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REVIEW: The Flash 2×09 “Running to Stand Still”

I really can’t tell if I am frustrated or not quite yet, but I am sure this review will help me work through some things. You have to judge everything on its own merits and “Running to Stand Still” despite some excellent material for a lot of characters ended up feeling more like an empty present or something you need but did not really want. You know, like socks. In comparison to last year’s “ The Man in The Yellow Suit”, this year’s Christmas episode is much more of a slow burn. Something that hopefully over time I will actually appreciate more for its role in the season than what we were given. I mean let’s look at all of the awesome components we are given: Weather Wizard, The Trickster, Captain Cold, Zoom, and for the cherry on top Wally West. We are saturated with comic book goodness that just feels like it should add up to a great episode, and it just somehow manages to do what is expected.

So let’s talk about the Rogues and their ever increasing pans to torment Barry and attempt to kill him. By themselves each rogue has had a great episode or two, but for some reason none of them really managed to click tonight or make a lasting impression. Mark Hamill was at his Trickster-y best hamming it up and driving Weather Wizard and Captain Cold crazy with his shenanigans, but beyond that he didn’t really add anything to the story. Captain Cold was in the episode for the briefest of subplots, but his only need was to get out of prison and that was accomplished within the first few minutes. He didn’t need to go to Barry’s place to tell him what was up, I am fairly certain Barry would have figured out the Rogues wanted him dead. However, the biggest failure of the team was Weather Wizard because he had so much potential as the emotional crux of the episode.

Patty wanted Mardon dead for the completely valid reason of murdering her father and despite Shantel VanSanten doing great work throughout the episode I didn’t really care for the conflict between them. There was no way for Mardon to come out looking good in this situation as if he remembered Patty’s father it would be super weird, I mean he is just one man in what is probably a long list of bodies. I mean if the two of them managed to have more than one scene together that probably would have added something to Patty’s conflict, but the first time their paths cross is when she is debating whether or not to murder him in cold blood. This plot deserved so much more that what it was afforded and I really hope there is some sort of deleted scene where they ran into each other earlier on. If there was ever a time for a characters flashback it was this.

On the other side of the coin we had the other emotional conflict of the episode involving Joe finding out about Wally, and you know what, that was probably the strongest part of the entire show. No matter how many times I say it, it will never be enough, Jesse L. Martin is the unsung hero of this show and truly the best actor on it. Every scene he was in had the perfect amount of emotional weight, from when he found out about Wally, to his conversations with Barry, it just all managed to work on so many different levels. Of course Joe being a great dad all lead to another spectacular moment with Barry forgiving Harrison Wells. Grant Gustin nailed everything in that moment of finally letting go of everything Eobard had done to him. He knows that in order to move on, in order to be truly happy he has to let go of what happened in the past. That is the only way that he will be able to become a better Flash.

The weakest moments of our episode unfortunately are the interactions between Zoom and Harry as they not only seem to weaken Zoom’s menace, but the reduce the effect of his overall planning. Everything we have seen thus far would indicate that Zoom doesn’t need a partner in crime and yet he seemingly caves to Harry’s demands. Not only does he cave his motivation as a speed vampire seems kind of confusing now if he seemingly only wants Barry to get faster to siphon him off. Was there not a way for him to do that to Jay, or was Jay already at his max speed? It just feels like there should be a much stronger reason for Zoom to go after Barry as right now he seems increasingly one dimensional in comparison to Eobard.

It just feels like this season could be so much more and now since we are done servicing the whole Legends of Tomorrow set up we can finally get down to Flash vs Zoom.

Final Grade B-

+The Rogues teaming up

+Patty, Joe, and Barry material was on point

+Solid humor

-Rogues never really stood out

-Conflict between Patty and Mardon was weak

-Zoom being defanged

-Wally showing up in the last minute

Extra Thoughts

-Seriously, Wally shows up for all of one second, he should have been there for at least a good five minute scene.

-The nod Jay gives about The Godfather is perhaps one of the most gif-able moments of this episode.

-Cisco was still on point with the comedy: highlights include “Just kiss already, the thirst is real”, and “How you like them magnets, bitch”.

-Enough is enough. GIVE ME GOD DAMN MIRROR MASTER!!!!

-No matter how disappointed I am in this episode, the fact they recreated one of my favorite Flash panels of him running across a helicopter blade made me giddy. It’s from The Flash #4 when Francis Manapaul was drawing and it is beautiful.

About the author

Scott Swartz