Director: Brent Crowell
Writers: Johnathan Butler and Gabriel Garza
Starring: Grant Gustin, Candice Patton, Carlos Valdes, Danielle Pannabaker, Jesse L. Martin, Tom Cavanaugh, Hartley Sawyer, Neil Sandilands, Kim Engelbrecht, Chelsea Kurtz, Mattie Alfonso
When Native American artifact collectors are attacked by a meta who brings inanimate objects to life, Barry turns to a surprising ally for help; Harry enlists Cisco’s help to determine the identity of The Thinker.
For this episode, it was a period of growth for both Harry and new superhero Ralph Dibny. Starting with Harry, I can recall from the previous Fan Expo where Tom Cavanaugh promised there would be another version of Harrison Wells, and in this episode he delivered threefold with The Council of Wells – the German Harrison Wolfgang Wells, hippie H. Lothario Wells, “Mad Max”- cybernetic Wells 2.0, and even the Gandalf-esque Wells The Great. They granted Tom’s chance to show off his versatility at portraying the same character in distinct ways that show through beyond the makeup and wigs. The hipster Lothario Wells had the right dose of Matthew McConaughey to make him both annoying and hilarious. While running the risk of being stale, it magically adds another layer of Harry in that he can only think of expanding of his social circle by befriending doppelgangers of himself only to discover how annoying and condescending he, himself, can be when the behavior is thrown back at him. It also pushes Harry to organize the trio by relating to their personality quirks given they are the same as his, and the result is the well-oiled machine he wants. You feel that sense of “hell yeah” when he says “All right, gentlemen, let’s get to work.”
Now on to the fledgling Elongated Man, Ralph Dibny. Still a bit sleazy while more stretchy, Sawyer’s version of Ralph continues his journey towards superheroism while annoying Barry’s straight-arrow approach. The comedy of his learning the ropes is enhanced by the gut-busting first version of his costume Cisco designs. While looking like a bad cosplay, it works in how it plays to Dibny’s need for a dose of humility. After Ralph botches a rescue, it’s in his guilt that the true hero shows through; despite years of wallowing in the filth of a private eye’s life, Ralph still has the humanity that made him want to pursue law enforcement as a career. The scene between Barry and Ralph in his office felt a lot like those early pep talks between Joe and Barry in the first few seasons. Now it’s Barry’s turn to be that rock for Ralph.
The effects for Elongated Man are really working great, especially for the fight with the T-Rex in the museum and the last scene in the hospital with the balloon animal effects. They’re also showing how quick Ralph is mastering his abilities, where two episodes ago he was literally sneezing his face into his hands. What also worked was Barry taking on more of the role of a leader for both Ralph and Team Flash, especially in the investigation into Clifford DeVoe, aka The Thinker.
As for The Thinker himself, the interaction between he and The Mechanic shows how much time in his head he spends, playing out an entire argument before it actually occurs. The cliffhanger leaves one to guess how truly brilliant DeVoe is: Is what we saw something on the level of hard light constructs, or more cybernetic machines like the Samuroid had been? Being someone who can calculate algorithm upon algorithm as to how events will play out right down to the slightest detail, it wouldn’t be outside the norm. And given the normal Clifford DeVoe is handicapped, it does give plausibility for the hover chair he gets around in as The Thinker. All in all, great character development and setup for the direct confrontation with this master puppeteer.
The main problem I have with this episode is the antagonist, Black Bison. A female variant on a minor DC Comics character, Mina Chayton’s pro-Native American rights extremism is relevant, but her character felt too one-dimensional. Her metahuman ability to control inanimate objects as long as they’re able-bodied in appearance leaves one to speculate how that works. The effects are minimal for that very reason, brought about by either disguised stuntmen or complete CGI character. The T-Rex was better than that knight. Yes, she’s willing to kill to return a cultural artifact to her people, but it’s still a weak premise. She doesn’t seem that fanatical in her tone of voice. While that might be a good thing and shows she’s running on conviction rather than rage, there’s not much range. Given her portrayer Chelsea Kurtz’ resume with shows like Scandal and The Last Ship, there should have been more.
Elsewhere, while it was hilarious bringing back that mugger from Season One to trouble Barry and Ralph on the street, what are the odds? Same coat, same MO, same stupid hair. Plus the fact that Ralph inadvertently used his powers in broad daylight and Barry sped him to the hospital for his injuries was careless on both their parts. Yes, he pantsed the guy with super speed back then before The Flash was well known, but it’s five years later. The Flash is a prominent superhero and there’s no way he can cover that up.
The reappearance of Dr. Sharon Finkel felt a bit forced and a little unbelievable. While a hypnotized Ralph was hilarious, Dr. Finkel’s involvement in Barry and Iris’s life together is starting to feel like a running gag. As for Caitlin providing backup as Killer Frost for the attempted takedown of DeVoe, it feels too soon for her to show off the new balance she’s enjoying with her alter-ego. She demonstrated her ability to pull back in the last episode, but the new dynamic is too early to take out into battle. As for the Council of Wells, while funny, I thought Gandalf Wells was too much of a stretch. I’m surprised they didn’t have Cisco make a Tolkien or McKellen reference.
Comedy and character growth won over the shortcomings of this week’s latest threat. I’m interested in seeing Ralph’s supersuit 2.0 in future episodes till we reach the rounded out Elongated Man from the comics. And let’s see more of the Council of Wells. Moreover, I’m interested in seeing how the reveal of a normal-looking Clifford DeVoe impacts the investigation into The Thinker.