TV Review: The Flash – “Fast Lane”

Fast Lane
Warning: this review contains spoilers. You can find my review of the previous episode of The Flash here.
This week, the Flash fought a tar monster while the alternate universe version of his mentor-turned-traitor mentored him then betrayed him by stealing his speed with a sci-fi gadget. Ladies and gentlemen, The Flash!
“Fast Lane” was a mixed bag, featuring the most forgettable villain yet, but at the same time offering a lot of compelling character drama.
The strongest element in “Fast Lane” was easily Barry’s relationship with Wells. Even though Tom Cavanagh is playing a vastly different Harrison Wells to that of last season, his performance remains top-notch and his chemistry with Grant Gustin hasn’t lost a step. And now that they’re working together, Barry and Wells developed a rapport this week that’s reminiscent of Season 1 in small ways yet also vastly different. It led to some great drama and a handful of funny moments as well.
Harrison WellsI’m glad the show didn’t drag out Wells’s betrayal too long. I’m still not the biggest fan of retreading the whole “Zoom wants to steal the Flash’s speed” plotline that’s too similar to Season 1, especially as it involves Wells yet again. But I think this episode addressed those parallels head-on and not only got rid of them but used them to draw an intentional contrast between the two versions of Wells in particular and the storyline in general. Wells coming clean shows growth for an already complex character, as does Barry’s forgiveness.
I just hope Zoom has more of a long-term plan than this. He made such an impactful entrance on the show and still is an incredibly intimidating figure. I just have to wonder why he’s taking his time with Barry, decreasing the urgency of his threat. How come he can’t steal Flash’s speed without Wells the same way he did to Jay Garrick? And is his motivation more than simply wanting to be the fastest man alive? I hope so.
The West family drama was pretty decent this week, hitting no soaring highs but still working on tightening the bonds between Wally and his family, developing him as a character, and slowly easing him into the show.
On the con side, Arrow and The Flash have always suffered from unimpressive villains-of-the-week, but Tar Pit was a new low. He was utterly unmemorable to the point that Barry’s final confrontation with him lasted less than a minute. He was just there almost as an obligation to the show’s format rather than any story reasons. On one hand, I like that the episode focused on the character drama and used the villain only as a plot device (to demonstrate Flash losing his speed and to get Wally and Iris to grow closer). On the other, the episode didn’t treat him like a mere plot device—he was written like any other villain of the week, with his own origin story and everything. And that was not the right way to handle him this episode. As a result, it felt like the episode was halfheartedly trying to make him into something he wasn’t, purely out of habit, whereas it would have been bolder to use him as the disposable plot device he was.

Rating: 3.5/5 (Good)

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