This article contains spoilers for the latest episode of The Flash
With the winter break upon us, The Flash pulled Mark Hamill’s iconic baddie The Trickster out of retirement for a super-sized Freak of the Week episode to help spice up the holiday season. Normally, that’d be a bit of a disappointment for a midseason finale — but with Hamill in the game — it made for one heck of a fun romp through Central City.
Seriously: Mark Hamill is a better Joker than The Joker
Hamill’s first appearance as The Trickster (in the modern-day series) was a lot of fun, but in last night’s “Running to Stand Still,” his manic insanity hit a whole new level of perfection. Hamill has always channeled the Joker a bit with the role, but he went full-on Clown Prince here. Apart from Luke Skywalker, Hamill is likely best known for voicing The Joker in Batman: The Animated Series and (more recently) Batman video games. If this Flash episode is any indication, somebody seriously needs to give him a shot at the character in live action (Is it too late to reshoot Jared Leto’s scenes in Suicide Squad?).
From his turn as a demented bomb-gifting Santa Claus, to his super villain banter with Captain Cold and the Weather Wizard, Hamill seemed to be having a blast with this character. It’s easy to forget about the excellent rogues gallery just rotting away in prison. A prison break episode could have been a bit boring — but if they’re busting the Trickster out — count us in every time. Here’s hoping he gets a chance to menace The Flash at least once a season. With him tied up and headed back to prison, it’s nice to know he’s still floating around out there.
Captain Cold is thisclose to being a good guy
They’ve always made an effort to keep Captain Cold likable, and the former villain took another big step to the side of good this week by opting not to help out the Super Flash Kill Squad, and actually made a point to warn Barry about the threat (after breaking into his house and stealing hot cocoa, which was hilarious, but still). This transition has been telegraphed for about a year, ever since Captain Cold was revealed as a hero on the spinoff series Legends of Tomorrow, but they’ve actually managed to pull it off without it being too heavy-handed.
Cold has worked with Team Flash a few times now, and he’s heard the siren’s call of being a hero. Yes, Barry’s comments to that point were even cheesier than expected, but he makes a good point. It won’t be too much of a shock when he decides to suit up and follow Rip Hunter to 1975 (and wherever else they need to go) to hunt down Vandal Savage.
Wally West arrives!
Sure, the young man also known as Kid Flash didn’t actually show up until the closing moments and got about 15 seconds of screen time, but Wally West will be sticking around as a series regular for the rest of the season (and likely beyond). It opens up a ton of great storytelling opportunities within the West family, and actor Keiynan Lonsdale recently told us he’ll also be enjoying some “sibling rivalry” with Barry.
Moving forward, Wally will represent yet another fresh face who will be brought into Team Flash, and Lonsdale said we’ll spend the back half of the season watching Wally try to find his place among the West family. He seems to be poised to take Patty’s place as the “Person We’re Hiding The Flash Secret From” for the next few weeks. Yes, we get that not everyone needs to know Barry is The Flash, but find more creative ways to tell that story if you’re this keen to keep going to the well.
Patty finally gets some development
We’ve slowly learned a bit more about Patty’s history, and she’s finally becoming more than just the quirky cop girlfriend. The arc with her hunting down Mardon for vengeance was actually fairly interesting, and felt earned in regards to her backstory. It finally gave her bubbly character a bit of meat, and some much-needed darkness to balance her out. Yes, she’s still adorable, but she actually feels human, now.
But, the biggest gripe of gripes still applies — FOR THE LOVE OF GOD LET HER KNOW BARRY IS THE FLASH. It seems like everyone knows Barry’s secret nowadays, and keeping her out of the loop is actively inventing problems now. She had a nice moment of confession with The Flash (while leaving Barry out), and Barry even made a joke under his breath about how neither of them really knows whats going on. They’re both working these metahuman cases, and it’s getting ridiculous to keep her in the dark. Judging by the footage from the show’s return in 2016, it looks like they finally plan to let Patty in on Team Flash. Thank God, but it should have come a few weeks sooner.
Harrison Wells is apparently always a bad guy
Tom Cavanagh is one of the best things about The Flash, and bringing the alternate Harrison Wells over from Earth-2 was a brilliant move this season. Cavanagh has managed to make the character weirdly familiar, yet wholly new, but it seems some things never change — Harrison Wells will always wind up working against The Flash.
Admittedly, he doesn’t have much of a choice. Though the episode is largely focused on the other rogues, Zoom is still lurking in the margins, and has forced Harry into working with him (since Zoom is still holding his daughter hostage). Zoom’s plan also sounds a bit familiar: He wants Barry to get stronger and faster — but instead of using him to open a time portal like Reverse-Flash — Zoom just wants him chock full of Speed Force so he can eat him like Thanksgiving dinner.
It makes enough sense that Zoom would want to get as much as he can out of Barry, but really, this just seems like a contrivance to keep Zoom from killing Barry right now. For a show about a super-fast guy who fights metahumans, it feels like a bit too much of a stretch. It’s also a bit too familiar to the Reverse-Flash’s plan. Here’s hoping it doesn’t follow those beats too closely.
Looking ahead, we finally know Wells’ motivations: He’ll be working against Team Flash to save his daughter, which should give Cavanagh an interesting story to explore in the back half of the season. Here’s hoping they’re still able to find the humanity in Harry, though, and he’s smart enough to come out on the right side in the end. This show needs Cavanagh, and if Harry doesn’t make it through the season, we better start looking for Earth-3, stat.
Line of the night also goes to Cavanagh. When they’re looking for the bombs, I dare you not to laugh when he tells that poor, unsuspecting kid: “Your toys. Give them to me.” Priceless.