Barry Allen struggles to keep his optimism and survive in Iron Heights Prison, where the guards care for crooked cops only slightly more than the inmates. Meanwhile, as The Trickster returns to plague a Central City without a Flash to protect it, Ralph Dibny must find it within himself to be the hero the city needs.
The Flash comics of Geoff Johns (Iron Heighs settting, presence of Axel Walker version of Trickster) and The 1990 The Flash TV series (character of Prank, general tone of Trickster's antics.)
Given his father's prominence as a local terrorist, it seems unlikely that the news of his father escaping from prison would have been hidden from Axel Walker.
If The Trickster is as big a deal as Iris says, why don't Vibe or Killer Frost go deal with him or at least give Ralph some back up?
Why is everyone so surprised Ralph doesn't know what Kryptonite is? He wasn't around for Crisis on Earth-X and it's not like STAR Labs is in the habit of dealing with Kryptonite on a regular basis.
Hartley Sawyer gives a wonderful comic performance as Ralph. A shame that most of the rest of the cast is in uber-serious mode, but that only serves to make Sawyer's performance stand out all the better.
The opening sequence with the prison riot is well-executed, from Grant Gustin's silent acting to the slow-motion work on the camera and what little fight choreography we see.
The title of the episode is a riff on the 2012 Batman movie The Dark Knight Rises.
Ralph is depicted absorbing the blast of a bomb by wrapping himself around it. This is on par with how invulnerable Ralph is in the comics, where he can withstand concussive force and high velocity projectiles without injury.
Big Sir first appeared in The Flash #338 (October 1984) and was created by Cary Bates and Carmnie Infantino. Born to the unfortunate name of Dufus P. Ratchett, the man who became Big Sir had a malformed brain which left him mentally handicapped while accelerating his growth. The textbook gentle giant unless provoked, The Rogues fitted Dufus with a power suit that further increased his strength and protected him while giving him the power to fly but also made him more easily influenced. They set Big Sir upon The Flash while he was on trial for the murder of Professor Zoom, telling him The Flash had been mean to them, and worse yet, hurt a mouse. Big Sir later became a member of The Injustice League led by The Clock King, The Justice League branch in Antarctica and, finally, a member of The Suicide Squad, where he died.
Big Sir is played by Bill Goldberg, who is most famous for his career as a professional wrestler, where he most famously performed under the name Goldberg.
The DCTVU version of Big Sir is a big tough guy, but he is far more articulate than his comic-book counterpart and does not seem to have superhuman strength. His real name is apparently Dave.
The character of Prank is an interesting one historically. Originally created for The 1990 The Flash TV series, Zoey Clark was an insane groupie who became infatuated with the super-villain/terrorist known as The Trickster and broke him out of prison hoping to develop a relationship with him. She took up the nom de plume of Prank and joined him in sowing chaos in Central City. Given their similar background and roles, coupled with Mark Hamill playing The Trickster on The Flash before going on to voice The Joker in the Batman: The Animated Series, the character is frequently compared to Harley Quinn and often accused of being a rip-off despite having come first and Harley being developed independently of The Flash TV series.
Corinne Bohrer - who played the character of Prank in the 1990 The Flash TV series - returns to play the part of Zoey Clark/Prank.
It is confirmed that the DCTVU version of Prank is Axel Walker's mother.
The DCTVU version of Zoey Clark was heir to the Clarx Toy empire, which went out of business in the 1990s. She possessed Bachelors Degrees in Fine Arts and Applied Sciences and a Masters Degree in Chemistry.
Stills from the 1990 The Flash TV series are used in the newspaper reports talking about The Trickster and Prank's crimes.
One of the photos of Trickster and Prank shows them with a baby. This photo was a behind-the-scenes shot taken on the set of The 1990s The Flash, with Mark Hamill (Trickster) holding his daughter, Chelsea.
One of their The Trickster and Prank's bigger crimes was the destruction of the Gadzooka Bubblegum Company. Cisco makes a reference to how they went out of business in the 1990s. This may be a reference to Zooks Gum - a now defunct brand of chewing gum - mixed with the name of the more famous (and still manufactured) Bazooka Gum.
Cisco traces The Trickster's first bombing to the corner of Demeo and Bilson. This is a nod to Paul Demeo and Danny Bilson, who developed The 1990's The Flash TV series. They also co-wrote the 2006 The Flash comic's opening story Lighting In A Bottle.
In the comics, Ralph Dibny is usually portrayed as being resistant to corrosive substances. Apparently that does not apply to whatever makes up Trickster's "axid", though Cisco confirms that an ordinary human would have been dissolved instantly.
Ralph's new costume is a shade of dark purple. In the original comics, most of Ralph's costumes were some shade of purple and he identified his favorite color as purple. The costume also compresses into a small box with the STAR Labs logo, much like the ring Barry Allen uses in the comics to hold his Flash costume.
Ralph's cells are completely polymerized.
The Trickster makes use of exploding bouncy-balls, a mini-bazooka that launches throwing stars and a "hurty-squirty" gun full of "Axid" - acid with an Ingredient X that makes it painful to even Ralph Dibny's stretchy skin.
The super-acid Prank created has a pH level in the negative 50s, according to Harry. It's possible Harry is being hyperbolic or that Earth Two uses a different standard, as the standard pH scale on our Earth does not go lower than 0, with battery acid being considered the most acidic thing possible.
Theoretically, it is possible for a substance to have a negative pH rating, but current scientific instruments could not accurately measure it.
The Axid cannot melt galvanized steel.
Bomber: Who the hell are you?
Ralph: Your friendly neighborhood superhero. You can call me... (freezes up) Mister...?
Ralph: One second.
(Ralph touches his earpiece.)
Ralph: (frantically) Guys?! This is a huge moment for me! What's my name?!
(Cut to STAR Labs. Caitlin and Iris look at each other, shrugging before looking to Cisco.)
Cisco: I was wondering where you were going with that.
Iris: That bomb could have torn you to shreds.
Caitlin: Or Joe. Or any of the police outside.
Ralph: Relax, ladies! My cells are completely polygamized!
Caitlin: (makes a face) Polymerized?
Ralph: Yeah! That.
Cisco: Hey, how about you hook me up with some of that gum?
Harry: Why don't you Breach yourself?
Cisco: Sounds like an insult.
Harry: Kind of was.
Ralph: Nice suit, Fall Out Boy.
Trickster: Yuck. Yours could use some work.
Ralph: Ooh - look at that cutting wit. You wanted me? Here I am!
Trickster: Great! Do you want to play, uh, catch?
(Trickster throw a bouncy ball which Ralph easily catches and clutches. It explodes, making Ralph's hand expand like a cartoon character's before it goes back to normal size, completely unscathed. Trickster's smile fades as Ralph dusts his hands off dramatically.)
Ralph: You're really blowing this super-villain fight.
Trickster: Well, it's my Central City return party. And your death will make me a star!
(Trickster pulls out a small bazooka, which he aims at Ralph. Seconds later, five ninja throwing stars are embedded in Ralph's chest. He puffs his chest out and they fall down.)
Ralph: Child's play.
Trickster: (frantically patting his pockets) Okay. All right. Well... this is what I call The Hurty-Squirty Gun!
(Ralph just stares in disbelief as Trickster primes the pump on the over-sized super-soaker, though he does flinch when pink liquid comes out, raising his leg so it catches his knee. He has a moment to smirk before he starts screaming, as he looks down to his knee, where the liquid has already eaten through the suit and turned his knee a worrying shade of red.)
Trickster: Tricked ya!
Ralph: But you said my cells were polymerized!
Harry: Uh, no...
Ralph: You said said nothing could hurt them!
Harry: Disney, I didn't say that. I said your cells were bonded unlike anything I've ever seen. I'd never seen acid like this, and so, cannot be be responsible for things I have never seen.
Trickster: It's time for the exciting new game show, Wheel of Misfortune, with prizes so exciting you'll think you died. And if you pay your cards right, you just might! Here's your host - the murderous matriarch, Prrraaaaaaaaank!
Barry: Having the ability to help someone but do nothing - that is a far worse death than anything The Trickster has for you. But rising above that fear and saving those lives - that is a greater life. All right, so rise up. I don't think it's a stretch for you.
Ralph: You really believe I can do that?
Barry: Yes. You just need to believe in yourself.
Vibe: Okay. Remember, anything in here that looks fun is probably lethal.
Killer Frost: Just like me.
Trickster: We thought you chickened out, Stretchy Man.
Ralph: Actually, I did. See, I thought I was pretty much invincible until you and your over-sized water pistol put the fear of God into me.
Trickster: You're welcome.
Ralph: And I was ready to throw in the towel. But then I visited a friend of mine. And he helped me remember that no one is fearless, but real heroes... they find a way to rise above that fear and make a difference anyway. Even if it kills them in the process. So this is me. Rising up. Hopefully without the dying part. Now... let my friends go!
(Trickster and Prank both applaud.)
Prank: First of all, great speech. So inspired. It melted my heart.
Ralph: Oh, thank you. I worked on it on the way over.
Prank: Now let's melt yours!
Reporter #1: Is it true that you took down The Trickster and Prank single-handedly?
Reporter #2: How long have you been a superhero?
Woman: Are you single?
Ralph: Yes. About an hour. Oh, hell yes! (To Reporter #1) Do you like shrimp?
Reporter #1: Noooooooo. But I'm sure the people of Central City would love to thank you, Stretchy Man.
Ralph: (wincing) That's not my name.
Reporter #1: Then what should we call you? I mean, you do stretch.
Ralph: No, I don't stretch. I... contort. I elasticize. I... I elongate, man.
(Cut to a spinning newspaper, which stops to reveal a picture of Ralph and the headline THE ELONGATED MAN)
Ralph: It definitely hurts!
Harry: (unsympathetically) Mmm-hmm.
Iris: Well, now we know what your Kryptonite is.
Ralph: (confused) What the hell is Kryptonite?
(Everyone else makes noises of disbelief.)
Barry Allen has scrawled "So was Barry" on the wall of his cell, next to where his dad wrote "Henry Allen was here." He is also counting the days he has been locked up.
This episode open on Day 7 of Barry Allen's incarceration.
Ralph is durable enough to absorb the blast of a bomb by wrapping himself around it. His skin makes a noise like a balloon deflating as he releases the smoke afterward.
Ralph is dubbed "The Stretchy Man" by Channel 52 news.
Ralph has contacts on the inside in Iron Heights Prison.
The Axel Walker version of The Trickster is seen for the first time since 117.
Barry is on the janitorial staff for the prison.
Axel Walker's mother is revealed to be Zoey Clark a.k.a. Prank - the former sidekick of the original Trickster, James Jesse.
Prank was heir to the Clarx Toy empire, which went out of business in the 1990s. She possessed Bachelors Degrees in Fine Arts and Applied Sciences and a Masters Degree in Chemistry.
Prank uses the alias Lindsay Fineheart to sneak into Iron Heights as a nurse.
Zoey Clark claims that James Jesse never wanted to be part of a family. She broke her son out of prison hoping they could start a new life together away from Central City.
The Gadzooka Bubble Gum Company went out of business in the 1990s on Earth One.
Harry Wells says they still have Gadzooka Bubble Gum on Earth Two.
Axel's date of birth is nine months after the last public sighting of Zoey Clark.
Killer Frost apparently has her own credit card.
Jesse James apparently escaped from Iron Height's prison a year ago and has not made contact with Zoey Clark or Axel Walker since then.
Big Sir helped save Barry from an attack in the prison gym because Henry Allen saved his life, recognizing the signs of a burst appendix and convincing Warden Wolfe to let him perform the surgery when the prison doctors were already gone for the night.
Zoey Clark was on some unidentified medication that kept her same. She goes off of her meds so that her son will accept her, becoming Prank once again.
Prank demonstrates the Axid Shower on a Beboo doll. The Beebo Doll was the hottest holiday toy in the Winter of 1992 on Earth One and figured heavily into the plot of L309 where The Legends had to fix the timeline after the first Vikings to settle in the new world began to worship a time-displaced Beboo doll.
Barry is Inmate #3562
Cisco and Harry have figured out how to trigger Caitlin's transformation into Killer Frost by saying the name of her childhood bully, Lexi La Roche. La Roche was first mentioned in 106, when Caitlin was empathizing with Barry as he confronted his childhood bully, who became the villain, Girder.
Ralph Dibny does not own a wallet.
The mysterious waiter from S308 who approached Barry Allen before his wedding and told him to be sure to say "I do" makes another appearance in the post-stinger sequence for the episode. She pays for Ralph and Cisco's coffee at C.C. Jitters and is later seen writing in a strange language in her notebook.
The Bottom Line
Cisco asks Harry "Is there anything you can't suck the fun out of?" and that's a perfect summary of this episode, though ironically Harry's snark is one of the more fun elements of it. Everyone is in super-serious mode to make Ralph's joking seem all the more jarring, but Ralph doesn't come off until truly obnoxious until his sudden bout of cowardice.
The problem is that all the fun elements of the episode (Trickster and Prank, especially) really don't come off well when the rest of the cast is acting as sour as the extras on Arrow. Thankfully, once everyone relaxes and remembers that The Flash is supposed to be the fun show, it all comes together.