Recap / The Flash 2014 S 4 E 4 Elongated Journey Into Night

The group run into Ralph Dibny, a former crooked cop turned low-rent private eye whom Barry clashed with back in his early days on the job. Thanks to the Thinker, he now has super-stretchy skin and the gang decide to try and convince him to be a hero. Meanwhile, Gypsy's dad drops by for a visit and takes an instant dislike to Cisco.

Tropes:

  • Absurdly Sharp Blade: Breacher uses a special knife to cut through the forcefield that Cisco trapped him in.
  • Adaptational Jerkass: Ralph, due to being a Composite Character with Plastic Man.
  • All-Loving Hero: Team Flash, especially Barry, may not be shy about their disdain towards Ralph, but even so they are willing to give him a chance, and Barry even admits there may very well be a good man under Ralph's hard exterior, offering to train him as a superhero.
  • And I Must Scream: Ralph's condition is a mild example: he can still use his senses just fine, but before he can literally pull himself together, he is all but paralyzed by his condition, immobilized in bed.
  • Arc Words: "Good people don't destroy lives and call it noble."
  • Arch-Enemy: Ralph clearly views Barry as his to some extent. Barry returns the sentiment, though obviously he doesn't hate Ralph as much as he does Reverse-Flash or Zoom.
  • Ambiguous Situation: Due to a lack of hard evidence, it was never determined whether the man whose wife was stabbed to death five years earlier was the perpetrator or not. Barry even admits that, even though he was responsible for getting the guy off after proving Ralph faked evidence, he wasn't sure the man was innocent.
  • Asshole Victim: It's kind of hard not to agree with Barry about Ralph, with his history of tampering evidence, lecherous tendencies, admission to blackmail and general unpleasantness, at least at first.
  • Ascended Fanboy: A fan, well "former" fan of the Flash is offered a chance to be mentored by him.
  • Be as Unhelpful as Possible: Ralph is really obstinate when Joe and Barry coming asking questions for no other reason than just to be petty.
  • Berserk Button: Breacher really doesn't like people with Rubber Man abilities. This appears to stem from a number of "Plastoids" attacking Earth-19 in the past.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Mayor Bellows, who acts upstanding and friendly, but secretly orders hits to protect his reputation.
  • Blackmail: Ralph tries to extort Mayor Bellows with incriminating evidence of his affair, this doesn't work in his favor, adding both a hit on him by the Mayor and another reason Barry legitimizes his claims of villainy.
  • Black Comedy: Gypsy's dad trying to kill Cisco; he does this with all of her boyfriends. Apparently he's caught them all too.
  • Body Horror: Ralph, shortly after his powers manifest, with a nauseating bit of Facial Horror thrown in for good measure.
  • Both Sides Have a Point: Ralph and Barry's problem stems from this. Ralph planted evidence to convict someone he strongly believed was guilty and would've walked free otherwise. While a noble sentiment, Barry is right to point out that this is illegal, and no matter how convinced Ralph was, there was still no legitimate proof the guy actually had done the crime.
  • Brain Bleach: Ralph's elasticity freaks out everyone at STAR Labs, like Joe throwing up when Ralph sneezed his face off, Iris' horrified screaming when discovering his stretched out legs in the hallway, and everyone visibly cringing when Barry punched Ralph in the face...and his face absorbed Barry's hand.
  • Brick Joke:
    • Cisco interrupts an intimate moment with Gypsy by asking for her real name. At the end of the episode, before Gypsy and Breacher leave for an assignment, it was the latter who said it: Cynthia.
    • Cisco introducing Barry to Breacher as his assistant. When Barry unmasks himself in front of Ralph, Breacher also happens to be at the scene, and incredulously mutters that the Flash is Cisco's assistant.
    • When Ralph learns his office has been bombed, he celebrates, because he can now collect insurance. When Barry meets with him at The Stinger, having restored the office, Ralph complains that he can't collect the insurance anymore.
    • That blight on Earth-19's coffee supply mentioned by Gypsy in "Dead or Alive" was caused by "Plastoids" and fuels Breacher's great hatred towards Ralph.
  • Bring My Brown Pants: Ralph after his encounter with Breacher.
    Ralph: Are we good here, because I definitely have to change my drawers!
  • Bullet Catch:
    • When the Mayor's dirty cops try to kill him and Joe, Barry catches the first bullet, positions the cops so they'll knock each other unconscious, then casually walks over to Joe and grabs the bullet headed for him.
    • Ralph does this (unintentionally) with his face, before blowing the bullet out of his nose.
  • Butt-Monkey: Ralph Dibny, who, in no particular order: is Blessed with Suck thanks to his new Rubber Man powers, nearly murdered three times by the mayor and his goons, learns that his arch-rival is wildly successful in both his personal and professional lives, gets slapped in the face by a client he hit on, and attacked by a breacher from an Alternate Universe for having the same powers as the beings who are responsible for making coffee extinct on his world.
  • By-the-Book Cop: Barry was this, as opposed to Ralph.
  • Canon Foreigner: There is no such thing as a "Plastoid" in The DCU.
  • Casanova Wannabe: Ralph, who tries to hit on a woman whose husband's cheating he just uncovered for her. She gently turns him down.
  • Composite Character: The Elongated Man's origin borrows heavily from that of Plastic Man: A former crook turned into a stretchy man who decides to become a hero instead.
  • Continuity Nod:
    • Breacher meets Harry, and the former nearly mistakes the latter for H.R. before Harry cleared it up.
    • Cisco uses the forcefield trap he originally intended for the Reverse-Flash to trap Breacher, complete with a hologram of himself (likely inspired by Thawne's own speed mirage trick).
    • When Ralph reveals the name of the client who sent him on Mayor Bellows' tail, Barry instantly recognizes the name. He even briefly flashes back to the moments when Abra Kadabra and Savitar also mentioned it: DeVoe.
    • Once again, we are reminded that the coffee crop is extinct on Earth-19.
  • Continuity Snarl: Ralph was mentioned by Thawne as one of the casualties of the Particle Accelerator during "Power Outage", although it might be explained by Flashpoint.
  • Contrived Coincidence: Breacher just happened to show up when Ralph Dibny developed powers that are a Berserk Button for him.
  • Crazy-Prepared: Breacher was carrying a knife around with the ability to cut through a forcefield that he had no idea Cisco was setting up. Though maybe it's something he just carries around at all times.
  • Dirty Cop:
    • Ralph, willing to tamper with evidence and perjure himself to ensure his suspect was thrown behind bars.
    • The two cops assigned to Mayor Bellows' detail are his guns-for-hire now. They see nothing wrong with offing fellow cops for asking questions.
  • Do Not Call Me "Paul": Gypsy really hates people using her true name, Cynthia.
  • Eating the Eye Candy: While Iris assures Barry she only has eyes for him, both she and Caitlin are in agreement Pre-Disgraced Cop Dibny reaches Oliver level of hotness.
  • Establishing Character Moment: The first time we see Dibny in the flesh, he's crossed out the word "Investigator" from the sign on his door and replaced it with "Dick" (showing a childish sense of humour), and then soon sexually harasses a grieving client whose husband has just been revealed to have faked his death to leave her and start a new family without her (or at least he so claims).
  • False Reassurance: Breacher tells Cisco that he doesn't know where Gypsy's previous boyfriend (who he also hunted) is. Cisco is initially elated, as he thinks this means the guy got away. Then Breacher says this:
    Breacher: I don't know where people go when they die.
  • Fanservice:
    • During her makeout session with Cisco, Gypsy is clearly wearing a shirt, and nothing else.
    • Ralph, lifts up his shirt, just so Caitlin and he can observe the return of his six-pack abs.
  • For Honor: Cisco, despite being scared shitless of Breacher, and The Team's general dislike of Ralph, still won't allow any harm to come to a man innocent of the crimes Breacher accuses him of.
  • Framing the Guilty Party: What Ralph tried to do (at least, he believed the target was guilty). It got him kicked off the force.
  • Funny Background Event:
    • When Harry has to go along with Cisco's charade that Cisco is the owner of STAR Labs, Harry can be seen briefly shaking his fist at him before leaving.
    • As Barry and Joe are walking away from Ralph's office, complaining about him not having changed a bit, we see Ralph stretching, while being held by his legs off the roof. So, clearly, he has changed, at least in this respect.
  • Hates Everyone Equally: Breacher gives off this vibe. He does love his daughter, though. And he respects Joe, a fellow lawman. After Cisco stands up to him, Breacher also starts to grudgingly respect him, although he still doesn't like him.
  • Hates My Secret Identity: Ralph is one of the many admirers of the Flash. When he finds out that his Arch-Enemy Barry Allen is said hero, he begins lamenting the fact that he has to hate the Flash now.
  • Handsome Lech: Ralph is introduced hitting on his devastated client, a very attractive housewife, and while he's gained some weight, he's still rather pleasing to the eye.
  • He Knows Too Much:
    • The bus driver of the Dark Matter incident was apparently murdered by DeVoe for cover-up.
    • The Mayor is also willing to kill Ralph, as well as Joe and Barry, to cover up his infidelity.
  • Hunting the Most Dangerous Game: Breacher subjects Cisco to this in order to test him. He has done this to several of Gypsy's boyfriends.
  • Hypocrite: Mixed with Not So Different, Barry realizes that he himself has operated above the law just as much as Dibny did, if not more so, with his flagrant abuses of time travel and locking up Metas without any trial.
  • I Need a Freaking Drink: Ralph instantly quaffs Caitlin's serum despite previously being skeptical of it when she mentions it's 17% alcohol.
    Ralph: You shoulda led with that, sister! (chugs)
  • Inconvenient Hippocratic Oath: Played with, as it affects Barry not Caitlin, who are at odds due to Barry's biases wanting to lock Ralph up in the pipeline, yet Caitlin's ethics as a doctor prevent him from doing so.
  • Internal Reveal:
    • It's minor compared to the others, but Iris says that she finally knows how its like to have Intangibility when she and Barry escape Ralph's office before it goes sky-high.
    • Joe learns Barry has finally moved on from his mother's death, when the String Theory Barry dedicated to the murder has been taken down, replaced by info on the Speed Force metas.
    • Barry learns that DeVoe has finally come to Central City.
    • Iris, Barry, and Caitlin learn that Cecile and Joe are expecting a child.
  • It's Personal: Variation: as Barry reveals, Ralph was thrown off the force because he committed perjury by planting a knife that had the fingerprints of a murder victim's husband on it. Barry only examined the knife (and found out it was planted) because he was reminded of his mom's death, and he needed to be sure. The similarity between what Ralph did and what happened with his mother and father is the underlying current of Barry's belligerence in this episode.
  • Jerkass Ball: Barry really grabs it around Ralph (not to say Ralph is really any better) — mainly because as the Flash he's broken many rules in the name of saving people; he's unsure if getting Ralph kicked off the force for planting evidence on guy who Ralph claims was probably guilty was the right thing to do, so he wants Ralph to be the "bad guy" to justify his actions.
  • Jumped at the Call: More like hopped than jumped, his hatred towards Barry bars him from accepting at first, but after Barry states his belief in his ability to make a real change, Ralph eventually agrees to become a member of Team Flash.
  • Knight Templar: Years ago, the CCPD investigated the murder of a woman, whose husband was the primary suspect. They couldn't find any hard evidence, but Ralph was so sure he was guilty of the crime that he planted a knife with the man's fingerprints on it so they could arrest him. To this day, Ralph remains convinced the guy was the perpetrator.
  • Knight Templar Parent: A variation. Breacher has no problem sending his daughter to hunt dangerous metahumans across The Multiverse, but boyfriends? Oh, he'll hunt them all down.
  • Lampshade Hanging: Given the Composite Character nature of Ralph's character, Barry throws out "Plastic Man" as a potential superhero name, which Ralph immediately declares stupid.
  • Mayor Pain: Mayor Bellows, who is willing to commit murder to cover up him cheating on his wife.
  • Mundane Utility: Ralph uses his newfound powers to lose some weight. At the ending of the chapter, he uses his elasticity to shake hands with Barry.
  • Mythology Gag:
    • A bottle of Gingold is found in Ralph's desk. However, it appears to be a brand of alcohol rather than a Super Serum.
    • When Joe and Barry visit Ralph in his office he says "I smell a mystery!" He says it again at the end along with his trademark nose twitch.
    • Mayor Bellows mentions he was a cop before he became mayor.
    • Barry suggests Plastic Man, the hero who Ralph's backstory resembles rather more than the comics' Elongated Man, as his superhero name. Ralph considering it an Atrocious Alias is also a reference to Ralph and Plas' general dislike for each other as depicted in both comics and animated series.
  • Never My Fault: Ralph blames Barry for ruining his life by having him kicked off the force for committing perjury and falsifying evidence.
  • Noodle Incident: Apparently Plastoids wiped out coffee plants on Earth-19.
  • No Sympathy: How Barry initially reacts towards Ralph. Caitlin calls him out on this.
  • Not So Different: Barry wonders this about him and Ralph — especially since they now both are metas.
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business: Breacher's challenge to Cisco is to survive his hunt for 24 hours without using any powers, as Breacher wouldn't be using his powers either. It was seeing a "Plastoid" (actually Ralph) that caused Breacher to violate his own rules, although it did stop him from chasing Cisco. And it was seeing his friends (and Ralph) in danger that finally caused Cisco man up and face him defiantly.
  • Phrase Catcher: Joe is on the receiving end of "You're glowing." a couple of times in this episode.
  • Remember the New Guy: Ralph Dibny, who has a past with Joe and Barry, but was never shown before. Justified, he was fired before the series started and, via Word of God, was killed by the Particle Accelerator in the original timeline. Flashpoint brought him back to life.
  • The Resenter:
    • Ralph to Barry. It was already bad enough that Barry got him kicked off the force, but Ralph's hatred of him grows once he learns how "good" Barry has it these days. Not only does Barry still have his job, he also has a beautiful fiancée, a fancy lab, and money, while Ralph's social life is in shambles and he's barely scraping by these days. Then he learns Barry is a Superhero...
    Dibny: (To Barry) I used to like The Flash, now I have to hate The Flash!
    • Barry himself isn't that much different in that regard, unwilling to give Ralph even the slightest benefit of the doubt because of his past actions.
  • The Reveal: While not so surprising for comic fans, Cisco learns Gypsy's name is Cynthia, though he would never use it, for fear of his life.
  • Running Gag: People telling Joe he's glowing.
  • Ship Tease: As per usual a handsome man comes under Caitlin's care, and they don't shy away from establishing a slight attraction between her and Ralph, despite her distaste towards him.
  • Shout-Out:
  • Sitcom Arch-Nemesis: Barry and Ralph's shameless hatred of one another is largely Played for Laughs, a deep contrast to the visceral hatred Barry has for his most personal enemies.
  • Skewed Priorities: What's the first thing Cisco worries about when a crazy, old guy suddenly appears and tries to kill him? His nerd collection being broken!
  • Stealth Pun: The sign outside Ralph's office, "Private Investigator", with the second word crossed out and replaced with "Dick". One meaning for the latter is an uncommon slang term for the former, though it's not the meaning that comes to mind.
  • Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: Ralph and Barry may need each other, but that doesn't mean they have to like each other. They can barely stand to be in the same room together, bicker constantly, and nearly come to blows several times throughout the episode. In fact, they did come to blows at one point — the only reason why it didn't turn into an actual fight is because Barry's fist got stuck in Ralph's face, inconveniencing both.
  • That One Case: The root of the Allen-Dibny rivalry: a murder that is not unlike the Nora Allen case, and Barry proved that Ralph planted false evidence to implicate the primary suspect. Ralph sincerely believes the guy is guilty, but it's never spelled out if his claim was actually true.
  • To Be Lawful or Good: Dibny got fired because he planted evidence in a murder case because he was absolutely sure that the suspect was guilty. This put him at odds with By-the-Book Cop Barry.
  • Toilet Humor: Balanced out with the Body Horror he's been experiencing, Ralph mentions to Caitlin he recently farted, and has a legitimate reason to worry if his ass is still intact.
  • Took a Level in Jerkass: Last time we saw Mayor Bellows, he seemed like an average politician. Now he's openly corrupt, wanting to kill anyone who dares cross him — Ralph for blackmailing him for cheating on his wife and Barry and Joe for just asking questions.
  • Vomit Discretion Shot: Ralph literally sneezing his face off causes Joe to puke behind Barry.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Caitlin gives this to Barry for automatically dismissing Ralph as a villain. In fact, for labeling all the people on that bus as villains, even though they have no idea what the other nine people are like. She points out that there was a time both she and Barry found themselves with powers they didn't understand. She also mentions that she did things she's not proud of as Killer Frost, and yet the others took her back.
  • Wham Line: Ralph's client who asked him to tail the Mayor? DeVoe!
  • Wham Shot: Caitlin returning to her apartment, and there's some crude writing etched on her door.
  • The Worf Effect: The Force Field strong enough to contain the Reverse-Flash is easily and literally cut apart by Breacher.
  • You Are Better Than You Think You Are: Barry delivers two of these to Ralph, once in his belief that Ralph can help save Joe, the second when he takes him on as his protege.
  • Your Cheating Heart: Seems to be a recurring type of clientele for Ralph.
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