THE FLASH Season 6 Episode 6 Review: License to Elongate

The Barry Allen 2019 Farewell Tour continued this week with an undercover mission at with Ralph at a ritzy gala with many a 007 moments... and believe me, I mean many. If you thought the title wasn’t pointed enough, don’t worry, there more than a few quotes lifted directly from the Bond films, and the dastardly businessman villain is only one step away from stroking a white cat. It’s all presented as good fun though, and the episode never asks you to take the pseudo espionage that seriously. 

More than anything the escapade serves as an opportunity for Barry to set up his plan to have Elongated Man for take over as Central City’s metahuman protector. Given how crowded STAR Labs has become in the past few years, it's become more of a struggle to justify Ralph’s continued presence on the team. He hasn’t brought very much to the table in past years; his main roles — Barry’s protege, team detective, and class clown — have all been filled by other characters, and many of them had more personal connections to Barry than former co-worker. However, now that Cisco’s out of commission as Vibe and Killer Frost is more focused on her personal life than stopping (or causing!) crime, Ralph has the unique role of being the only real superhero peer of Barry’s in the main cast, and this equal footing seems to suit them much better. 

In Barry and Ralph’s previous missions, the student/mentor aspect of their relationship took center stage, with Ralph usually having to learn an important lesson about heroism. This time around I appreciated that their conflict came from having different approaches to solving a case rather than bringing back Ralph’s sleazy side to be a contrast to Barry's straight laced attitude. I quite liked the depiction of Barry as a little too eager to jump into costume at the first sign of trouble, while Ralph was more comfortable doing undercover work using their civilian identities. It makes sense, given Ralph’s role as a private eye, that he’d gravitate more towards the sneakier, covert side of the work, while everything from Barry’s bright red suit to his signature gold lightning begs for the spotlight. Neither one was right or wrong exactly, just in need of some more balance. 

This culminated in a very sweet moment where Ralph turned the press conference for the Flash and Elongated Man into a celebration of CSI Barry Allen’s work as CCPD. It might have been nice for Barry to actually show some of his CSI skills in the episode itself, rather than to just be reminded this is something he does offscreen, but it was effective nonetheless. It’s refreshing for Barry to get a little challenged on his idea of how to be a superhero and appreciating what he’s able to do for people outside of being the Flash is definitely something he could stand to do more often. 

The series itself also gained a little bit of balance by taking some time to really flesh out its previously non-existent supporting cast. Chester, Nash, and Allegra, all of whom are characters introduced this season, each had their own mini subplots. It’s not clear how much exactly, if any, of this is genuine build up to the “Crisis” storyline, but I can’t genuinely can’t recall ever spending this much time on characters outside of the main team, and seeing the show finally expand Central City beyond STAR Labs and Jitters is exciting. 

The downside of this is that much of Bloodwork’s momentum as a villain has died off. Last week Killer Frost was vowing to hunt him down at all costs; now she’s helping play matchmaker for Chester. Given we’ve only got half a season with the guy, I would have liked seeing that thread carry, even just in the background, instead of saving him for small surprise at the end. Ramsay has a hard enough time competing with the apocalypse, the least he could get is enough time to be a proper warm up act.

Written by Kaitlin Roberts, THE FLASH Beat Writer