Achy Breaky Ralph

Achy Breaky Ralph


CW The Flash

Achy Breaky Ralph

CW’s The Flash
Season 4, Episode 14
“Subject 9”


Iris: “Why is the futon damp?”
Ralph: “I sweat a lot when I sleep.”
Iris: “You’re nasty.”

Yes, Ralph Dibny, aka Elongated Man, is still somewhat disgusting at the beginning of the episode, but he’s trying to get better. During the hour, Ralph gets smitten, protective, humbled, concussed and emotionally devastated. Stretchy man gets taffy-pulled during this one.

By the end of the hour, Ralph’s last act to his object of affection is both poignant and tragic.

The latest metahuman to arrive on the scene is Izzy Bowin, an aspiring, fiddle-playing country singer who is just about to record her first album with a major studio label. And of course, Izzy’s metahuman power has everything to do with sound. In fact, she’s so strong that she’s able to defend herself during her first encounter with DeVoe/The Thinker, inhabiting the physical body of Becky Sharpe (remember the bad luck girl?)

Lots of names, lots of inhabiting, lots of mind stuff going on. The DeVoe/Becky Sharpe body, since absorbing six other metahumans and their powers, is using up so much energy that it’s physically deteriorating faster than normal, so DeVoe has to find another, more fresh, metahuman to inhabit.

That fresh body is singer-fiddler Izzy Bowin, who already knows she has powers but isn’t quite sure why, and doesn’t really want to take the time to let the STAR Labs team help her out—she is, after all, about to record her first album. But Ralph is able to keep her around the lab long enough to train for 6 hours, and then for Barry to push her too far during clay pigeon training, enough to make her leave. Shooting soundwaves using her fiddle was a little cheesy, but the show is good enough to get away with cheese from time to time.

BTW, this overtraining seems like a common theme in STAR Labs—it happened with Barry Allen, Wally West, Jesse Wells, and even Ralph Dibny. Don’t they realize that pushing a neophyte metahuman too far, too fast, isn’t a good thing?

The other mind stuff going on is with Cecile Horton, Joe West’s love interest. During her pregnancy, she can read people’s thoughts, including the crazy action sequences that Joe has while dreaming.  Cracks me up that the show’s characters hardly think twice about this power, whereas in our world here, Cecile would be quarantined to the nth degree because she might wind up revealing government secrets or something. Anyway, the rest of the episode has Harrison Wells trying to put together a Mental Activity Dampener (MAD, get it?) that Cecile wears on her head to keep her from reading other people’s minds. More on that later…

So Izzy tries to get lost, away from STAR Labs and the gang. She does such a good job of it that they can’t find her. I include this to call attention to the best line in the episode, which comes after hours of searching for her. Suddenly, Cisco (of course it’s gonna be Cisco) yells out:


Of course, her website. She’s a country singer who plays live gigs, so her fans gotta know where she is all the time, and that’s going to be on her website. Duh.

(Tangent here, that reminds me: What’s up with Barry Allen and his selective moments to be speedy or not speedy? When Izzy sonically attacks him and Ralph earlier in the episode, you’d think that Barry would’ve sensed the sound waves coming and just run away from the sonic blast. But I digress. Onward…)

(Another tangent, sorry. Is it just me or is the Becky Sharpe character, the one Ralph called an “evil chipmunk”, trying just a bit too hard to look menacing? Glad this was her last episode for a while.)

There’s a scene where Iris asks Barry why he was training Izzy so hard. We’ve seen this scene before, and I’m kinda getting tired of it. Barry says that Izzy has to be strong enough to take on DeVoe, that’s why he’s pushing her. My question is WHY DOESN’T BARRY TELL THIS TO IZZY, so she understands why he’s pushing her to train harder? C’mon, if Mickey can tell Rocky Balboa what’s what, you’d think that they could do the same thing at STAR Labs.

By this time, Harrison has refined the MAD helmet and made it smaller to fit Cecile’s petite head. During the course of this experimentation, Harrison and Cisco come up with a solution to use the MAD against DeVoe—if someone (probably Barry) can place the device on DeVoe’s head, it will neutralize DeVoe’s mental powers.

Aaaand of course, it doesn’t work. DeVoe just fries the MAD before it could do any damage, and starts to go after Izzy. DeVoe’s floating tentacle chair, with her in it, appears out of nowhere and reaches out to begin transferring DeVoe’s mind to Izzy’s body.

It’s at this moment that the show elevates itself to more than just a superhero comic book funtime TV show. Ralph, knowing the inevitable, and being powerless to stop the transference, simply tells Izzy:

“Izzy, turn around and look at me. Don’t look at DeVoe. Just keep your eyes on me.”

Enough of us have seen enough war and disaster movies to know that when someone says that line, death is inevitable. And so, the last thing that Izzy sees before she ceases to exist, is Ralph.

And I absolutely didn’t see that coming.

I didn’t think the actress who played Izzy was a particularly good actress, but I geniunely felt bad for her at that moment, this person trapped in the middle of she-doesn’t-know-what, and all of a sudden, she’s gone. She and Ralph were just starting to get along, and there may have been something between them, but we’ll never know, at least for now. Poor Ralph, and his achy breaky stretchy heart.

But then comes the ending after the first ending, that we know is the actual ending. Turns out that the Flash team had been having problems tracking down DeVoe because (drum roll) he lives in a POCKET DIMENSION, a dimension that’s between the different universes.

So THAT’S where that blue room is located! It was never in the basement of DeVoe’s arts and crafts style house in Central City, or a series of underground caves, or even another Earth dimension (because Wells tried looking there already).

It was another dimension, which explains the blurry lens effects and Tron-like environment whenever DeVoe and his wife charted and plotted his ultimate plan! (Insert muah-ha-ha-ha! here…)

Even in its fourth season, CW’s The Flash still feels fresh, the dialogue tight, and the actors look like they’re still enjoying themselves in front of the camera. They’re using a good formula of cycling the focal points of characters in crisis, so each actor gets his or her own episode to shine.

The characters continue to grow, and when it feels like the current characters have grown enough, they introduce fresh new characters to nurture. The busload of new metahumans is a wonderful device to bring in new characters, even for just one episode, like this one.

And I really liked Ralph Dibny making Barry Allen a partner in his private investigation business. With so much happening, we forget that Barry has just been released from prison and is now out of a job with the Central City Police Department. That moment with the two of them sitting on the floor in Ralph’s office was nice closure to a surprisingly engaging episode.

BTW, I still can’t get Izzy’s fiddle song out of my mind. It’s kinda annoying but I’m getting used to it.


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Music is “Orbiting A Distant Planet” by the Denver, Colorado group Quantum Jazz, through the Free Music Archive:
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