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Wednesday, 9 December 2015

The Flash S2E9: Running To A Stand Still

The Flash
Series 2, Episode 9
Running To A Stand Still.

So, after a short nine weeks, we have reached the end of this half(ish) of this series of The Flash. It's been a pretty solid show so far - it's certainly had its ups and downs in terms of quality, but with the exception of that slightly questionable first crossover episode, I wouldn't ever have called it bad. We've got an interesting villain, some genuinely delightful twists (I was super-happy to see Earth-2 Wells become a main character), and a nice spread of diabolical Earth-2 villains. I've been pretty happy with it, in the main.

In this week's episode: As Christmas approaches, Weather Wizard breaks Captain Cold and the Trickster out of prison, enlisting their help to kill the Flash. While Cold declines the offer, Weather Wizard and the Trickster push ahead with their plan. Patty, driven to recklessness by Weather Wizard's reappearance, sets out to take him down. Iris finally tells Joe about his son, Wally, prompting some introspection on Joe's part about the mistakes he's made. Meanwhile, Wells, distracted and visibly unhappy, is revealed to have been in contact with Zoom, who makes him an offer: Help him steal Barry's speed, and Wells will get his daughter Jesse back.

So, I'll be honest, this didn't feel like a midseason finale. Compared with - well, the vast majority of midseason finales, but for the sake of comparing like with like we'll compare it to the midseason finale of Flash's first series, it's remarkably plot-and-dramatic-revelation light. There's a lot going on, to be sure: We have the brief formation of the Rogues, movement on the Wally plotline, Patty getting character development, and Wells' brief scenes with Zoom, but with the exception of the latter (which takes up all of about five minutes in total), none of it feels like midseason finale fare. After all, part of the job of a midseason finale (that's such a ridiculous term and I've used it about six times in this paragraph alone, good god) is to build up dramatic tension to keep viewers' interest over a long hiatus, and this episode didn't really do that.

WALLY. Excitement.

Which is not to say that it's bad, it's actually a really good episode. I do have some complaints, chief among them being that they pretty much brushed Patty shooting Wells under the carpet and neglected to bring it up again at all, making it seem like just nobody thought to mention it to Barry, and that Patty apparently didn't put two-and-two together or try to question Caitlin or Joe about it. That's a plot hole right there, and the two second reference they made to it where Patty mumbles something about Barry not even knowing that Harrison Wells is alive does not remotely patch that hole. I have questions. I have so many questions, and I am so very tired of people not knowing about Team Flash.

(Which is not surprising, since as a general rule of thumb, I hate all 'someone's a superhero and it's a secret from [insert x loved one or friend] plotlines' - stories always get much more interesting once everybody's in on the secret.)

But this is still a very strong episode. Weather Wizard, played by Spartacus' Liam McIntyre (who is always a joy to watch), is just the right amount of gruff, cocky, and sinister; and Mark Hamill's Trickster, who is basically just Old Make-upless Joker, is a delight to watch. Admittedly, the one-note 'the Trickster likes murdering people' jokes did get a bit old about halfway through the episode, but not to the point of distraction or anything like that. It was lovely to see Snart again, too, even if he didn't really have many scenes: Wentworth Miller is, as ever, hamming it up as much as it is humanly possible for someone to ham up a role, and it is glorious and wonderful and I wish that he was in every episode (which is handy, because he will be in every episode of Legends of Tomorrow, presumably).

Chewing the scenery so hard that Barry's house is now missing a wall.

Their plan is a little predictable, all told, and the solution for it is patently absurd ("If we send one bomb into the rift, it will attract every other bomb in as well!" "That makes no sense." "It makes perfect sense, shut up.") but the episode manages to make it work.

The Wests' storyline was pretty great as well. It was nice to see Iris actually coming clean to Joe without having to be caught out in a lie, and great that the show skipped over all of the 'you lied to me!' drama, because we've done that whole shebang before. Candice Patton and Jesse L. Martin both put on astounding performances this episode, and I am absolutely here for Wally West becoming a regular character, so I was obviously delighted to see him show up at the end of the episode. 

The Patty storyline, meanwhile, was definitely the weakest. It's a plotline that we've seen before in a dozen other shows, it unfolded more or less exactly how you'd expect, and it was often drowned out by the three other, more interesting plotlines in the episode. To be honest, the whole thing felt like the writers just wanted to get it out of the way, and that's a shame, because I like Patty, but it often seems like the writers don't actually want her in the show, if that makes sense.

(I'm not convinced that does make sense.)

Patty, how are you not recognising your own boyfriend here.

The Wells and Zoom plotline kind of steals the show, though, if only because Wells and Zoom always steal whatever scenes they're in individually, let alone together. Like Patty's storyline, this does progress in a pretty formulaic and predictable manner, but that's balanced out by Zoom still being genuinely quite terrifying. Also, we finally get an explanation for why he's sending metahumans after Barry, and it's - to make him get faster, which is more or less Thawne's plan from last series.

Which - look, okay, I like that we got an explanation, I just wish that the explanation wasn't 'I need Barry to get faster, because that is what every villain on this show needs.'

Still, this has been a solid end to a solid nine episodes, and I'm looking forward to the second half of the series. I'm also looking forward to Legends of Tomorrow, which I shall definitely be doing as an ongoing, so look out for that.

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