REVIEW: The Flash S4 EP11 (“The Elongated Knight Rises”)

“WHERE’S THE TRICKSTER?! WHERE IS HE!” …See what I did there? A little Christian Bale humor for you, due to the very nodding title of this episode. Though tonight, there were no big-time heroes coming to the rescue. There was no caped crusader or scarlet speedster…but there was a stretchy man. Stretch Armstrong? Bendy? We want to call him what he is but it’s so hard! Barry imprisoned calls the Elongated knight to the rescue for the citizens of Star City, but what about this Trickster? Team Flash is holding their own, but with Ralph Dibney taking the spotlight, it is unknown how they will manage.

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Director: Alexandra La Roche
Writers: Greg Berlanti, Andrew Kreisberg, Geoff Johns, Sterling Gates, and Thomas Pound

What You Need To Know:
Barry is in prison…if we didn’t get that already. The episodes before followed the framing, trial, and condemnation of Barry Allen. We realize he has accepted this and any other option would result in the Flash’s downfall. But what about our newest member? Ralph is a character not too many saw as intriguing or interesting for the show. We saw him reveal himself and become part of Team Flash in a span of two episodes. I dare not say he is a replacement for Kid Flash, but I want to so badly. But the only question that matters is, will he prove to be better than the Flash’s former sidekick or not? Well, Ralph certainly enjoys the spotlight as we’ve seen, so maybe that’s just what we needed. Then, of course, we get a throwback villain to fill the role of psychotic meta trying to terrorize Star City. The Trickster Jr. makes his second appearance on the Flash in this episode, and it proves to be a satisfying yet oddly forced and somewhat annoying one. Trickster came up once before when he and his father, Trickster Sr, teamed up to capture Henry Allen. It was a fun episode.

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What You’ll Find Out:
So we start this episode off where most would expect, yet with a heart-tugging scene that really helps show Barry’s emotional struggle and resistance. Barry sits alone in prison, as his fellow inmate’s rage in a fierce break-out. Barry is shown sitting, alone in a cell, as the ruckus goes on…tapping his knee. He is struggling here. Struggling in a fight with himself, trying to convince himself to stay put. A riot was exactly the time he could have run out and NEVER been missed, at least, not at that moment. But what would he gain? The answer is: Nothing. So he does what any model hero would do, what he needed to do in order to lay down these temptations of running. He put the prisoners away and saved the guards from possible death. His act went unnoticed, but what an opening scene! Barry continues in his cell…which by the way is the same one his father was stuck in for YEARS and marked off the long days he stayed there, one by one, year by year. I myself saw a truly honorable and emotional moment in this scene, but perhaps I am the only one?

Ralph Dibney, superhero. We see Ralph’s evolution as a character grow even further in these last few episodes, which I love. We saw him step up with Cisco in the last episode and show maturity and growth. This episode is all about him though, which is when we truly see his motives. A wild bomber threatening to blow a half-block of the city if his demands weren’t met. Hostages were taken, a nut with a bomb on his chest, and Mr. “Joe Chill” quietly and nicely listening to the demands. Ralph takes the cake in this scene, rescuing the hostages and distracting the bomber. But of course, the attacker attack, chucking the bomb at Ralph, after Ralph made quite a bit of witty quips about himself and the man. The bomb threatens Joe’s life and everyone in a good two-mile radius, yet Ralph simple holds the bomb close, and the explosion is contained. Happy with himself, now standing above the astonished and fainted bomber, Ralph takes on the press with a smile and a new nickname!

Stretchy Man…well, we’re getting there! Ralph grows cocky as Team Flash congratulates, and discourages the hero. Ralph has the characteristics of a selfish, slap-happy five-year-old who thinks he is invincible. I, for one, enjoyed the fact they upped his ego. I kept saying to myself, this guy would be a perfect Plastic Man. But let it be known, Ralph Dibney was out there, and nothing was gonna stop him. Oh…wait hang on, nope!
So Barry is making do with his life in prison. It’s dark, and grey, and he has facial hair. Basically, he is playing Grant Gust. Barry has kept us from asking, “Are you going to do anything? ” Which is good. He’s answered that questions many times in the earlier episodes and we know. What we don’t know is how this will go down? Barry meets up with the Trickster, Axel Walker. After trying to get Barry to spill the beans about DeVoe while slurping down prison pudding (I shouldn’t have said that, I shouldn’t have said that!), Axel starts getting some stomach cramps. Viewers were most likely asking, wait…why though? Why did Barry just randomly get approached by the Trickster? Well, come on now, you knew exactly why! Because, obviously he was set up with the pudding that was laced with something or other, to be sent to the medical wing…where his mother was waiting to rescue him! So uh, no, actually nobody expected this, which is actually what made this part hilarious. The Trickster is loose and his mother is the one who broke him out…interesting.
The Trickster is brought to his mom’s secret hideout, where she lays out the mom act on Axel. “I raised you while you were idolizing your father who was being sent to prison. I cooked dinner for you while he was terrorizing people.” That shtick never works, and we knew it wouldn’t. She got her son free, but what he did was up to him. Sooo, he goes on a “rampage”.

 

Stretchy Man to the rescue…yay, whoo-hoo. That was sarcasm, every word. Trickster up to his tricks, (I know, I know, I’ll stop now.) when who else but the invincible Ralph Dibney comes to face him! The Trickster had seen “Stretchy Man” and saw a challenge, so he called Ralph out to fight. Well, “fight” is a very loose term for what happened. Trickster threw stuff at Ralph, Ralph’s super condensed and durable skin kept him safe. Until Axel steps up his game. He whips out a special trick just for Ralph, a squirt gun with his special “axid”, a heightened and more extreme kind of acid, which burned Ralph, the five-year old I mentioned who is deemed as one due to his VERY childish screams, becomes injured. Ralph is rescued by Vibe, as the heroes escape, leaving Trickster undelt with. This part of the story really shows it’s comical side. Of course, a show based off comics would, but we see the ego and pride that grasps certain heroes when they become so. Indestructable, undefeatable, therefore they can do anything. Ralph find out the hard way, heroism isn’t easy. But was that ever truly what he was doing?
The Trickster and his mother, who we actually find out was an old-timer villain named Prank, come to terms that they each want to be more. His mother, who is psychotically rooting for her son, stops taking her “special pills” just for he “boo-boo”. We see that maniacle mother-son bond which really made me laugh seeing the two enjoy their insanity together. Unfortunately, this duo wasn’t the wanted, loved kind. Prank was alive once more, and her son and her were out to show Star City what they were made of.
This episode really weighs in on virtues. Ralph shows his true self when he decided to say no. No to heroism, no to taking out these slap-stick sickos. His life was on the line as well as others when the Trickster and Prank let it be known they mean business, and they’re willing to show it. Axid was their weapon, and a sick game was about to be played. But Ralph chose to say no to these villain’s calling. His life was more important to him than the civilians he’d be allowing to die. This, in my opinion, was pure gold. This is a character we needed, one with a sense of self-righteousness who cares more about the fame. I seem to call out this show for giving us what we needed, but I can’t help it! This season has showed that a show can grow and blossom into a great one again. Not to say Flash was bad before, but certainly lacking. Ralph knows he cared more about him, and Flash was the answer. Flash was the hero the people needed in this situations, not Stretchy Man.

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Barry through this episode is at a low, then again, he’s in prison. What more can we expect? I surely didn’t expect anything more, but the small story bits we get while Barry mopes around are fascinating. We find his father made himself quite a name while he was in prison, and Barry knows it. Barry also sees that people don’t really care for him. Before anything too big goes down, Barry is called to the visiting center. A man imprisoned always has visitors, but the fact Barry kept watching the clock, contantly looking at it, waiting for a certain time told us right away, it was her. Iris, every day, visited Barry. She got to see his face, he got to see her living safely another day. Barry knows the burden of jail, it was not seeing Iris more. And Iris knew as well, though working hard to get her man out, that even though he was right in front of her, his breath on her face couldn’t be felt, nor the touch of his hand. Iris took a controlling position in Team Flash since Barry’s leave, and it’s nice to see. She’s like the Felicity of The Flash, probably more liked to be honest, but still has that great connection to the hero that really makes me see maybe Iris really isn’t that bad? I don’t know why I say this, Iris was barely in this episode, but her dedication and want for her husband’s freedom, her loyalty and restless working was very beautiful.

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Barry continued his life in jail, making a friend along the way! A gang in the prison choose Barry to pic on, and ‘Big Guy’ helps him out. Big Guy reveals Barry’s father helped him when he was in trouble, and Barry was thankful for the man’s help. Barry is in the dark as to what his father did for this man to help Barry like he did, but Barry wasn’t hesitant to help him. Barry’s life in prison isn’t an exciting one, but it’s not really the MAIN focus of this episode’s entirety. Yes it’s a big deal, but it’s more to the side. Still, it doesn’t disappoint when Barry rescues the Big Guy from the same gang that tried to take Barry out. The Flash is quick to action, letting the men beat themselves up, without laying a hand on them. The Big Guy is thankful, and reveals some touching backstory. The Big Guy and Henry Allen weren’t close while they were in prison together, until Henry took his medical skills and diagnosed the Big Guy had an inflamed appendix, apendicitus. His appendix was going to burst, and the doctors weren’t in. Henry and the warden took the sucker out of him together, and therefore the Big Guy was indebted to Henry. Henry’s name in the prison was well known, he was a model prisoner and did his time and work. It was wonderful to see Barry reminisce with this complete stranger, and hear his father’s heroics. Barry found a friend, and he wasn’t letting him go. Prison life must suck, though Barry reveal himself that it really isn’t too different from regular life…but with both, you need someone to travel through it with you. The Big Guy was Barry’s someone in this instance. It’s a great buildup for Barry, he doesn’t have to be alone, waiting every day from a few minutes of the joy of seeing a friendly and loved face, he could have a someone to travel through the grim days with inside.

 

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Barry fell, and he is enduring. Ralph, far from it. Ralph pays Barry a visit, asking him to escape with him. Barry finds this act noble yet pointless. He made his decision, but Ralph needed help making his. He reveals that he isn’t a hero. He wanted what he thought heroism was: Fame, love, publicity, and easy times. He wants Barry to come and fight for him, because he’s no hero, he’s not fearless. But neither is Barry. Barry knows this, and let’s Ralph in on the fact. Barry isn’t fearless, he wakes up every day in fear. He walks through the grey halls and fenced yards in fear. Every time he suits up, fear was his ally in thick and thin. Ralph listened as Barry told him, it’s not about your safety. An indestructible sense falls over every hero, a sense that you can’t be stopped. But you can, you fall like everyone else, and Barry would know. A hero knows the costs, but the lives of many in the hands of one was what mattered, and Ralph needed to know that. A man who’s been imprisoned and put in the spot-light finally begins to realize he wasn’t the only one who mattered. A bit of a cliche, but still nice to see a character growing and learning. I don’t think Ralph is done in his learning, I am hoping to see further fright and downfalls for him because he is exactly the character who needs them, but in this one, the famous every-episode-pep-talk talks Ralph into doing what he knew he needed to.

Cisco worked for Ralph’s complaining and made him a special suit, and Ralph excepted it. Unfortunately, Cisco and Caitlin, AKA Vibe and Killer Frost go with Harry to the pinpointed location where the Trickster and Prank are hiding. Of course, though, our side-heroes can’t suspect a trap and are ensnared by Trickster and Prank…of course. But hey, Harry is up on the roof…trying to safe-ify the axid? I mean…okay, but not really helping.

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Ralph to the rescue…again! Red leather with yellow stripes, and a BIG mask, nice job Cisco, the suit, it looks great! The mask, like…big goggles. Wait…a mask that looks like goggles, red suit, yellow stripes. Hey look, it’s Plastic Man!

The Elongated Knight Rises

Ralph runs to the rescue, making a daring entrance. Prank and Trickster are prepared, ready to fight rubber with axid! But Plastic Man is too fast! He slings himself and knocks Trickster out. But Prank is one step ahead, ready to dump axid all over Caitlin and Cisco! Trickster rushes to the rescue…but it’s too late. Ralph sees his moment, his true moment, life or death to save his friends. He chooses death because it wasn’t about him. He stretches out over Caitlin and Cisco, as the axid pours over him! Down it pours, as he screams…but comes to realize…the axid wasn’t burning him! HARRY DID IT! The axid was safe, and Ralph wasn’t a puddle! Prank stands to the side like she is completely helpless, but hey, this is Ralph’s moment! Reporters and police swarm the courtyard outside of the abandoned toy factory, and Plastic Man meets them. Congratulations and cheers flood over Ralph, as the reporter asks…what’s next for Stretchy Man? Stretchy man no more! For now, he was the Plastic Ma-…wait…what?
Hang on, we’ve got every attribute and characteristic Plastic Man holds, we’ve got the red and yellow suit…yet, we get the Elongated Man? The lesser known, lesser cared for a copy of Plastic Man? Um…well, okay I guess. Thanks a lot, writers!

What Just Happened:
This episode was a mix of filler and importance. Importance in a way that we see continued character builds adapting to the current situations, which is good! Team Flash making do without the Flash, and Barry making do without doing what he did best…running. Ralph seems to be a good choice for the writers to have brought in, he brings life and comedy where it was needed. Iris continues to NOT disappoint, though when she mentioned when she was going to die…I asked why do you have to remind me?! But for the death that wasn’t to be, I have to say Iris is less annoying this season and I am enjoying it. Though, the one question we all have! Where was the Thinke-…nope, hang on, that wasn’t what was on anyone’s mind? Okay, then the REAL question on everyone’s mind…WHO IS THAT GIRL?!
We see Cisco and Ralph getting a coffee at Jitters, celebrating their win when the mystery girl who appeared in the crossover event at the wedding of Barry and Iris as a waiter interrupts, and says hi, and pays for their drinks. Very friendly, as if she knew something as if she was someone, she spoke with the two, then dismissed herself. Cisco and Ralph both baffled by this girl, slowly walk away. But we get more, we get to see this girl writing in what appeared to be a leather bound journal, and in it, she wrote an odd language, if that. Symbols on the page, unreadable, but she wrote them fluently. I myself caught this and screamed internally and externally very loudly, grasping my head. The symbols she was writing were the same symbols, at least in look, that Barry scribbled after returning from out of the speed force. We don’t know all of what happened to Barry in the speed force, but we can safely say this mystery girl must have some connection to Barry or the speed force as well. Future daughter maybe? The questions of who is she, what does she have to do with this, what’s going on really make themselves present in the viewer’s heads. But, it’s all part of the motive of this season…which is keeping us guessing, and wondering what will happen, and why!

Rating: 9.5/10
Final Thoughts: The last point-five percent isn’t there due to the fact I felt like this episode could have had MORE on Barry, less on the cringe-worthy antics of the Trickster and Plastic Ma-…’sigh’, I mean Elongated Man. I also really dislike the Cisco-Caitlin situation. They are metas, they are pretty powerful too so…why aren’t they out there? They are shown like they are helpless and really unneeded and I don’t like it. They were going somewhere with Killer Frost and Vibe at some points in the show, but sorta let them go after a while. But it was a very good episode, very much worth the watch. I can’t wait to watch Barry’s life go on in prison, and how his friends and family work on trying to break DeVoe and his wife down and find out how to bring the Flash back. I constantly bring to attention that it’s a good thing when a show takes a turn for the worse. We get to see the heroes work and get themselves out of the bind their in, as well as unravel more about the villain. Not to mention not blatantly revealing too much, or much at all, about DeVoe, or this mystery girl. Very good build-up, very good writing. This season is one to keep up with, because nobody knows how it will turn out, and that is just the way we like it!

The Flash airs on the CW Network on Tuesdays. Check your local listings for times.


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