The Flash: 4.04 Elongated Journey Into Night
Since the season four opener The Flash Reborn, it’s been made clear the intention is to bring back the humour and atmosphere of the past successes. Elongated Journey into Night contributes just that and more, not only channelling season one, but being unique rather than a carbon copy. This is by far the best episode yet and sets a high standard for the future. It’s the first episode where all elements meld together; even the childish, silly scenes have a purpose rather than forcing unnecessary comedy in our faces. With a very thin story It might not be what you’d expect but it's excellent nonetheless.
Starting off with an intimate scene between Cisco and Gypsy in his room (a couple I thought would grate on me but thus far have been pleasant with great chemistry), she goes to 'freshen up', while he attempts to find 'protection', a breach appears with Breacher (played by Danny Trejo) emerging. A nightmarish situation for anyone, being faced with someone as scary and intimidating as him, only to then discover he’s Gypsy’s father. This lightened the mood, created different tension, incorporated humour and provided our subplot. Cisco must now prove his worthiness to be with his daughter while constantly being tormented by him.
Now, let’s not forget, these episodes are supposed to fill out our 12 villains from the bus passengers (as seen in previous episodes). That’s precisely what we get but in a very different way. Enter the purpose of this episode, to introduce Ralph Dibney (played by Hartley Sawyer) a corrupt ex-detective exposed by Barry, now a sleazy private investigator. Unlike past episodes, Dibney is unaware of his powers when we meet him, meaning after the discovery that he’s essentially Stretch Armstrong. We get to follow his journey as he battles with emotions of a dramatic change, rather than swiftly being told in dumb flashbacks. This was well executed.
The casting so far has been fantastic, Trejo as Breacher is perfect, he has the rugged persona of a bounty hunter and plays the clichéd overprotective dad very well. Hartley Sawyer is excellent, he has charm, superb comedic timing and manages to mix comedy, drama and other emotions well. The chemistry between him and Barry is spot on, as the story would suggest, they have a rough history, this comes across clear throughout, I hope he gets more time with team Flash.
The visuals deserve a mention here. For a TV show they were well executed; in actual fact the stretchy CGI is better than the 2015 Fantastic Four movie (Fant4stic). This is also a welcome change of pace from the usual, stock footage of The Flash running.
Elongated Journey into Night doesn’t act out the usual 'villain of the week' formula, instead injecting a fun and unique approach to something that could’ve easily become mundane and repetitive. Although super-heavy on the humour, we continue to progress other stories, Caitlin getting a note carved in her door stating she’s been missed, creating further mystery for her whereabouts over the past six months (side note, I hope they unravel this quickly as although the interest is there, it’ll soon become irritating).
Barry’s emotional progression is touching; we see the removal of his mother’s murder case from his board, replaced by the current mystery. Additionally the mention of DeVoe (Thinker) to Barry, showing flashbacks of past episodes tying it all together. Most notable, last season’s discussion with future Barry as he says “this is where we came up with the cerebral inhibitor to use against DeVoe”. Fingers crossed, this gives our heroes some kind of upper hand knowing what they could be up against.
If I were to recommend an episode (from this season) to get a grasp of the tone, I’d say this is perfect. The dialog is wonderful; throughout, the comedic elements blend emotion and drama. Several memorable scenes and one liners stick around, amusing you long after it ends. To name a few, in the scene where Dibney sneezes after discovering his powers - this could be childish and silly but comes across charming and hysterical. Danny Trejo’s lines such as “I’m going to hunt you”, “this facility is poorly guarded” and “I don’t know where you go when you die”, are delivered well and are both scary and funny, just saying them aloud makes you chuckle.
An excellent well charged episode that has filled the third box.