‘The Flash’ Post-Show Analysis: Season 2, Episode 9: ‘Running To Stand Still’
Welcome back to Up To Speed, in which Flash TV show veteran Dylan Todd and newbie Ziah Grace break down the latest episode of The Flash, dispense some Flash Facts, and talk about what works, what doesn’t, and where the series might be headed.
This week, we all know it’s Christmas, a son rises in the West, and Patty Spivot reads our recaps. “Running To Stand Still” was directed by Kevin Tancharoen, and written by Andrew Kreisberg.
Dylan: Well Ziah, it’s here! The mid-season finale! Did you also happen to catch that this was a Christmas episode as well? Because they only managed to mention Christmas every chance they got. How’d you like this episode?
Ziah: I think the only Christmas song they didn’t mention by title is, “Hark, The Angels Sing”, and even then, I could’ve just missed it on a first watch. Still, my Jewish heart was warmed by the fact that we got a whole deathtrap devoted to dreidels, so at least there’s that.
Speaking of Christmas, I was surprised that our favorite redeemed sinner, Captain Cold, wasn’t really in this episode very much. I love Snart refusing to admit he just wants to hang out with Barry, so that was a real bummer for me.
Dylan: Oh yeah, the little bit we saw of Snart was a lot of fun, but he’s gotta save that good stuff up for Legends of Tomorrow, man. (And the best gift this show gave me was finally getting all that LoT setup out of the way so we could get back to Zoom.)
Ziah: I just love Snart specifically interacting with Barry so much that that was still kind of a bummer, but oh well. LoT is a train that can’t be stopped at this point.
Dylan: Before we get too far into this, since we both watched it, how’d you like the second part of the Flarrow crossover, AKA The Case of the Killer Caveman?
Ziah: Oh man, that episode was R-A-D to the point where I was worried about growing a second hand. Like… Like radiation? Anyway, it was dumb and amazing, from Barry getting a do-over to fight dirtbag Vandal Savage to Ollie being just… just even worse at lies than Barry is (which is honestly impressive).
The only thing that felt kind of weird was that they’re throwing Vandal Savage into the Egyptian Reincarnation stuff with the Hawkpeople, which… ah, that makes his and Carter Hall’s super white people casting a little odd. Vandal Savage being Dutch was kind of whatever to me, because hey, there were probably Dutch cavemen, but having two out of your three Egyptian characters be white is a little uncomfortable.
Dylan: Oh absolutely, but this is Hollywood, where there's a movie coming up about the Egyptian pantheon cast almost entirely with white actors. But other than that, I also found the second part of the crossover to be just as Silver Age insane as the first part. But why are we doing Wilson and Haley’s jobs for them?! Let’s talk “Running To Stand Still.”
Ziah: Speaking of that crossover, though, we’ve got the fact that Joe is the smoothest talker in any universe: he managed to convince P. Spivot that it’s totally cool that Twells is around, and she shouldn’t freak out, entirely off camera. That is amazing. In the Flash universe, they have West talks instead of Ted talks.
But before we get to Patty keeping a secret from Barry (for once, sort of), we have probably the raddest opening The Flash has ever had, where Zoom fights Twells through STAR Labs to deliver him a holiday ultimatum. Dylan, how great was this opening?
Dylan: It was fantastic! Really set the tone for the episode and geez, Zoom is still very terrifying. It also sets up Twells as a sympathetic (spoilers?) villain, as we see him taking Zoom up on his offer to help him get the Flash at the end of the episode.
Ziah: Well, with all the Harrison Wells flashbacks we’ve been seeing in recent weeks, it was really only a matter of time, but any Twells is good Twells in my book. His bookends of the episode were really strong pieces of acting in a show that’s usually more goofy than heartfelt.
Dylan: I would tend to agree with you were it not for the presence of one Jesse L. Martin who just slays in this episode. The man is a gift. I was watching the scene where he was talking to Barry about the burden of finding out he now has a son and was trying to imagine this show having the emotional core it manages to have were Joe played by anybody else. He can do funny and goofy and bewildered, and then turn in some of the most heart-wrenching scenes like this week. Him giving Barry his dad’s watch was really beautiful stuff that could have easily veered into schmaltz were he not such a skilled actor. Joe West forever and ever.
Ziah: Oh, absolutely. I was actually about to transition into talking about how surprisingly skillfully the writers used Jesse L. Martin this week; from Iris implying that she and Barry had rough childhoods to Barry talking about what it was like growing up without a dad last week in the crossover, it really hinted towards Joe West being a lesser parent, but his actions this week really showcased how much he loves his family. Martin really gets across the regret and best efforts of a man trying his best with what he has, and dammit if he didn’t make me feel emotions, Dylan.
Dylan: Also, it should be noted that, between last week’s Arrow and Joe this week, it’s a banner time of year to find out you had a secret son on the CW. It’s the hot new gift this holiday season. The writers on these shows going full Oprah, all, “You get a son! And you get a son! Everybody gets a son!”
Ziah: Oh dang, is that the twist of Jane The Virgin this season? That explains why they’ve been calling the baby a boy this whole time.
Dylan: Spoilers! I’m only halfway through the first season, Ziah geez! But seriously, Jane the Virgin, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, iZombie, Flash, and Arrow? CW is killing it RN TBH.
Ziah: Seriously. Speaking of quality television programs, Mark Hamil is really Hamil-ing it up as the Trickster this week, huh? Was it me, or was he basically being the Christmas Joker?
Dylan: Oh, definitely. Which, I mean, his Trickster in the 90s Flash series was basically a gaudier version of Nicholson’s Joker from Batman ‘89, so it fits. Dude was going for it. It was like a force had awakened inside of him. I just hope that he flossed after chewing up all that scenery.
Ziah: Haha. Much as his Trickster basically felt like he was playing a live-action Joker from Batman: The Animated Series, I can’t really say it bothered me. It’s a great portrayal, and Hamil’s definitely no slouch at it. The Weather Wizard and his handsome face were a little wasted, considering the Patty subplot, and what we were leading to, but this was still a heck of a Fall Finale.
Dylan: The actor who played Mardon got super lucky he didn’t have to compete with Hamill’s Trickster and Miller’s Cold the entire episode, because both of those dudes are not exactly subtle. Still, I feel like he definitely worked a lot better here than the other times we’ve seen him. Plus, he had a very clear motivation: kill the Flash to avenge his dirtbag brother. Oh, and also he can fly now, which is fun.
Ziah: I’m not sure if it was just the Christmas time of it all, but man, that dude was pretty stoked to be able to form snowballs and shoot them at the Flash, huh? Kinda makes you wonder why he wanted Captain Cold on his team.
Dylan: Legends of Tomorrow works in mysterious ways. They tried to hand-wave it away by tying it back to the Rogues episode late in season 1 where Cold busted the only living meta-villains out of a police transport, but at this point, we know. The hand of Plot Contrivance looms heavy over that decision.
Ziah: Speaking of, wasn’t Firebug also in prison? Or… Firefly? St. Elmo’s Fire? One of those guys.
Dylan: Heatwave, yeah, but Dominic Purcell couldn’t get the time off at Petco. His manager, Daryl --- who is a jerk --- told him he was taking off too much time for Legends of Tomorrow. Thanks, Daryl, you jerk. But yeah, it’s weird that they didn’t spring him, too, as he’s going to have to be out of jail to get all legendary.
Ziah: Hmmm, well, that’s for you and Matt Wilson to cover as the Leg-Ends of Tomorrow, but for us, let’s get into the episode proper. First off, Patty continues to be amazing.
Dylan: Yeah, she’s great. I worried that the whole revenge thing would kind of ruin her, but it felt believable and added a wrinkle to the main conflict of the episode. I really thought Barry was going to unmask himself after they almost got blowed up real good by the killer dreidels, but nope. Barry will continue to lie to her because that’s what people do on this show.
Ziah: I was aaaaaaalmost on board for him not telling her just for the line when he says, “Hold on to me”, and she responds with, “Actually, I’m seeing someone right now.” That was phenomenal. But beyond the brief joy that line gives, it is really getting worse and worse that he’s not telling her, yeah. At this point, I feel like it’s more likely that she’s going to figure it out before Barry tells her, and that’ll be a (pretty fair) point of contention between them.
Dylan: Yeah, definitely. I did like that Iris seems to be the only person capable of feeling bad about lying, with her coming clean to Joe about Wally’s existence because the guilt was eating her alive. (Also, it’s time yet again for me to say that it would be awesome if the writers could give Iris something to do besides stand around and once in a while give somebody information or a mini-speech. Just throwing that out there in case Santa is wondering what to get me.)
Ziah: True, but it did lead to a pretty nice moment between Barry and Iris that I appreciated. I like that Barry really is the only person Iris could trust to tell this really heavy secret to, and that they shared a (PLATONIC SIBLING) hug about it.
Dylan: Yes! That was great. It’s nice to see them stop trying to make Barry/Iris a thing. And speaking of illogical things, how about the detective work necessary to figure out where the Trickster was broadcasting from?
Ziah: Oh man, you and I both know that I’m a fan of dumb comic-book science, but this episode was rough for that. From finding an obscure doll (that’s been mass-produced on both earths in the same warehouse?) to… to just friggin’ magnets stopping the bombs in the climax, this actually was too much for me.
Dylan: I didn’t mind it, but Jay Garrick going, “Oh, there’s a reflection in his eye!” was just… nope. The Speed Force can do alot of things, but grant super-sight is not one of them.
Ziah: Jay Garrick can bite me this episode. Dude keeps making jokes about how things are different on “my earth” like he’s a dad who just discovered the “I’m hungry/ Hi Hungry, I’m Dad” joke.
Dylan: Jay Garrick is 100% Dad Flash tho, so that’s in character. Just this old timey drip who thinks bomber jackets are rad and heavy water is cool.
Ziah: Fair. Speaking of easy jokes, my Line Reading Of The Week goes to Cisco for saying what we’re all thinking re: Caitlin and Jay: “The thirst is real.”
Dylan: Yeah, Snarrick finally getting together was such a great thing if only because I’m sick of hearing about it.
Ziah: Yeah, honestly, the more Jay’s around to just say, “Hey, Earth-2!” and “I used to be the Flash!” the less I like him. Although, runner-up to the LotW is Twells saying, “Your toys. Give them to me.” Dylan, True or False time: Twells is the best part of this show, go.
Dylan: False, because Joe West exists. But yeah, I can definitely see why Twells doesn’t like Jay because the dude is a drip and Twells is pretty cool, despite him, you know, turning evil to save his daughter’s life and all that.
Ziah: Is he……. a drip of Heavy Water?
Dylan: SMDH. Alright, I think we got it all. Anything else you want to say before we pack this up for 2015?
Ziah: Hmmm, not really. Flash continues to be really charming, and a genuine pleasure to review with you every week, so that’s been nice. Here’s hoping that Wally West gets some good interaction with the cast as his cliffhanger appearance would suggest.
Dylan: Yeah, I’m excited to see where the series goes once the constant Legends-setup has gone away and we’re back in the new year.
Ziah: Yeah, my big hopes for the new year is that Cisco gets a decent girlfriend and that Barry finally tells Patty about his secret (to her) identity.
Dylan: That and Iris gets something to do
Ziah: She’s writing about the middle class, Dylan! Snart liked her writing!
Dylan: Well who am I to argue with a guy rocking a cold gun? Until next year, keep on flashin’…