TV REVIEW: The Flash S4E9, ‘Don’t Run’ (Contains Spoilers)

The Flash‘s midseason finale, ‘Don’t Run,’ had a pretty big twist to offer up that is sure to redirect the back half of the season in a new and exciting way. Barry (Grant Gustin) has never had to deal with a foe as devious as Clifford Devoe (Neil Sandilands, though perhaps not for much longer?) or been so out of his depth – but for once it doesn’t feel like he’s failing to live up to his name. The Flash has made a point to show him at the top of his game, speed-wise and even skill-wise, but he simply doesn’t know the rules of the game Clifford and Marlize (Kim Englebrecht, whose performance gets more electrifying each episode) are playing.

But Barry wasn’t the only one dealing with this week, as Caitlin (Danielle Panabaker) was kidnapped by her evil ex-boss Amunet (guest star Katee Sackhoff, still peddling that awkward British accent) and forced to perform surgery on a meta who tried to escape her black market. This abduction coincided a little too perfectly with Barry’s own kidnapping by the Thinker himself, and both seemed to be some kind of test for Team Flash. Iris (Candice Patton) struggling between the choice of saving her husband or her friend was a very interesting plot point that could have used a little more focus this week, at least in terms of showing just why it would be impossible to save both, but ‘Don’t Run’ really picked up the pace once she took hold of the reins and made the hard call.

Within the parallel story lines of Barry trying to escape the Devoes and Caitlin trying to escape Amunet, there was a great use of both of their different skill sets. It’s been a while since The Flash highlighted just why each member is valuable, and it’s always nice to see them handle a situation on their own. While Caitlin still needed Cisco (Carlos Valdes) and Ralph’s (Hartley Sawyer) help before the night was over, she proved herself capable of handling a high-pressure situation even without Killer Frost at her disposal. In fact, the entire through line of her now feeling jealous of her alter ego rather than afraid was well done – not to mention a step up from how the confusing Hulk-type plot has been handled in the past. And her befriending new telepathic meta Dominic (guest star Kendrick Sampson) wound up tying in perfectly with the larger story in a way that I think very few people saw coming.

Even though Iris wasn’t given as much space to display her leadership skills as she normally is, her conversation with Harry (Tom Cavanagh) was well-acted on both their parts and delved into why she is the woman for the job. No one else on the team – certainly not Barry – would have the presence of mind to choose the practical option over their heart’s desire. And while they do not manage to outwit Devoe by the end of ‘Don’t Run,’ their united front sets the stage for how they might be able to do so in the future. Meanwhile, Barry plants a seed of doubt in Marlize’s mind about her partnership with her husband when he compares their relationship to his own with Iris. It’s something The Flash has been skillfully doing all season, but we’ll have to wait until January to see if it pays off.

Ralph and Cisco get a subplot that is mostly played for laughs, but that does open up new depths to the former’s character in a way that has been very much needed. Sawyer’s charisma makes it easy to enjoy Ralph, but his personality has been off-putting and the fact that he feels like a replacement for Wally creates a roadblock to audience appreciation. Seeing him learn from his mistakes and apologize to both Cisco and Caitlin for callous comments he made, not to mention watching him liven up the holidays for the entire team and speak honestly about his experience with friendship, goes a long way in rehabilitating his character. Now let’s just hope that he never calls a woman by her measurements again. And that Cisco gets more to do than babysit man children and receive hilarious inter-dimensional cubes from his girlfriend Cynthia.

While ‘Don’t Run’ was an enjoyable enough episode on its own, there were parts of the Amunet storyline that dragged a bit… Until the final five minutes, where its place in the Thinker’s master plan was revealed and all the events came together masterfully. I won’t spoil the twist, but it’s safe to say The Flash has never done anything like it before. It’s so good that even the title makes total sense in the way you’d least expect, diving into Barry’s worldview of life and love in two simple words. Barring some problematic elements that may make for water cooler discussion over the hiatus, ‘Don’t Run’ leaves the audience with a jaw-dropping cliffhanger that’s sure to have audiences primed and ready for a tense second half of the season.

Rating: 4/5

Reviewer: Tatiana Hullender (@myrcellasear)

The Flash airs Tuesdays on the CW at 8/7c in the US.

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