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Now that is an episode of The Flash.

First of all, I decided not to recap the Arrow part of last week’s crossover because it felt like there was little to no serious repercussions for Team Flash, other than the inevitable dissolution of Cisco and Kendra’s relationship. It remains to be seen if Barry’s time traveling will come back to mess with things, but as of now, I don’t see much of that episode having any bearing on our ongoing story.

But man, what an ongoing story we got this week. The Flash works bets when it’s succeeding on three levels: emotional character drive, childish comic book action, and progress on the overall arc. Season two has been lacking in the first department, succeeding in the second, and somewhat middling on the third. “Running to Stand Still” jump-started all three categories in fantastic ways. Every scene involving Joe this week was an absolute pleasure, proving how much of an asset Jesse Martin is to this show. And when Wally finally showed up at the end, the look on Joe’s face left me speechless. Not to mention the great emotional beats between Joe, Barry, and Iris, but even more impacting was Barry forgiving Harrison Wells. That scene got me a tad bit choked up, I cannot lie. Heck, this week even made me care about Jay Garrick! Bravo, The Flash.

As far as our comic book plot for the week, friggin’ Mark Hamill baby. It’s a delight to see him get to essentially turn his vocal performance of The Joker into a physical performance as well, and I really hope we got one more Trickster episode this season. Slowly but surely, Flash’s Rogues are starting to coagulate and leaving season two without the first solid incarnation of Flash’s own band of baddies would feel like a missed opportunity. Plus, I just want to give Mark Hamill the opportunity to sprinkle out silly names to all the villains.

And this week’s Zoom momentum got some needed juice. At this point last season,l we had learned that Wells was the Reverse-Flash. I half hoped we’d get the same reveal with Zoom, but instead the writers decided to give us another sort of reveal for Wells… er, Harry. Now that we know he’s going to cooperate with Zoom, we’re going to be even more wary of him than before. I will admit that it’s a little repetitive for the writers to yet again put Harry in a position where he needs to mentor and assist Barry’s burgeoning powers in order to suit his own needs. Learning that Zoom wants Barry to grow stronger so that he can sap more speed from him (was that what Zoom was doing to Barry when he stabbed him?) at least gives us a little more insight into Zoom, but I’m kind of hoping the season return brings us a little bit closer to finding out more about Zoom. Keeping him in the dark for too long runs the risk of his actions and motivations losing a lot of punch.

This is some minor quibble stuff though that may not pan out once the season is said and done, so I’m not going to get hung up on it quite yet. “Running to Stand Still” is easily the best episode of The Flash‘s second season, so of course we have to go on winter break. Bah humbug!

Favorite moment: I can’t even begin to pick one this week, the episode was that good. I’ll just go for the most appropriate little laugh for a movie website: “Every Earth has The Godfather, Vito.”

Unfavorite moment: I put this section here because for as much as I love this show, I am not blind to the fact that it contains plenty of CW soapy pap. I can usually depend on one soapy moment an episode that will probably bore me or make me feel slightly dismissive. This week, it was Patty’s hasty confession to The Flash about her father’s death. I was on-board with Patty’s emotions and arc this episode (predictable as it was), but that moment and delivery just felt cheesy, and not in a good way. But even that moment felt totally acceptable in the midst of a near-perfect episode.

Next Episode: I dunno! See you guys next year!