FAST LANE – 6.5/10
Hot on the heels of Reverse Flash’s dramatic return and subsequent departure, this week’s episode put the focus heavily on the personal dynamics of the extended Flash family. Whilst the episode did feature a meta-of-the-week in the form of Tar Pit, a former con turned giant, murderous tar creature, this served as more of a sub-plot. The main narrative concerned family and trust, firstly with Iris’ attempts to stop Wally from drag racing and also with Wells’ guilt over stealing Barry’s speed for Zoom. Of the three stories it was Tar Pit’s that was the least engaging, however it did allow for some interesting visuals while also serving to draw all three plots together. More importantly this episode threw open the door to a world of new possibilities for The Flash.
Anyone familiar with the legacy of The Flash knows that Wally West has a great destiny in front of him, however right now he is somewhat lost following the death of his mother. The writers did well to dispose of Francine off screen and without too much fanfare, however it has clearly affected Wally and despite Joe and Iris’ best attempts to welcome him in to their family he still feels most comfortable behind the wheel of a hot rod. While Joe, fearful of driving his son away, pussyfoots around the issue Iris takes a more direct route. After going full ‘Sandra Dee at the end of Grease’ at one of Wally’s races she begins to dig up dirt on the race organiser, who turns out to be a former associate of Tar Pit and very much in line for an asphalt themed fatality.
Meanwhile, with Patty gone and the Wests otherwise engaged Barry tries to bond with Dr Wells, which is unfortunate timing as Wells has been blackmailed by Zoom into creating a device capable of stealing Barry’s speed. Obviously Wells feels a tad awkward when Barry decides to tell him how much he has grown to appreciate and respect him. To his credit Wells responds with brutal honesty, telling Barry that if it saved his daughter he would betray him in a flash. Although he doesn’t say it like that as a horrible pun would have definitely spoiled the moment. He does however go on to betray Barry as promised, hiding the device in his suit and begrudgingly delivering it to Zoom once the speed has been collected. Poor show Harry, poor show.
The three stories intertwine when Tar Pit launches an attack on his old partner during a Drag Race, projecting Wally’s car in to the stratosphere in the process. Barry manages to fend off Tar Pit, save the scumbag promoter and rescue Wally, however with his diminished speed he is unable to stop a stray shard of glass from killing Iris. Did I say ‘killing’? I meant ‘mildly injuring’. But still, the incident rattles Barry as he blames himself for what happened and fears that more people may get hurt because of him. Wracked with guilt Wells finally confesses to his crime and is thrown in to one of the reactor cells to think about what he has done. Presumably he also spends some of his time in there trying to figure out how he is supposed to go to the toilet. You’re smart Harry, you’ll work it out.
With his speed restored, Barry makes quick work of Tar Pit (that’s right, another speedster pun), dispatching him like the non-event he actually was. Both Flash and Arrow have a tendency to tear through the back catalogue of DC villains without ever developing them beyond a gimmick, then again comics have a tendency to do this as well. With Tar Pit carted off to Iron Heights and the Wests enjoying some post-trauma bonding, Team Flash discusses what to do with Wells. Barry realises that Harrison is no villain, he is simply a desperate father and regardless of his guilt he remains determined to save his daughter, on his own if need be. Having earlier developed a device capable of closing the portals he asks that Barry returns him to Earth-2, sealing the gateways behind him. But Barry has other plans, Wells is going back to Earth-2 but Team Flash is going with him. They may be stronger united, but are they strong enough to stop Zoom?
This may not have been the most exciting episode but it was still a solid offering, allowing the dust to settle after the events of last week whilst also setting the scene for the journey to Earth-2. The possibilities of the parallel universe are endless and I have every faith that the next 2 episodes will completely change the complexion of The Flash. Whilst the Tar-Pit and West family storylines may have felt a bit weak, The Wells and Barry arc was executed perfectly. The writers made a strong choice in not dragging out Wells’ betrayal. Despite his frosty personality we want to like him and besides, there is no need to go over old ground with Harrison Wells nefariously lurking in the shadows. Similarly, the decision to have Barry welcome him back so quickly helped to move the narrative forward whilst also demonstrating his growth as a character.
POINTS OF INTEREST
- Tar Pit was mostly developed for the comics so that he could use his tar to neutralise Flash’s speed, it’s surprising that the writers chose not to recreate this moment during the episode.
- Got to love Wells’ repeated frustration at everyone’s failure to understand that their Earth is actually Earth-2 to him.
- Despite Harry’s heartfelt confession they still didn’t address the fact that he murdered The Turtle. Sure he was a nasty piece of work but a murder is a murder.
- With Killer Frost and Deathstorm confirmed for next week’s episode, what other heroes or villains would you like to see pop up on Earth-2?