Welcome back to my weekly review and recap of The Flash. To catch up on previous coverage, click here.
There was a lot for The Flash to live up to in their season two mid-season finale “Running to Stand Still” for two reasons. One, being that last week’s crossover event with Arrow was so large in scale and scope that whatever followed was always going to be feel smaller. This hardly diminishes the quality, but it’s certainly a tough way to close out the first chapter of the season. The second is that last years winter finale “The Man in the Yellow Suit” was an incredible high note of the series, the one that for me, a fan from the start, really sit down and take the show and it’s character’s seriously. In a way it helped legitimize the show by proving that it was more than it’s color and spectacle and could tell a really, very gripping storyline as well.
So, yes, there was a lot to live up to and, while there were moments that were successful, a lot of it, most of it, leaned on the cluttered side unfortunately.
The main source of this clutter was Patty’s storyline, which didn’t just seem secondary but also unnecessary. I would have loved to have spent more time with the West’s this week, considering how pivotal the storyline was, instead of wasting a good chunk of time on fleshing Patty out even more, with heavy handed lines such as “there’s a lot of pain behind that smile.” It’s not that this was a bad storyline, and it’s one that could have worked really great in another episode, not one that already had two major storylines going on with Flash versus the Rogues and the West family drama along with the B plots involving Wells and his daughter and Caitlin and Jays really, super, awkward romance.
Time management skills are key.
Luckily enough for the episode, much of the meat of the storyline was entertaining and action packed, particularly once Barry faced off with the Trickster and Weather Wizard.
What was even better though was the lead up with Captain Cold, who had also been recruited to help the other two kill the Flash. Snart doesn’t see anything for him in the act though and instead, in a surprising and hilarious move, goes to Barry’s home to warn him about what’s to come. Wentworth Miller and Grant Gustin continue to share a wonderful rapport, and I could watch an entire episode of just the two of them trading mocking insults. As Barry says, he might not be ready to be a hero, but he sure as hell isn’t a villain.
Due to this Barry believes he has the upper hand in catching the two baddies, but instead realizes that they’ve been two steps ahead the entire time, having planted bombs in 100 random homes.
Captain Cold and the Trickster are such larger than life personalities, and Wentworth Miller and Mark Hamill both get the show in a way many other guest star, villain of the week actors haven’t, that pairing them with the Weather Wizard seems a bit of an odd move, especially since I could barely put a face to the name when I first read the synopsis. He works marginally better here though, having enlisted the Tricksters help in causing chaos and having homed his powers enough to prove a genuine threat to Barry. Barry laying down his life in order to save others isn’t surprising from what we know about the character, but its still a worthy moment for the hero, reminding us once again why he is so adored.
It’s also nice to see that the show isn’t forgetting how bad of an injury Barry suffered at the hands of Zoom. We saw it last week when he was being extra cautious with Kendra and team Arrow, and we see it now when Martin is able to say that the Flash hasn’t been the same since that night. We know it makes sense, and I’m glad the show hasn’t so quickly wiped the trauma from the slate, but interesting to see so soon Barry once again being beaten so badly, even if this time it’s only because he’s allowing it.
It was also a smart way to show off just how unhinged the Trickster is by not having him steal the entire show, but rather, juxtapose him against Captain Cold and the Weather Wizard, who are much more thorough in their thought process, opposed to Trickster who just wants to see the city burn.
Also, let’s be real, if we were to close our eyes and listen to Hamill’s performance, we’d all be seeing the Joker.
With the help of Cisco, Harrison and a finally useful Jay, they’re able to get rid of all of the bombs and Barry puts an end to their plan.
But then there’s the emotional portion of the episode and there’s a lot of it.
I loved Barry and Iris’s first conversation about the secret she’s been keeping. It all felt very real and Candice Patton did a beautiful job showcasing the characters conflicting emotions. I miss seeing Gustin and Patton work together and it’s a wonderful reminder of just how well they work together. The scene where the two of them tell Joe about his estranged son, Wally West (fans scream everywhere) is yet another killer moment, with Jesse L. Martin bringing the best dad, misty eyed tears on television yet again.
These family dynamics are what make the show so special beyond the super heroics. It informs the later scenes such as when Joe gifts his watch to Barry, telling him he’d always planned to give it to his son, or when Barry confesses to the Harrison before him, even when he can’t hear him, that he forgives him, talking of course about the one he’d grown to know.
And then, the big kicker happens when at Barry and Joe’s, Wally shows up for the very first time to make his introductions. Just what will happen with the character now that he’s on the show? Hopefully he will be better served than Jay.
The tag of the episode isn’t all that surprising, with lead up pointing in the direction of Harrison working with Zoom, and we knew it was to save his daughter, but Zoom’s plan of Harrison helping Barry get faster and stronger is the biggest surprise. He’s looking to grab the speed force (more fan screams) and he’s planning on absorbing all of Barry’s power.
Things are going to get a whole lot worse before they get better for Barry and co.
The second act was great and fun but the third act dragged with some unnecessary plot developments. However, The Flash has been off to a great start this season, proving again and again that they can accomplish more than fans would have initially wished for, and I can’t wait for the show to return.