‘The Flash’ Post-Show Analysis Season 2 Episode 12: ‘Fast Lane’
Welcome back to Up To Speed, in which Flash TV show veteran Dylan Todd and newbie Ziah Grace break down the latest episode of The Flash, dispense some Flash Facts, and talk about what works, what doesn’t, and where the series might be headed.
This week, Wally still feels the need for speed, Wells still feels the need to betray everyone around him, and I guess there's a villain of the week to fight or something. Like, whatevs. 'Fast Lane' was directed by Rachel Talalay, with a teleplay by Kai Yu Wu and Joe Peracchio, from a story by Brooke Eikmeier.
Dylan: After last week’s return of the Reverse Flash, we’re back to a weekly villain episode, this one featuring Tarpit, the tar that walks like a man! He’s like Clayface, only more likely to melt you to bits. What did you think of Ol’ Tee To the Pizzazz, Ziah?
Ziah: I found him pretty, pretty boring, but I can’t really get mad at the Flash team for writing a less-than-good villain-of-the-week episode where the metahuman doesn’t get murdered at the end. Tarpit might be a creepy monster plugged into a “presumed dead criminal enacts horrible revenge on the former partners who killed him” script, but at least he was there, you know?
Dylan: Yeah, but after two weeks of seeing Captain Cold and Heatwave ham it up on Legends of Tomorrow, last week’s Reverse Flash revisit, and everything we’ve seen of Zoom this season, it was a real bummer to get yet another dull-as-dirt villain-of-the-week that nobody ever wants to see again. This show has a real villain problem, and this episode sort of hung a big old tar-lantern on it. I know they need to pad the season out a little, but this reminded me of the first half dozen episodes of season one, and that’s not a good thing.
Ziah: More interesting to me was more examples of why the Flash continues to be the daddest show around, with Barry trying to get Twells to become his new Science Dad, after Wells turned out to be evil, Joe trying not to pick sides while his children are fighting, and Twells looking for a way to tell everyone he’s a traitor without actually telling them in order to save his captured daughter. Dylan, what’d you think of all this dadness?
Dylan: Oh man, so much dadness they should have saved it for a month for some real March Dadness, right? Right?
Ziah: Dylan, I thought I was the pun guy. But yeah good one.
Dylan: One thing that kept bugging me, though: there’s a big deal made about how Barry’s connection with Earth-1 Wells is similar to his connection to Earth-2 Twells, but… wasn’t Earth-1 Wells really Eobard Thawne? So wasn’t Barry’s mentor/mentoree relationship with a completely different guy who was just wearing the skin of this guy he’s (kind of, not really) pals with now?
Ziah: That whole thing was weird, especially because the person we’ve most seen bond and interact with Twells as a surrogate kid figure is Cisco? And I don’t think we ever get Cisco’s reaction to Twells betraying the team, which felt like a cop out. Instead, Barry’s the one who’s hurt and betrayed, and mad at his Science Dad, which is fine, but Barry’s got enough dads.
Dylan: For reals. I will say that Barry’s scene at the end where he forgives Twells and points out everybody else’s poor choices in the name of saving their loved ones was well thought-out. I mean, it’s not like Twells didn’t straight-up tell Barry he was basically working against him almost immediately.
Ziah: I genuinely love how stupid Barry can be sometimes. Twells could not have been clearer if he had said, “Hey Barry, Zoom definitely doesn't have me working on ways to steal your speed. Really definitely not. Don’t even worry, chum. If that’s a thing you were worried about, that is straight-up bananas, because that is not what’s happening here. I swear on my daughter --- who is currently being imprisoned and tortured by Zoom to motivate me --- that that’s not what’s going on.”
Dylan: If there’s one constant on this show, besides there being way too much focus on Barry’s Multiple Dads, it’s that Barry Allen is a straight-up dolt roughly 90% of the time. Also, Twells’ face when Caitlin pointed out the 2% differential was absolutely priceless.
Speaking of dads, we got a double dose as Joe dealt with Wally by… not dealing with Wally. Like at all. Some laissez faire child care over at the West house.
Ziah: Yeah, he basically let his kids fight it out and then jumped back in to remind Wally that Joe West is the top West in the family. Hilarious. Joe is a great character and immensely fun to watch, but he is kind of a terrible dad/person a lot of the time.
Dylan: I think Jesse L. Martin papers over a lot of what makes Joe kind of a generally bad dude. Like, for example, when he pounces on Twells, punches him in the mouth and marches him into a cell in their secret basement metahuman jail. Dude doesn’t even give him a chance to explain his (honestly pretty valid) reasons for stealing just a little bit of Barry’s Speed Force. Just a wham-bam-throw-you-in-a-secret-prison, man.
Ziah: It was a good episode for Joe West punching people, between Twells and Tarpit. Speaking of Twells, man, Tom Cavanagh is just pretty pretty great to watch on this show. I’m glad they didn’t drag out the “possibly evil” storyline too long, and he’s back in the fold to crack wise at Cisco and be a smarmy science jerk.
Dylan: Oh and his hair. His hair is immaculate. Ziah, I want to make a shrine to his hair in this episode in particular and also live in that shrine.
Ziah: Hair-brained idea, bud.
Dylan: Boooooooo, both to that pun as well as you poo-pooing my dreams. You should know by now that like my hero J. Michael Straczynski, I will never surrender dreams.
Ziah: What about getting bored with your dreams and having a last-minute replacement finish your dreams up for you later?
Dylan: Shots fired! But yeah, I’m glad they resolved the Twells thing by episode’s end, and really, it’s the only good thing in this episode. The Wally stuff is really Geoff Johns-ian. Dude talks solely about speed and speed accessories. It’s his entire character at this point.
Ziah: Oh man, I had the same note. I groaned when he and Barry had the same childhood dream (but for different reasons you guys, because Barry’s a scientist and Wally’s a speedo man).
Dylan: So, they’re gonna give Wally some of Barry’s Speed Force by season’s end, right?
Ziah: Well don’t forget the Speed Steroids that Jay told Twells not to give Barry! Which could conceivably figure into your theory that Jay is secretly Zoom, especially since Jay wasn’t around this episode to tell everyone “I told you so” about the whole sitch.
Dylan: Oh yeah, I forgot about the Speedroids. But like, it’s gonna happen, right? Wally’s gonna fulfill his dream and go fast, right? It’s not like there’s not precedent on these shows to have multiples of the same basic character running around. I mean, turn on Arrow and there’s a Green Arrow, a Red Arrow, a Speedy, a Black Canary and now, a White Canary. Having two Flashes is not out of the realm of possibility, right?
Ziah: I mean, it’s almost written in stone at this point, yeah. Maybe he can get a souped-up muscle car and fight crime as the Flash Driver.
Dylan: As long as we’re talking Wally, let’s talk about Iris and her newfound powers of passive-aggressive reportage. Also her hare-brained scheme to get the guy with the gross beard to confess to being behind the illegal races. As much as I have hoped and wished and prayed for Iris to get something to do besides stand around while Barry pines in her direction. What did you think of the Iris stuff, Ziah?
Ziah: Man, I am completely with you. I was really hoping that having a brother to relate to and be on-screen with would really help the writers figure out what to do with Iris, but this was pretty bad. I liked when she showed up to Wally’s race wearing Drag Car Gal clothes and blue-dyed hair, half to embarrass him and half to snoop, but a lot of this episode was pretty bad where she was concerned.
Dylan: When she was confronting Bad Beard, I was all, “Oh cool! She’s going to get her moment!” But then he started to threaten her and she started quivering and I was sad.
Ziah: Oh totally. The “I’m recording this conversation” bit was not quite as intimidating as I think it was supposed to be, and if they’re gonna go the Lois Lane route with her, I’d like them to really commit to it.
Dylan: Yeah, there was a moment there, when he was saying, “I’m gonna find everything out about you,” where she easily could have gone with, “You mean like the fact that my dad is a cop and my sort-of brother is CSI and also I write for the only paper in town?” She had the upper hand the whole time and they just blew it because they’re incapable of writing a woman on this show, apparently. I’ll say it again: boooooo.
I feel like we should talk more about Tarpit beyond how boring he is, but there’s really nothing there that we haven’t seen: low-level criminal who gets powers during the accelerator explosion and then uses them to get revenge on the people who were responsible for his apparent death. We’ve literally seen this villain eight times so far.
Ziah: I hadn’t seen CGI that bad on this show before! That’s new. But yeah, his whole thing was really boring. The only silver lining I could see from it was Cisco getting to name him immediately before Barry could finish saying it. I liked that bit.
Speaking of good Cisco bits, the two hacking scenes were pretty fun. I like that at this point Joe’s completely given up on being a by-the-book cop: he’s watching his friends break into sealed juvenile court records and literally taking a convicted criminal into the streets to use as bait for a murderous Tar Man.
Dylan: Joe “Okay, Whatever, I Guess” West.
Ziah: But hey! Next week, they’re going through the looking glass into Earth-2! That’s pretty exciting. I’m excited about that. Maybe they’ll meet Taquaman and Green Tlantern.
Dylan: Or just Earth-2 Killer Frost Caitlin Snow and Eeeeevil Robbie Amell Firestorm. I’m not saying surrender your dreams, Ziah, but… surrender your dreams.
Ziah: I’m pretty pumped to see Caitlin Snow get anything to do on this show other than science and flirt with Jay “Water, but it’s heavy too!” Garrick.
Dylan: Amen to that, brother. Multiverse Roadtrip!