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TV Review: The Flash - Season 2 Winter Finale "Running To Stand Still"

12.09.2015

EPISODE 9: "Running To Stand Still"

SYNOPSIS: When Mark Mardon AKA The Weather Wizard returns to breakLeonard Snart AKA Captain Cold and James Jesse AKA The Trickster out of Iron Heights, Barry must stop these rogues from taking over Central City during Christmas. Meanwhile, Joe and Irismeet Wally West.

REVIEW: (Beware of spoilers!):

With the Legends of Tomorrow all set thanks to last week's crossover with the Arrow, tonight's mid-season finale of The Flash can get back to business by focusing on Barry's season-long conflict with Earth Two villain, Zoom. To do so, we get a return from three familiar faces and are introduced to a third potential version of The Flash. Tonight's hour is not the strongest of the season nor is it the weakest, but it has trouble deciding if it wants to be a villain of the week story, a Christmas special, or just a filler entry to close out 2015. With a brief but memorable turn from the great Mark Hamill in what I assume was a quick plug for next week's premiere of STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS, The Flash is ready to ring in the new year.

Mark Mardon is back in town just in time for Christmas and he wants to, naturally, kill The Flash. So, he busts James Jesse and Leonard Snart out of Iron Heights Prison and concocts a scheme to end the Man Who Saved Central City. Barry and Cisco plot to use the Weather Wand we saw last season before Barry ran back in time to save Central City from a killer tidal wave. The sheer fact that they reused a plot device from a prior episode worried me about the quality of this story, but luckily the writers had a trick up their sleeve. Leonard Snart quickly bows out of the scheme and tattles on Trickster and Mardon before leaving town. Okay, so I guess that counts as one more Legends of Tomorrow reminder. With Flash on hiatus after this until January, that has to be the final free advertising for the spin-off.

Patty Spivot, who we previously learned lost her father to a Mardon bank robbery, is out for revenge this episode. Barry knows the feeling of wanting to right the injustice of losing a parent and ends up meeting Patty at an old toy factory seen in a video delivered by The Trickster (Okamura Toys is a reference here to Hiro Okamura, a genius character from DC Comics). The Flash saves Patty from Trickster's explosive dreidels which amounts to the single coolest Hannukah reference in any film or television show. Patty doesn't want to hear The Flash's moral pandering and leaves to try and find Mardon. Eventually, Barry finds the villains at the Central City tree lighting ceremony and he grabs the completed Weather Wand to confront them. There, he learns that Trickster, dressed as Santa, handed out a hundred bombs wrapped as Christmas gifts. They agree not to detonate them assuming The Flash sacrifices himself. The Flash agrees.

As Barry is pummeled by Mardon, Wells uses Cisco's drone to gather the bombs using magnetism. Jay Garrick helps as they draw the bombs into a break in the sky above the city. As the final bomb explodes, Barry manages to get the upper hand and defeats both Mardon and Trickster. Patty arrives on site and holds a gun to Mardon. Flash tries to talk reason into her so she doesn't kill Mardon and regret it forever. Patty eventually sees the light and instead takes the villain into custody. Barry is relieved and everyone can now celebrate the holiday. As far as villains go, the main plot of this hour seems to have wrapped up pretty quickly and too neatly compared to past hours but that is to make way for the two major plot threads leading to the second half of this season.

First off, Iris reveals to Barry that she has a brother, Wally. Barry convinces her to tell Joe and when she does, Joe decides to visit his ex-wife to discuss it. All of that happens off screen, but it sets up the closing scene at the West home as everyone gathers to celebrate Christmas. Joe is now content to have his affairs settled when the doorbell rings. On the other side is Wally West. In DC Comics, Wally is another iteration of The Flash and his appearance on the series cannot be just a nod to the character. Something is going to happen and we are going to see our third Flash on the show. The only person not in attendance at the West party is Harrison Wells. At the start of the episode, Wells is confronted by Zoom who wants Wells to do something for him. Wells works all through the episode and at the end is given a final chance to decide if he will help Zoom. Wells reveals he knows what Zoom wants: to get Barry's speed force even stronger so he can harvest it for his own evil means. Zoom gives Wells a moment with his daughter before whisking her away. The episode ends with Wells agreeing to help Zoom steal Barry's speed.

Overall, this was one of the weaker episodes of the season. Yes, the reveals concerning Wally West and Zoom's plan were pretty substantial, but the rest of the hour felt very rushed and forced to serve as a Christmas entry. Mark Hamill's great take on The Trickster saved this episode from being a total waste, but I just cannot help but feel this hour was just a placeholder until the next run of episodes in January. It is disappointing that the show ends 2015 on a bit of a weak note, but with the eight episodes leading to this being some of the best the show has produced to date, it is only a minor quibble. There is a lot to come on The Flash, so stay tuned for brand new stories in the new year.

FINAL VERDICT:

NEXT ON THE FLASH: New episodes return January 19, 2016

Source: JoBlo.com

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