Flash: Running to Stand Still

flash

Trickster’s Holiday Treat!

Flash’s mid-season finale arrives with “Running to Stand Still.” The opening is creepy. Wells is running through what I believe is the Earth 2 STAR Labs, taunted by Zoom. Wells gets to some very impressive looking gun, but really, guns don’t work too well with speedsters involved. Suffice to say there is more taunting. 

Iris and Joe debate Christmas presents. Iris, amusingly, has a Flash figure, but laments she couldn’t find the Green Arrow one. Joe calls Green Arrow crazy. I can’t recall if they’ve met or not. I am amused that actual current figure line keeps popping up on the shows.

Barry and Patty are making out in Barry’s lab when Iris drops by. Patty and Barry babble after being discovered before Patty goes back to work. Iris has come to Barry for some advice. I give the character (and the writers) credit that she acknowledges the hypocrisy in what she’s about to share. She was furious about being kept out of the loop on Barry being the Flash, but has been keeping Francine’s bombshell about her son to herself.

At STAR, Caitlin and Jay techno-babble at each other with a strong undercurrent of flirting. Jay pretends he doesn’t know what Christmas is, which becomes a running joke through the episode that Caitlin falls for each time. Cisco, amused, tells them to just kiss already. I kind of would have liked a reference to his recent loss of Kendra as a girlfriend here, but they skipped it. Cisco then gets startled by a lurking Dr. Wells, who throughout the episode acts really creepy and insists, “I’m fine.”

Iron Heights gets an unexpected snowstorm. Most places that would be a nice Christmas surprise. Here, it’s a warning no one picks up on. Sure enough, Weather Wizard breaks in. He’s here to free Captain Cold and Trickster. Cold, not being utterly insane, isn’t thrilled about getting Trickster out.

In the wake of the breakout, Patty, Joe, and Barry examine the scene. This is also when Barry finds out that Patty’s dad was killed by Mark Mardon before he became the Weather Wizard. Patty refuses to discuss this with Barry, at one point saying she doesn’t have time to bring him up to speed about everything gong on, to which Barry mutters, “How ironic.” It was an amusing exchange.

Weather Wizard broke the other two out in order to team up and try and kill Flash. Wentworth Miller’s laid back snark as Captain Cold contrasts wonderfully with Mark Hamill’s manic Trickster. This isn’t going to be a smoothly functioning team, that much is clear.

In a scene that largely seems to be about echoes, the STAR Labs crew devises a plan to make a wand to take away Weather Wizard’s powers. Barry has already been through this before his first time travel incident. Wells, learning of this, repeats what the other Wells said, that Barry shouldn’t have tampered with the timeline. Time travel can be confusing enough, time travel with alternate-Earth dopplegangers is just a mess.

Barry and Iris finally find time to tell Joe about Francine’s son, Wally. Wally West is big news for comic fans, but I’ll cover that later. Joe is freaked out and goes to work. Iris and Barry go home, to find Captain Cold lamenting that their hot chocolate doesn’t have the little marshmallows. After some threats back and forth, Cold gives Barry a heads up about the Weather Wizard/Trickster team up. He’s not taking part because he’s all about the payday, and this would be pro bono work. It’s a nicely done scene.

Trickster makes a video address to the city, which was essentially an elaborate trap. He not only almost got Flash with a clever holiday-themed ambush, he came close to killing Patty as well. Patty seems to be verging on going down the vengeance path, which Flash tries to talk her out of. That leads to a bit more about her father’s death, and why she blames herself.

Cisco’s monitoring gadget picks up Weather Wizard’s powers at the big tree lighting ceremony. Flash shows up to get a few nasty surprises, including a really well thought out trap and that Weather Wizard can fly now. Flash gets beaten badly while the STAR crew goes to deal with the leverage the villains have on Flash. Honestly, this was the weakest scene of the episode. I watched it twice and I’m still not quite sure what they did. It looked pretty though.

There’s a big confrontation between Weather Wizard and Patty. It’s a nice character moment that was written pretty well. I like how it was resolved, and Trickster’s wise-ass comment at the end.

To wrap up, there’s a Christmas party at Joe’s place. Everyone is there. Iris hangs a Flash ornament on the tree that’s actually really cool looking and that I’d put on mine. Jay and Caitlin finally kiss, which Cisco approves of. Then, there’s another guest. I was expecting something bad, given the episode being the mid-season finale, but it’s Wally West. It was funny seeing the dramatic reactions of everyone who knew who he was, and Patty looking on like, “Ummm… who is this?”

There’s a finale scene with someone at STAR revealed to be working with Zoom. It’s not a huge surprise, and I saw it coming. For an episode, this was nicely done. For a mid-season finale which usually involves a cliffhanger, it was kind of meh.

What I liked: I like how they handled Patty’s demons.  Seeing Wally was fantastic. The Cold/Trickster contrast I mentioned was great. Miller and Hamill were great. I’m glad Jay and Caitlin are finally moving forward.

What I didn’t: It’s weird there’s no mention at all of Cisco’s recent breakup, with everyone pairing off. There wasn’t much of a cliffhanger for a “finale.” While I feel bad for him, I’m liking Wells less and less as time passes.

Wally West: Ok, so why is Wally West a big deal? In the comics, Wally is Kid Flash, Flash’s sidekick (he was also white with red hair originally, but things change). Kid Flash was a founding member of the Teen Titans, and part of many later groups of that name. Wally was also the first of the sidekicks to assume his mentor’s mantle full time after Barry died in the comics. He was Flash for an entire generation, and was the Flash on Justice League Unlimited. So seeing even a hint of him here was great.

I’ll give the episode itself a 4 out of 5, mostly for the villains’ cumulative work and scenes. As a cliffhanger, it was more of a 2.

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