A look back on the Flash Season 4 Episode 4: Elongated Journey into the Night

Joe West: Four years seeing this stuff, I finally puked.

Beware: Spoilers may follow.

Tom Cavanagh has many talents playing multiple characters on the Flash but he has an untapped potential for directing episodes. He doesn’t direct very often but when he does he manages to give quite an edge to an episode. And this episode is no exception to that. This episode has two plotlines neither of which with one another but manages to give a sense of engagement to the both of them.

The story is that Team Flash, in tracking down the bus metas that were infected when Barry came out of the speed force, leads Barry (Grant Gustin) to having an encounter with an old foe named Ralph Dibny (Hartley Sawyer). Meanwhile Cisco (Carlos Valdes) has his own encounter with his girlfriend Gypsy’s (Jessica Camacho)father named Breacher (Danny Trejo). Breacher instantly develops a hatred for Cisco and decides to hunt him.

Much like his DC comics counterpart, Ralph is very much comic relief and a lover for mysteries. However the show adds a new is his history with Barry. We find out that Ralph certain of a suspect’s guilt in a murder case, forged evidence. Barry chewed him outfor it and Ralph was fired leaving the latter in financial distress.

One of the aspects that makes the conflict between Barry and Ralph so effective is that neither can hail themselves as righteous in all of this and both sides had apoint in how their rivalry started. Ralph forged evidence all those years ago and is blackmailing the mayor in the present day. In the past he was trying to do his best to keep the guilty party from walking away. Barry on the other handrightfully calls Ralph out on his despicable actions but ultimately hasimpulsive actions throughout the episode. He labels bus metas as villains and even demands that Ralph be outright locked in the pipeline. Another aspect that works is the Sawyer’s performance. He quickly establishes Ralph as a big fun goof but one whose heart is in the right place. When Barry and Ralph get into an argument after the former finds out Ralph has been blackmailing the mayor, Ralph’s sadness as he describes his reasoning for the case and Barry inadvertently giving him his newfound albeit unwanted powers is nothing short of genuine.

Ralph discovering his stretching powers was also pretty funny. Iris’ reaction to Ralph’s overstretched foot, Ralph’s reactions to his body being like silly putty, capped off with Joe puking in reaction to Ralph’s runny face after hesneezes followed by Joe’s words about seeing this stuff four years makes for great visual gags.

Breacher being the over-protective dad is something that could have easily been boring. Trejo however plays the role in a hilarious deadpan fashion and brings the perfect amount of menace and silliness. Breacher mistaking Ralph for a Plastoid really felt tacked on and felt like nothing more than an excuse to tie the two plotlines together.

Elongated Journey into the Night doesn’t have much in the way of huge stakes but it did establish two characters whose performances bring what would otherwise be a boring episode to life. It isn’t so much a journey but it is quite an elongating experience.

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