Season Two, Episode Nine — “Running to Stand Still”
By Jarrod Jones. The Weather Wizard’s back! But if history has taught us anything, it’s that these Rogues like to travel in packs. Yessir, the annual Holiday Episode of The Flash is here for your seasonal enjoyment, and it’s just as sweet and ultimately forgettable as your last mug of eggnog. (When was the last time I had eggnog? Anyway.) If we’re talking about this episode in a week — say nothing for the months we have until The Flash returns to us next year — it won’t be because Mark Hamill popped by or another amusing turn as The Trickster before The Force Awakens happened. It’ll be because of one name: Wally West.
Patty Spivot and Joe West get some ample breathing room to flex their personal strengths (and to exorcise their own personal demons), Harrison Wells of Earth-2 has yet another secret he’s keeping from S.T.A.R., and Caitlin and Jay finally get their moment under the mistletoe. That’s all good stuff, but really, people, the biggest thing about “Running to Stand Still” is simply this: Wally West.
And yes, absolutely, Wentworth Miller rules. But people. WALLY WEST.
WHAT WORKED: Detective Joe’s reaction to having a long lost son went over about as well as you’d expect. Jesse L. Martin’s acting chops are on fire this week, as our favorite father figure works overtime to contemplate the impact of the untimely news. (Though, holidays do have a knack for dragging up family secrets.) Detective Joe runs the gamut of blissful ignorance, shock, anguish, regret, acceptance, excitement, and shock again all in a single episode. The effect it has on the viewer is a doozy.
Speaking of pathos, this week Shantel VanSanten finally made good on all the Weather Wizard angst foisted upon her character. And though it does take her down a dark road — as all tales of vengeance must — VanSanten’s emotional fireworks finally gave Patty Spivot something to do besides make smooch-time with Barry Allen. The result is that Patty Spivot has finally come into the fold as a character with real stakes. And it gives her relationship with the Barry another dimension before she knows what her boyfriend does when she’s not around.
“You’re doing a pretty lousy job of being a villain this week.” – Barry, to Snart. This episode did just enough to forecast Leonard’s altruistic sea change in the imminent Legends of Tomorrow. Wentworth Miller is easily one of the best things CW DC TV has going, and considering the bombast of last week’s episode, how this episode downplays his exchange with Barry was precisely the thoughtful stocking stuffer of things to come I was looking for. (Sorry, holiday puns have a way of sneaking out from under you.)
WHAT DIDN’T: The Rogues are back in town, and even though it’s an wonderfully vile assortment of the show’s finest guest stars (Mark Hamill! Wentworth Miller! Liam McIntyre!), this week’s baddies just don’t have enough behind them to make their appearances matter. And that’s a continued issue with The Flash; each season’s overarching villain easily shoves every other villain (Grodd included, sadly) into the periphery. Right now, Zoom’s the Omega-level threat Barry and the S.T.A.R. Kids should be focusing on. That makes baddies like The Trickster, Weather Wizard, and yes, even Captain Cold seem like pests in comparison.
Wells-2: “SAY SOMETHING!” Zoom: “Merry Christmas.”
Iris: “They didn’t have any Green Arrow dolls.” Detective Joe: “Don’t know why you’d want a toy of that crazy man.”
“Oh, dear Lord, just kiss already. Ah, the thirst is REAL.” – Cisco, to Caitlin and Jay, who should really get it over with.
“Holy Hannah!” – Cisco.
Patty: “I‘m sorry, I don’t have time to bring you up to speed.” Barry: “That’s ironic.”
Cisco: “Earth-2 has ‘The Godfather’?” Wells-2: “Every Earth has ‘The Godfather’, Vito.”
“Dreidel dreidel dreidel… I made you out of C4.” – The Trickster. Pretty sure that ain’t kosher.
“Your toys. Give them to me.” – Wells-2. Uh… maybe they should have had Cisco knock on the door?
BEST MOMENT: Enter: Wally West. The name gets a couple of drops throughout the episode, but when Detective Joe is finally met face-to-face with his son for the very first time, not only was I trying not to “aww!” all over the place, I was coming to terms with the fact that Wally West is finally on ‘The Flash’. It’s a big week for DC fans, make no mistake.
EPISODE’S MVP: Detective Joe. Jesse L. Martin continues to be the beating heart of this series. It’s nice to finally have Central City’s most compromised police detective get some time to work out problems of his own. He can point a gun with a grimace along with the best of them, but Detective West is first and foremost a father, with all the responsibilities and burdens that come with that. Martin channels a sadness that would make anybody feel twinges of their own personal regret. Go, Joe.
– I do believe that Iris is holding a DC Collectibles action figure. Those boxes really give it away.
– Mardon needs a damn costume already.
– I could watch Barry and Cisco finish each other’s sentences all day.
– Hiding in the shadows and obscuring your voice is an Ollie thing, Barry. Tell Patty already. Everyone else knows.
– That Wizard’s Wand looks like it was assembled out of lightsaber parts. Which isn’t a bad thing.
– Okamura Toys? So does that mean that Hiro is off somewhere, tinkering around with a giant Composite Green Arrow/The Flash rocket ship?
– Another News 52 sighting, only this time, it was AMAZING.
– Detective Joe shoulda said to Patty, “Hey, Detective Spivot! Welcome! Now can we talk about how you stole a piece of equipment from Police Headquarters, and used it to assault a superhero to enact sweet and terrible vengeance?”
– Wally West makes his first-ever live action appearance this week. But he made his first-ever DC Comics appearance in The Flash #110 as Kid Flash back in 1959. Later on, he stepped into his uncle Barry’s yellow boots of The Flash in Crisis on Infinite Earths #12 (1986). And finally, Wally made his first-ever appearance in the New 52 in The Flash Annual #3 (2014).
– That’s right; in the comics, Wally isn’t Iris’ brother, he’s her nephew, and Iris and Barry definitely got married at one point. And I’d be perfectly fine with Wally becoming Barry’s brother-in-law, if there wasn’t the matter of one Patty Spivot.
– It’s established in this week’s show that “Wally” is short for “Wallace”, though I’m still holding out hope that it’s soon revealed that his middle name is “Rudolph”.