Katie Yu/The CW
Chancellor Agard
January 23, 2018 AT 10:23 PM EST

The Flash

type
TV Show
run date
10/15/14
performer
Grant Gustin, Danielle Panabaker, Candice Patton
broadcaster
The CW
seasons
3
Current Status
In Season

We gave it a B-

Desperate to gain her son’s approval, Zoey decides to stop taking her meds, which sends her back into murderous villain mode. Maybe I missed it, but I don’t think the script ever explains what mental illness she has, so that meds line ends up coming off as cheap and embarrassing for The Flash — especially since it airs on the same network as Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, which, among other things, delivers a very nuanced exploration of mental health issues. But I digress. With Zoey back as Prank, she and her son develop this weird twist on the Joker/Harley dynamic that I’ll admit is kind of intriguing. They decide to kidnap some hostages and threaten to dump acid on them unless the Stretchy Man comes out to play. However, Ralph refuses to take the bait because he’s scared of dying.

Rather than put on his big boy pants, Ralph comes up with a cowardly solution: breaking Barry out of jail so he can save the day. Barry refuses to go with Ralph, who stretches his way into his cell. Instead, Barry gives Ralph a little pep talk and tells him that having the power to help people and not doing so is worse than death.

Obviously, Barry’s pep talk works and Ralph wades back into the fray — and just in time, too, because Vibe and Killer Frost tried to save the hostages on their own but ended up getting captured. Ralph storms the Trick-family’s hideout and manages to take out Axel by turning himself into a slingshot. However, Zoey manages to flip the lever that releases the acid onto Caitlin and Cisco. In a defining moment of heroism, Ralph throws himself between his friends and the acid — and survives because Harry managed to neutralize the acid at the last minute. Not only does Ralph save the day, but he also gains his canonical superhero name: Elongated Man, although he’s not too pleased with it.

While all of this is going on, Barry is stuck in prison in a plotline that only feels mildly relevant to Ralph’s A-story. Imprisoned and under constant surveillance, Barry can’t use his powers and feels useless because he can’t help people. However, he ends up finding a person in need when Big Sir (Bill Goldberg), a fellow inmate who helped him out of a jam with some other less-than-friendly inmates, becomes their target. Barry sneakily uses his powers to save his savior’s life and gains a friend in the process. Unfortunately, all of this is rather boring, and it’s still not clear why the show decided to go this route with Barry this season, especially since there’s no sense that it’s telling any kind of emotional story. I didn’t feel the emotion during last week’s trial episode, and I definitely don’t feel it here, and Iris and Barry’s few visits together aren’t doing the trick. Using this as an opportunity to flesh out Ralph can’t be the only reason for this questionable diversion, which is also sapping the season of its earlier momentum. Fingers crossed the show regains some of that momentum next week.

Wall of Weird:

  • Tonight’s episode ended with Cisco and Ralph running into Jessica Parker Kennedy’s chatty waiter, whom we met in the first part of this year’s crossover, at Jitters. After paying for their coffee, the exceedingly cheerful yet still unnamed woman returned to her table and scribbled some of those Speed Force markings into a notebook.
  • The “C’mon son!” look Team Flash gives Ralph when he asks what Kryptonite is was great.
  • When Big Sir, a big white guy, came to Barry’s aid against some inmates of color, I couldn’t help but think of a scene from The Good Wife. Midway through season 6, it looked like Cary Agos (Matt Czuchry) was going to jail for something he didn’t do, so his firm got him a prison consultant who suggested he find a white friend to have his back the minute he got to prison.
  • In another world, The Flash would’ve waited a bit before sending Wally off to the Legends and used Barry’s imprisonment as another opportunity to give Wally some love.
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