Review: The Flash ‘Running To Stand Still’ – Another Bag Of Tricks For the Trickster

In last night’s midseason finale of The Flash, the reemergence of the Trickster, Captain Cold and the Weather Wizard added just another bag of mysteries to the mix of things, while taking some away.

Nonetheless, it’s Christmas time in Central City! With all that has been going on over the past couple of weeks, it’s hard to imagine that the air around S.T.A.R. Labs, as well as the whole city for that matter, is anything but cheery. Zoom is still out there, Barry is still hindered by his lack of his former speed, Jay still has no speed and enemies are coming out of the woodwork. While the life of a superhero is usually a 24/7, 365 day lifestyle, this seems to be piling up.

The start of the episode starts rather jarringly, with Harrison Wells attempting to outrun Zoom in the halls of S.T.A.R. Labs. While we are unsure if it is Earth 2, or what type of scene this is, a flashback versus a real-time encounter. Clearly singled out by Zoom, Wells is wrestling with the temptation of helping Zoom to get his daughter back, or helping Barry defeat Zoom and still get his daughter back.

Among the added drama of the Wells + Zoom partnership, the added pressure from this weeks villain adds a flare for the familiar, with some old friends paying a long overdue visit to Central City.

Easily one of the more deeper explored villains from last season was Mark Mardon/Weather Wizard. One of the very first to discover and use his abilities for bad rather than good, Mardon has a deeper storyline that one previously imagined. With the addition of Patty Spivot, we get ot explore the deeper connection of Mardon and Spivot, as Mardon was the one who killed Patty’s father. Feeling some sort of anger/desperation, this episode seemed to hit closer to her than many others.

In the true spirit of a “white christmas,” Mardon used his power to manipulate snow and break into Iron Heights Prison, home to Captain Cold, The Trickster, Weather Wizard from The Flashthe meta-human containment cells. More importantly, it was also home to IHP’s newest jailbreakers, Leonard Snark/Captain Cold and James Jesse A.K.A. The Trickster. It was an interesting feeling with Mark Hamill and his Joker-esque voice making a return to Central City. But at the same time, it was a relieving and exciting addition to the show, as his manic and insane antics were a bit of a shake-up from the other rogues that have visited Central City. Add the dark and powerful Mardon, and this pairing was a welcome thing.

Still toiling with his villainous side versus his eventual heroics when he joins the Legends of Tomorrow, Snark pays a small visit to Barry and warns him of the impending attack. Weighing on the side of Team Flash, Barry asks him to help him save the city, and then that was basically it for Snark. No more of a team-up from the two, it was merely an escape and a run for Snark in his pre-Legends appearance.

Focusing on the ticking time bomb that is the Mardon and James relationship, their plan was simple. Let’s do exactly what Zoom did weeks ago and just destroy every amount of who you are and just poster you across the city. One thing is for sure, Mardon is powerful, even more than before. Which could cause issues with Barry at some point down the road. His past time jump to stop Mardon still hasn’t come to full fruition in terms of consequences, and Barrys second jump last week adds to that eventual snowball, but not at the moment it seems.

Also added on is the somewhat swiss cheese like idea of their one hundred bombs that were spread across the city through the magic of gift giving. But what was more crazy than that was the “magnetic removal” of the bombs that I still cannot even decipher being a logical solution. By removing one and sending it through a breach, that means that every other bomb has to follow suit?

Speaking of hitting home, we finally get a quick glance of the newest member of the West family, with Keiynan Lonsdale making a brief appearance as Joe’s long lost son Wally West right at the end of the episode. Iris’ fight with keeping Joe in the dark was an obvious storyline, because why hurt the one person who you know would regret not knowing something immediately. Predictably, that’s what it played out like. Being the father he is, Joe’s revelation led to a genuine sentiment that he has failed as a father, that his ignorance of his existing son is magically his fault. The truth of it all, which they hinted at slightly, is no matter the relation, Barry has been the son that Joe didn’t have. The small exchange of the watch given to Joe from his father and now unto Barry really played well in the grand scheme of things.

I’m kind of glad they haven’t shown a bit of a jealousy thing; new son shows up, old son gets pushed out of the picture. Obviously, there’s going to be some rekindling of a relationship with Joe and Wally, but I feel like it will be done without Barry being dropped off as Joe’s son.

Now to touch on how we have managed to skirt around the fact that Barry hasn’t revealed himself to Patty yet. Or even Patty’s story arc in general. Her anger towards Mardon for him killing her father is vastly unexplored, and her neglect to tell Barry her true demons but her reveal to the Flash complicates things further. I will admit, I chuckled when they exchanged the “Flash: Grab on to me.” “Patty: I’m seeing someone…” “Flash: So am I.” It was the awkwardness of Barry and Patty, but this time with the Flash.

In an episode of sentimental stuff, Joe meeting his son, Patty and her struggle, the eventual couple of Jay and Caitlin; the Barry apology was probably one of the biggest things. Standing alone in a room overlooking Wells at work, Barry drops one of the biggest emotional bombs and forgives Wells for everything that happened. Clearly it’s not the same Wells that betrayed him and killed his mother, but it was still a major play, in the obvious fact that the events of season one are still in the back of his mind. You can’t imagine how it feels being just inches away from someone who’s identical counterpart was just recently an adversary. With a sense of mistrust but ultimately forgiving him, it sets the stage for a big reveal.

One of the biggest conflicts in the show was an adrenaline racing standoff in the street. With Mardon incapacitated and Patty acting reckless and nearly pulling the trigger on him, I thought for sure that Flash’s talking down of Patty would be a mirror off the Arrow’s reveal to Roy Harper on the roof. With Patty subduing the Flash by leg-cuffing him to the cement, I firmly believed that Barry would take the mask off and reveal in that way. By shocking her, she would forget about her agenda. Surprisingly, that wasn’t what happened, and Patty is still in the dark about things.

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Iris and Joe West meet Wally West in The Flash

Eventually, it will come. But when? Barry and Patty’s relationship hasn’t bridged to them spending nights together, so she wouldn’t notice him running off. Her obvious neglect to let Barry in on things that he already knows is a troubling thought, eventually, it will boil down to him having to reveal.

Finally, we got a small taste of the former Wells we know so well. Stemming from his early run-in with Zoom, we see another scene between the two. In a bargaining chip with Wells by showing him that his daughter is still alive, Zoom pulls back the curtain on a huge plot point, that being that he wants Wells to succeed in making Barry stronger and faster than ever before. Obviously confused at why a villain to want the hero to get stronger, they could have ended the episode there and given a really confusing and exciting cliffhanger. Instead, he goes on to spoil his ultimate plan.

In the words of Wells, “You want to fatten him up like a turkey.” Basically, Zoom wants Barry at his peak performance in order to “suck” the prime power out of him. Likely the same thing he did to Jay back on Earth-2, Zoom is setting up for an odd ending to this season. It was also an interesting dynamic of Earth-2 Wells sort of becoming Earth-1 Wells, that his own issues are the bigger worry, and nobody is safe if it means getting his daughter back.

All-in-all, this was a strong episode in the furthering of the plot and the introduction of bigger story arcs and the set up for the show down the road. With their backs against the wall, it’s going to be a long wait until mid-January for The Flash to return.

Sean McGrath
Sean McGrath
2015 Journalism graduate of State University of New York at Fredonia. Loves sports, movies, TV, video games, cold drinks on hot nights and hot drinks on cold nights, and anything thats classified as nerdy. Married with two cats.

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