2017 was a banner year for comic related television series. The number of shows currently in production seems mind-boggling compared to just a few years ago when the Flash first debuted in 2014. And while the show is the best performer on the CW, fans had been complaining about the darker, more serious tones that had been going through over season two and three, so for me the best episode of 2017 comes from the lighter Flash season four – Elongated Journey Into Night.
The episode was directed by Tom Cavanagh… yes, Harrison Wells… and written by Sterling Gates and Thomas Pound. It will likely be best remembered for the episode the introduced Ralph Dibny aka the Elongated Man into the Arrowverse, but the episode is so much more than just that. It starts there though with the producers not only bringing in a character that was introduced into the Flash comics to spark the series, but they went out and found an actor in Hartley Sawyer who looks like someone pulled a Carmine Infantino drawing off the page and into the real world. Along with the character came a lot of sight gags and one-liners. But the best moment might be simply Barry (Grant Gustin) and Joe (Jesse L. Martin) walking across the screen then sliding back into frame as almost a double take when they see Ralph hanging down the side of the building.
Besides the humor that Ralph's character brings, it also changes Barry's perspective on things. He'd been at it long enough and faced so many metahuman criminals he'd almost become biased against metas. Assuming the worst about them because of what he's seen. Here he already had a bad past with Ralph, throw in him becoming a meta and Barry assumed he was bad. It was Caitlin (Danielle Panabaker) that made him realize that things aren't always that black & white. By the end of the episode Barry offers to mentor Ralph and in doing so, growing up a bit himself. Barry was supposed to be mentoring Wally (Keiynan Lonsdale) but other than showing him some power moves, he never really did help him become a hero. This is Barry's chance to do it right.
And if that wasn't good enough reason to call this episode the best of the year, it also introduced Gypsy's (Jessica Commacho) father, Breacher (Danny Trejo). Besides the great dynamic between Breacher and Cisco (Carlos Valdes), the episode helped push Vibe towards becoming more of an in-the-field character. We see him using his power and his mind on the fly and it pushes him. We see more of it later in the season. Vibe has mainly been used as a support character to the Flash. But in the comics he is a hero on his own and the more we see things like this, the more the writers will start using him that way.
This was an episode that had its serious moments and important parts, but it also had the levity from the first season that fans have been missing.