Wednesday, November 27, 2019

The Flash Season 6, Episode 6: License To Elongate

This week on The Flash we take a break from our regular storylines, as License To Elongate veers deep into James Bond territory.

Yep, that's right— this is a filler episode. And we're only six shows into the season! According to rumor, the current Bloodwork storyline is supposed to wrap up in the eight episode. With that few installments, you wouldn't think they'd need to resort to padding this soon, but yet here we are.

That said, License To Elongate may be a filler episode, but it's a good filler episode! It's a fun, lighthearted little romp featuring Barry and Ralph playing super-spy. The two of them have a fun, breezy chemistry, and any time they team up it's always comedy gold. I wish we got more episodes with just the two of them.

This week's episode was directed by Danielle Panabaker, who plays Caitlin Snow/Killer Frost. She does a great job here, as this episode was a vast improvement over the Season 5 episode Godspeed, her first directorial outing. 

Last season Cisco sat out several episodes, leading many (including myself!) to speculate that actor Carlos Valdes was leaving the show. That rumor turned out to be false of course. But, Cisco does sit out this episode for some reason. And so it begins! Let the rumors start percolating again.


The Plot:
Nash Wells takes Team Flash to the sewers (fun!), where he shows them the door he's trying to open— which leads to The Monitor's interdimensional lair. He says The Monitor is a false god, and he plans to take him down. This will have the added benefit of saving Barry. Yeah, I don't think that's how it works, but whatever. 

Barry tries to phase through the door but is thrown across the tunnel. Nash explains the door's infused with Eternium, which generates an anti-vibrational field. He says he needs to locate a special artifact in order to illuminate the Eternium so he can dig around it.

Meanwhile at Star Labs, Chester Runk's (remember him?) body finally stabilizes, and he steps out of the MAC chamber. He looks around and somehow realizes he's inside STAR, which is like a high tech playground to him. Frost enters, and his enthusiasm is dampened somewhat when she tells him he's been declared legally dead.

At CCPD, Barry & Joe plan a secret press conference, in which the Flash will declare Elongated Man as Central City's new protector. Ralph enters and says he's heading for Midway City to pursue the Sue Dearbon missing person case. Barry's afraid Ralph won't be back in time for the press conference the next day, so he goes with him to help speed (heh) things along.

Cut to Midway City, where Ralph and Barry stake out a black tie gala at a luxury hotel. Ralph has reason to believe the host knows Sue and where to find her. He and Barry don tuxes and crash the party.

Inside, Ralph schmoozes with wealthy socialite January Galore (!), while Barry awkwardly makes a fool of himself. January realizes they've crashed the party, and warns them to leave before they're thrown out. As she walks off, Ralph reveals to Barry that he stole her ticket to the VIP lounge.

Allegra (remember her?) arrives at The Citizen, where she sees Nash rifling through the office. Naturally she thinks he's known criminal Harrison Wells, but he explains he's from another Earth. Apparently that's all it takes to convince her. He's using his wrist gauntlet to search for a powerful UV emitter, which he believes is in Iris' office for some reason. He then realizes Allegra's a meta, and the UV readings are 
coming from her. She refuses to help him, until he promises to give her the scoop of the century.

Cecile helps Chester with his legal mess, getting him declared alive and reinstating his credit and such (that was quick!). He's still pining after his crush Natalie, so Cecile agrees to use her empathic powers to help him ask her out.

Chester orders coffee, and Natalie delivers it to him at Cecile's office (I guess?). Cecile senses Natalie's emotions and radios them to Chester. Unfortunately her advice is woefully inaccurate, causing Chester to become flustered and spill coffee all over Natalie. Frost, who's also here for some reason, tells Chester he should just be himself. Cecile says the problem is that Chester doesn't know who he is, but then realizes she's talking about herself (?).

Ralph & Barry enter the VIP lounge, where they meet their host Remington Meister, a German Goldfinger knockoff. They pump him for info about Sue, but Meister says no one's seen her for six months. For some reason Barry asks him to check the guest list to see if Sue's on it. Meister does so, and says Sue's not on the list and neither are they. D'oh! Ralph smooths things over, and Meister says he likes him. Barry not so much. Meister leaves and tells his assistant to put their "friend" on high alert. We then see Ultraviolet far above the crowd, keeping an eye on Ralph and Barry.

Barry thinks they should leave, but Ralph's reluctant. He points out several known criminals in the crowd, and says Meister's up to something and he wants to find out what.

Nash takes Allegra to the sewer, where he gives her his big scoop. He tells her all about the Multiverse and The Monitor, as well as inadvertently blurting out the fact that Barry Allen's the Flash 
(as if there's anyone left in Central City who doesn't know). When Nash says he plans to kill The Monitor, Allegra becomes upset and refuses to help.

Back at the gala, Barry suits up as the Flash and checks out the hotel at superspeed, confirming that Sue isn't there. Suddenly Ultraviolet appears and stuns him. Ralph sneaks into the security room and discovers Meister's working on the Ring Of Fire— an orbiting missile launcher straight out of a Bond movie. He loads the info onto a flash drive, but Meister appears and knocks him out using his electrically charged rings.

Allegra gets lost in the sewers and reluctantly returns to Nash. He somehow knows about her cousin Ultraviolet, and thinks Allegra's afraid she'll turn into her if she uses her powers. He gives her a Patented The CW Pep Talk®, which convinces her to help him. She blasts the door with UV rays, and a dimensional map briefly appears on it. Nash snaps a pic of it with his high tech gauntlet.

Ralph and the Flash wake to find themselves tied to a chair, with meta-cuffs on. Meister enters with Ultraviolet, who he broke out of Iron Heights Prison (convenient). He goes into full Bond villain mode, monlogueing that he intends to sell the Ring Of Fire to the highest bidder. And thanks to the Flash, he'll demonstrate it on Central City. Meister then unveils a laser cannon, points it at the two heroes and of course leaves.

Figuring they're going to die, Flash tells Ralph that he planned to make him Central City's official new protector. Ralph's touched, but says Barry Allen is just as important as the Flash, if not more so (???). He tells Barry to pull off one of his cufflinks and flick it at the cannon. Barry does so, and that somehow causes the cannon to start firing wildly throughout the room (???). Barry realizes there's a pattern to its blasts, and he and Ralph turn their chairs. The laser slices through their ropes, freeing them. Luckeeeee! 

Barry's ready to rush off and round up Meister at superspeed. For some bizarre reason, Ralph says this is a job that calls for finesse, and they can do it without their powers.

Chester asks Cecile what's got her on edge. She says the minute she resigned as DA, the city immediately replaced her, so she can't go back to her old job if this new one's a flop. 
Chester gives her a Patented The CW Pep Talk®, telling her she didn't fail him. He decides to go ask Natalie out without any meta help.

Cut to a large auditorium, where Meister's auctioning off the Ring Of Fire. Before the bidding begins, he fires it up and punches in Central CIty's coordinates to demonstrate its destructive firepower. Suddenly Barry staggers onto the stage, pretending to be drunk. He manages to distract everyone long enough for Ralph to shut down the Ring.

Meister and Ultraviolet then attack Ralph and Barry, who fight back without their powers. Why'd the writers think this was a good idea? Your guess is as good as mine. There's some kicking and punching, and Meister stuns Ralph and reactivates the Ring. 

Barry grabs a sword off the floor (???) and uses it to cut a rope attached to a lighting rig. If falls on Ultraviolet and knocks her out. Ralph comes to and uses the flash on his camera tie (don't ask) to momentarily blind Meister. Barry punches him out, and Ralph activates the Ring Of Fire's self-destruct mode (there's allllllllllways a self-destruct).

Cecile asks Chester how things went with Natalie. He says she turned him down, but surprisingly it wasn't the end of the world. Cecile decides to embrace her new job (which I thought she'd already done) and market herself. She tells Chester he'd be a good fit at STAR Labs and gives him an invite, which seems like something she should check with Barry & Cisco first.

At CCPD, Joe says Meister's behind bars. He and the Flash then hold their press conference, in which Elongated Man is made Central City's newest protector. For no good reason, the Flash then speeds off. Ralph then unexpectedly calls Barry to the podium and Joe gives him the Medal Of Honor and thanks him for his service.

At The Citizen, Allegra asks Nash why he's being so nice to her. He says she reminds him of someone, and gives her a melancholy smile. Hmm...

Ralph meets with Iris, and shows her a photo he took at Meister's party, featuring someone wearing a pin. Iris says she recognizes it and immediately leaves to investigate. Ralph then looks out over the city. Suddenly Bloodwork appears behind him and attacks. The two grapple and fall off the side of the building.

• As I said in the intro, Cisco sits out this entire episode. Much like he did eight or nine times last season. I assume he was bumped him to make room for incredibly important and compelling characters like Allegra and Chester.

Actually, the in-universe reason for Cisco's absence may be that he and Kamilla went to Earth-19 for Gypsy's remembrance service.

At the end of the previous episode, Nash smugly announced, "I know how to save Barry Allen!"

This week Team Flash demands he explain himself. So Nash takes 'em all down to the sewers and starts spouting off about The Monitor, saying, "He's a false god. One that I intend to take down, thereby saving your husband." So... he doesn't really know how to save Barry after all— it's just a fortunate byproduct of killing The Monitor.

I suppose you could say his statement is technically correct. Which of course is the best kind of correct!

• Things we learn this week: Ralph apparently carries a jackhammer around in his car!

• As happened back in Into The Void, this week The Flash bends over backward in an attempt to convince us that Chester's a charming and adorable goofball, and that we should all love him as much as the other characters do.

Yeah, nice try, episode, but that's not how it works. You're supposed to present the character to the audience and let us decide if they're lovable or not. You don't tell us how to feel.

This is known as an "informed attribute." It's when the writers talk up a character and point out how amazing they are, when there's clearly no evidence to support it.

• When Chester finally wakes and staggers out of the MAC chamber, he finds out he was declared legally dead. We even get a glimpse of his obit, which is filled with background info on him. The obit reads:
On October 9, 2019, Chester Phineas Runk, scientist and extra-terrestrial enthusiast, passed away at 28 years young. 
Chester was born on July 5, 1991. He received a degree in mechanical engineering from M.T.T. and spent the rest of his short life creating technology in an attempt to contact aliens.
Chester had a passion for many things— science, technology, science fiction— but perhaps his greatest passion was for Jitters coffee. A regular at CC Hitters, Chester loved Vibe-acincos and will no doubt be greatly missed by the baristas there. He will also be missed by the millions of subscribers to his popular online video channel, "Garage Science!" where he would host his various experiments.
Chester is survived by his grandmother, Gertrud Runk, who would like everyone to know that, while losing Chester is a great tragedy, she is comforted by the fact that being swallowed by a black hole is the way Chester would have wanted to go."
Several things here. The obit lists his date of death as October 9. Into The Void, the episode in which Chester was introduced, aired on October 8, 2019. So his time of "death" checks out.

More importantly though, why exactly was he declared dead in the first place? He never actually died he accidentally created and absorbed a black hole, Team Flash fixed him and then placed him in the MAC chamber to stabilize his body. That's... not anything close to dying.

And who declared him dead? In Into The Void, Cecile announced that she (improbably) threw Chester over her shoulder and carried him out of the hospital to STAR Labs. Did Team Flash call up the hospital later and say, "Hey, you know that patient the DA abducted? Yeah, he's dead now." I don't get it.

Lastly, what about Chester's poor ol' Granny Gertrud? When Chester finds out he's legally dead, one would think his first action would be to call up his granny and tell her it was all a big mistake. Nope! Instead, all he can think about is asking out Natalie. And we're all supposed to automatically love this guy?

By the way, what happened to Chester's glasses? He wears them in Into The Void and here in his obit photo, but they're curiously absent all through this episode. Did the MAC repair his eyes while it was stabilizing his cells?

One more thing about Chester and his "death." Once he recovers, Cecile helps him reestablish his identity, including getting him a new credit card. Presumably this is a brand new account, as all his old debt was probably stricken from the books when he "died."

That settles it! I'm faking my own death!

• More things we learned this week: Apparently Jitters was destroyed when Chester accidentally opened a black hole outside it back in the season premiere.

That's news to me, since in that episode I pointed out that the black hole opened just three feet away from Jitters' entrance, and even though it shattered the glass it left the doors and storefront completely unaffected. Did the black hole weaken the building, and it collapsed while we weren't looking? Where are the characters gonna meet up now?

• OK, this episode is packed to the rafters with James Bond references— most of them from Goldfinger. Might as well get 'em out of the way now.

• Remington Meister is obviously a reference to Bond villain Goldfinger, from the movie of the same name. Meister wears electrified rings on each of his fingers and uses them to attack his opponents. I'm sure there's a Goldfinger joke in there somewhere.

Much like James Bond, Ralph introduces himself as "Dibney. Ralph Dibney." This is actually the second time he's said that this season. And he wore a tux both times!

When Barry sees Ralph's bow tie camera, he asks if he also has a knife in his shoe and a grapple hook in his belt. Colonel Rosa Klebb had a knife shoe in From Russia With Love, while the belt is a reference to Goldeneye. The tie camera may be a nod to On Her Majesty's Secret Service, in which Bond uses a tiny spy cam.

The name "January Galore" is obviously a reference to Pussy Galore, the love interest in Goldfinger. She began the tradition of Bond women with provocative names.

Ralph tells the bartender, "Gingold martini. Shaken, not stirred." Bond always ordered his vodka martinis with the same instructions.

Meister plays Mahjong with Ralph & Barry (who clearly don't understand the game) at a gala attended by criminals. The game, the gala and the tuxes are all clearly a reference to Dr. No.

Meister ties up the Flash & Ralph, monologues a bit, then points a laser cannon at them and leaves. In Goldfinger, the titular character tried to kill Bond with a similar piece of tech.

Meister's Ring Of Fire is similar to the missile launcher Bond had to destroy in GoldenEye.

• Remington Meister's gala is held inside a luxury hotel or museum in Midway City.

Oddly enough, this venue looks a LOT like the Pacific Central Station in Vancouver! Apart from the large neon letters on the Station's roof, the two buildings could pass as twins. Strange.

By the way, Midway City's been mentioned before, but this is the first time it's actually appeared on the show.

• When they're staking out the gala, Ralph says Sue Dearbon was last seen wearing a one-of-a-kind Victoria Vale dress.

This is likely a Batman reference. Closed-captioning spelled the name "Victoria Veil," but I'm assuming that's a typo. In DC Comics, Vicki Vale has traditionally been Bruce Wayne's gal pal.

• I loved the scene at the gala where Barry's in the background, choking on caviar. As he walks toward Ralph and January Galore, he even uses a napkin to try & wipe the stuff off his tongue!

I can relate! If you've never had caviar, it's definitely an acquired taste. It's got an coppery, metallic flavor, similar to how I imagine rabbit droppings would taste.

By the way, this scene also highlights just how good Grant Gustin is at physical comedy. Too bad he doesn't get to do more of it in the show.

• Ralph steals January Galore's ticket to the gala's VIP lounge. Apparently this golden tile allows him to take a plus one with him, because they let Barry in as well even though he didn't have a ticket of his own.

• So Allegra sees Nash and immediately thinks he's wanted mass murderer Harrison Wells. A perfectly natural response, seeing as Nash looks exactly like him. But when Nash explains that he's actually from another Earth in the Multiverse, Allegra INSTANTLY buys his story and agrees to help him! Well, that was easy! 

If you're ever wrongly suspected of a crime, try telling the police you're just a doppelganger of the real perp and see if they believe you!

• Nash talks Allegra into using her UV powers to blast The Monitor's door, so the Eternium inside will show up. It does so, but it also looks like letters at the top (???). In fact it looks more like a map of the Multiverse than a random collection of Eternium deposits.

IS it a map? And if so, did Nash know that, and just made up the story about cutting around the Eternium? I wouldn't put it past him to lie here, but on the other hand, I can't think of a reason as to why he would.

• Ever since Allegra was introduced, I've wondered why the hell she's on the show. The cast is already bursting at the seams, to the point where certain characters are forced to sit out episodes to make room for the others. So what the hell were they thinking adding even more to the mix?

This week gives us a possible clue as to why Allegra exists. At the end of the episode, she asks Nash why he's being so nice to her. He smiles wistfully and says he reminds her of someone.

I see two possible situations here. Allegra is the Earth-1 doppelganger of Nash's daughter who may or may not be dead. Or, like Harry Wells of Earth-3, Nash has a daughter named Jesse and Allegra reminds him of her.

• At the gala, Barry uses his superspeed to search the place for Sue. Unfortunately he doesn't find her. Oddly enough, he doesn't seem to spot Ultraviolet during his search either, as she captures him a few minutes later.

I'm imagining him zipping through the hotel, seeing Ultraviolet and asking, "Say, have you seen Sue Dearbon anywhere around here? No? OK, carry on with what you were doing then."

• After being knocked out, Barry & Ralph wake to discover they're clamped to a chair. Barry tries to vibrate out of his bonds, but Ralph tells him not to bother, as they're meta-dampened. 

I tell, you, meta-dampeners must be a dime a dozen in the Arrowverse. EVERYONE seems to have them at all times. You'd think such specific hi-tech devices would be scarce, or reserved for special situations. Apparently they're just lying around on the streets, free for the picking.

• After Meister captures the Flash and Ralph, he begins monologuing and explains his plan to them. Barry says, "And let me guess, you're gonna add my unmasking to your little auction?" Meister replies, "Oh, I could care less about your secret identity, Flash. My interests are global."

Arghh! That settles it! Only an irredeemable villain would ever say, "I could care less."

• According to the Arrowverse wiki, Central City is located somewhere in Missouri. This episode confirms that, as we see the Ring Of Fire's targeting scanner zooms more or less into the center of the U.S.

If you look closely, once the zoom slows down you can even see the river that's always visible in every STAR Labs establishing shot! Nice attention to detail!

• In the third act, Ralph and Barry fight Meister and Ultraviolet without using their powers. At first I just assumed Meister's auditorium was meta-dampened, so they couldn't use their powers even if they wanted to.

Nope! Turns out they fought sans powers because Ralph was trying t
o prove that Barry Allen is every bit as worthy as the Flash. Or something like that. No really! Seems like there were better (and less dangerous!) ways to pump up his self confidence.

• Best part of the episode: When Barry, pretending to be drunk, sees Ultraviolet and says, "I love Mortal Kombat! " Haw!

• During the end battle, Ultraviolet pulls out a clear ring that looks for all the world like an identity disk from Tron (???). At no time is this device ever referenced or explained.

• Ralph defeats Meister by temporarily blinding him with the flash in his bow tie spy cam. Let me repeat that his spy camera has a flash in it. Let that sink in a minute...

 True to form, the Ring Of Fire's one minute countdown actually lasts for ninety seconds. And of course Ralph shuts it down with exactly one second to go.

• Why's Barry leaving the protection of Central City to Elongated Man? I get that he's the only option, since Cisco no longer has any powers and Killer Frost is a known felon. But what's Elongated Man gonna do to keep the city safe? Stretch out his leg and trip fleeing criminals? His power just doesn't seem all that useful— especially when you stack it up next to the Flash's superspeed.

One more thing about this press conference— The Flash says a few words in front of the press without bothering to blur his face or alter his voice in any way. A few seconds later he returns as Barry Allen, with the same face and voice. And no one in the press corps says a word!

Clearly everyone in Central City knows the Flash's (and likely Elongated Man's) secret identity, and are just being nice and not saying anything. Heck, in the Season 5 finale Captain Singh admitted as much, saying he figured out Barry's "secret" identity years ago, but played along as a professional courtesy.

• At the end of the episode, Venom, er, I mean Ramsey Rosso appears and attacks Ralph. I make that same Venom joke every week, but it doesn't make it any less true. Ramsey is basically Venom at this point. Any second I expect him to start talking about wanting to eat brains.

By the way, apparently many fans are worried about Ralph after this cliffhanger ending, fearing he's being killed off (!). I guess they've never seen a TV show before? Eh, I wouldn't worry too much about him. The producers just cast actress Natalie Dreyfuss as Sue Dearbon, so unless they're planning on teaming her up with Ralph's corpse, I think he'll be fine.

This Week's Best Lines:

Chester: (finding a device in Cisco's toolbox) "A sonic wrench? Good morning, guv'nor! I'm the Doctor! Pew!"

(At the gala, Barry leans in close to Ralph and tries to adjust his bow tie.)

Ralph: "Now I have ten selfies of inside Barry Allen's nose."
Barry: "A camera tie? What, you have a knife shoe and a grapple hook belt too?"
Ralph: (defiantly) "Maybe."

Nash: "OK, Accelerant."
Allegra: (indignant) "Allegra!"

Meister: (to Ralph) "I like you."
(Meister looks at Barry.)
Meister: "Him? Nicht so viel."
(As you can probably guess, that translates to "not so much.")

Nash: "I freaked you out, didn't I?"
Allegra: "Watching Rag Doll eat while in Iron Heights is freaky."

Ralph: "Do you expect me to talk?"
Meister: "No, Mr. Dibny... I expect you to die!"

Ralph: "Oh, come on! That line is literally from Goldfinger!"

Barry: (pretending to be drunk as he crashes Meister's auction) "I'll bid on your stupid laptop."

January Galore: (bidding) "$500 million."
Barry: "$500 million and one dollar. Price is Right rules!"

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