TV REVIEW: The Flash S4E4 ‘Elongated Journey Into Night’ (Spoilers)

The Flash had a daunting task this week with ‘Elongated Journey Into Night,’ needing to introduce an iconic comic book character in a way that honors his legacy. It was especially difficult given how differently from his comic self the show chose to portray him, but thankfully guest star Hartley Sawyer gave his version of Ralph Dibny a charming touch. He wasn’t the only new character introduced, as Gypsy finally got a father in Breacher (played by the legendary Danny Trejo) – and a name (but more on that later)!

The primary focus of the episode, as evidenced by the title, was the start of Elongated Man’s story. In an interesting twist, The Flash brought him on as a sleazy private investigator with whom Barry (Grant Gustin) had some major bad blood. While changing him from a stalwart justice seeker to an ex-cop who got canned for falsifying evidence certainly made him more off-putting at first, but it provided some nice tension for the team to deal with. Given how happy-go-lucky most of the season has been so far, it was a good change of pace to see some more negative emotions and bloody history aired out. And in keeping with the current season’s tendency to expand the horizons of Central City, Mayor Anthony Bellows (guest star Vito D’Ambrosio) got embroiled in the mystery of the week. His side plot with Ralph is a small look at corruption in the government that will hopefully tie back to the Iron Heights warden from two weeks ago, and eventually lead to the Thinker’s master plan.

The most important part of Ralph’s character in ‘Elongated Journey Into Night’ by far is his superpower, which is the ability to stretch himself in ways that are not humanly possible. Of course, it’s not something he can control when he first figures it out, and The Flash mined a great deal of comedy out of that. It was almost too much slapstick and body humor for my taste, but fans of lowbrow comedy should be in for a lot of laughs. On the other hand, the special effects for his abilities were topnotch and paved the way for some iconic comic moments that readers of Silver Age Flash books will enjoy fondly. As I previously mentioned, a spotty past involving fabricating evidence to put someone in jail made him incredibly hard to stomach, but it also provided some important moments of self-reflection for Barry. He effectively ruined Ralph’s career for a righteous reason, but wasn’t he also illegally imprisoning metahumans without a trial just a few seasons ago? Hasn’t he changed all of space and time for his own supposedly noble reasons without anyone who could make him pay for his crimes?

In the end, he and Ralph take an important step forward even if they don’t quite bury the hatchet. More importantly, their final scene provides Barry with his first clue about Devoe and promises more developments on the villain front. I don’t advocate for more characters to join STAR Labs, especially not so soon after Wally was booted out, but I’m glad it seems like there will be a continued push-and-pull between the men.

They weren’t the only ones at odds in ‘Elongated Journey Into Night,’ as Cisco’s (Carlos Valdes) quality time with his girlfriend Gypsy (Jessica Camacho) was interrupted by her very angry father. Turns out Breacher is also his baby girl’s boss, and he doesn’t take too kindly to any man infringing on his favorite employee’s time. There is an uncomfortable undercurrent throughout The Flash of overprotective fathers who control every aspect of their daughters lives, and Harry (Tom Cavanagh) himself seems to attest to that fact when helping Cisco deal with Breacher. I don’t know what it says about the worldview of those who watch the show, but it was easier to let it go this time because it was played for comedy. No one seemed to take Breacher’s threats to hunt Cisco down seriously, and instead it allowed him the chance to step up to the plate and prove himself a hero in his own right.

Cisco eventually wins Breacher’s respect by standing up to him and, in a nice moment where the two main plots intertwined, protecting Ralph in the process. Valdes and Trejo play off each other remarkably well all episode, and of course it’s always a treat to see Cisco in the role of romantic leading man. Breacher didn’t get much fleshing out this week, but we’ve been told he’ll be back several times, so there’s plenty of time to get a closer look at his relationship with his daughter. Speaking of, Cisco and Gypsy take the next step in their relationship when he presses for her actual name. This may have been the writers’ response to complaints that her codename is a racial slur, but either way I couldn’t be happier that they used it as a way for her to finally let her guard down around the man she’s starting to love.

In smaller bits: it was a pleasure to see Iris (Candice Patton) partaking in some investigation this week, and makes me hope the writers will give their ace reporter more of those moments in the future. Caitlin (Danielle Panabaker) went out of her way to defend Ralph as a changed man, which was a bit rich considering she herself is hiding her changes… for the second time in two seasons. Thankfully it looks like her secret will be out next week, but why keep it at all? Finally, Joe (Jesse L. Martin) carries the burden of Cecile’s pregnancy around with him all episode, but The Flash didn’t really delve into his feelings on the subject. He does get a very cute celebratory hug with Barry and Iris near the end, though.

Rating: 3.5/5

Reviewer: Tatiana Hullender (@myrcellasear)

The Flash airs Tuesdays on the CW at 8/7c in the US.

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  1. Naina /

    Good review! I concur with a lot of what you said. I actually found Dibny to be annoying at first, and I was a bit disgruntled that Caitlin came to the defense of yet another unlikeable new guy, demanding Barry show him some sympathy, despite the fact that Ralph’s a known dirty cop, when she could not extend the same courtesy to Iris, an actual good person, last season. Ralph did grow on me as the episode continued.

    I’m glad that you pointed out that The Flash has a troubling habit of portraying overbearing fathers who must control every part of their daughter’s lives. It’s either played for comedy as in the case of Breacher and Cynthia or portrayed as “I know I was wrong, but I just love you so much” as in the case of Joe and Iris in season 1, and Harry and Jesse. One thing is for sure, as much as I have always loved Joe, I’m beyond glad that the show actually shows him to have learned his lesson, and from my recollection, he has never actively tried to control what Iris chooses to do since 1×21.

    The scene of Barry and Iris investigating Dibny’s office was great, and I wish we got these small scenes from much earlier on. I like seeing the dynamic of CSI Barry and Journalist Iris. I do love the shift in writing for Iris this season, allowing her to take charge and get into the thick of things. Hopefully this will spill over into an investigative journalism story-line later this season.

    • Tatiana Hullender /

      Thanks so much for the comment! And you’re right, thankfully Joe seems to have learned his lesson and now includes Iris in decisions and lets her be the boss. And Harry got kicked off E2 because he was so controlling! Gotta love karma. Totally agree with everything you said about Iris too.

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