'The Flash' Had Its Creepiest Episode Ever Two Weeks After Halloween — Why?
Somehow, the scariest episode of The Flash ever aired two weeks after Halloween when it could have aired the night before Halloween. “All Doll’d Up” introduces Rag Doll, a seemingly invincible, villainous thief with the ability to contort his body into any shape. He’s basically the anti-Ralph with a creepy clown mask, and he moves with the sound of bones breaking rather than rubbery balloons squeaking.
So why the heck did this episode air now instead of two weeks ago? We may never know, but despite having powers almost identical to Ralph, Rag Doll is much scarier.
Full spoilers follow for The Flash Season 5, Episode 5, “All Doll’d Up.”
After being on hiatus last week due to the midterm elections, The Flash returned with a totally excellent episode that had emotional beats and the absolute creepiest villain in the history of the show.
Real-life contortionist Troy James was cast as Rag Doll in August after shocking the judges of America’s Got Talent in June. We can totally see why because his talents are downright unsettling.
In “All Doll’d Up,” James puts his skills to the test as Peter Merkel. In DC Comics, the character works for a small carnival, but The Flash rewrites the character’s origin to be the disgraced son of a fabulously wealthy mother. (Iris and Barry dressed to the nines and crashing Mrs. Merkel’s lavish fundraiser is a real highlight in the episode.)
But after a massive piece of the satellite shrapnel landed directly onto Peter Merkel, crushing his body entirely on the night of the Enlightenment, he entered a world of unending pain. His story feels fairly similar to that of Ava Starr in Ant-Man and the Wasp, one of a soul tortured by chronic pain. Merkel’s goal, however, is to inflict suffering on other people and steal from them.
He first steals an opulent necklace from a rich betrothed couple, and then he destroys and architect’s building. It’s hard to follow how he chooses his victims, but it still makes some measure of sense.
The conflict against Rag Doll builds at a steady pace just as Iris struggles to find her present self after dwelling on her future self’s mistakes. At the same time, Nora spends a lot of quality time with Cecille learning about what Iris was like as a kid. All the while, the remainder of Team Flash — Caitlin, Cisco, Ralph, and Sherloque — make huge progress on tracking down Caitlin’s father.
So despite feeling like a missed opportunity in terms of Halloween timing, “All Doll’d Up” proves an excellent episode of The Flash, if only for the fact that it allowed for Nora to forgive Iris and for them to finally develop a legitimate relationship.
The Flash airs Tuesday nights on The CW at 8 p.m. Eastern.