Tom Cavanagh, Carlos Valdes (Photo: Katie Yu/The CW)

Well, so much for keeping it light.

“Don’t Run” shook the season up in ways both interesting and unfortunate. Our Big Bad has been replaced in a sense, although it remains to be seen exactly how this will play out. Will Neil Sandilands continue to play DeVoe/The Thinker in his Sanctuary realm while Kendrick Sampson portrays the transformed Dominic Lanse/Brainstorm in the reality of Central City? As someone who has been less than smitten with Sandilands’ performance, I’d be fine with that, as Sampson brings more charismatic malevolence to his few minutes as the season’s new uber-villain than the somewhat stiff Sandliands has been able to muster so far. Is this a switcheroo that was planned all along or a course correction arrived at in midstream? Maybe we’ll never know, but at the moment it feels like the right decision.

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What feels like the wrong decision is leaving DeVoe’s dead former body in Barry’s loft just so he can be discovered by Singh and the CCPD as the apparent murderer. This feels like such a stretch to create suspense over a long break (the show doesn’t return until January 16th), and there’s no Ralph Dibny pun intended there. I suppose it’s better than the writers killing off a major character just because they can’t think of any other way to raise the stakes (I was seriously worried about Joe when he first showed up at DeVoe’s house), but it still strikes me as contrived and lame. We all know Barry could have cleaned up the mess before the cops broke the door down, and the show knows we know that, but still had him hesitate too long just because...why? Barry knows he’s not guilty, we know he’s not guilty, and this is just stupid. Who wanted stupid Barry back?

Other decisions by the creative team fare a bit better. I was ready to move on from horndog Ralph a couple weeks ago, but apparently the powers that be felt there was still more juice to be squeezed from that particular fruit. Having him show some growth (and not just in the “giant fist” sense) in the second half of the episode is at least promising, and I’m still enjoying Hartley Sawyer’s comic performance enough to go with the flow. Having team leader Iris make a tough call (even if it took Harry’s urging) is an encouraging sign that she won’t be reduced to being “Mrs. Flash” in the aftermath of last week’s wedding.

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Katee Sackhoff (Photo: Katie Yu/The CW)

The return of Amunet counts as a positive in my book, just because Katee Sackhoff is always a welcome presence even if her British accent tends toward the overly twee. Her character displayed a little more depth in this second appearance, given her unlikely turn as the pep talker of the week. You could make a case that the writers were trying a little too hard this week to establish that, while Killer Frost makes for very entertaining use of Danielle Panabaker, Caitlin Snow is pretty awesome in her own right. I wouldn’t exactly disagree, but I do think “Don’t Run” made the best possible case for Caitlin, giving her a few good moments with Amunet and allowing her the opportunity to turn the tables using only her wits and not her frosty powers. Why should we have to choose? I’m all for seeing plenty of both Caitlin and Killer Frost going forward.

My hope for the second half of the season is that this episode’s cliffhanger is wrapped up pretty quickly and we can get back to the tone that made much of the first half a return to form for The Flash. From the previews, it looks like we’ve got some courtroom drama ahead, but I can’t say I’m looking forward to too many episodes of Barry Allen: Wrongly Accused Of Murder Just Like His Father. After a shaky start to the season, The Flash successfully recaptured what made it so much fun in the first place. Losing sight of that would be a big mistake.

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Stray observations

  • So Wally is back on his walkabout. What exactly is the plan here? I had assumed he was bound for the Legends, and I still think that’s the best landing spot for him (especially given the vacancy left by Prof. Stein), but I have no evidence that’s the case.
  • I didn’t realize the Flash suit still had floatation mode, but I’m glad it did because that was hilarious.
  • That’s not a breakup cube, Cisco.

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