The Flash: 5.05 All Doll'd Up
The Flash meets a creepy foe in the form of Ragdoll, a great twisty comic book villain, in a fun monster of the week episode that puts the Big Bad to one side for a bit.
There are a lot of plot threads running this episode, with Caitlin, Cisco, Wells and baby Giraffe… sorry, Ralph, spending the episode focused on tracking down Catlin’s dad, while Barry and Iris work on the episode's A plot. We also have a gentle side plot of Nora and Cecille having a little family time (Joe is nowhere to be seen with the show still not quite addressing that particular elephant in the room).
Iris is still hurting over the fact Nora doesn’t like her and spends a lot of this episode frustrated and annoyed. What I really liked about Candice Patton’s playing of Iris this week, was that she gave this underlying vibe of being slightly annoyed at Barry about the situation but was holding it back because she knew it wasn’t his fault. I enjoy the chemistry Barry and Iris have developed on the show and it’s really nice to have an episode that allows them some time together.
The villain this week is Ragdoll. This is a great on screen interpretation of this creepy comic book character, the design and performance work nicely with the direction to create a surprisingly unsettling, horror threat. A meta with the ability to fold and stretch his body, Ragdoll is targeting wealthy members of high society. He turns out to be the son of a fairly unpleasant business tycoon, who is throwing a charity gala – allowing Barry and iris to dress up snazzy and go dancing. I really enjoyed the Wests Investigate and would like to see more Barry and Iris team up stories in the future.
The rest of the gang are searching for Catlin’s father. I have to say, this isn’t a plot strand I’ve found myself especially engaged with. I like Catlin and I’ve really enjoyed the Killer Frost arc (no powers, hides powers, embraces powers, loses powers). While I’m down with her trying to re-find her powers and the part of herself she lost when Killer Frost was taken away, the missing father angle is a bit done to death.
The sub-story to this side-story, is Cisco’s ongoing recovery from his hand injuries and his inability to vibe. He tried helping Catlin by vibing her father but it makes him ill and his injuries start to relapse. I’ve been impressed in the past with this show's ability to keep things going over several episodes and not just resolve and reset at the end of each week. The fact Cisco’s injuries are taking a while to heal and they’ve found complications, helps prevent his inability to vibe feel like a cheap device of convenience for one episode. His inability to vibe also allows Cisco to evaluate where he belongs in the team, which is nice. Cisco, while being awesome, can get very close to being whiny or even entitled sometimes but they just about keep things in the right perspective this week.
Something that I’ve felt missing since his introduction, is some proper Elongated Man action for Ralph. Ralph has proved a fun addition to the team and especially this season, I’m enjoying his partnering with the Sherloque Wells but I would like to see more actual elongation. Seeing the dedication to creating the Ragdoll characters (a mixture of contortionist and CG) just highlights how easy it would be to have a bit more elongation.
We do get a little burst of Elongated Man action in the finale, which was one of the better monster-of-the-week finales. After sneaking into his apartment and steeling his meta-handcuffs, Ragdoll kidnaps Barry in order to draw out Iris who he has a grudge against because of her role as a journalist (the show takes just enough time to let us know Ragdoll thinks the cuffs are just fancy handcuffs and doesn’t know Barry is the Flash). With Cisco unable to vibe and no one else around, its up to Ralph and Iris to save Barry, cue a great scene or Ralph and Iris Spider-Manning through the city, showing off some impressive elongating for once, including a lovely comic-booky hand stretched to camera shot. When Barry is pushed, cuffed, off a building Iris just leaps over the edge without flinching and undoes Barry’s cuffs mid fall, allowing him to regain his powers and safely get them to the ground. This is why I love Iris so much. She’s just badass.
This act of badassery impresses Nora and allows the two to bond a little, with Nora realising her mum is much cooler than she thought and perhaps not as controlling. It’s a fun, just silly enough to be cool finale, one of my biggest criticisms of this –and most of the CW super shows – is that the finales tend to be quite quick. With the cost and timeframe of crating the visual effects needed for most finale sequences, a whole 45 minute episodes can sometimes build up to what is essentially a 35 second action scene, often with key moments happening just off camera. This week could be accused of this slightly but it works well narratively, as the emphasis of the finale is on Iris’s awesome roof dive and less on how Ralph subdues Ragdoll (which he does off camera in a weird looking way…)
I’m a big fan of Iris, I like her no-nonsense approach to the various meta threats and Candice Patton brings a fun, emotional warmth to the character that I’ve enjoyed since the firsts season. This and last season I’ve felt as though they’ve allowed her to be more funny, as she has nice, subtle comic timing. I find the Iris getting to know Nora storyline a little odd because, as is always pointed out, Iris now is not the woman Nora knows - but it is nice to see Iris given a strong, emotional storyline that isn’t solely focused on Barry.