FLASH SPOILER Review: Episode 2×12 – “Fast Lane”

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The Flash
(2×12 ) –
“Fast Lane”
Written by: Kai Yu Wu &
Joe Peracchio
Directed by: Rachel Talalay
This week’s
Flash returns to the night of the Accelerator explosion. (That night is the
gift that keeps on giving horrifying gifts.) So while Barry is doing his best
Ben Franklin impersonation, our new friend Joe Monteleone is having an even
worse night.  See Joe stole from some
mobsters and was found out so they’re dangling him over a vat of boiling roofing
tar to get him to come clean.
Joe’s a
reasonable man so he tells them, but his friends (Clay and Daniel) are not and
they drop him in anyway.  They leave and
meet up with their accomplice, Clark and flee the scene just as the shockwave
spreads out over Central City, energizing the vat of tar.
Back in the
present, men are renovating the roofing business before it reopens and one of
the earth movers digs into the pavement when up from the ground came a bubblin’
crude, black gold, Texas tea!
Wait that’s
another show so this is probably a puddle of boiling tar that bodes ill for
Barry Allen and his friends.
Speaking of Barry,
after the Title Card we find him on a high speed patrol and looks in on the
West family as he passes by and I can’t help but think that someone is missing
and really I’d just… I’d just like to see her again guys.  Let’s make a deal, Messrs. Berlanti and
Kreisberg if you bring back my one true love;
I’ll start
watching Arrow again.  I know, I know I’ve
fallen pretty far behind but I’ll catch back up and I’ll even buy the seasons 3
and 4 blurays.  All you have to do is
bring back Patty Spivot.
Back to the
Wests, Joe, Iris and Wally are enjoying a pizza and Wally is talking about his
great love, speed.  Joe is trying to be
the cool dad but Iris is settling nicely into the role of the protective big
sister.  She’s not super keen on Wally
drag racing and Wally leaves rather than talk about it.  After he leaves, Iris turns her ire on Joe,
stating that he’s not Wally’s friend he’s his father and he’s going to have to
start acting like it before they lose Wally too.
Over at STAR
Labs, Wells is working on his finding from his sample of Turtle’s brain and he
believes he’s hit on a way of syphoning Barry’s speed for Zoom.  Barry arrives and offers his help to tackle
the breeches.  Wells is not interested in
Barry’s help but Barry has a cool trick straight from the mind of Geoff Johns,
Barry uses his speed to stuff his short term memory full of theoretical physics
and he’s ready to lend a hand.
We catch
back up with Wally as he’s about to race when in walks Iris West in an outfit
that screams “Late-Twenties Reporter Pretending to be Cool” but at
the same time really works. (Patty may be my One and Only but I’m not made of
stone here.)  Iris’ charms aren’t lost on
her brother but he quickly shakes off the non-sisterly thoughts to try and get
her to stop bothering him and leave.  But
Iris just wants to see what he likes so much about drag racing… and drop a
giant big-sister guilt trip on his good time.
Across town,
why it’s our old friend Daniel from the cold open and he’s all ready to
re-opening the roofing business he was able to buy after the Accelerator
explosion tomorrow but his silly employees have left a big puddle of hot tar on
the ground.  But wait, that isn’t
tar!  It’s a man made of tar, and not
just any man it’s Joe Monteleone and he’s a little pissy what with the burned
and suffocated to death in boiling tar thing and decides to share his pain with
Daniel.
The next
morning Joe and Barry are on the scene and they talk about how much they miss
Patty before Barry gets to work on our murder scene.  Which isn’t half as much as me… Which reminds
me, it’s pretty clear Messrs. Berlanti and Kreisberg are playing hard ball
here. Two can play this game; guys you bring Patty back and I’ll watch Legends of
Tomorrow too.  That’s right!  Four nights of my time every week will be
devoted to the Berlanti-Kreisberg-Guggenheim-DC Television Empire AND I won’t
even get annoyed at Ray Palmer.  See, you
guys are making out like gang busters here!
Barry also
takes some time to play Team Flash’s favorite game; The unintentional guilt
trip game!  Everyone knows the rules;
Player one comes in with a problem that is eating away at them, like Joe
feeling like he’s letting Wally down by not being a father for him.  Then player two unwittingly twists the knife
by talking about how great that person usually is at what they’re doing
wrong.  Well Joe can’t take the guilt and
bails out, congratulations Barry you win today’s game!
What did he
win, Dr. Wells?  That’s right, the Speed
Force syphoning device you just completed and attached to his suit!  Speaking of intrusive and possibly evil,
Cisco has just launched an app that will spy on social media for Meta-human
sightings.  Are you Vibe or Brother Eye
here, Cisco?
Later Barry
is helping Wells again but like I said earlier, when he uses the Speed Force to load up on
information it stays in his short term memory where it’s lost after about a
half an hour.  So, Barry needs to recharge
himself which Wells finds rather distracting and annoying. 
But it seems
with Patty gone, Barry’s looking for any kind of companionship he can get and
despite the other Harrison Wells turning out to be Eobard Thawne, there was a
part of their friendship that he enjoyed and he’s trying to reclaim that with
his Earth-2 Counterpart.  What he ends up
doing is playing another round of “The Unintentional Guilt Trip
Game!”  And like with Joe, Wells is
no match for Barry today and he gives him his prize (he throws an eraser at
Barry then yells at him) and chases Barry out of the room.  Two for two, Mister Allen.  He’s heating up!
Barry finds
Cisco and Caitlin and the pair have some good news.  They think they have a lead on Daniel’s
murder and they have the name for our Meta, “Tarpit.”  Before they can start to figure out why
Tarpit murdered Daniel, Cisco’s app lets them know he’s been sighted across
town and Barry takes off.  At the same
time, Wells turns on the collection device for Barry’s Speed Force energy.
Barry finds
Tarpit just as he’s about to kill Clay. 
With a little chemistry help from Cisco and Caitlin, Barry chases off
Tarpit and takes Clay off to the police. 
While Wells looks at his collected Speed Force energy.
Back at STAR
Labs, Team Flash has another piece of the Tarpit puzzle.  Unfortunately, Clay is too spooked to talk
but since Cisco has been running facial recognition on the video footage of
Tarpit and has an id for him.  While
Barry heads off to ask Joe to cross-reference Daniel, Clay and Monteleone Cisco
follows him and points out that something seemed wrong earlier.  Barry wasn’t up to his usual speed levels but
Barry wasn’t concerned since the difference was rather small.
Meanwhile,
Iris is visiting Clay and Daniel’s friend Clark to talk about his drag racing
ring and she tries to intimidate him into stopping the races.  However, it seems in a battle of intimidation
between a young reporter and a hardened criminal the criminal wins and the only
thing that saves Iris is that she was recording their conversation and that it
was broadcasting to her computer at the News Paper.
Wally goes
to see her at the Paper and they have it out. 
Iris believes that Wally is trying to act tough in the wake of his
mother’s death.  Wally tells her plainly
that he won’t be able to protect her if she keeps pressing Clark.
Wells finds
Barry in his lab again and after they talk for a bit about Barry trying to help
he tells him the reason he’s been so angry. 
For all Barry’s attempts to make him feel welcome, Wells doesn’t want to
be a part of Team Flash because at the end of the day, he’s a father and if it
means Jesse gets to go home he will betray them to Zoom in a heartbeat.  Barry doesn’t believe that but since Wells
doesn’t agree they’re at an impasse.  So
Barry offers up a possible solution for the breeches he got from one of the
other Doctor Wells’ scientific papers as an olive branch.
Wells takes
the paper to try and get some ideas from it but first he takes his sample of
Speed Force to Zoom.  He tries to bargain
the sample for Jesse’s life but why would Zoom want a taste when he has enough
leverage to get the whole meal from Wells?
Later at the
lab, while Wells is working on a device to close the breeches, Cisco is taking
information Joe acquired from Monteleone, Daniel and Clay’s records and they’re
starting to see a pattern, after they snoop in on some sealed records they find
that the three men knew each other from sharing time in juvenile detention.  With a little help from Iris, they also have
an id on Clark and they know where he is at that moment.  Hosting Wally’s next drag race.
But before
Barry can go with him, Wells has completed the breech implosion reactor and
needs Barry’s help to test it.  They
travel to a random breech and Barry is showing signs of wearing out while Wells
primes the device, they use the device and it closes the breech and Barry tries
to celebrate with Wells and despite what he said earlier, Wells does feel some
pride and comradery with him in the moment.
Joe and Iris
arrive at the races just as Wally’s about to take on his latest challenger.  Tarpit choses then to attack and Iris calls in
Barry to save Wally.  Barry then saves
Clark from Wally’s now out of control vehicle but it’s heading straight for
Iris and when he goes to save her he’s not quite fast enough and she’s struck
in the shoulder with a shard of glass.
Iris wakes
up in the hospital with her father waiting at bedside, when Wally comes
in.  He’s clearly uncomfortable because
he wants to be part of this family but at the same time he doesn’t want to face
that the three of them were only there and his new found sister was hurt
because he was there.  Eventually he
leaves but Joe has finally been shocked back to reality and decides that being
Wally’s friend isn’t working so he’ll be Wally’s father instead.
As his
father, he forces Wally to go back with him to stay with Iris but Barry calls
him to STAR Labs.  At the Lab, Barry is
beating himself up because of Iris and he’s starting to feel like he is slowing
down.  Caitlin agrees and she has the
blood tests to prove it.  Meanwhile,
Wells has had enough guilt.  He comes
clean with what he’s done and why.
Unfortunately
for Wells, Joe arrives at that moment and does what any father would do to a
man that has endangered the lives of all three of his children.  He lays Wells out and stuffs him in the
Pipeline.  Which is a restrained reaction
since he tells Caitlin that he’d much rather kill the man as he leaves Wells in
the cell.
At the
Police Station, Joe has Clay and is taking him out to be the bait in a trap for
Tarpit and he and Barry use a grenade that Cisco and Wells introduced to Barry
before all hell broke loose.  The grenade
uses nitrous oxide to stun and disable Tarpit and the day is saved.
When Iris
wakes up the next morning, Wally is waiting with her and he tells her the real
reason he loves going fast so much.  When
he was a boy he and his mother didn’t have much money but she would take him
for rides in the car and going fast reminds him of how he felt with his mother
in those moments.
Barry
returns to STAR Labs to confront Wells and ask him why, Wells has already told
him why.  He was doing this to save Jesse
because she’s the most important thing to him and always will be.  He wants them to send him back to Earth-2
then close the breeches.
They others
are more than happy to do that but Barry isn’t. 
He reminds them that each of them have chosen a loved one over the
others in a moment of weakness so they’re going to help Wells save Jesse and
that means going to Earth-2.
So this
week’s episode is kind of hard to pin down. 
There’s parts of it I really like; the West family drama, the callback
to the Johns’ run with Barry’s speed learning and the Wells and Barry stuff was
really good. I also adored the sequence where Barry tried to save Iris.  Beyond being a cool effects sequence it told
the story with visuals extremely well and left some questions for the writers
to use in the future. (In fact, one of those questions is one of this week’s
Three Questions.)
But
strangely the very bland Tarpit stuff seemed to suck the wind out of the sails,
even when it was pushing the plotlines I enjoyed along.  It just felt like a throwaway freak of the
week story.
In fact,
when the episode is over and you realize they’re going to Earth-2 next week and
seeing we’re going to meet a lot of the E-2 doppelgangers including Deathstorm
and Killer Frost you see this episode for what it is, filler to get to next
week.
The parts I
enjoyed do an admirable job of keep things afloat but they didn’t save it.

And speaking
of savings…
Greg, Andrew
and Geoff Johns are clearly playing hardball with me but I will not be
deterred.  Just now I went and got my
spare change jar and emptied it out. 
Guys, if it means a return for Patty I’m not above bribery so in
addition to watching Arrow and Legends I’m going to give them… *counts out
change* thirteen dollars and fifty six cents… Dammit!
Three Things We
Learned This Week:
1)     
Barry can use his speed to learn a lot of
information for a short time.
2)     
Wells’ alliance with Zoom has been exposed.
3)     
Wells has developed a way to permanently take
someone’s connection to the Speed Force.
Three Questions:
1)     
Who will be going to Earth-2 and what will they
learn beyond what we’ve been teased?
2)     
Is the method Wells has developed similar to
what Zoom has “presumably” done to Jay?
3)     
Will Wally make the same connection between Joe
and the Flash that Patty did?
Just another guy on the internet.