Central City continues to get new metahuman criminals in “Fast Lane.” There are also several personal developments for the STAR Labs crew. They are making an interesting world that mostly reflects the rebooted “DCNU” comic book universe, but has some elements unique to the tv show as well.
Two years ago, we see two thugs demanding information from a man. When he finally gives in, they kill him by dropping him in a seething vat of liquid tar. Of course, this turns out to be the night of the infamous STAR Particle Accelerator explosion, so the “death” doesn’t quite take.
As frequently happens at the start of the show, Barry races around the city as the Flash. His musing voiceover takes him to the West home, where I’m really waiting for Cisco and Caitlin to move in so they just all share the place. Then again, I don’t think we’ve ever seen Cisco’s place. Maybe he’s squatting in the basement. At any rate, Barry sees Joe, Iris, and Wally hanging out and having pizza. Not wanting to disturb the family scene, Flash speeds off. Inside, the conversation goes well until Iris starts calling out Wally on his very dangerous street racing. Wally gets defensive and storms out, much to Joe’s annoyance.
Back at STAR, Dr. Wells is working late. He’s making a gadget, based in part on a sample of Turtle’s brain. Wells is following Zoom’s orders to help Zoom steal Barry’s speed. Wells hides it on the Flash costume, stored as per CW-verse rules on an inconvenient mannequin. Amusingly, Wells continues his irritation that the STAR Crew are calling his world Earth 2. He gets even more annoyed when Barry uses his power to speed read and teach himself a lot of what Wells knows.
I’m a bit confused by that part. Wells indicated that the books are science from his world, so Barry wouldn’t know enough to help. When Wells fled Earth 2, he brought a library with him? Maybe he drove a Bookmobile through the breech? Barry demonstrates another Flash skill- temporary learning through speed reading.
Meanwhile, down at the drag races, Wally is still competing under his nickname “Taillights.” Wally gets a surprise of his own when Iris shows up in an… interesting outfit. She’s down there to research an article for the paper she works for.
The roofing company from the opening scene has reopened finally. One of the two killers from that scene is running the company, and listening to the news on the radio as they report on Oliver Queen’s mayoral campaign in Star City. The killer becomes the first victim of the man they tossed in the tar earlier, now back with new and improved metahuman powers. Shortly, Barry and Joe show up to examine the body. For different reasons, they both miss Patty. For the record, so do I.
After the usual odd notes at the crime scene and some work at STAR Labs (really, does Barry ever work at his job? How is he staying employed?), Barry and Cisco work out that the new metahuman is drowning his victims in hot asphalt, and dub him Tar Pit (in the comics, a Wally West foe). Later, Barry and Wells have an argument as Wells is feeling the guilt for working against the team.
Cisco, not having a lot else to do, has created an app that alerts him when metahumans turn up in social media. I’m presuming this is only in Central City, but they don’t specify. At any rate, Tar Pit turns up and Flash fights him more or less to a draw. Flash does save his next victim so they can get some information from him.
Cisco manages to find records on Stanley, the hit man they saved. He’s feeling all proud of himself and asks, “Who’s the best hacker in all the world?” Barry and Caitlin don’t exactly give him the answer he was hoping for, which is amusing. They manage to figure out who Tar Pit is after.
Iris, meanwhile, continues her crusade against Wally’s racing. She goes to visit Bronwen Clark, the man who runs the races. He’s not impressed, but she managed to at least take some measure of precautions. The encounter is something of a draw. Later, Wally comes to see her, worried she’s going to get herself hurt.
Barry and Wells work on another of their projects. Barry continues to be upbeat and optimistic. Wells contrasts him nicely by being a dark, snarky jerk. They play up his missing daughter Jesse a lot. Wells later meets with Zoom, delivering a portion of Barry’s speed siphoned by his device. It’s not a friendly meeting.
Later, Barry is showing the effects of Zoom’s theft. He’s tired and his speed is a bit off. Wells looks like he’s getting concerned despite himself. Between them, they make progress on something else they’ve been working on. Wells even admits it was “pretty cool.” That’s high praise from him.
One fact of life in superhero cities seems to be that no matter how large the city is supposed to be, you’ll keep tripping over the same few people over and over. Tar Pit is after Clark, who runs Wally’s races. There’s a major confrontation and one of the cast is seriously hurt, in part because of Barry’s reduced speed. This leads to some emotional scenes among the West family.
Eventually, they come up with a plan to beat Tar Pit. The team also learns the truth about Wells, with some mixed reactions. Barry, ever seeing the best in people, sympathizes with Wells’ position. To no great surprise, the heroes win the big showdown. Barry comes up with a new plan to help Wells, which is going to make next episode really interesting.
What I liked: Barry is a hero. He’s not a dark avenger, he’s an upbeat man, and that comes through this episode. The Barry/Wells scenes were good, and Cisco was his amusing self.
What I didn’t: Iris’ big quest seems to have come out of nowhere. In fact, all the West scenes this episode were a bit soap opera-like. Caitlin didn’t get much screen time this one, and I like her a lot.
I’ll give this show a 3 out of 5. Not one of their best, but really not bad. I’m really looking forward to next week.