Review: The Flash ‘Fast Lane’ – Just Not Fast Enough

With the second half of The Flash season 2 underway, it’s about that time that we see the story ramp up, inevitably leading to a whirlwind climax that is sure to excite many.

That first step was taken in this weeks episode, with “Fast Lane” beginning to create more drama for the entire cast and crew. In what looked to be the first three dimensional conflict for each and every character, we saw distress and rejuvenation throughout Central City.

Following the departure of Patty, Barry seems closer to becoming a true hero than ever. He is quick, strong and ready for the next task, be it another meta-human or a run in with Zoom. He’s ready, he’s waiting and he is growing.

To be honest, this was the most excited I have been to see Grant Gustin fully develop his role as Barry Allen. While he isn’t the prime Flash that doesn’t get shaken up week after week, he was close to a competent and confident hero that Central City has groomed. Without his best girl in the same city, he seems as focused as ever to defeat Zoom and close the breaches that litter Central City.

*Cue Heath Ledger’s Joker voice* “And it’s all part of the plan.

Obviously the lying undertone is the fact that Zoom wants this. He patiently waits for his powerful adversary to reach his peak in order to rip it all away from him.

Secretly contracting the help from Harrison Wells through the use of Harry’s daughter, Wells begins to show his true face, and it bears a striking resemblance to the former Harrison Wells (nee Eobard Thawne). Designing a device that taps into the Speed Force through Barry, Wells is able to sap the pure energy out of Barry and harness it in a jet injector. In keeping with Newton’s Third Law, “for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction,” when he takes away just a small fraction of the Speed Force, Barry seemingly slows down. When Wells meets up with Zoom, we see him hand the injector over and Zoom take this newfound speed and add to his power. Like that first cup of coffee in the morning, you can see a stronger Zoom replenished from the Speed Force.

The first time he noticed, was against his newest foe – Tar Pit.

In a flashback of two years ago, we see a criminal known as Joey Monteleone get into an argument with some thugs, who end up dropping him into a vat of tar at the same moment of the explosion at S.T.A.R. Labs. As we have learned, if you were basically alive and touching some sort of particle within the blast radius, you were likely mutated into a meta.

Flash forward to the present, when the same tar is unearthed, a tar covered arm materializes, as well as the revenge plot.

The ability to wield tar came as an easy thing for Monteleone, as he had no issues with his first victim in Daniel Burge. Encasing him in a tar tomb, Burge was basically cooked alive, whilst suffocating in the process. If that doesn’t double as an extremely successful anti-smoking campaign, I don’t know what will.

Following the introduction of the newest villain, we turn the tables back to Barry. In an effort to crack this whole Zoom and the breaches dilemma wide open, he goes into hyper-work mode. Much to Harry’s dismay, he reluctantly agrees to letting Barry help. It is now that we see an all-too-familiar Harry, who makes his intentions known, that he will betray Barry when the time comes. Little did Barry know, his plan was already in action.

Amongst the drama, no one has more than the West family. Francine has passed away, Wally is still a wild card of emotions, Joe is doing everything he can to earn Wally’s trust and Iris is sticking her nose in Wally’s business. Desperately wanting Wally to open up and stop his moonlight street races, she opens up an exposé on the street racing scene, targeting the head of everything – Clark Bronwen. She even goes as far as showing up to Bronwen’s office and letting him know that if he doesn’t shut everything down, that she will release it and let the whole world in on his night life.

As far as drama goes, that was basically the gist of everything going down with all the main guys.

What I really liked from this episode was that for once, it seemed that Barry came out on top no matter what. Usually, the first one or two face offs result in the baddie-of-the-week is just a little too strong for the Flash. However, Barry really took the whole hero thing to a new level and holding strong against someone he really didn’t know. His first encounter was mainly just Barry saving Clay Stanley from suffering the same fate as Burge, and Monteleone just running away.

It was after this “fight” that Cisco noticed that Barry was slightly slower than before, and by 2% as confirmed by Caitlin. Clearly with no idea what was going on, the team begins to question each and every possibility, even though their answer lurks around S.T.A.R.

The third encounter was with Wally in a race, with Joe and Iris there to try and stop him. In a drag race, Tar Pit surfaces, attempting to go after Bronwen. With Wally’s life in danger as his car climbs a wall of tar, Iris quickly calls Barry, who races over just quickly enough to pull him out of the car. Barry then watched as Wally’s car tumbled backwards, with the car and shards of glass hurling towards Iris. Despite never having trouble with speeding over and saving the damsel in distress, his lagging speed throttled him, not allowing him to reach his peak. In the flurry, a shard of glass just out of Barry reach plunged into Iris’ chest.

With a nearly lifeless Iris in Barry’s arms, Joe yelled to get her to the hospital. This was a dynamic moment for the entire West family. Outside of Iris’ pleas for Wally to stop the racing, he finally saw the ramifications of just how deadly it can be. And all it took was his sister hanging on to life at that moment to finally get it through. Later on, you can see the impact and his ability to finally open up to Iris, staying at her bedside in the hospital.

Reeling from his diminished speed, Barry, Cisco and Caitlin began shooting ideas for why he is slowing down. Sickness, tiredness, all these ideas and yet no definitive answer. That was, until, Wells showed his true nature.

To be completely honest, I did not expect Wells to come forward as early as he did with his secret motives. His disdain for wanting to work with Barry, despite his constant effort to learn and help; his secret meetings with Zoom and most importantly, his want to have his daughter back, I really figured that he would keep his lips shut for at least a few more episodes. Instead, he came right out and revealed everything.

The timing was nearly perfect, however, as Joe walked into the lab right as show and tell was happening, and burst right up to Wells and delivered a hook to the jaw that cleared him off of his feet. Tearing him off the floor, Joe threw Wells into one of the cells, striking a deja vu scene from last season. Wells pleaded his case, asking to be sent home back to Earth-2 and stating that it was his battle to fight.

In the long run, they could have just as easily sent him back and called it a day, but a remarkable thing happened. Barry showed a sense of sympathy and understanding, which in my eyes was a major step in his good character. Obviously he is upset at what has gone down over the past few months, but he knows that if it were anyone else in this situation, that they would be doing the exact same thing with no second thoughts about it. So he does what he knows is right, he forgives him.

Like I said, this was a shocking thing. It was only a few episodes ago we saw Barry pouring his heart out from the other side of a window, forgiving Wells for all that his doppelgänger did wrong. It seemed like the show was set up to just constantly leave Barry’s trust in ruins, which is why I was pleasantly surprised when he took a human route to this. He instilled a sense of family that has been strained between them all, determined to solve this as a team and save Jessie from Zoom.

With that, they went right to work. Problem one, defeat Tar Pit. Problem two, figure out a working solution to the breaches.

The first problem came easily for the group, as really they just needed a way to draw Tar Pit out so they can ice him over and defeat him that way. It was simple, use Stanley as bait, wait for Tar Pit to show his face and blast him. Problem one, check. Problem two require some pages being turned, several hundred in several seconds, to be honest. Ignoring his constant annoyance with his rapid reading, Barry was set on catching up and figuring out a way to create a particle that has yet to be solved. But it would take an already discovered solution, figured out by a familiar face (Earth-1 Dr. Wells) to do it.

Thus, we have our first breach bomb. Causing an implosion within the breaches, Barry and Harry successfully recreate the research and close one of many breaches that are scattered across Central City.

This was one of the most exciting episodes to have watched in the short two seasons this show has been running. It drove home a, what I think, missing concept that is the whole teamwork thing. For once, they are all on the same page, and that page has them heading to Earth-2 in next weeks episode! For once, Earth-1 seems to be on the right track, so it is time for the team to tackle Earth-2 Team Flash-style.

Sean McGrath
Sean McGrath
2015 Journalism graduate of State University of New York at Fredonia. Loves sports, movies, TV, video games, cold drinks on hot nights and hot drinks on cold nights, and anything thats classified as nerdy. Married with two cats.

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