The Flash: Running to Stand Still review

The Flash midseason finale brings back Mark Hamill as the Trickster, plus Captain Cold, the Weather Wizard, and Wally West.

This Flash review contains spoilers.

The Flash Season 2 Episode 9

Will there be mobs of readers with torches and pitchforks waiting for me at DoG HQ if I say that I didn’t like an episode of The Flash featuring Mark Hamill? I mean, aside from the fact that Mr. Hamill originated the role of the Trickster on TV, and did a damn fine job as the voice of the Joker on Batman: The Animated Series, there’s a new frakkin’ Star Wars movie just about a week away. This can’t be right, can it?

Well, it can. “Running to Stand Still” feels like exactly what its title implies. It’s a wheel-spinning episode that, despite a couple of developments, really didn’t feel fully formed.

Sure, it was a nice excuse to get a bunch of villains together. In fact, this could have been a proper old school Rogues episode. Weather Wizard, Captain Cold, and Trickster are three core Flash villains, not to mention Zoom running around in the background. But none of it fit together.

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Mark Hamill’s Trickster is here because, well…schedules lined up and they could use a villain who can make toys work to his advantage for a Christmas episode. Wentworth Miller’s Captain Cold is here primarily because there needed to be some additional “hey, this guy is an eyelash away from being not so reprehensible that we won’t buy him as an anti-hero on Legends of Tomorrow” (not that I’m not happy to see him, I am, but this felt extraneous).

Mark “Weather Wizard” Mardon really felt like the most substantial piece of that triumvirate, primarily because of how he was used to flesh out Patty Spivot’s backstory. The problem is, in order for that to happen, Patty had to give a completely ridiculous soliloquy, one that, were there not such stored goodwill for this cast in general and her character in particular, would have been completely unforgivable. 

Seriously. Patty’s “why I became a cop…it’s my fault my Dad is dead” speech would have been less ridiculous if they faded out the background and she simply spoke it into the camera with violin music playing. It’s not her performance that’s the issue here, it’s the decision to dump paragraphs of expository dialogue on one character like that. 

This wasn’t the only time the episode ground to a halt under the weight of its own writing, either. Barry’s “I forgive you” speech to an unknowing Harrison Wells, while perfectly in keeping with Barry’s character and the overall themes of the show, felt strangely heavy-handed, as well. Yes, I get it…this was a result of watching what harboring rage nearly did to Patty. But somehow, perhaps because the Patty thing was such a mess, it just felt like one more thing that had to be rung up before the midseason break.

This isn’t to say it was all bad, though.

Jesse L. Martin absolutely saves things. The scene where he learns that he has (another) son was really something special. Just as impactful was his gifting the watch to Barry, where once again the effortless on screen chemistry between Mr. Gustin and Mr. Martin allows us to buy into their bond in a profound way. We got cheated out of seeing Joe have the big talk with Francine, though. That should have been on-camera, and I feel like all of this build-up to Wally West’s debut could have played out over an additional episode.

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 When we last saw Hamill’s Trickster, he was played somewhere in between his Joker and his earlier turns as James Jesse. I felt that Trickster was written a little to heavy on the Joker end of things this time around, and it kept taking me out of the story. Still, Hamill is always a treat, and the “Dreidel, dreidel, dreidel…I made you out of C4!!!” got a solid laugh from me.

Speaking of toys, so did Harry Wells’ “your toys…give them to me” to that poor little kid. I’m totally going to bust this out on my friends’ kids this Christmas. Alright, probably not. I’m not a monster.

This was handily the weakest episode of the season so far. Not too big a big deal considering that episode for episode, The Flash season 2 has delivered more consistently than season one did at this stage of the game last year. But it’s still disappointing when you get three classic Flash rogues together and a major league guest star in the form of Mark Hamill, and this is the best they can do. 

Flash Facts!

– Wally West first appeared in The Flash #110 back in 1959. Back then, he was Iris West’s nephew, not her half-brother, though.

They wasted no time in making him into Flash’s sidekick, known (appropriately) as Kid Flash. He initially wore a smaller version of Flash’s costume, which looked faintly ridiculous, before they gave him his own, much cooler duds. He was pretty awesome on the Young Justice animated series, too.

He took over as the Flash at the age of 21 after Barry Allen croaked during Crisis on Infinite Earths, and stuck around as headliner for the next 25 years (of comic book time) before Barry Allen returned, the DC Universe rebooted, and he was written out of existence, only to reappear in The Flash #30 in 2013. He’ll eventually become a speedster, but we’re not there yet.

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We also have an interview with Wally West actor, Keiynan Lonsdale right here.

– Okamura Toys!!! Hiro Okamura was another version of the Toyman (we’ll be seeing the original, Winslow Schott version over on Supergirl soon enough). Hiro was a bit less villainous than others, and even built a giant, ridiculous, composite Superman/Batman robot to help those two out back when they weren’t snarling at each other in that ridiculous Batman v Superman movie.

– Zoom wanting to make Barry better and faster kind of falls in line with the MO of the original comic book Zoom, although the reasoning (TV Zoom wants to siphon off Barry’s speed force energy) was profoundly different. I wrote more about the history of Zoom and my most likely suspects right here. And if you’ve read it before, I’ve updated it since then. Unless you read it like, an hour ago. I dunno.

– Every earth has The Godfather. Good to know. I wonder if on Godfather III is any better on Earth-Two?

Folks, thanks, as always, for reading my nonsense. Have a wonderful holiday season. I’m here on DoG every day, but my Flash reviews won’t be back until the show returns on January 19th. If you miss me, you can always holler at me on Twitter.

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2.5 out of 5