This week’s episode of The Flash features one of the more recently created rogues that the show has given us: Tar Pit, introduced in July 2002’s Flash #174 (by writer Geoff Johns and artist Scott Kolins). While one would think that a villain who can essentially cover any street and warp it into anything he wishes might make for some visually exciting fight sequences, the show’s budget prevents the baddie from troubling Barry with more than the tossing around of a couple of cars here and there. The real conflict in “Fast Lane” comes from Wally’s ongoing problem with acclimating to his new life in Central City with Joe and Iris, and with Wells’ decision to steal the Flash’s speed and give it to Zoom in order to save his daughter Jesse.
After his mother’s death (am I the only one who thought we’d see Francine again before she expired?), Wally continues to take part in drag races (and much to the chagrin of Iris, who appears determined to become his new mom). With Joe taking a hands-off approach to his newly found son (lest he might lost him again), his daughter tries to prevent any further races from occurring in Central City. Iris almost gets herself killed in the process thanks to an errant piece of glass from one of the cars that Tar Pit shatters.
How do these two separate phenomena tie together, you ask? Well—wouldn’t you know it!—one of the men responsible for creating the creature (by dropping Joey Monteleone, played by actor Marco Grazzini, into a vat of boiling roofing tar moments before the particle accelerator blast occurred) is—you guessed it!—the organizer of the race! It’s one of the goofier coincidences the show has employed this season. But it serves to tie Iris’ storyline into that of Team Flash after she has spent the last several episodes drifting further away from Barry and co. It’s just a shame that the only way the show can think to do this is by making Iris once more a victim of the metahuman of the week.
Wells’ storyline, however, is nicely tied into Tar Pit’s. He secretly installs a device on Barry’s suit that siphons his speed for Zoom, resulting in Barry’s failure to save Iris from a trip to the hospital. Disgusted over his own actions, Wells confesses, thus sparing us from a repeat of last season’s “traitorous Wells” narrative. This also sets up the real story we’ve been waiting for since The Flash returned after its holiday break: the mission to Earth-Two. Barry forgives the desperate scientist and convinces his teammates that any one of them could have done the same in order to save someone they love.
I’m just hoping that when the Earth-Two storyline begins next week, the show can find a way to evolve Iris’ role beyond that of “nagging older sister.” Actress Candice Patton deserves better, and so do we.
— Just in case anyone wasn’t aware that Wally West was destined to become Kid Flash, this episode finds him repeatedly describing his love of speed to Joe and Iris.
— Is it just me or does Tar Pit, in his final scene, look an awful lot like Clayface on Batman: The Animated Series?
— Either Barry has gotten over Patty really quickly or deep down inside he was just never all that into her. I’m guessing the latter. He jokes about their breakup with Cisco like he’s talking about a softball game he just lost.
— I love how Wells briefly and awkwardly tries to imagine what “twenty-six-year-olds do on a Thursday night.”
— Iris’ idea of going undercover as a drag race groupie is to clip blue and purple streaks into her hair. Adorable.
— The roofing tar company is named “Roofing Tar Industries”… Honestly, I’m starting to think this week’s writer wasn’t even trying.
— Caitlin’s wardrobe has shifted from Ally McBeal to country-western singer. But I’m not sure a black leather trench coat is any more practical in a lab than a miniskirt and heels.
— Are we taking bets yet on who’s under Zoom’s mask, or how long before that mask comes off?
Next week: We road trip to Earth-Two for our first meeting with Killer Frost!
What did you think of this week’s episode? Let me know in the comments below or on Twitter (@JMaCabre).