Season 4 of The Flash has been underway for a while now, and so far it's been a departure from the darker, more somber tone of season 3, which means it's a return to normal to a certain extent. Some of that has to do with the show getting back to basics when it comes to making the adventures of Team Flash more about chasing down dangerous meta-humans, than it is about preventing a future version of Barry from killing his bride-to-be. But, as series star Grant Gustin explains, it's also about having someone like Hartley Sawyer on hand to play Ralph Dibny, otherwise known as Elongated Man.
So far, Ralph's been both a thorn in Barry Allen's side and a potential sidekick, if you will – at least now that Wally West has run off to find himself. But the two characters' interactions have provided the season with plenty of more lighthearted moments, as Barry tries to help Ralph atone for some past sins and as the burgeoning hero walks around next to the Scarlet Speedster in a powder-blue bodysuit. It was a silly visual gag for the series, but as Gustin mentions, having Sawyer (and Ralph) around has helped make things a bit more fun this season.
Gustin said as much during a recent set visit to The Flash, where the actor spoke about Barry and Iris's pending nuptials, as well as just how much levity fans can expect in Crisis on Earth-X. But he also commented again about how nice it is to get back to the lighter tone that The Flash started off with and where he thinks Ralph will end up when all is said and done. Speaking first to the tone of the season, Gustin said:
"It's been a lot more fun. I've talked about it some in interviews, and I don't want to make it sound like last year wasn't fun. But when it gets that serious all the time it weighs on you, so it's been a good time this year getting back to the feel of season 1 and joking around and having a good time."
A lot of those jokes come in the form Sawyer's performance as Ralph, as the actor's natural physicality lends itself quite well to granting the character a necessary amount of humor. Like many others, Gustin sees a resemblance between Sawyer and a certain Pet Detective.
"Hartley and I started to hit it off right away, honestly. I'm sure everyone's kind of made this connection or comparison or heard someone make it, but he's like a young Jim Carrey. We started to say it on set. Just all the physical comedy stuff he can do and he's a really seasoned, talented actor, so it's fun to have him on set for sure."
But as far as where the new addition fits in the overall plan for The Flash season 4, Gustin admits that Barry and Ralph had a rough patch early on, but given Barry's maturation of late, the Flash is pretty quick to give this new character a second chance.
"It's kind of a slow start again as far as him being like a part of the team, because Barry and him have the whole butting heads thing at first. But Barry does a pretty quick turnaround. I think we're seeing him mature a lot more this year, and over the course of the last two years, for sure. It's fun because I'm missing Julian this year, Tom Felton -- he's not a replacement, but it's nice to have someone to fill that void and to have another guy around -- again [Hartley] is a really talented, funny actor so he's just fun to work with."
With Ralph sitting out Crisis on Earth-X it might be a while before fans see him again, but hopefully the character finds more to do with Team Flash as season 4 continues to be the fun Flash everyone knows.
The Flash continues next Tuesday with the third installment of Crisis on Earth-X @8pm in The CW.