The Flash 4.04

‘The Flash’ 4.04 Recap: “I Smell a Mystery”

Is ‘The Flash’ doing a crossover with the ‘Machete’ franchise now? That’d be a stretch…

This week’s episode is split between two storylines. In the first, Cisco’s relationship with Gypsy is threatened when her dad, a breach cop rather uncreatively named “Breacher” (played by Danny Trejo), visits Earth-1 looking for his daughter and does not care for Cisco one bit. Most of the humor here is of the very expected sort, riffing on Trejo’s usual shtick of playing a mean mofo with a bad attitude and a perpetual scowl.

When Cisco’s attempts to charm him fail, Breacher warns, “I’m going to hunt you,” which sends Cisco running. Harry advises him to use his brain and set a trap. If he can win this contest, he’ll prove his worth and earn the dad’s respect. Cisco then traps Breacher in a forcefield and thinks he’s claimed victory, but Breacher simply cuts his way out of it with a fancy knife and chases him some more.

Meanwhile, Barry and Joe discover that they know one of the other people who rode the bus that was exposed to Dark Matter. They’ve both had dealings with a former dirty cop named Ralph Dibny (Hartley Sawyer), who was kicked off the police force for planting evidence on a suspect. Dibny’s now working as a low-rent P.I. and seems like kind of a dirtbag. Barry dislikes him immensely.

When Dibny is harassed by some thugs who dangle him over the edge of a building, his legs stretch like putty until he lowers all the way to the ground. He has no idea what’s happening to him and freaks out. Joe and Barry bring him back to S.T.A.R. Labs, where Caitlin determines that the Dark Matter gave his cells an extreme elasticity. (You know, like Mr. Fantastic from the Fantastic Four – except that’s Marvel.) At this stage, he can’t control it. His face comically blows out into a rubbery mess when he sneezes. Despite Barry’s disapproval, Caitlin sympathizes with Dibney and eventually whips up a magical serum that allows him to control his stretchiness.

When he learns that Dibny was involved in a scheme to blackmail Central City’s mayor with evidence that he cheated on his wife, Barry wants to lock Dibny in the Pipeline. However, it turns out that the mayor is actually corrupt and possibly a secret crime boss. The thugs from earlier work for him. He sends them to kill Barry and Joe, but of course Barry makes quick work of them.

Later, the mayor meets Dibny in a dark alley to pay his blackmail, but Dibny has a crisis of conscience and returns the money along with the incriminating photos, offering to walk away. The mayor, assuming that he can clean up a loose end, pulls a gun and shoots him in the face, but the bullet simply pops right back out.

Realizing that he’s misjudged Dibny, Barry races in to save him. He’s interrupted by Breacher, who saw footage of a stretchy Dibny and mistook him for being an alien called a “Plastoid,” which destroyed his home dimension. Breacher attacks Dibny and Barry, allowing the mayor to kidnap Joe at gunpoint and slip away in a waiting helicopter.

Cisco then portals in and faces off against Breacher, who grudgingly respects his bravery and commitment to his friends, and stands down. For reasons not well explained at all, Barry says that he can’t build up enough speed to chase the helicopter. Only Dibny can save the day by grabbing the chopper with his stretchy arm. Barry then regains his speed and runs up the arm to save Joe.

A grateful Joe blurts out the news that Cecille is pregnant. This is a big cause for celebration back at the lab. On his way home, Breacher tells Cisco that he still doesn’t like him, but he does respect him. He then reveals that Gypsy’s real name (which she refused to tell Cisco) is Cythia, and his own name is Josh.

Caitlin goes home and finds a message saying “WE MISS YOU COME BACK SOON” carved on her door, presumably from the gangsters she hung around with at the bar during her time away from Team Flash.

Barry apologizes to Dibny for assuming the worst of him and treating him so poorly. He understands now that not every meta is a villain. (Duh. Like him and almost all his friends.) He offers to train Dibny to use his powers for good. Cisco tries to come up with a nickname for him, but Dibny rejects “Plastic Man” (who is a different stretchy hero in the DC universe). The episode’s pun-tastic title ‘Elongated Journey into Night’ drops a hint as to whom Dibny will become, but it’s never spoken in dialogue, probably because none of the actors could say “Elongated Man” without rolling their eyes.

Before the credits, Dibny reveals that he was hired to spy on the mayor in the first place by someone named DeVoe. Barry suddenly remembers that he’d heard that name mentioned during his trips to the future, and also spoken by Savitar.

Episode Verdict

I realize that knowledge of physics is not exactly a strength of this show’s writers, but the climax of this episode is ridiculous even by ‘Flash’ standards. Stretchy or not, how is Dibny suddenly strong enough to stop a helicopter? It should have picked him right up. Barry running up the arm is also pretty goofy.

Honestly, the episode is fine. It’s neither great nor terrible. The Danny Trejo storyline is entirely clichéd and predictable, but still amusing. The episode has a peculiar lack of Flash action. Barry barely uses his speed at all. Is the show’s budget stretched so thin (no pun intended) that it can only afford one meta power at a time?

If Dibny winds up being a recurring character, his power could make an interesting addition to the team. At least he’s not yet another speedster. I don’t mind trading out Wally for something different, even if the character himself is pretty obnoxious and a little grating.

1 comment

  1. Guy

    Did they have to turn Dibny into a lecherous creep? Seeing as Elongated Man is the least known of the three main stretching comics heroes and that he’s an investigator in a fictional universe stuffed with better known detectives and journalists, the most unique aspect of the character in the soap opera world of comics is his long and stable marriage to Sue. The Arrowverse could use a couple without issues to teach the others how to be normal.

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