Series 2, Episode 12
I think a lot of people assumed this was going to be a Wally focus episode, since the title is clearly a reference to his drag racing - I know I assumed that, and I guess we were sort of right about that one? While he's definitely not the main focus, he, Iris, and Joe have a pretty big subplot throughout the episode, even though the real star of this episode is Wells, and his ongoing nefarious plots.
In this week's episode, Tar Pit, a metahuman with the power to transform into and manipulate tar, goes on a revenge spree against the men who drowned him in boiling tar before the particle accelerator explosion. While Barry heads out to stop him, he is finding himself getting slower - due to a device, extrapolated from the Turtle's powers, attached to his suit and siphoning off his speed, created by Wells to satisfy Zoom, who still holds his daughter hostage. Meanwhile, Iris tries to get Wally to quit drag racing, bringing her into conflict with both Wally and Joe, who doesn't want to push Wally or tell him how to live his life.
So, this whole Wells plot has kind of ended up ending not so much in a bang as in a whimper. Wells starts siphoning off Barry's speed, only to then decide to confess his crimes and turn himself in. It makes sense for him to do that, since the episode builds up him feeling guilty for it all pretty well, and previous episodes have firmly established that he has started caring deeply for all of the group, but it still feels a bit lackluster - and even moreso because it then leads to one of the most phoned-in takedowns of a villain I've seen in the series, where Barry just zooms in and throws a canister at Tar Pit.
It would have worked better, possibly, to have Barrys' speed have been siphoned off faster (say, ten percent instead of two) and to then have him struggle in a fight against Tar Pit, only for Wells' guilt to kick in then and for him to instruct Barry on how to get rid of the device, before coaching him on increasing his speed - which would tie in nicely with Thawne having coached Barry on running faster several times. That would have meant that Wells' confession and Tar Pit's defeat come at a dramatic moment, rather than Wells' confession coming out in an exposition scene and then Tar Pit's defeat being incredibly hurried.
That said, I did really like all of Wells and Barry's interactions in this episode. I liked Barry being puppyishly eager to please him when they're working together, Wells being annoyed at him, and Wells lashing out because he feels guilty over what he's doing - Gustin and Cavanaugh both put on great performances in all of those scenes, and they were some of the highlights of the episode. I'm also glad that Barry's response to learning of Wells' betrayal was to initially be angry and then to understand that it was all to save his daughter, especially as it's leading to a two-parter in which the gang visits Earth-2, which I'm really looking forward to.
Although, did everyone forget that Wells killed a man? He literally murdered the Turtle in cold blood, nobody's going to comment on that? Because that's a pretty terrible thing for him to have done, you know?
The Wests' subplot was also a lot of fun. Their family drama, as the three of them try to forge some kind of family relationship, has been great to watch this series, and everyone's viewpoints in this plotline feel understandable, and consistent with what we know of their characters. I do love Wally as a character, and I wonder, a little, if he's being primed to replace Barry as the main character at some point in the far future - by which I mean, after series three or four, if it happens at all, which it might very well not. Wally's certainly charismatic enough, well-acted enough, different enough from Barry to make things interesting, and similar enough that he shares many of the qualities that make Barry a fun main character, so it'd work if they did.
|Oh, and these two, I guess.|
What I really want right now, though, is for Wally to join Team Flash, in some capacity. The fact that he hasn't joined yet makes him kind of an outsider on the show, and not really in a good way - almost all of his itneractions are with Joe and Iris, but I really want to see him interact with the other characters on the show. I want to see him developing a brotherly relationship with Barry, especially, but I also want to see him befriending Cisco, Caitlin, and Wells.
All in all, this is a very good episode, but there are definitely places it could have improved upon, which is a shame, since this was a big, important plot episode. Still, the next two episodes, seeing the gang go to Earth-2, land of the soft yellow filters, should be a tremendous amount of fun, will probably involve Killer Frost, and might even answer that one burning question we all have: Who is Zoom?