Spoilers ahead for “Fast Lane,” the latest episode of The CW’s Flash!
It might’ve been framed as a “Metahuman of the Week” episode, but “Fast Lane” did quite a bit to move the narrative forward.
It’s taken a few weeks, but after being fairly annoying for his first several episodes, Wally West is finally turning into a character with some legs. He started out relatively one-note, but actor Keiynan Lonsdale finally got a chance to stretch his acting legs.
The Earth-2 version of Harrison Wells also finally played his hand, then folded, showing he actually has a heart and is starting to care about Team Flash. This is a nice change of pace from where it seemed like the story would be going, and provides some humanity to Harry.
Wally steals the show (and meets The Flash)
He’s been kicking around Central City, snarking up Joe and generally being a smart mouth the past few weeks, but Wally West finally had a chance to shine in “Fast Lane.” Sure, it makes sense he is still reeling from the death of his mother and the recent discovery of a secret family in Joe and Iris, but it’s no reason to continue pushing everyone away.
So, after Iris starts pushing him (out of pushy Iris love) to stop racing before he gets himself killed, he doubles down — leading Iris to follow him to a race (in a rather distinct bit of wardrobe for Candice Patton, which could cost Wally thousands of dollars in therapy down the line). It doesn’t go well, but it’s nice to see Iris trying to help her brother in a real way (instead of just trying to be a pal like Joe, who is basically ignoring Wally’s dangerous extracurricular activities).
After Joe and Iris show up at his next race (to talk with the race manager on a Team Flash case), the “Metahuman of the Week” attacks and nearly kills Wally, until Barry comes barreling in and saves him (Finally! Flash and Kid Flash meet!), but isn’t quite fast enough to stop a piece of errant glass from slicing into Iris (we’ll get to that in a minute).
But, it’s that injury that finally pushes Wally to open up and show he’s a real-life human being, after he volunteers to wait at the hospital with Iris while she rests. When she wakes up, they have a heart-tugging conversation where Wally finally reveals why he's so addicted to racing: Yes, he’s a total speed freak, but driving fast reminds him of the drives he used to take as a child with his mother — and with her gone — he doesn’t want to let that go just yet. It’s a sweet moment, and really serves to make Wally a likable guy, which is something that’s sorely been lacking.
Harry pulls a Harrison
Oh, Harry. Harry, Harry, Harry. The Earth-2 version of Harrison Wells has never made any qualms about the fact that he’s working with Team Flash to save his daughter (by beating Zoom). Harry might be a pragmatic guy, capable of murder (R.I.P. The Turtle) if it suits his needs, but he’s a family man at his heart. That’s what drives him, and it’s compelling to see how the writers are mining that territory, as his allegiances are constantly pulled in separate directions. Getting to brass tacks: Who wouldn’t push the boundaries to save their daughter from a lightning-fast psychopath?
So, at Zoom’s behest, Harry fashions an insanely dangerous device literally capable of stealing Barry’s speed. Had Reverse-Flash figured out this tech last season, it’d have been a very short series. He hands 2 percent of Barry’s speed over to Zoom, but that small percentage was just enough to almost get Iris killed when Barry couldn’t catch that glass shard fast enough. So, with his conscience clawing at him, he finally comes clean...just in time to get decked by Joe (who punched a whole lot of people this week, by the way).
But, after considering all the angles, Barry realizes Harry is doing what any of them would do (or have done) if their family was in harm’s way. So, with all the cards on the table, the gang decides to throw in with Harry and put his problem on the front burner — Earth-2, here we come.
Tar Pit causes a sticky situation
The “Metahuman of the Week” story focused on the baddie Tar Pit, who is dumped in a tar pit (clever, right?) on the night of the particle accelerator explosion and finally escapes once the plant reopens. Once he gets free, he goes after the guys who dumped him in the pit (who could blame him, right?) looking for revenge.
His power set made for some decent visuals (though the big tar monster in the final showdown was a bit silly), though it was also relatively predictable as far as using a super-cold grenade to take him out. Also, did anyone else wonder why they didn’t at least try to call Captain Cold for an assist? Sure, he’s traveling around the past at the moment, but Team Flash doesn’t know that. Just sayin’.
Iris is seriously the worst journalist, ever
This just deserves a quick note: Yes, she does it in an effort to stop the races and save her brother from potentially crashing and burning (literally), but Iris’ little fake front page threat to the race manager was just shady. Threatening negative coverage if you don’t get what you want? That’s not cool, Iris. Not cool at all. Yes, it’s coming from a good place, but she needs her press credential revoked pronto.
Tidbits of note:
Closing the breaches: While he’s simultaneously working to steal Barry’s speed, Harry also uses some of the other Harrison Wells’ research to figure out a way to close the breaches. It was a quick bit in a busy episode, but the implications are huge. Team Flash can now (somewhat) control access between Earth-1 and Earth-2. That could be a big plot point later.
Oliver Queen’s mayoral campaign: Heehee, it seems Oliver’s mayoral campaign in Star City is making headlines all the way in Central City.
Felicity is still the best hacker: A great (and true) zing on Cisco, as he tries to brag about his mad hacking skills. You’ll always be second best, bro.
Where’s Jay? We’re dealing with a story about having your speed stolen, and Jay Garrick is nowhere to be found? Seriously? Do you not think he could’ve found an arc in this? The random disappearances and misuse of this character is becoming very annoying. Let’s give Jay something meaningful to do, star.
Up Next: The gang heads for Earth-2 (or Earth-1, if you’re Harry). This is the episode we’ve all been waiting for. The Earth-1 gang journeys through a breach next week, and heads to the fascinating world of Harry’s origin. With new twists on fan favorites on the docket, this has the potential to be one of the best episodes of the year. Can’t wait to see it.