Flash "Running To Stand Still" (Midseason Finale REVIEW)

Written by Jacob Chimilar (@sweetlows)

Last week we got a blockbuster crossover extravaganza. This week we get to unwrap an early Christmas gift and it's just what we wanted!

 We start the episode with Zoom threatening Wells to help him with a unknown project and only a few days to decide. We find out later exactly what his nefarious plan really is. He, like Wells of Earth Prime, wants Barry to get faster, stronger and more powerful so that he can suck all the speed force he can out of Barry and use it to become that much more invincible. If that happens, maybe he'll change his name to Speed Demon? Maybe I'll leave the naming to Cisco.

Elsewhere we find Iris very much preoccupied with the fact that she knows about Wally West and is racking her brain on how and when to tell Joe about him. She goes seeking Barry's advice and he offers to stand at her side while she tells him the news. I like the fact that just like Joe offered to help Iris in her meeting with Francine, Barry is willing to help her with Joe and breaking the news to him. In both cases however, despite feeling the need for the help, she handles breaking the news on her own with Barry silently by her side and this sends Joe into shock as one would expect knowing there is a son you never knew you had. Once again, much like Joe for Barry, Barry is there to help console Joe as he sorts through his feelings and how he feels as though if only he had tried harder to stay in touch and not neglected Francine he would have known about his son and been there for him. Barry reassures him he did what he thought was right and that he was an excellent father and had he have known would have been one to Wally as well. It's a sweet moment and highlights the bond between Joe, Barry and Iris. The chemistry they have as a family is so real and enjoyable to watch, it's nice to see a family that despite all of their separate patchy pasts they have such a strong bond with one another that they were clearly the family they all needed to stay together. 

Our main plot for this episode is that Mark Madon, (Weather Wizard), The man who killed Spivot's father, returned and broken both Snart (Captain Cold) and The Trickster (played by the wonderful Mark Hamil) out of prison to unleash some evil this Christmas season and take down The Flash. After seeing Zoom had done some serious damage Mark declares that it is their opportunity to strike while he is weak.  The Trickster is all in but Snart needs some convincing. He seems to have taken a bit of a liking to Flash and there was no real money involved. Since he doesn't care for "charity work" he instead, behind their backs, goes to Barry and tells him about their plan to attack him. He still insists that he is still evil but Barry says that he "Isn't much of a villain this week" which i thought was a cute nod at the "villain of the week" trope.

Going forward with their plan to lure Barry into their trap, The Trickster, with his flare for theatrics pulls a page out of Hamil's " Christmas with the Joker!" handbook and broadcasts a message across the city, starting with a reworked Flash inspired Christmas carol and goating Barry into finding him. I'm sure this was almost 100% intentional and something the show has been known to do and it's a nice treat for fans while still being entertaining in it's own right. using some CSI style zooming in they trace The Trickster's location and Barry rushes after him only to find Patty has also figured it out. She is looking for the trickster too, but also Mark to get some justice for her father. Barry tells her to leave but she refuses, then a trap is sprung in the form of a small army of spinning dreidels all containing C4 as The trickster rewords the Chanukah song. Barry flys them out of there with his tornado arms and Spivot  tells Barry (as the flash) about her reason for coming and why she is so bent on her revenge. Her father was shot by Mark when he went to deposit money at the bank, a job she usually would do for her dad but that time she wanted to go hang out with her friends instead, leading her to blame herself for the murder almost as much as Mark himself, and partially why she became a cop in the first place. Barry now armed with that information has to keep it a secret until he can find a way, as Barry, to get her to come clean about it.

Meanwhile The Trickster is on to his next trick. Dressing up as Santa Claus and handing out bombs disguised as presents to kids to put under their trees at home. A rather dark and devious plan even for people like The Trickster. When Mark sets off another blizzard Barry rushes after him to stop him from causing any harm but when he arrives he is filled in on The Tricker's plan and Mark gives Barry the tough choice. Let them kill him or have over 100 bombs go off in homes across the city. Of course Barry chooses to take the beating and Cisco and the rest of STAR Labs starts working on a way to neutralize the bombs. Wells devises a plan, that i dont quite understand but it involves finding one bomb, using its magnetic signature  fly it across central city in a drone and opening one of the portals causing the bombs to fly towards the other bomb and exploding in the portal. Because it's christmas and because it's comic book science of course the plan works and  Cisco's says "How you like them Magnets bitch?" a bit of a Jesse Pinkman reference if you ask me. Barry now safe from the bomb threat takes down Mark and The Trickster. Patty once again is close by. uses a device that locks Barry to the ground so he can't run and takes aim at Mark. A tense conversation between Barry and Patty insues and Barry manages to talk her down from shooting Mark in cold blood on the street, that would most definitely ruin the christmas mood.

Finally we get to the family Christmas party, but just before we do Barry has some words for Wells. He is sitting in his office and Barry is on the other side, he uses the oppertunity to let go of all his hate for Wells that he has been carrying around. It seems as though Barry has finally moved on and is ready to be happy again despite what Wells said in his video. And with that happiness comes a pretty great party surrounded by all of Barry's friends and family. Then suddenly there is a knock on the door, Joe answers it and immediately realizes exactly who it is. Wally West has arrived and is welcomed into the house for a chat. And that is where they left it until next week.

What a wonderful way to go out for the winter break. It was a suitably festive episode I thoroughly enjoyed. Mark Hamil was a excellent, getting his villain on with style and some nice nods to his more famous evil doer. We got some good family drama mixed with some holiday sweetness and an introduction to a new important character in Wally West. All things I love to see in serialized TV shows. It's nice to see the mid season finale wrapped up nicely in a bow ready to be opened in a month's time with new and exciting developments