REVIEW: The Flash, S6E6 – License To Elongate

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The Flash continues preparing for Crisis by essentially avoiding it in “License to Elongate,” which seeks to do for Ralph (Hartley Sawyer) what last episode did for Cisco (who got the week off because God forbid there be consistent plot development for our characters). The episode relies on Ralph and Barry’s (Grant Gustin) chemistry, which is a lot of fun, and on numerous James Bond references. All this is well and good, but the subplots fall short and the hour feels empty without a genuine exploration of Barry’s impending demise. Not to mention with barely a hint of Bloodwork (Sendhil Ramamurthy), who has just two weeks left to wreak havoc.

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Dibny. Ralph Dibny.

“License to Elongate” is at its best when it focuses on how much Ralph has grown, to the point that Barry wholeheartedly believes he can become Central City’s “sole protector” after Crisis. He explains this super casually to Joe (Jesse L. Martin), which is proof of how much The Flash has been wasting its prep time, but the hour unfolds in a way that makes his words ring true. The two set off on a high society escapade in search of Sue soon-to-be-Dibny, but end up in the clutches of a Goldfinger wannabe named Remington Meister and his metahuman assistant, Ultraviolet. The two heroes win the day, of course, but they do it as themselves rather than their alter egos. Because the lesson of the day is that Barry Allen is just as important as The Flash, and a touching press conference proves that point by awarding Barry a medal of honor at the same time that it welcomes Elongated Man as the city’s latest hero.

One thing “License to Elongate” doesn’t appear to find important is Iris West-Allen (Candice Patton), seeing as she doesn’t appear at her husband’s ceremony or even at her job, where Nash (Tom Cavanagh) is busy explaining the multiverse to Iris’ intern Allegra. Despite the fact that Barry is dying in two weeks, no one is worried about how Iris is doing – not even Barry himself. And despite the fact that the Citizen exists precisely so she can write one very important article, she only gets to pop in for a quick coda scene to follow some clue provided by Ralph. But that’s alright, because instead we got to watch Nash convince Allegra that Norvu (AKA The Monitor) is a false god and hype up her own ultraviolet powers so that she can do good where her cousin did evil.

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Who does Allegra remind Nash of, hmm?

But that’s not the silliest storyline The Flash offers up in “License to Elongate,” the honor of which belongs to Cecile (Danielle Nicolet) and Chester P. Runk. Chester was a breath of fresh air in the premiere, but this week he’s only there to serve as a sounding board for Cecile’s unnecessary haywire powers. In her attempts to hook him up with his dream barista Natalia, Cecile gets her wires crossed because she’s so confused about her identity after giving up her position as DA. The idea behind the plot is sound enough, and the actors are fun to watch together, but it falls flat because we don’t know Natalie and we’ve already seen Cecile take charge of her new direction in life. What was the point of this regression other than to kill time which should have been spent moving the story forward?

Bloodwork pops in after Iris leaves in order to attack Ralph, but there’s no real sense of urgency to his appearance. At this rate, neither he nor the inevitable annihilation of all Earths feels like much of a crisis, and that’s an issue. Danielle Panabaker had the task of directing this episode, and she did well with the interpersonal dynamics; it’s just a shame the material wasn’t more interesting that its actors riffing off each other could make it. The trailer for next week, meanwhile, had all the emotion and tension that was lacking in the episode itself. With two weeks to go before the crossover, it’s about time the season kicks into high gear – and hopefully stops sidelining its leading lady.

The Flash airs Tuesdays at 8/7c on The CW.