Saturday, February 22, 2020

The Flash Season 6, Episode 12: A Girl Named Sue

This week on The Flash, we get the welcome return of Ralph Dibney (who hasn't shown up since Crisis On Infinite Earths, Part Three), plus we FINALLY get the long-teased first appearance of his soon-to-be love interest, Sue Dearbon.

Sue was first hinted at back in Season 5's Legacy, and has been mentioned many times since. so it's nice to finally see her in the flesh. She and Ralph have a fun chemistry together, and I hope she sticks around. Even if the cast is already bursting at the seams.

Iris is still trapped inside the Mirror Dimension, but this week she meets a playmate in the form of the new, gender-flipped Mirror Master. Even though Iris doesn't know that yet, but everyone in the audience does.

Cisco's AWOL again this week, as actor Carlos Valdes is still using his built-up vacation days, or whatever the hell's going on. Caitlin takes a rare leave of absence this week as well, no doubt due to actress Danielle Panabaker's real-world pregnancy.

UPDATE: In my review of the previous episode, I wondered how Goldface could be alive and well and seemingly none the worse for wear, when the last time we saw him he'd been electrocuted and molten gold was streaming out of both of his eyes.

A helpful reader pointed out Cisco's line in Marathon, in which he stated that thanks to the Crisis, "A bunch of our old villains are back, with fresh paint jobs!"

I assume one of these villains was Goldface, whose "fresh paint job" involved not being electrocuted and eyes that weren't melted out of his head.

For many years now, any time there's a major plot hole in The Flash, fans could hand-wave it away by shouting, "Flashpoint did it!" Now wherever there's an unresolvable issue, they can instantly blame it on Crisis.


The Plot:
Picking up from last week, Iris is still stuck in the Mirror Dimension. She watches helplessly as Mirror Iris continues cuddling with Barry. Suddenly a woman appears behind Iris and asks if she's real. Iris recognizes her as Eva McCulloch— the presumed dead wife of McCulloch Tech CEO Joseph Carver.

Eva says she's been trapped inside the Mirror Dimension for the past six years. She was working on a portal into other dimensions when the Particle Accelerator explosion hit, somehow knocking her into a nearby mirror.

Iris says she was pulled into the dimension somehow, and there's now a duplicate of her running around in the real world. Eva says it's a fractal clone or something, but doesn't explain why there's not a double of her. Hmm... Anyway, she says there's no way out of the dimension, and Iris is now trapped with her.

In his office, Ralph (who must not be a very good private investigator) is still searching for the missing Sue Dearbon. Just then he gets an alert that Sue's used her credit card to rent an apartment in Central City. He rushes to check it out.

Meanwhile, Barry's uncharacteristically sore from his battle with Amunet and Goldface last week. Iris is working on a story about Black Hole, and for some reason has the plans for the Mirror Gun they used to try & take down Cicada last season. She asks Barry to retrieve the gun from the Starchives so she can study it. He refuses, fearing the dangerous weapon could accidentally fall into the wrong hands. Iris is visibly pissed with him, but drops it.

Ralph checks out Sue's apartment, and hears glass breaking inside. He opens the door and Sue knocks him to the ground just as the place explodes. He takes her back to his office, where he explains he's been trying to find her for months. She says she's been on the run from her arms dealer boyfriend John Loring, who's trying to kill her after she stumbled across his client list.

Ralph wants to inform Sue's parents and the police, but she begs him not to. She says Loring will kill her parents if they find out, and says he has moles in the CCPD. Ralph promises he'll catch and arrest Loring, so she'll be safe. She agrees to stick with him.

Back in the Mirror Dimension, Eva tells Iris she's tried and failed to escape 1,322 times. Iris says they freed the original Mirror Master years ago by freezing a mirror to absolute zero. Amazingly Eva
 who's a quantum physicist never thought of this. She says it's worth a try. 

Eva uses liquid nitrogen from her lab to freeze the large mirror in the middle of the room. Unfortunately it ends up shattering, and Eva slumps in defeat. She says she watched her husband Joseph mourn her and move on with his life, and there's no hope left.

Barry arrives at CCPD, where Joe has him reexamine a cold case at superspeed. Barry finds new evidence that the victims were killed by a fire started by UV rays, implying that Ultraviolet and Black Hole were involved. Joe says there are many such cases, and he fears Joseph Carver has a mole in the department.

Ralph and Sue stake out Loring's warehouse HQ and take photos. Suddenly a guard appears and attacks Ralph. Sue knocks out the guard with some sweet martial arts moves. They hightail it out of there and regroup at Jitters. Sue says the evidence they need is in Loring's ledger, located in his warehouse office. She says they can sneak in when the guards change shifts. Cecile enters and congratulates Ralph on finding Sue. She "reads" Sue with her telepathic/empathic powers, and says she and Ralph are a lot alike.

At STAR Labs, Mirror Iris sneaks into the Starchives looking for the Mirror Gun. Just as she spots it, she's surprised by Nash, who claims he's taking inventory for the AWOL Cisco. She lies and says she was looking for Nora's journal, and asks Nash not to tell Barry she was nosing around. 

Nash is too distracted to listen, as he sees a vision of Harry Wells standing behind Mirror Iris (much like he did last week). This time Harry speaks, saying it must be difficult for Nash to live in the present when he has so much "unfinished business." Mirror Iris leaves, and Nash stares at the copy of Harry Wells' journal that he took from the Starchives.

That night Ralph & Sue sneak into Loring's warehouse. They're spotted by guards again, and barricade themselves in Loring's office. They don't find the ledger, but Ralph locates a safe deposit box key. Sue says that'll do, and they escape onto the roof. As the guards approach, Ralph grabs Sue and stretches them down to street level. Sue realizes Ralph's the Elongated Man.

Back at Ralph's office, Sue reasons that now that Loring knows they have his key, he'll hurry to empty his deposit box. She wants to immediately break into the bank after hours to get the ledger for herself. Ralph says he won't commit a crime for Sue, but will help her get the ledger and turn it over to the police. She reluctantly agrees.

Back in the Mirror Dimension, Iris tells Eva not to give up hope. Eva says she's glad the mirror broke, as she's tired of looking into a world she can't have. As she rants and raves, a shard of the broken mirror begins jiggling, then shoots across the room into her hand. They're both stunned, and Iris says they may have found their way out.

Meanwhile, Joe meets with the president of the Central City Mercantile Bank and says he has word that someone's planning to rob the place. The president says the vault is electrified, just as Joe's partner tasers him unconscious. The partner pulls off an incredibly lifelike mask, revealing she's Sue. "Joe" then morphs into Ralph, who used his stretchy powers to impersonate him.

They enter the vault and the two decide this is the absolute perfect time to talk about their lives. Sue says she grew bored with the socialite scene and is still trying to figure out who she is. Ralph says he was a cop, but became lost when that career ended.

Sue then uses the key to open the safe deposit box. Inside is a smaller box, which doesn't look like it could hold a ledger. She opens it and pulls out a massive diamond. She then locks Ralph in the vault and electrifies it.

Ralph realizes she played him like a fiddle— blowing up her own apartment to make him sympathetic, pretending she and her parents were in danger, etc. She admits it all, and adds that she doesn't even know John Loring— their "relationship" was all part of the ruse. She says she'll keep his true identity a secret if he doesn't tell her parents she's a thief.
Sue then exits the vault, and sees Loring and his thugs waiting for her. Sue says she's a police officer, but Loring doesn't believe her and prepares to fire.

Ralph tries to get through the electrified bars of the vault, but can't because the script says so. He then looks up and sees the sprinkler system, so he changes into his costume, squeezes into the sprinkler and through the pipes, and comes out in the lobby between Sue and Loring.

Loring and his men begin shooting, and Ralph wraps a giant fist around himself and Sue. Suddenly the gunfire stops, and when they look out they see Ultraviolet has taken out Loring and his gang. Ralph attacks, but Ultraviolet blasts him and knocks him unconscious.

Sue and Ultraviolet then fight hand to hand for a bit. Ralph comes to, and Sue slides the case over to him and scampers off. Ultraviolet comes for Ralph, but he opens the case and reveals it's empty. Furious, Ultraviolet unleashed a mighty blast to cover her escape. Just then Loring and his men revive and threaten Ralph.

Suddenly the Flash zooms in and cuffs Loring's gang. The real Joe arrives, and the president tells him that Ralph robbed the vault. Barry says it's a case of mistaken identity, and Joe explains. Ralph tells Barry he's not gonna let Sue escape that easily.

At STAR, Ralph can't believe he let Sue play him like she did. Barry tells Mirror Iris that he & Joe found evidence linking Black Hole to more murders. He hands her the Mirror Gun, saying he trusts her and it's important that she take down Carver & Black Hole. Mirror Iris takes the gun, kisses Barry on the cheek and walks off... secretly smiling.

Back in the Mirror Dimension, Iris tells Eva she must have a connection to the mirror. Eva concentrates, and the broken shards raise off the floor and fly back into place on the wall, reforming the mirror. Eva wonders how she did this, and Iris says they'll figure it out.

Iris then looks through the mirror at Barry, who's reading in their apartment. He stops and glances over at the mirror as if he senses something, then goes back to his book.

In her hideout, Sue scans the diamond she stole, which reveals the Black Hole logo engraved inside it. She says, "Game on."

• Last week I half-jokingly said that Barry definitely gonna have sex with Mirror Iris (since it was Valentine's Day and all). Now I'm not so sure. In this episode the two of them are positively chaste. At one point Barry tries to kiss Mirror Iris goodbye, but she presents her cheek rather than smooch him on the lips. Late in the episode she pecks him on the cheek instead of the lips as well.

Is Mirror Iris repulsed by Barry, and is doing her best to keep him at bay? Or are the writers doing this in an effort to minimize the damage to Barry & Iris' relationship? As things stand now, when Iris inevitably gets out of the Mirror Dimension and confronts Barry, he can say, "It's not that bad! All I did was sort of kiss her!

• Inside the Mirror Dimension, Iris picks up a book and notices the text is backwards. Makes sense I guess, since she's in a reflection of the real world.

A second later she then looks at a clear dry erase board that Eva McCulloch scribbled equations on and says, "Everything is backwards."

I laughed out loud when she said that line. I get what they were going for here, but... it's a clear board. All she had to do was walk around to the other side of it and voila! No more backwards writing!

• For someone who's supposed to be a smart & savvy reporter, Real Iris makes a poor showing in this episode.  

 She sees a mirror version of herself has taken her place in the real world, but doesn't think it's odd that Eva McCulloch doesn't have a corresponding reflective twin.

— When Eva demonstrates the power to telekinetically control the mirror shards, she's amazed rather than suspicious of this sudden ability.

— Worst of all, Iris knows she was physically yanked into the Mirror Dimension, but doesn't suspect the realm's sole inhabitant!

Taking these things into account, it's pretty obvious that Eva is the new Mirror Master, yet this fact sails far over Iris' head. I suppose I should cut her a bit of slack here, as she's distressed and distraught by her situation. Still, you'd think she'd have picked up on at least one of these clues.

• Barry pretty much takes a back seat in this episode, as the focus is split between Iris, Mirror Iris and of course Sue Dearbon. He does show up long enough to complain that he's sore from last week's battle, which implies there's definitely something wrong with his powers and connection to the Speed Force.

• I like Sue quite a bit (even if she does dress like Negan)! She's fun, intelligent and feisty, and makes a perfect foil for Ralph. I'm looking forward to them eventually becoming a couple, as they were in the comics.

Sue Dibney, wife of the Elongated Man, made her comic book debut in The Flash #119, way back in 1961 (!). She and Ralph were one of the few married couples in all of comicdom. They were a team in the Nick & Nora Charles mold (ask your grandparents, kids!), trading quips as they traveled the globe and went on crime-fighting adventures together.

Comic book Sue wasn't an accomplished cat burglar though, as Arrowverse Sue seems to be. I'm assuming The Flash writers threw that in to prevent her from being a damsel in distress, and also to give Sue a redemption arc before she eventually marries Ralph.

• Ralph discovers that Sue's very obviously used her credit card to rent an apartment in Central City. He visits the building, intent on finally finding her. As he approaches her door, he hears the sound of breaking glass coming from her apartment. He opens the door and Sue yells "Get down!" and tackles him to the floor. A second later an explosion destroys the apartment.

How the hell does any of this work? I get that Sue knew Ralph would find out about the apartment and come looking for her. And I understand she rigged the explosion herself, to generate sympathy from Ralph.

What I don't understand is how she knew just when he'd come looking for her. He barges in when he hears breaking glass in her place. Did she somehow see him coming and start breaking glass so he'd hear? She must have, else she would have had to stand there breaking glass all day as she waited for him to arrive. She's lucky it wasn't the landlord or someone else who opened the door right as she set off the explosion!

 John Loring, this week's sort-of villain, is a gender-flipped reference to the comics. In 2004's Identity Crisis miniseries, Jean Loring was the ex-wife of the Atom. In an insane effort to win him back, Jean tries to convince Atom that a villain is targeting the loved ones of the Justice League. She secretly attempts to scare Sue Dibney, but ends up accidentally incinerating her (!). As if that wasn't enough, Sue was pregnant when she was killed! Modern comic books, ladies and gents! Come for the fun and escapism, stay for the gruesome torture porn!

There is a Jean Loring in the Arrowverse, but she was the Queen family lawyer over on Arrow.

I'm hoping that John Loring's appearance in this episode means the writers are just paying homage to Identity Crisis, and have no plans to adapt the awful storyline.

• Ralph sneaks around Loring's warehouse, taking incriminating photos to use against him. One of Loring's thugs appears, grabs Ralph's camera and throws it to the ground. Later on Sue says it's too bad the photos were destroyed, as now they have no evidence against Loring.

The implication here is that the thug wrecked Ralph's camera. But it looks like the only thing that happened to it is the telephoto lens snapped off. The camera looks unharmed. Plus it's probably a digital camera that stores photos on a flash drive, meaning the photos are perfectly fine and could easily be retrieved and used.

• After the thug breaks the camera, he begins beating Ralph senseless. Is that even possible? Can Ralph really be hurt that way? Wouldn't a punch just bounce off his rubbery skin? Or is he normal the majority of the time, and has to activate his stretchy powers?

• Cecile runs into Ralph and Sue at Jitters. As Ralph introduces them, Cecile uses her telepathic ability to "read" Sue.

Are Cecile's powers on the fritz? She scans Sue, but doesn't pick up on the fact that she's a liar and a thief and is using Ralph. All she says is that Sue and Ralph are "emotionally identical." You'd think at the very least she'd sense some small level of deception on Sue's part. I guess her powers are plot specific.

• Wow, Baby Jenna actually shows up for one second in this episode! You know, Joe & Cecile's kid, who I was convinced the writers completely forgot about this season? 

As near as I can tell she hasn't appeared onscreen since Season 5's Cause And XS, which first aired almost exactly a year ago!

• In the Mirror Dimension, Iris gets an idea and says:

Iris: "We just need one way out of here, Eva."

(She glances at the mirror on the wall.)
Iris: "That's it. Sam Scudder."
Eva: "Who?"
Iris: "He was one of the bad guys. He trapped... someone in a mirror a few years ago. And my friends got him out by bringing it to absolute zero."

Iris is referring to the events of Season 3's The New Rogues here. In that episode, Sam Scudder, aka the original Mirror Master, shoved Barry into a nearby mirror and trapped him inside it. Jesse Quick, who was still on the show at that time, too the mirror to STAR Labs, where Team Flash tried to figure out how to free Barry from it.

Harry (who was also still on the show at that time) suggested they cool the mirror to slow down its molecules, which should allow Barry to vibrate himself out of it. They hooked up the mirror to a "molecular decelerator" and chilled it, but unfortunately it didn't get cold enough.

While no one was looking, Caitlin sneaked over to the mirror and used her (then) secret cold powers to lower the temp of the mirror even further, allowing Barry to escape.

• As always, whenever I see "Starchives" written out, I can't help but read it as "Star Chives." Mmmmm... they're good on baked potatoes!

• Mirror Iris sneaks around the Starchives and finds the Mirror Gun. She picks it up out of its protective case, and we see it's nestled in a form-fitting recess in a block of foam.

I dunno why, but this made me chuckle. Apparently in addition to all his many other duties, Cisco likes to painstakingly carve perfect shapes out of foam in which to store high tech devices. He's quite the talented guy!

• Last week when Nash began hallucinating doppelgangers, I wasn't sure if he was seeing Harry Wells or possibly Harrison Wells, aka Eobard Thawne. Based on evidence in the past few episodes, I decided it was most likely Harry.

This episode would seem to confirm that, as Nash visits the Starchives to swipe a copy of Harry's diary.

By the way, did Harry have this cover printed up himself? Or is it possible Cisco found one of his diaries after he left Earth-1 and had it professionally bound? I'm guessing it was Cisco. No one would ever refer to themselves as "Harrison 'Harry' Wells."

• So Ralph and Sue sneak into Loring's office and swipe the key to his safe deposit box. Sue wants to immediately break into the Mercantile Bank's vault and use the key to steal Loring's ledger. Ralph tells her that would be theft, and says he won't commit a crime for her.

Hate to break it to you Ralph, but you already committed a crime when you busted into Loring's office. That's called breaking and entering. Not to mention the fact that you and Sue took his key. That's known as theft. Doesn't matter that Loring's a criminal it's still stealing.

Then in order to avoid committing a crime, Ralph and Sue disguise themselves as Joe West and a lady cop (respectively) to get into the bank vault. Yeah, that's called "impersonating an officer" and is also illegal. 

For an ex-cop and private detective, Ralph has a very tenuous and spotty knowledge of the law.

• In the third act, Ralph and Sue disguise themselves and infiltrate the Mercantile Bank.

Where the hell did Sue get an ultra-realistic Mission: Impossible-style full head face mask? It can't be Ralph's because he seems taken aback by it. So why doesn't he ask her why she has such a thing?

• Once again, Ralph uses his powers to disguise himself as Joe. This is the second or maybe even third time he's done this. I get that his features are malleable, but I still don't understand how he changes the color of his skin. Maybe his cells are like that of a cuttlefish.

By the way, when Ralph changes from his Joe disguise back to himself, he conveniently does so off camera. I guess there wasn't enough money in the budget for a morphing effect. Seems like something the scene needed though viewers who don't know about this particular aspect of Ralph's powers are gonna be confused as to where Joe went!

• Sue plays Ralph like a cheap fiddle, as she steals a massive diamond from Loring's safe deposit box and locks Ralph behind a barred gate. When he tries to get through the bars, he finds they're electrified.

OK, I'm calling bullsh*t here. There's absolutely no reason why Ralph couldn't have flattened his entire body to the thickness of paper and slipped between the bars unharmed.

Don't believe me? Welp, just a few seconds later we see him squeeze into the sprinkler system, travel through the narrow water pipe and emerge from the nozzle in the ceiling outside the vault.

If he can crawl through an inch wide water pipe, he can damn well slip between iron bars that are eight inches apart.

• I love this scene in which Ralph protects Sue by covering her with an enormous gloved hand. It looks like a scene straight out of the comics, and is a perfect example of wonderful Silver Age insanity.

Also, note that the bullets are bouncing harmlessly off of Ralph's hand here. Remember above when I mentioned the thug beating up Ralph? If bullets don't do him any damage, then why would a punch in the nose knock him out?

• Nice to see that before he escaped from the vault, Ralph not only donned his costume but took the time to carefully apply the black makeup around his eyes that forms the bulk of his "mask."

• Apparently Sue shops at the same store as Black Widow over in the MCU. Seriously, her catsuit could not look more identical to Natasha's if she tried.

• Early in the episode, Mirror Iris comes up with a flimsy reason for wanting the dangerous Mirror Gun from the Starchives. Barry says nope, as he's afraid it could fall into the wrong hands. Later on he relents and hands the gun over to Mirror Iris. She thanks him, and as she walks off she secretly flashes the audience an evil, self-satisfied grin. It's actually kind of chilling.

• In the tag scene, Sue scans the diamond she stole and sees it's embedded with Black Hole logos. I have no idea what's going on in this scene or what it means. Is John Loring connected to Black Hole? Is he working for them? Is Joseph Carver using some sort of mirror tech to create duplicates of valuable items, then keeping the real things for himself? I dunno. We'll find out in the next few episodes.

This Week's Best Lines: 
Not surprisingly, they all involve Ralph!

Cecille (to Ralph): "When I left last night, you were standing here staring at the exact same board, same as the night before. Honey, don't you think maybe it's time you got a little help?And a shower?

Ralph: "Where have you been? A..and why did your apartment explode in my face?"
Sue: "Yeah, hate it when that happens."

Ralph: "So you mind telling me how you know martial arts?"
Sue: "My parents sent me to Kyoto for a summer. Trained with a blind sensei. Taught me everything I know."
Ralph: "Really?"
Sue: "No! I trained with a guy named Frank at a YMCA."

Sue: "How how did you become the Elongated Man, anyway?"
Ralph: "I was brutally experimented on by a covert organization for years. They forced me to consume rubber-based polymer compounds."
Sue: "Seriously?"
Ralph: "No. I rode a bus."
(In case you've slept since Season 4, Ralph was one of Clifford DeVoe's bus metas.)
(Ralph and Sue sneak into the bank and search the vault for Loring's ledger. Sue locates it inside a 3" square box.)
Sue: "Found it!"
Ralph: "Must be a tiny ledger."

(After Sue betrays him, Ralph mopes at STAR Labs.)
Ralph: "She played me, Iris. Like Coltrane's soprano sax."

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