Friday, February 5, 2016

The Flash Season 2, Episode 12: Fast Lane

This week's Flash was all about family, as pretty much all the characters— Barry, the Wests, and even Harry— learned they're not alone and have each other. Awww. Cue the Family Ties theme.

In fact the family theme was so prevalent that the supervillain, er, I mean metahuman subplot almost felt like an afterthought. Tar Pit came off as little more than a throwaway villain, appearing in just a few brief scenes, after what had to be the laziest origin story ever.

Iris also stepped up her game in this episode, as the writers finally remembered she's supposed to be a reporter, and let her actually do something besides stand around in STAR Labs with her arms crossed. 

SPOILERS!

The Plot:
We begin with yet another flashback to the particle accelerator explosion two years ago. Two stereotypical thugs are dangling Joey Monteleone over a pit of boiling tar in an asphalt company. He tells them what they want to know, but they drop him into the pit anyway. He's burned alive in the pit just as the accelerator explodes, bathing him in cell-altering energy.

Cut to the present day, when Joey emerges from the abandoned company, and discovers he can now turn his body into molten tar. Naturally the first thing he does with this amazing power is seek revenge on those who "killed" him. He tracks down one of the thugs and fries him.

Meanwhile Harry is still being blackmailed into helping Zoom steal Barry's speed. He creates a gadget that will siphon off the speed force from Barry and hides it in his Flash suit. Barry then insists on helping Harry figure out how to close the various breaches into Earth-2. 

Monteleone, now dubbed Tar Pit, attacks the second thug. Barry speeds to the rescue and stops him, but Tar Pit gets away. Harry's device permanently steals two percent of Barry's speed energy. Harry meets with Zoom and gives him the energy. He injects himself with it, and demands the rest. Harry reluctantly agrees.

Joe and Iris are trying to bond with Wally, who's still Fast & Furious racing. Iris tells Joe he needs to stop trying to be Wally's friend and be his father, before he gets himself killed. Iris follows Wally to the street race, and takes a photo of Clark Bronwen, the man behind them. She tracks him to his office and threatens to expose his shady dealings unless he disbands the races. He threatens her family if she does so, but she reveals she's recording their conversation, which I have to admit is pretty gutsy on her part. He throws her out.

Cisco examines the readings from Barry's suit and says he's lost some of his speed. Barry plays it off, saying he's just tired. Harry warns Barry not to get too close to him, because eventually he'll have to choose between the STAR Labs Gang and his daughter (who Zoom is holding captive), and he'll choose her.

Wally enters another street race, and Iris shows up again. Tar Pit suddenly appears to kill Bronwen, who ordered the hit on him two years ago. Tar Pit buckles the road, tossing the cars into the air. Barry arrives and saves Wally seconds before his car crashes and explodes. Debris from the explosion flies toward Iris. Barry's able to stop it all except for one piece, which strikes Iris. He rushes her to the hospital.

The next morning Wally visits Iris in the hospital. Joe's there and finally begins acting like a dad to Wally, ordering him to stay with Iris and stop racing. Cicso invents special grenades that will freeze Tar Pit, but is worried about Barry's loss of speed. He asks Harry if he knows anything about it, and he admits he stole Barry's speed to give to Zoom. Furious, they lock him in the Secret Super Jail.

Barry and Joe draw out Tar Pit. When he appears, he's now completely encased in tar and resembles a large, globular monster. Barry manages to freeze him, and the coating of tar explodes off him. Joe punches out the now normal-looking Tar Pit, and presumably puts him in Super Jail as well.

At STAR Labs, Harry pleads for them to send him back to Earth-2, close all the breaches and let him deal with the problem of Zoom himself. Everyone's all for this idea except for Barry, who defends Harry. He says any of them would have done the same thing if their loved ones were being threatened. They vow to travel to Earth-2 to help Harry save his daughter.

Thoughts:
• Harry cobbles together a widget that will siphon and store Barry's speed. He hides the gadget under the chest emblem on Barry's suit.

Um... is there a reason why Harry's secret gadget is covered in blinking blue lights? Other than because it looks kewl. One would think if one wanted to hide something, one would leave the flashing l.e.d.s off it.

• Joe, Iris and Wally enjoy some takeout pizza for dinner. Why does their pizza box say "Coast City" when they all live in Central City? Didn't Barry use his super speed last season to make a Coast City pizza run? So how'd Joe get ahold of one? Did the prop man think no one would notice the label on the pizza box?

• Barry wants to work with Harry to figure out a way to close all the Earth-2 breaches. When Harry tells him he's not smart enough to understand the science involved, Barry simply speed-reads several thick textbooks on the subject, and he's instantly an expert.

If Barry can speed-learn like this, he ought to be the smartest man alive in addition to the fastest.

• Dang, The Flash, you killed Francine West completely offscreen. She didn't even get a tear-jerking death scene. Sure she wasn't a major character and we never got to see much of her, but that's still pretty cold.

• Heavy Foreshadowing Alert! Wally delivers a monologue to Iris about how he's always loved speed, and how his mom would take him on long drives and he'd watch the scenery "flash" by. We get it already, guys! Wally's going to become Kid Flash!

• In order to shame Wally into quitting his racing habit, Iris shows up in a slutty flag girl outfit, complete with purple hair extensions. I'm not sure how I feel about the fact that she can apparently put together an ensemble like this at a moment's notice.

• Harry steals some of Barry's speed to give to Zoom. Cisco notices Barry's slower, saying he clocked him at 1,450 mph instead of his usual 1,500. A couple things here.

I'm still not sure 1,500 mph is fast enough to allow Barry to do all the things he does, like moving faster than the human eye can see, outracing bullets, dashing up the side of skyscrapers without falling off and running across helicopter blades.

Secondly, this confirms the fact that Patty moving to Midway City should be no problem for Barry. I don't know how far Midway is from Central City, but I'm sure it's much less than 1,500 miles. Barry could zip over to see her in minutes.

• When Tar Pit attacks the street racers, he buckles the road, which somehow causes Wally's car to be thrown backwards toward Iris. Barry stops the debris hurtling toward her, but due to his loss of speed, he misses a piece of glass a bit smaller than the average smart phone. It strikes Iris in the shoulder, apparently with enough force to knock her over.

We then see her lying in a hospital bed, on oxygen! Jesus Christ! Iris must be quite the delicate little creature if a small cut to the shoulder lays her up in the hospital for days.

On the other hand, remember that Barry's top speed is 1,450 mph. That means the glass was somehow flying through the air even faster than that! Anyone would be laid up in the hospital if they got hit that fast. 

• Funny how Harry and everyone else from Earth-2 actually call it that. You'd think they'd call their own planet Earth-1, or better yet just plain "Earth." Maybe they politely submit to calling their homeworld Earth-2 when they're visiting Earth-1.

• Joe realizes Iris is right, and he's trying to be a friend to Wally rather than a father. He finally lays down the law at the end of the episode, ordering Wally to sit with his sister in the hospital. Wally instantly backs down and does what his father says.

Wally's immediate 180º reversal of attitude seemed very quick and waaaay too easy. Are we really supposed to believe that one moderately stern lecture from his father is all it takes to straighten up and fly right?

• Kudos to Barry for offering to help out Harry, and call out the STAR Labs Gang's hypocrisy, since most of them have been in his position namely betraying their friends to protect a family member.

• Tar Pit could have been an amazing villain— think about all the ways tar could be used to slow a speedster like the Flash. But once introduced, it seemed as if the episode couldn't wait to be rid of him. 

Tar Pit is actually from the Flash comic. The FX team did a great job with him, as he looks exactly like his comic book namesake. Too bad the episode didn't do more with him. His final form was pretty cool, but must have been expensive as he's onscreen less than a minute. Damn you, The CW budget!

The comic version of Tar Pit had a radically different origin than the one we see here though. There, Joey Monteleone was a drug trafficker who ended up in Iron Heights Prison. While there he began meditating (!) and soon he could project his "astral self" into various inanimate objects and cause them to move. One day his astral self got stuck in a vat of tar, while his original body fell into a coma. He renamed himself Tar Pit and began using his new body to commit crimes.

That origin story makes the one we see in this episode look like Shakespeare!

• Next week, Barry and Cisco visit Earth-2 to rescue Harry's daughter Jesse from Zoom. How much do you want to be they'll end up bringing her to Earth-1, where she'll become Jesse Quick, yet another speedster on the show?

2 comments:

  1. Maybe Coast City is famous for its pizza? Like the way you see New York and Chicago pizza places in other cities?

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hmm. I hadn't thought of that. That's a good point. I guess Coast City could be the DC Universe equivalent of New York.

    But there's still that scene last season, where Joe said he could really go for some authentic Coast City pizza right about now, and Barry zipped off the couch and zipped back into the room with a piping hot pizza, fresh from Coast City.

    I'm still leaning toward a lazy prop man as an explanation.

    ReplyDelete

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