A big complaint that many had about season three was that it was overly dramatic and had lost a bit of what made it a fun series. After starting out a lot more fun, the mission of the creators, season four has now turned a bit more towards the drama but its well-earned drama. As stated last week it’s very season one Harrison Wells/Eobard Thawne vs Flash type drama which is welcomed.
Stretching Out A New Hero
Not going to lie, I could not stand Ralph when the character joined in the first half of the season. Because of the budget needed for his stretchy powers, it led to Wally West (Keiynan Lonsdale) being written out of the show. Instead of having a character that had already gelled with the team we were having to sit through another rough around the edges type who’s personality clashed with the team. Sure he was fun in the bachelor party episode but otherwise not fully a fan. Then he was the voice of reason in the mid-season premiere and this episode has come along. He’s still not my favorite as he says things at the wrong time and kind of is still a bit self-focused, but the character has finally grown some. Well, he does after he has to take on a new threat. Every hero needs their first true supervillain test, and Ralph gets his as an old threat re-emerges.
Kudos to The Flash team for continuing to give nods to the 90s Flash series after bringing back Mark Hamill as Jesse James/Trickster previously they now brought back Corinne Bohrer in the role of Zoey Clark known as Prank, James second sidekick in the old 90s series. Prank returns because she’s ready to bring her son Axel Walker the new trickster back into her life, which she does by breaking him out of prison. Mother and son together again, back in the business with their sights set on Central City’s new hero Ralph. The campy costumes, music and whacky game show setup just adds an air of fun around the demented villains that have awful plans. After Ralph was so overconfident in his invulnerability having the Trickster find something that not only can hurt him but greatly hurt him and demolish that confidence was a great move. The hero journey usually has to have them humbled in some way before they can truly rise up to be the hero they should be. It’s rare that one can be cocky and keep being a hero without having at least one small humbling moment.
That selfish Ralph air finally gets fully shown to be a protective air, to throw people off how terrified he truly is about things. Being a hero was fun and cool till he realized he could be hurt. Dovetailing the plots of the episode together gave one of the best moments, of Barry being able to really talk to Ralph and give him a mentor talk. Even the Flash is terrified of being hurt whether as a hero or in prison now. Essentially it’s a great power and great responsibility style speech but bigger than that. If Barry Allen can believe in Ralph, I as the viewer can find a way to believe in him. That’s not to say I’m fully sold on him, he’s still the reason that Wally is gone, but seeing him overcome his fears and come back to try and rescue his friends and take on the villains and win the day definitely made me like him a lot more than before. Almost sacrificing himself to save Cisco and Caitlin definitely put some positive points in his column.
Hero Behind Bars
Truly living up to being a hero, Barry went to prison once he was found guilty of the murder of Clifford DaVoe/The Thinker, which he was framed for, and is going to live out his sentence till he can be exonerated the legal way. It was a heavier moment as the episode opened with Barry staying in his cell as a riot goes on, counting down the days. Putting a hero in prison never ends up well and there are bits of that already as Barry begins to run into trouble with fellow inmates. Including a run in with the aforementioned Axel Walker/Trickster before he gets broken out of prison. Antsy Barry, realizing that he might not be able to live this life in prison as he expected is interesting to see. He’s pacing, unsure of himself telling Joe he can break out and help if needed before having his own words about waiting it out kind of returned to him.
There are a lot of cliches that come up with this Barry in prison plotline, but that is just part of doing a prison story in these sorts of situations. While having someone in prison sort of step up to be the protector of the fish out of water is also cliche, Bill Goldberg as Big Sir does a pretty great job at it. The guy is just imposing to look at so you truly believe he could throw down in prison and protect someone and get his way. Tying him back to Henry Allen’s time in prison continues with this series trying to fully reconnect with its roots this season. Essentially he’s paying it forward after things that Henry did for him.
Living up to his speech that he gave Ralph earlier, Barry proves he’s still a hero despite his surroundings as he comes to Big Sir’s rescue this time. Sure it’s not a fair fight, but even a hero has to fight dirty sometimes in order to protect those that are in danger. There is no telling how long a Barry in prison story can be entertaining, but for the time being it’s proving to be quite interesting. It’s not tied to the prison plot but the mystery woman who showed up to Barry and Iris wedding in the crossover appears again and is so so so clearly the future daughter of Barry and Iris. No doubt the mystery of her will continue for a while.
Whatever the big plan of The Thinker & his wife is, it takes a back seat to what is going on in the lives of Team Flash as they deal with their new situation. It wasn’t a big moving episode like last week but the villain plot was far better and the character work was pretty great. It made me like an almost unlikeable character, which means the episode definitely succeeded.
Score: 8.5 out of 10