The Flash: Running to Stand Still

"So what do you say, speed freak? Wanna roast chestnuts?"

The Weather Wizard tries building a team to attack the Flash. Meanwhile, Zoom attacks the Flash team from the inside–and Barry, Joe and Iris face some tough revelations.

So this is a Flash Christmas Special! I had a ton of fun with the Flash supervillains tonight. Zoom opens this episode with a chase and capture of Wells-2 which is, in special effects and structure, so over the top that right after Zoom said Merry Christmas (with perfect comedic timing) my husband and I turned to each other and said "Live from New York, it's Saturday night!" It just had that same exact impact of wham-bam let's start the show!


Every time Hamill, McIntyre and Miller get on screen - especially together - I cheer. My notes are full of things like "Captain Cold's giving Mardon his sexy look. Someone's gonna die." Hamill gets the best lines and creepy moments, but the dialogue and its execution are just stellar all round. Unfortunately, with all the smoking looks and expressive posturing banter, Cold escapes the other two, confesses all to Barry and bugs out for his own television show. Hamill and McIntyre are the ones left confronting Barry, who's now forewarned. I was disappointed about this, although the resulting attack-the-city-with-Christmas-presents plot was fairly suspenseful. Having Mardon and Snart playing against each other, kept only from battling by the way-more-insane James Jesse, would have been stellar. But like Barry tells Snart, he's doing a terrible job of being a villain this week. Miller will be on Legends of Tomorrow starting January 21st, and I'm looking forward to seeing what he does there. I'm fairly certain the Flash cast will miss him as well; Barry was giving him good-bye eyes.


Weather Wizard and Trickster are bad enough on their own, however. It was cool seeing the Weather Wand again, and I knew, just knew Barry was going to sacrifice himself. The Wizard amps up his powers with the wand, which I didn't expect; I assumed it would be a trap, and the Wizard would suck all the whatsis out of the air and leave himself powerless. Wrong; he's able to feed somehow off the wand, filling himself with power to kill a Barry held helpless by the lives of a hundred children. Jay, Wells-2 and Cisco join forces to figure out how to defuse Trickster's child-bombing scheme and give Barry the ability to fight back. If Jay and Wells-2 can really work together, this bodes well for the fight against Zoom. And you cannot NOT love that moment when a furious Barry's eyes glow.

Patty's storyline, and the increasing focus on her abilities both as a cop and as a detective, are both making her a much more interesting candidate for Barry Romance than I expected. She and Barry find the Trickster's hiding place independently but simultaneously; both fight for justice, both have daddy issues. At one point I was thinking, Patty's just Barry without powers. I even see a parallel to Patty in Barry's obsession with getting Wells-1. I still can't think why Barry isn't telling Patty; they would make an incredible team. While there's hints these two will have a discussion soon, I fear it might come too late. As we've seen, sometimes you can keep a secret too long, and it can drive people apart even - or especially - when the secret's no longer necessary. And you can then destroy your own happiness.

The heart of the episode was the tightening relationship between Barry, Iris and Joe, who are starting to understand this very fact. Iris finally breaking and confessing to Joe about his son through Francine made sense. Iris is totally 180 from last season, when she was fighting to find out secrets and convinced that others keeping them was a Sign of Evil. She's so much more interesting and mature now. Joe is beginning to mature as well; he's starting to figure out how his need for secrecy, with Iris, with Patty, is a lot more about his need for control over his life from a period when life was not under his control.

I think Joe's somewhat overwrought in taking all the guilt here, but, erm, I'm starting to see where Barry gets his occasional bouts of depressed ranting. Because Barry is Joe's son. That's the thing about Henry Allen; he's Barry's idol and birth father, but Henry's in recovery from jailtime, and because of those many years apart it's Joe and his personality and sense of honor who Barry's come to model. Supporting Joe as he processes the knowledge of Wallace West's existence makes Barry see this–which helps him throw off what's become his greatest fear, never achieving happiness, a fear implanted by his dark father, Wells-1. In Barry's final impassioned speech to Wells-1 (made to Wells-2's back, of course) we're seeing a Barry who's realizing happiness is a choice. Barry's helping Joe and Iris and Patty led him to help himself. The three of them have warm, loving bonds we've seen grow and tighten through a season and a half, and those bonds are ready to support this new family member. What'll happen with Wally over the rest of the season? I don't know, but I'm afraid. Zoom is still out there. He still has Wells' daughter. And now he has a promise from Wells: that in exchange for his daughter's life, Wells will steal Barry's speed.

Even when Wells is a good guy, he's a bad guy. Will he be destroyed by his own secrets? We'll find out on January 19th.

Bits and Pieces

The Flash drawings, and the lightning bolt paper-doll chain, gave Trickster just the right aura of menacing but comic book villain.

Merry Christmas: a repeated leitmotif throughout the episode. I kept catching people saying it at important moments.


The bomb-destruction effect is cool, but I think I caught a tongue in cheek moment, when Cisco's like, "Dudes, how does this thing work?" and Wells turns to Jay and goes, "Dude, help me come up with better gobbledygook so I can explain how I can magically remove all these bombs." It's all magnets, man.

The introduction of Wally West as Iris' brother has to be interesting for DC comics fans. Last season, people speculated about how glimpses of the future might be revealing the future of Iris and Barry's relationship; it appears in the book, Wally and Iris have one or two completely different connections. I love this, because to me it means the show isn't trying to stick to comic book canon and has the freedom to take the characters through emotional arcs that work really well for film and television. (One of my big gripes about some poor superhero films is that sticking too tightly to what works on a page usually results in a bad adaptation. Lord of the Rings made some necessary edits and changes, and I think the story became a much more appropriate fit for the medium. But I digress.)

The look on Joe's face when he finally meets his son is matched by Wells' face when his daughter is snatched away. Great acting on both sides.

Quotables

Wells-2: Every Earth has the Godfather, Vito.
(I wonder if this is going to come back in a future episode, because if there ARE some constants in the Flash universe, I'm sure Cisco will be able to weaponize them.)

Trickster: Feliz navidad! Time for a real war on Christmas.

Wells: Your toys. Give them to me.
Boy: Mom!

Overall

Five out of five mysterious bomb-grabbing magnets. How did they manage to pack so much into an hour?

4 comments:

sunbunny said...

I totally burst into tears when Joe gave Barry the watch.

Billie Doux said...

sunbunny, I cried, too.

Wentworth Miller kept making me grin in this episode. Not sure why. There's just something about the way he's portraying Snart that I love.

JRS said...

And wasn't that watch symbolic on just so many levels? Joe knew exactly what he was saying to Barry. It was beautiful. (I was definitely tearing up.)

Patrick said...

I don't know why, but the complete and utter seriousness of Tom Cavanaugh's delivery when he said "Every Earth has a Godfather, Vito" makes me crack up every single time.