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The Flash tries to lighten up with a Bond parody that's past its freshness date

Hartley Sawyer, Grant Gustin
Photo: Katie Yu (The CW)
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It’s not easy to pull off a wacky romp when your main character is facing death in a few short weeks, but The Flash gives it a shot with “License To Elongate.” As the title and the previews suggested, the main storyline this week is a James Bond parody that finds Barry and Ralph suiting up in tuxedos rather than super-suits for the most part. It has its amusing moments, but the fact that James Bond parodies have been around nearly as long as 007 himself at this point means this isn’t the freshest territory to mine for laughs and good times. Like several recent episodes, it feels like an effort to keep super-heroics to a minimum and save that production money for the big Crisis crossover.

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Barry tags along on Ralph’s latest attempt to follow up on his Sue Dearbon missing persons case, mostly because he wants to make sure Ralph is back in Central City in time for the Elongated Man to receive the Flash’s blessing as the city’s new protector. Their mission takes them to a gala auction in Midway City, where they do such Bondian things as order a Gingold martini shaken not stirred and introduced themselves in the classic “Bond. James Bond” style. (This results in one of the better jokes, when villain Remington Meister cuts Barry off, assuming he had finished introducing himself as Allen Barry.) The boys meet a woman named January Galore and play mahjong with the bad guy, an international man of mystery auctioning off a satellite weapon to a party full of criminals. Honestly, a lot of the Bond stuff doesn’t even rise to the level of jokes; it’s mostly just straight-up references, like Meister saying “No, Mr. Dibny. I expect you to die,” and Ralph calling him out for quoting Goldfinger.

Barry once again screws everything up by using his powers, thus setting off a meta detector and getting himself and Ralph captured. Shouldn’t the show be making a better case that Team Flash will actually miss its leader once he’s gone? Ralph convinces him that there’s a time to be a superhero and a time to be human, a lesson that pays off later when Elongated Man and Joe honor CSI Barry Allen for all he’s done for Central City. Together they take down Meister and his meta-muscle Ultraviolet using only their natural talents. The fistfight between Meister and Ralph may be the silliest thing I’ve ever seen on this show, and I hope that was intentional.

Tom Cavanagh, Kayla Compton
Photo: Katie Yu (The CW)

Back in Central City, Nash Wells is convinced that the Monitor (who he believes to be a fraud) is hiding in the tunnels, blocked by an Eternium wall, He enlists Allegra to his cause, hoping she’ll use her ultraviolet powers to allow him to spot the Eternium and dig around it, but she’s wary of becoming like her cousin Esperanza. He convinces her that she’s her own person in charge of her own fate, and a theme for the episode begins to coalesce. She also reminds Nash of somebody⁠—perhaps his daughter, a doppelgänger of Jesse Wells? Tonight I started to entertain the notion that there is no real “Nash Wells,” and that this is Earth-2's Harry Wells playing a part, but I’m at a loss to think of a reason he’d do that.

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The other subplot involves the freshly reconstituted Chester P. Runk, and Cecile’s efforts to help him ask his Jitters crush Nicole out on a date. It’s...cute, I suppose, but not much more than that. This one also ends with a “trust in yourself” lesson and an invite from Cecile for Chester to join the STAR Labs crew. Is that a good idea? It’s probably too early to say.

“License To Elongate” is inoffensive and at times enjoyable, but it’s the very definition of a filler episode. Ralph doesn’t even make any progress on his Sue Dearbon case, but at least he’s able to thwart a satellite missile attack. James Bond would be proud...and hopefully come up with some better one-liners.

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Stray observations

  • This show has a meta dampener problem. It’s simply too convenient a device, and apparently not all that hard to come by. Why wouldn’t every villain have a few of these gadgets handy at all times? Why should the Flash’s powers ever work at all?
  • The Flash’s secret identity remains a joke. Meister says he doesn’t care who he is, even though it should have taken him less than two seconds to figure it out. And Nash Wells casually spills the beans to Allegra that the scarlet speedster is her boss’s husband.
  • Rosso is mostly absent this week, only to pop up at the end and attack Central City’s new protector. Well, it was fun while it lasted!
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About the author

Scott Von Doviak

My debut novel Charlesgate Confidential is now available from Hard Case Crime.