Hey there, Flash fans! It’s Christmastime in Central City, so grab some egg nog, pause the Yule Log video, and curl up in front of your TV for this episode, “Running to Stand Still”!
The episode opens with Harrison Wells (Tom Cavanagh) running from Zoom within the halls of S.T.A.R. Labs. Unable to get away, he looks about to be killed, but Zoom just says “Merry Christmas” as we cut to the opening title card. Next we see Mark Mardon (Liam McIntyre), aka the Weather Wizard, breaking into Iron Heights Prison, where he releases Leonard Snart (Wentworth Miller), aka Captain Cold, and James Jesse (Mark Hamill), aka The Trickster. He has released them to help him kill The Flash, but Snart passes, and soon finds Barry Allen (Grant Gustin) to tell him of their plans before skipping town.
Iris West (Candice Patton) has been struggling with whether and how to tell her father Joe (Jesse L. Williams) about the son, Wally, he never knew he had, after she learned about it from her mother, Joe’s estranged wife Francine (Vanessa Williams). Iris confides in Barry, who agrees to help tell Joe with her. While he is stunned by the news, Joe doesn’t get angry, at least not at Iris. He tells Barry how upset he is at himself for not finding Francine, and for squandering a chance to know his son.
Barry’s girlfriend (and Joe’s partner) Patty Spivot (Shantel VanSanten) is on the warpath to find Mardon, since he killed her father in a bank robbery years before. When The Trickster broadcasts a video taunting The Flash, she finds the location the same way Barry’s team does, and beats The Flash to the scene, forcing him to rescue her when it turns out, inevitably, to be a trap. She confides the secret of her intention to kill Mardon, something she would never tell Barry if she knew she was speaking to him.
Barry tells his friend Cisco Ramon (Carlos Valdes) of the Weather Wand he invented in an alternate timeline to beat Mardon. Cisco and Jay Garrick (Teddy Sears) work together to replicate the invention. Meanwhile, The Trickster is dressed as Santa, handing out packages to hundreds of little girls and boys. When Barry catches up to the Weather Wizard, he is led into a trap; either let the pair kill him, or the packages will all explode, killing hundreds of Central City’s most innocent. Barry acquiesces, and begins to take a beating from Mardon, while Jay, Cisco, and Wells figure out a way to locate and eliminate all of the bombs safely. Some gobbledy-gook science later (reversing the polarity, naturally), the trio safely send all of the bombs through one of the many portals leading to Earth-2, and Barry is free to tackle the bad guys. He gets The Trickster all tied up, and uses the wand on Mardon, but before he can take them in, Patty shows up. She uses a special weapon to restrain The Flash with a cuff clamped around his thigh, pinning his leg to the ground, and then goes to shoot Mardon. Barry is able to talk her down before she murders the villain.
We close with a heartwarming Christmas party at the West house, and just as things are getting started, Joe’s long-lost son, Wally (Keiynan Lonsdale), shows up at the door. Absent from this party, despite an invitation from Barry, is Wells, who has his own rendezvous. He meets with Zoom, who demands an answer from him. Having figured out that Zoom’s plan all along has been to force Barry to get faster before he takes the Speed Force from him, but desperate to free his daughter from Zoom’s clutches, he agrees to help Zoom.
My thoughts on this episode:
- Mark Hamill is just delightful as The Trickster. There’s just enough of the silliness he brought to the character on the 1990’s show (and more than a bit of his work as the voice of The Joker in various Batman animated works).
- Man, when this show decides to punt on the science, they really punt hard. Sending one of the bombs through one of the wormholes will reverse the polarity and make it magnetically attract all the others? Wow. Do better, Flash writers.
- Also in the “are you kidding me?” file: a leg cuff that pitons to the ground is going to stop a man that can phase through walls by vibrating at the right frequency? Consider me skeptical.
- I’m still wondering whether anything’s going to develop with Wally vis-a-vis powers this season. Will we see Kid Flash born in time to help the two other Flashes defeat Zoom?
- Ironic that Barry forgives the Earth-1 Harrison Wells (albeit post-mortem) just as the Earth-2 version prepares to betray him, no?
- Caitlyn (Danielle Panabaker) and Iris are being chronically underused this season. The boys keep getting to have all the fun, while the girls sit on the sidelines. At least Caitlyn got some good moments opposite Grodd a couple weeks ago, but Iris has been used as nothing but a messenger and a plot device lately, having been supplanted almost entirely by Patty. Heck, she wasn’t even in last week’s episode!
- Speaking of Patty, I’m not sure I buy the “tempted to commit cold-blooded murder” thing, no matter how guilty she felt over her dad’s death.
- The Flash 3.11 “Dead or Alive” Top 5 - February 1, 2017
- The Flash 3.10 “Borrowing Problems from the Future” Top 5 - January 27, 2017
- Legends of Tomorrow 2.08 “The Chicago Way” Top 5 - December 9, 2016
Overall, a decent, but not spectacular, episode. Lots of scenery-chewing by the villains, and some heartfelt family drama for your Christmas feels. Hopefully, it’s enough to tide us over until the second half of the season resumes in January. Be good, kids, and don’t take any suspicious packages from fake Santas – I’ll see you in about a month!