“…Barry Allen is just as important as the Flash.”
Danielle Panabaker returns to the director’s seat this week in one of the most outlandishly enjoyable episodes in the past few seasons as Barry tags along with Ralph on a trip to Midway City as the PI continues investigating the Sue Dearborn case.
Based on Nash Wells’ boast last week of being able to save Barry from the coming Crisis, it was understandable to think it would be a primary narrative in “License to Elongate”; instead, it’s relegated to an afterthought. I know, the title should have been a major tip-off on the narrative’s direction, but when an episode ends with such a confident proclamation, it’s hard not to see it gleaning major screen time. Even in the limited time, the story pays dividends with Nash—thanks to Allegra’s UV powers—able to identify the Eternium (not to be confused with the Masters of the Universe world, Eternia) used to hide the Monitor’s inter-dimensional portal. Though we never see Nash work his way through the barricade, the connection he makes with Allegra is an acceptable substitute.
Afraid to use her powers lest she turns out like her cousin, Ultraviolet, Nash reminds Allegra that she controls who she becomes. Even more touching is how, after checking in on the recovering Allegra, Nash looks at her with a fondness reserved for someone extremely close to you. It’s more than likely that she reminds Nash of his Jesse…there’s also the idea that she just may be the doppelganger of his daughter. Either way, though this relationship materializes out of thin air, the small arc holds enough strength to further enhance the underutilized Allegra while getting our first peek into the Nash behind the swashbuckling persona.
As is the case when an episode is titled after a character, Ralph is this week’s shining star. This episode played out with a necessary (and well-executed) role-reversal; Ralph is in his element, using charm and finesse to work his way into the high-roller crowd while Barry is a gangly and out of place hindrance. Moreover, Barry trying to play the hero is the reason the pair get nabbed by Remington Meister (Carlo Rota, 24, American Horror Story), the auction host and fantastic parody of a James Bond villain.
In fact, the primary arc in “License to Elongate” is an homage/parody of the Bond films, complete with the silent-but-deadly henchman (woman in this case), killer satellite being auctioned to the highest evil-doing bidder, and a laser to slice and dice the protagonists… there’s even a direct quote string from Goldfinger. It’s cheesy and over-the-top but, but by God, is it fun (‘January Galore’!? Ha!). Combined with the writing, Gustin and Sawyer, along with Panabaker, emphasize the lightness of tone by way of acknowledging how ridiculous these spy film plots can be and reminding us that sometimes the ridiculous is why we love ‘em. Barry and Ralph eventually save the day, destroying Meister’s satellite before it can do the same to Central City (as a demonstration to prospective buyers, of course) but they do so without their powers. And this is where the lessons in “License to Elongate” become a touch more serious.
Ever since the Monitor foretold him of what’s to come, Barry has been concerned with who will take the reins when the Flash is gone. Ralph makes him see that it’s not just the Flash that is important; Barry Allen is just as vital to their city as his speedster alter ego. Ralph and Joe solidify this point with Barry when, after the Flash crowns the Elongated Man as the next hero of the city, they bring Barry Allen, CSI, to the podium and award him the Medal of Honor. It’s a touching reminder that for as much fun as we have with the super-powered throwdowns, what makes these heroes so memorable are the people they are behind the masks. There are movies that provide the spectacle of the superhero life but miss out on the human piece. They are fun but forgettable; but when you can marry that fun with the human element, it becomes something more than just a good time. While not always hitting the mark, The Flash often touches on this perspective with “License to Elongate” about as perfect an example of this concept as any episode in recent memory.
Too bad Ramsey has to ruin it all in the last second. Typical villain.
- We can’t forget that Chester P Runk is back in the house! Finally released from the stasis pod as the black hole energies have died down, he has to find his way back into the world after being declared dead. Cecile helps him get on his feet, her first meta case since she switched careers and, funny enough, he ends up helping her as much as she does him. The pair learn together that moving on from what you’ve known for so long is scary but embracing the new challenge and who you are is the only way to go. It may not always work out but if you put in the effort things often have a way of working out.
- During his speech to the press, Ralph mentions that he will protect Central City to his dying breath. The moment he uttered those words, his life was most assuredly forfeit. I couldn’t help but envision his death as a sacrifice to save Barry. Yet the way things ended, with Ramsey tackling him over the building ledge, I wonder if Ralph’s death will come a bit faster and in a more unexpected way.