THE FLASH: “RUNNING TO STAND STILL” REVIEW

The Fall finale of The Flash left me angry. Very angry. So angry because I have to wait until next year to see a new episode of my favorite DC Comics-based TV show. The first half of the sophomore season was outstanding, no two ways about it. Each episode continued the high standards that were set last year when the epic narrative began. To me, a good show is one that you feel like it has been on for years when in reality it is only 30 plus episodes into the series. I would love to sit here and tell you a single character that has not been well developed but I just can't. I almost wish I could because writing a negative review is far easier than writing a good one! Think about it, in this society of put-downs, trolling and YouTube one-liners made to make people feel lousy, it's almost roguish to say something nice and flattering. With that being said, I haven't heard a single peep on AFJ'S bustling Facebook pages how The Flash is a total bomb. In fact, its been the total opposite with people writing the equivalent of love letter posts on a weekly basis. One thing is for sure, when I have nothing to binge on over the holiday break, I will surely queue up HULU to re-watch and analyze the episodes from this season to see if there is any minute detail that I may have missed. I will say this, I want a ZOOM action figure under my menorah this holiday season. There are only a few days left of Hanukkah so DC Collectibles better get at it.

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I was not exactly sure of the opening of "Running to Stand Still" and how the events precipitated but we get to see Harry (Earth-2 Harrison Wells) being chased in awesome fashion by ZOOM. We know that ZOOM has Harry's daughter, Jesse Quick held captive on Earth-2 and apparently, the big Z needs something from Wells. We know this because when he catches Wells, he lifts him up like a rag doll asking him to make a choice and Wells retorts that he needs more time. I laughed when ZOOM quipped back, "Don't we all?" Then, a totally spent Wells asks ZOOM to kill him and just keep Jesse alive. ZOOM leans in and says, "Merry Christmas." You gotta admit, ZOOM has a sense of humor! However, I literally was losing sleep the next 45 minutes wondering what exactly he could want from Wells. Although he's kind of a jerk around STAR Labs, he has adjusted and become part of the team.

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At Jitters, Iris and Joe are discussing what to get Barry for Christmas and Iris cannot help but get secretly emotional. She is carrying quite a weight on her knowing that Francine was pregnant and delivered a boy when she left Central City twenty years ago. Afterward, Iris goes to see Barry because she just cannot keep it in any longer and tells her de-facto brother what she cannot tell her father. Having dealt with how own father-son issues, Barry seems to understand and says that they will tell Joe together. Iris insists that it will kill Joe knowing that he had a son that he did not get to raise much less know anything about. Its kind of ironic that Iris, a newspaper reporter, has this big story from her own life that she just cannot divulge for the risk of hurting the ones she loves.

At STAR Labs, it is pretty clear that Jay & Caitlyn are falling for each other. I didn't think that Caitlyn would be able to get over Ronnie that quickly but it's obvious that there is something between the doctor and the former speedster from Earth-2. When Harry comes into the lab, he looks completely shaken but no one can figure out why. While everyone knows that ZOOM has his daughter, they have no idea that he is in the middle of negotiating something for her release.

Mark Mardon, aka the Weather Wizard, is back in Central City and breaks into Iron Heights prison to bust out both Captain Cold and The Trickster. Side note, as it turns out, it was Mardon that killed Detective Patty Spivot's father years ago. That incident was the impetus to make her want to become a cop. Her sole reason for joining the Meta-Human task force was so that she can personally go rogue and execute Mardon in an eye for an eye scenario for taking her father's life. Barry tells Patty after she divulges everything he doesn't want to see her get reckless but she seems hellbent on killing Mardon.

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Mardon, Snart, and Trickster are hatching a plan that is basically just to kill The Flash. However, Snart has a kinda sorta deal with Barry that was made a while back. So Snart decides to bow out of the triumvirates dastardly plan to wreak havoc on Central City. In a move of genuine honor without actually admitting it, Snart is sitting in Iris & Barry's den by the Christmas tree when they get home. At first, Barry flips but then Snart tells him why Mardon broke him out and wanted to warn him without actually saying so. Barry asks him to join them in helping stop them but he turns him down saying he is not interested in being a hero. However, Barry sees right through it and says that what he just did by warning him was called honor. Snart leaves seemingly unaffected.

The Flash -- "Running to Stand Still" -- Image: FLA209A_0027b.jpg -- Pictured (L-R): Wentworth Miller as Leonard Snart, Mark Hamill as James Jesse/Trickster and Liam McIntyre as Mark Mardon-- Photo: Cate Cameron/The CW -- © 2015 The CW Network, LLC. All rights reserved.

When Joe arrives at CCPD, both Iris and Barry are there looking completely bummed out. Iris then spills everything about Francine and that she gave birth to a boy named Wally, Wally West. For the first time in the series, we really see Joe break down and says to Iris that if she was a boy, that is what they were going to name her. Iris continues to apologize and says she has only known for a few weeks but Joe cuts her off and says he has to go to work and "sit with it." Meanwhile, back at STAR Labs, Cisco has to make the "weather wand" that he does not know he already made last year when Barry messed with the timeline because of the tsunami that Mardon created and eventually stopped. It was all pretty trippy to see it all play out. Thankfully, Jay is there to help Cisco out in constructing the device that is meant to stop the Weather Wizard.

Joe divulges to Barry that he is upset about Wally because no one ever got to teach him how to be a man. Barry tries to reassure him that Joe has been there every day for him since he's needed him and would have done the same for Wally. The Trickster has somehow hacked the cable signals and is on all of the TV's at CCPD singing Christmas carols. However, he is changing the words to classic carols saying how he wants to disembowel The Flash. In Trickster's cornea, the gang at STAR Labs gets a clue by seeing a reflection of a Mr. Jiggle Wiggle doll that used to be produced at an abandoned toy warehouse in Central City. Patty saw the same thing and heads to the factory against Captain Singh's orders. Patty & Flash arrive at the warehouse at the same time and killer dreidel bombs are spinning like crazy closing in on them singing "The Dreidel Song." Classic! As they begin to close in, Trickster announces "Happy Hanukkah" as the pair are surrounded by dreidels that are going to explode and the only way is up. Apparently, the Flash can fly and he vertically flies himself and Patty up and out to safety. Patty admits to Flash that she ditched work as a teenager at her families small shop forcing her dad to cover for her and bring the receipts to the bank that Mardon was robbing. Mr. Spivot was killed by Mardon during the robbery. She even goes on to divulge to the Scarlet Speedster that she has met this really great guy and says she's afraid it's not real and if he finds out how crazy she is, he'll run. She really is like a female Barry just without powers and they both carry a lot of the same types of weight and guilt.

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Trickster is posing as Santa and gives 100 random kids a present that is actually a bomb. All randomly brought home and put under trees by kids scattered all over the city, Mardon and Trickster know that there is no way the STAR Labs crew can get to them all in time. ZOOM again comes through a breach to ask if Wells has decided. Wells begs that he needs one more day. ZOOM says he'll tell Jesse he says hello and he has one more day. WHATS THE BIG DECISION?? HOW DID THIS START? Mardon is at the tree lighting ceremony and The Flash arrives with the newly crafted "Weather Wand" to stop him. Suddenly, Mardon takes a swan dive off of the roof they are on and as it turns out, the Weather Wizard can fly! It has something to do with air and pressure but I didn't realize Cisco's explanation but Barry goes after him in one of the show's coolest chases ever with amazing special effects where Barry even runs on a flying helicopter blade! When he finally catches Mardon, they are in Central City Square where all of the holiday events are going on and Trickster waiting. The crazy duo show Flash one of the present bombs that they have been giving out to the public and explain that there is no way in he can find them all in time. Barry begs them not to do this but Mardon says they will deactivate the bombs only if he lets them kill him right there very publicly for the world to see. Barry has no choice and drops the wand and starts to get the crap beat out of him by the Weather Wizard using the device against him.

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At STAR Labs, Harry has an idea that by cross-referencing credit card statements, they just need to find one bomb and send it into one of the 52 breaches that is a 1/4 mile above the city. If they change the dimensional frequency of one bomb, the others will magnetically be pulled up into the breach by the drone from Ciscos workshop. Barry is pretty much knocked out and Trickster is moving in for the up close kill when Cisco lets him know that Wells' plan worked and to start fighting. Barry quickly wraps the two villains up for CCPD to pick up but Patty arrives and immediately shoots "The Boot" onto Flash's leg stopping him from moving. He stands over Mardon with her revolver ready to pull the trigger but in standard TV cliche fashion, Barry talks her down and she arrests him instead of killing him with Mark Hamill as Trickster chewing the scenery and blubbering, "That was beautiful!"

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The annual West Christmas party is underway and everyone is there except Harry who Barry actually forgives through the glass before he left STAR Labs for the night. It was a weird scene that I did not really believe and was just Barry caught up in the emotion of this episode. He's talking to Harry (without him hearing him) as if he is talking to the real Harrison Wells who is actually Eobard Thawne. And he doesn't want to carry the weight and anger of him killing her mother anymore. Seems kind of thin to me. Anyway, Patty shows up at the holiday party and says she needs to tell Barry some stuff but obviously it is nothing he hasn't already heard as The Flash. A knock at the door, and it's a young man that introduces himself as Francine's son. Joe and Iris are floored and he says he just wanted to stop by but sees they have company but Joe invites him in and I guess we will see what happens next year with the addition of Wally West to the cast.

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Finally, Wells is outside of STAR Labs and ZOOM returns saying that time is up. Wells says he knows why he keeps sending villain after villain through the breach after Barry. He wants to fatten The Flash up like a Christmas goose so to speak so that he will become more powerful so that he can steal his Speed Force. ZOOM admits that the more power Barry has, the more he can take. Wells asks to see Jesse and ZOOM produce her in a second and then takes her away. ZOOM wants his decision now and Wells says, "I'll do it, I'll help you steal The Flash's speed!!"

The Flash -- "Running to Stand Still" -- Image FLA209b_0146b.jpg -- Pictured (L-R): Shantel VanSanten as Patty Spivot and Grant Gustin as Barry Allen -- Photo: Katie Yu/The CW -- © 2015 The CW Network, LLC. All rights reserved.

Overall, I very much liked the mid-season finale even though they really tried to squeeze a little too much into one episode. I thought that the Trickster & Mardon's plan with the 100 bombs was pretty sick and dastardly but extremely clever outsmarting The Flash. For those that are comic fans, we know who Wally West is and what he becomes so we will have to wait and see, I just don't know how much room we have left on the hour-long show without another spinoff life Legends of Tomorrow to keep track of them all!

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