“He’s basically drowning people in tar, like a walking…” says Barry Allen (Grant Gustin) “Tarpit! Hmmm, too slow,” says Cisco (Carlos Valdes), finishing his friend’s sentence and naming the new metahuman they’ve just discovered in season 2, episode 12 of the comic-book inspired action-fantasy television series, The Flash.
As the episode begins, the show goes back two years to the night when the particle accelerator at S.T.A.R. Labs exploded, watching as Joe Monteleone (Marco Grazzini) is thrown into a tar pit after telling two of his colleagues where he had stashed a huge amount of money. That, plus being exposed to the dark matter released from S.T.A.R. Labs in the explosion wave, fuses him with the tar and he lies dormant. Fast forward to today and his tar-covered hand rises out of a large pool of tar.
Meanwhile back at S.T.A.R. Labs, Earth 2 Wells (Tom Cavanagh), or ‘Harry’ as Cisco and Barry call him, has created a device that once he installs it secretly into the red suit Barry wears when he is The Flash will allow Wells to drain Barry of his speed the next time Barry connects to The Speed Force to use his speed trying to save someone.
The Tarpit rises from the ground one night and kills one of the two men who physically dropped him in the tar by drowning him in tar. Barry and Joe West (Jesse L. Martin) arrive on the scene and Barry, quickly realizing they are up against another new metahuman, takes a sample back to S.T.A.R. Labs for Cisco to study. It’s not long before Barry, Cisco, and Caitlin (Danielle Panabaker) name their new metahuman Tarpit. Cisco has also created an app on his cell phone to track all metahuman-related social media posts and gets an alert when Tarpit is about to attack his other old colleague. Off Barry goes racing out of the lab in his red suit and across Central City using his speed to get to the scene before it’s too late. This is the perfect time for Wells to turn on his device that begins to slowly drain Barry of his speed, which for some reason Barry doesn’t even seem to feel. Barry, with the help of ‘Team Flash,’ uses water from a fire hydrant to cool off Tarpit and takes his target in for some questioning.
The gang does some research into Monteleone’s files as well as his old running buddies and can identify two, but one of them is a mystery until – as luck would have it – Iris (Candice Patton) walks in and tells the group she recognizes the guy. It seems Iris has been worried about her kid brother, Wally (Keiynan Lonsdale), and his continued drag racing. She showed up to a race trying to convince him to stop and discovered the identity of the man running the illegal races who happens to be Tarpit’s third target (the getaway driver in the group). Iris approached the man at his unofficial office and tried to get him to stop the races by threatening to print a story about the drag races in the paper focusing on him and all his illegal exploits, but it doesn’t work. In fact, he ends up threatening Iris and her family instead.
Cisco corners Barry to ask if he is feeling all right because he was running a little slower during his fight with Tarpit. Barry says he feels fine and doesn’t seem to be worried.
Later, Barry teams up with a very guarded Wells to help him figure out how to close the breaches around Central City – the first step to helping rescue Wells’ daughter from Zoom. During their study and theorizing, Barry gets on Wells’ nerves and he ends up screaming at him to let him work on it alone and that he already has a kid he doesn’t need another. It’s obvious Wells is feeling guilty about working with Zoom and is trying to keep distance from the group but is finding it harder and harder due to Barry’s persistence in offering him his friendship – as he has done with everyone on Team Flash.
Wells meets with Zoom later that night and gives him the small electrical syringe to inject himself with a little of Barry’s speed. He tries to negotiate with Zoom telling him to release his daughter and he’ll get him the rest, but Zoom tells Wells he’ll just torture his daughter if he doesn’t do what Zoom wants.
The next night Barry is back at it working on a few ideas and theories that Wells can’t help but admire, telling Barry he reminds him of his daughter and reminiscing about a time when she was 10 and they worked together on a school project. To Wells’ surprise, Barry has come up with a theory using some of Harrison Wells from Earth 1 aka Eobard Thawne ideas and theories which results in Barry and Harry creating an explosive device that might be able to shut down and close the breaches. So off Barry and Harry go to test it while Joe and Iris go to identify the Tarpit’s next target at the drag race.
At the races, Wally is speeding along when Tarpit uses his powers to make the ground rise up, creating a solid wall and ramp that Wally can’t avoid. (So much for being a great speed driver!). Wally ends up soaring out of control about to crash. Luckily, Iris and Joe are there watching and Iris calls Barry to come save the day. Barry and Wells are driving back to S.T.A.R. Labs after successfully using their new device and closing one of the 52 breaches with Wells becoming more and more uncomfortable and sick about betraying Barry and the others. Just as he tries to tell Barry about his deal with Zoom, Barry gets the call from Iris and races away to try to save Wally. Barry gets there just in the nick of time and saves Wally from being in the car when it crashes back to the ground. The shattering of the metal and glass from the car fly out and a large piece of glass is headed right for Iris. Barry races to stop it but can’t seem to find enough speed and the shard of glass hits Iris in the shoulder. Barry speeds her off to Central City Hospital.
While recovering at the hospital Iris gets a visit from Wally who feels awful about her getting hurt. Joe and Wally have a short but meaningful talk about family, responsibility, and caring. Joe gets a text from Barry, and Wally says he’ll sit with Iris so Joe can leave to find out what’s up.
Back at S.T.A.R. Labs, Barry is distracted abut trying to catch Tarpit and pulls Cisco aside asking about his speed. He knows now that he’s not as fast as he was and he wasn’t fast enough to save Iris from the glass. Caitlin joins the conversation telling Barry her medical work up on him shows that he is 2% slower than he was a few weeks ago. Barry turns to Well saying he studied the speed force more than anyone and asking if he has an idea of what is causing this to happen. A very uncomfortable Wells quickly replies, “It could be a variety of things.” Barry keeps getting more and more concerned saying he wasn’t fast enough and how can he fight Zoom if he’s slower and that he can’t lose anyone else he cares about. This finally breaks Wells and he tells him he won’t because he was the one who stole Barry’s speed and gave it to Zoom. Joe just happens to be entering the Lab and hearing this he moves a shocked Barry aside and punches Wells. Joe then grabs Wells, drags him off and locks him up in one of the metahuman cells. Caitlin asks why he did that and Joe responds, “Because if I didn’t I would kill him. Let’s go get Tarpit.” Using one of his colleagues as bait, Joe, Barry and Cisco finally catch Tarpit by using new thermo bombs created by Wells and Cisco that will freeze Tarpit.
Barry and Joe confront Wells in the cell and he tells them that he wasn’t with Zoom at first but made a deal with him to steal Barry’s speed to save his daughter. Wells asks them to let him go home and tells them they should close the portals for good leaving him to deal with Zoom back on Earth 2 and to try to save his daughter by himself. Joe, Cisco, and even Caitlin are on board with sending Wells back, but Barry says no. He asks all three of them what they would do to save someone they love. Barry reminds Cisco of the time Captain Cold captured Cisco and made him help him by threatening his brother’s life. “We didn’t judge you then and we still don’t now. We’re all capable of making a bad decision when it comes to protecting the people that we love,” says Barry. He accepts everything that has gone wrong as his responsibility because he trusted Wells against their advice. Closing the breaches would be closing forever the door to Earth 2 and condemning that world to Zoom’s terror and certain death for Wells and his daughter. Barry won’t let that stand.
In the final scene, Barry, Joe, Cisco, and Caitlin let Wells out of the metahuman cell. Harry says, “Guess this is goodbye,” to which Barry replies, “No. I told you we’re a team. Now you’re a part of it. We’re going to help you. We’re not sending you through alone… We’re going to Earth 2.”
REVIEW OF THE FLASH SEASON 2 EPISODE 12:
Serving as a launching pad to traveling to Earth 2, episode 12 of The Flash season two titled “Fast Lane” has some solid moments and a stand-out performance by Tom Cavanagh. The series has gotten back on track, giving all the major cast members scenes and storylines showing/enhancing their connection to each other.
The best part of the episode is without a doubt the scenes between Grant and Tom as Barry and Wells. The chemistry between these two actors is what helped make the first season of the show a big hit. The scenes with Barry trying to help Wells figure out a way to close the breaches and Wells struggling not to get close and care about Barry (ultimately losing his inner fight because he just can’t resist Barry’s decency and friendship) are incredibly effective. Cavanagh’s performance this season as Earth 2 Wells is even more layered and deeper than when he played Wells aka Eobard Thawne in the first season.
The action scenes and special effects are still first rate. Especially impressive is the car crash scene where Barry saves everyone from the deadly car wreck except for Iris who gets wounded. The show has always had incredibly strong special effects, sometimes even better than a theatrically released big budget action movie.
With Barry, Cisco, and Wells headed off to Earth 2 leaving Caitlin behind as the “breach guard,” they are finally about to meet and go up against one the most dangerous and beautiful metahumans of them all…Killer Frost. Can’t wait till episode 13!