That’s the first episode this year that’s truly felt like something from the first season of The Flash, and that’s both good and bad news.
First, the good stuff. Mark Hamill reprised his role as the Trickster, and just like his first appearance, he unleashed a whole lot of terror on Central City this year. Wrapping 100 bombs as presents and handing them out to little kids while dressed as Santa is horrifying and a nifty little trick (heh) to add some tension to this Christmas-themed hour. The Trickster has become one of the show’s most compelling villains, and it’s all due to Hamill’s impeccable performance.
Equally compelling is the writers giving room for two other villains to cause more trouble this week by unleashing the Weather Wizard and Captain Cold onto the city again, both of which had hilarious and intriguing run-ins with The Flash. The fact that these three monsters actually had an impressive plan up their sleeves, forcing Barry to pick between saving himself or hundreds of other people, was fascinating and effective in elevating the suspense. Plus, watching The Flash speed through the city and actually jump off a helicopter blade was perhaps the most exciting thing I’ve seen on this show in a long, long time.
Where this episode fumbled is in its anticlimactic resolutions to its several storylines. I can’t be the only one who rolled his eyes in disappointment when the team managed to save Barry’s life so quickly with the help of a bomb-absorbing magnet. It’s the kind of ludicrous ending that left a sour taste in my mouth, as was the West drama that involved Joe’s long-lost son Wally knocking on his door on Christmas, officially turning this subplot into one big cliché. Sadly, even the Harrison Wells subplot felt a bit repetitive and hugely reminiscent of last year, especially with Zoom wanting The Flash to get faster and stronger just so he could steal his powers. I’m all for more Tom Cavanagh, but where is all the creativity?
Luckily, there is one fantastic moment in the midseason finale that truly elevates this hour. Barry forgiving Wells for every terrible thing he’s done is an outstanding showcase of Gustin’s performance and an extremely emotional moment that makes the Barry/Wells relationship the most complex and intriguing one on this show. It’s a little hard to believe this scene at first since this season hasn’t really built up to this moment in a way that makes it feel earned (regardless of how many times it might want us to think it is), but the episode plays out with the theme of forgiveness against anger pretty well to make it quite memorable, unlike the episode itself.
– Impressive visuals and camera movement in the opening teaser as Zoom chases after Harry. For a second there, I actually thought that was The Flash!
– I almost didn’t mention anything regarding Patty Spivot and her quest to kill Mark Mardon (Weather Wizard) who killed her father because I found it to be quite dull and by-the-books. I didn’t think this show could make Patty’s scenes cheesy, but sadly some of the dialogue she’s given here is too cringe-worthy.
– Seriously, how did Barry not tell Patty he’s The Flash after EVERYTHING that just happened?
– Not to sound like a broken record here, but Caitlin continues to be atrocious. Her whole Christmas and mistletoe talk made me want to scream.
– The Flash and Patty getting stuck around dozens of mini-bombs was actually quite chilling.
– Is it just me or did his suit actually look much better this week? The dim lighting certainly helps cover some of the ridiculousness, I guess.
– It was fun seeing The Flash action figure, but the Christmas tree ornament might have been just a bit much.
– That little kid opening the door to a scary Harrison was the highlight of the hour for me. Absolutely hysterical.
– Loved Captain Cold and The Flash at Barry’s house.
– LOL at the team noticing the teddy bear reflection in the Trickster’s eye. Come on!
– I still have no idea what to make of Wally West, but how corny was that entire scene? The fact that he showed up at Joe’s house just hours after Joe found out about him even though he’s been gone for YEARS really baffles me.
Red Blurs & One-Liners
Iris: I had to fight some old lady for the last one. They didn’t have any Green Arrow dolls.
Joe: Don’t know why you’d want a toy of that crazy man.
Cisco: Earth 2 has The Godfather?
Harry: Every Earth has The Godfather, Vito.
Captain Cold: Sorry, I’m not interested in being a hero.
Barry: You’re doing a lousy job of being a villain this week.
Harry: Your toys. Give them to me.
Trickster: Christmas is a time for togetherness, and what says togetherness more than mass graves?
Weather Wizard: We all want the same thing.
Captain Cold: Fashion advice?
Trickster: Flash-y the red-nosed speedster, had a very shiny suit, and if you ever saw him, you might even want to puke.
This was a huge reminder of what the show was like last year, but The Flash is still suffering from a few sophomore-season kinks that’s keeping it from becoming great television. Let’s hope 2016 is a better showcase of this show’s true potential.