- The fear conversation brought me back to 2.22 when Iris pretty much tells Barry that he’s not invincible and fear is a healthy thing. So much progress!
- I think this might be the first time Iris actually mentions that she was scared of dying last season. This makes me sad and happy she finally got to say it. Better late than never.
- Will Caitlin always be yelled at every time she needs to change into Killer Frost? It makes her fear of becoming the former villain last season a moot point given her current status.
- Joe couldn’t hug Barry while speaking to him. This storyline hurts, but I also like a little bit of angst.
- “See you tomorrow?” “Every tomorrow.”
- “Not today, Satan.”
- For a while, I legitimately forgot about Harry’s presence until this episode.
- Cisco is a powerful metahuman, so it’s always annoying when he gets sidelined like this just to showcase Ralph.