Are you all ready for a bitterly boring and boringly bitter review of The Flash? Because that’s the big mood after a lackluster “The Elongated Knight Rises,” one of the several filler episodes coming while Barry is in jail.
The episode starts during a prison riot, and I can’t really tell if things are really this ubiquitous. In fact, I don’t know a lot about jails at all, except for what I watch, so I’m usually dubious on how violence is portrayed inside the buildings. It all seems messy and the guards seem to be having trouble defusing the situation. Barry, who had remained inside his own cell, decides to take matters into his own hands and uses his speed to put everyone back in their cells so that the guards can shut them closed.
Meanwhile, we get to see some wacky bank robber or whatever taking hostages and making some increasingly “humorous” demands before he realizes Ralph has already penetrated the building and rescued the hostages. Ralph seems to be having a hard time coming up with his name, and I would feel sorry for him if he wasn’t so obnoxiously unfunny. I do feel sorry for Hartley Sawyer though, that superhero suit is not flattering at all, but I guess that’s the point. Anyways, Dibny grabs the bomb before it explodes and uses his body to hold the explosion tight: just a normal day in Central City? Here’s the part where I remember that this will be a DeVoe-less episode for *some* nondescript reason. Dibny gives an interview to the local news and ends up being called The Stretchy Man.
Back at Iron Heights, Barry meets Axel Walker, making a comeback after i-don’t-know-how-many-seasons have passed to give me the cringe once again: he is the Trickster’s son and suddenly I miss Mark Hamill’s superior acting skills. Besides our first sighting of a guy called “Big Sir,” this scene serves to point out that Axel was eating a pudding. In true prison fashion—is it? I can’t say—a prison bully ™ creates beef with Barry. Before anything can happen, Barry is called to see a visitor, Iris, who is upset about not being able to hold her spouse’s hand. Oh, and lest I forget, the pudding was a ruse so that Axel’s mom Zoe, dressed as a nurse, could break her son out and start unnecessary hijinks.
The Walkers find shelter at an abandoned toy factory which is, you know, “appropriate.” Mama Trickster/Prank breaks her son’s heart when she says that, despite what he thought, the breakout had nothing to do with getting back with his dad, leaving the young man with paternal issues severely disappointed. Zoe makes a point that they can live together, just the two of them, but Young Trickster decides it would be best to do pull a big stunt to get the attention/approval of his dad, Mark Hamill, so he’s off to mess with The Stretchy Man.
Stereotyped Prison Bully ™ picks another fight with Barry, but before the CSI got shanked, the man referred to previously as Big Sir saves his life. At STAR Labs, the team watches as Young Trickster hacks an appearance on TV/does his best “Joker on crack” stand-up comedy routine to bait Dibny out of hiding in order to get a fight going. Ralph makes his way to the scene and, while initially having the upper hand against explosive balls, he gets injured when Trickster shoots acid on him. Cisco brings Dibny back to tend the wounds caused by the Axel Acid/Axid which had a pH of negative fifty (that’s NOT how pH works!!) and should have corroded through Ralph’s knee had he not been a polymerized metahuman.
Back at the Tricksters’ layer, guess what? MAMA TRICKSTER DIDN’T TAKE HER MEDS TODAY! So now, she is all Murderous, Crazy, and Psycho ™ again!! Yay, so edgy!! It’s like riding a tricycle, right? The things moms do for their children… Anyway, the Trickster family starts to plan a new trick/prank to paint the city red.
Almost immediately and seemingly impossiblely—I mean, what kind of security do these TV broadcasters have?—the Young Trickster makes his way onto the TV yet again to advertise his new game show “Wheel of Misfortune” (is it being a buzzkill if this pun took three years out of my life?). In the game, the duo has an Axid Shower to use on hostages if The Stretchy Man doesn’t show up in an hour. Sidenote: they used a Beebo to showcase the shower. Kudos for the Legends of Tomorrow reference, but weren’t Beebo dolls a thing of the 1980’s?
Even with a new and more appropriate super suit, Dibny refuses to go help the hostages, as he is scared of being hurt by the acid again. Thus, he goes to Barry to ask for help. Barry gives him another one of his inspiring speeches and Dibny is off to save the day. With the help of Harry neutralizing the acid, the Elongated Man rises, saving Killer Frost and Vibe who had gone to fight and were easily subjugated by the Tricksters. (Seriously? You’d think that superheroes who have held their own against much worse would not suffer too much against unglorified Joker wannabes.)
At the prison, Big Sir/Dave tells Barry that Henry Allen had saved his life once and that’s why he had helped Barry. However, later that night, Dave gets jumped by the Walking Stereotype Bullies ™. Thankfully, Barry hadn’t gone too far and goes back to save the man, using his speed to defuse the situation.
To cap this mess up, Iris visits Barry again and they are able to touch hands as he uses his mad phasing skills through the glass. Finally, Cisco and Dibny’s coffees are paid for by a geeky fast-talker woman at Jitters and here’s the gist: it’s the woman from the West-Allen wedding! The same one who talked to Barry when he was getting anxious about it and the same one seriously rumored to be Barry and Iris’s daughter from the future, a theory that will likely gain steam, as it is revealed that the woman writes in a secret language/cipher.
Every TV show has filler episodes, that’s pretty basic. However, some shows are better at it than others and, even within a series some episodes, can fill in more efficiently without making the audience cry in this despair because you don’t care about what’s going on and you just want the main plotline again. As a person whose apparent level of empathy usually gets me horribly moved by second-hand embarrassment, I usually have no issue “caring” about characters. That’s mostly true about The Flash, a show I have been watching since the premiere and personally recapping for just over a year. And yet, I find myself at a crossroads because, while not totally disappointing, season four has been somewhat inconsistent.
You have a villain whose motives are not clear, which was cute at first, but now it’s just annoying. You have Iris West, who I absolutely adore, but is also someone who gets a hard time from the so-called *true comic book fans* that would probably call me a feminazi for, how dare I?, liking a female character! You have Barry who’s going through a prison arc, and I guess I should probably wait a little before getting mad at it. Caitlin, Cisco, Harry, and Joe are always there and don’t usually get more than the usual supporting lines, but at least they are consistent and deliver.
And then you have Ralph Dibny, the recent addition to team Flash. It’s not that there’s an intrinsic problem with Ralph, but, yes, I do find it hard to connect with Ralph because there’s an intrinsic problem: his brand of humor is increasingly annoying me. It seems like every episode has Dibny go through the same personal issue and, for a character that hasn’t gotten me invested yet, it just feels boring and lazy.
Forgive me if I sounded way too bitter, but some episodes of The Flash just get on my nerves. Hopefully, the next ones will get the filler-y part right before Barry gets out of jail and/or DeVoe comes back for *vaguely waving my hands* whatever he’s supposed to do.