Tuesday, October 31, 2017

"Elongated Journey Into Night" Resurrects The Elongated Man . . . Poorly.

The Good: The performances are generally good, Danny Trejo's comic timing, Most of the special effects
The Bad: Poor use of humor, Very basic plot, Light on character development, Terrible continuity with the series.
The Basics: Tom Cavanaugh directs The Flash episode "Elongated Journey Into Night," which has its moments, but is hampered by a problematic script.

Every now and then, there is a surprise in the writing for The Flash that leaves attentive fans of the show scratching their heads. When the casting for "Elongated Journey Into Night" was announced, fans were left a bit miffed. After all, "Elongated Journey Into Night" includes Ralph Dibny. Dibny, while very popular in DC Comics as the mundane identity of the detective the Elongated Man, was almost-instantly written out of The Flash. In the first season of The Flash, Harrison Wells lists people who were killed or went missing in the White matter explosion at S.T.A.R. Labs and Dibny's name came right up. So, the immediate burden upon "Elongated Journey Into Night" is to explain how Ralph Dibny could pop up four years later, alive and well.

"Luck Be A Lady" (reviewed here!) seeded the a-plot of "Elongated Journey Into Night" by returning Gypsy to The Flash in a positive way. Given that the big hook for the The Flash Halloween episode is the appearance of Danny Trejo as Gypsy's father, Breacher, the return of Gypsy and illustrating romantic strain between Cisco Ramon and Gypsy was pretty essential to making Breacher's appearance at all relevant.

Cisco Ramon and Gypsy are having a romantic evening when Ramon is attacked by a breacher, who is Gyspy's father. At the Central City Police Department, Mayor Bellows uses an appearance for a photo op, right before Barry brings Joe up to speed about the bus that was affected by the dark matter when Barry was brought out of the Speed Force. Ramon brings Breacher to S.T.A.R. Labs, where Ramon pretends to be in charge. Ramon gets advice from Harry about relating to Breacher. Looking over the evidence for the bus case, Barry and Joe discover that Ralph Dibny might have been on the bus.

When thugs try to menace Ralph Dibny, they discover he is a metahuman with complete elasticity. Dibny is brought to S.T.A.R. Labs where Dr. Snow tries to treat him and his condition. While Breacher starts hunting Ramon, Barry investigates Dibny's office with Iris. Iris discovers a bomb and in rescuing her Barry learns that Dibny has been in contact with the mayor.

"Elongated Journey Into Night" continues The Flash with a generally-solid narrative for the serialized elements of the season. Barry Allen knows that he created twelve Metahumans when he came out of the Speed Force and the Dark Matter that was released when he was freed affected a busload of people. So, the fact that Barry is treating the hunt for the ten metahumans like he searched for his mother's killer is a good aspect of continuity for the show.

Ralph Dibny in "Elongated Journey Into Night" is a buffoon and a jerk. While the writers of "Elongated Journey Into Night" manage to infuse Ralph Dibny with the character's catch phrases and a sinister backstory with Barry Allen . . . that Iris West apparently never heard of, the character bears almost no resemblance to the character from the source material. Barry Allen characterizes Ralph Dibny as a villain and he is convinced that Dibny was a bad guy long before he became a metahuman. That is completely unlike the character in the DC Comic books.

Danny Trejo is the sole light in the humorless darkness that is "Elongated Journey Into Night." "Elongated Journey Into Night" tries to make a lot of jokes, usually pertaining to Ralph Dibny and his transformation into Elongated Man fall flat. The humor is surprisingly lowbrow and the physical humor is, sadly, lame. Trejo, though, executes the jokes he is given quite well.

Breacher's conflict with Cisco Ramon is unfortunately generic and feels repetitive for fans of The Flash. Joe West, Harry Wells, and now Breacher are all virtually-identical disapproving fathers for whom their instinct is to punish the men their daughters are interested in. It is played out on The Flash and it was played out well before "Elongated Journey Into Night." So, Breacher's conflict with Ramon falls almost as flat as Cavanaugh using The Flash to recreate a Quicksilver moment.

"Elongated Journey Into Night" does not satisfactorily explain how Ralph Dibny is even still alive - one has to assume it was a part of the Flashpoint-reset - but the lack of explanation feels sloppy, like Barry saving Iris by evacuating her from Dibny's office building instead of getting the bomb out. Did The Flash actually know there was no one else in the building when the bomb was about to explode or did he just not care?!

Hartley Sawyer does fine with his fast arc in transforming Ralph Dibny from a douchebag into a proto-hero, but the role is not a very complicated one. Such is the bane of "Elongated Journey Into Night;" it is not overly complicated or clever, even when it tries to be.

For other works with Danny Trejo, please check out my reviews of:
The Ridiculous 6
Anchorman: The Legend Of Ron Burgundy


For other television reviews, please visit my Television Review Index Page for an organized listing!

© 2017 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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