By Josh Melo
‘The Flash’ Review – S2 Ep.12 (Fast Lane)
Introducing one of The Flash’s “hottest” villains (they don’t call me a “pun”dit for no reason), diving into Wally’s strained relationship with Iris and Joe while tackling the long overdue task of closing the breaches, Fast Lane juggled quite a few balls this week. Fortunately for us, nothing fell flat. Without the myriad distractions that were Barry’s breakup and set up for Legends of Tomorrow, The Flash finally has room to be itself again: fast, fun and exciting.
While it was awesome to see a brand new meta-human enter the game, Tarpit was quickly thrown to the side. Instead, Fast Lane chose to focus on Wally West’s new family dynamic as well as the blossoming student/teacher relationship growing between Wells and Barry.
Starting with Wally, his last couple of appearances haven’t really done it for me. His original back and forth with Joe was solid but his second appearance with Iris left me wanting. Here, Keiynan Lonsdale fares much better. Having just lost his mother, he turns to the one thing that got him through the toughest times, drag racing. It’s a pretty prompt way of hinting at his speedster history in the comics and one that I initially didn’t like. Thanks to a quality performance and a convincing monologue, I’ve come around. Relating his racing habit to his past with his mother was a great way of grounding the character and makes him all the more relatable. Before, he was a whiny nobody that couldn’t decide what he wanted. Now, he seems to be on a set path. Hopefully the writers don’t lose sight of it.
Lonsdale’s on screen chemistry also saw a nice boost this week with all of his shared material with Iris (who herself had a few eye-rolling moments last season). Having only a week between episodes it is sometimes hard to establish how much time in the show’s world has past. To some, Iris’ “tell it like it is” approach to Wally may have seemed harsh considering their mother just passed. To others, it was the right thing to do. I tend to fall in the latter category. Wallowing in negative emotion for too long makes a character uninteresting, which is what we had with Wally in the previous two installments. The decision to snap him out of his funk was a great call.
Lastly on the Wally front, Joe taking a back seat approach to being a father never struck as something that he would do. He has always been the voice of reason on the show and to see him so hesitant to offer sound advice is a new thing for him. That being said, I love how Iris took the leadership role and got him to snap out of his funk as well. Candice Patton did an excellent job all around this week; from staring down a gangster, to dishing out advice in a hospitable bed (I’ll get to that), Patton was fantastic.
The second major relationship to see some tweaking was between Barry and Wells. It was clear that last season Barry and Wells had a father/son thing going on. With the Reverse-Flash showing up last week, this was a perfect time for Barry to reminisce on those feelings. Tom Cavanagh is always great but he steps up in a big way here, differentiating his dual versions of Wells and making both of their mentor/student relationships feel distinct, yet similar. Having Barry put his implicit trust in this Wells while he was secretly draining his speed for Zoom was tough to watch. Apparently, Wells thought the same thing. Watching Barry slowly lose access to the Speed Force and almost lose his loved ones took a toll on Wells, and you could see it in Cavanagh’s performance.
The scene in which Barry failed to save Iris from the shattered glass was intense and truly scary. For a moment I thought we lost Iris, and the fact that I cared proves that the writers have managed to pull a complete 180 with the character. To add even more chaos to the goings on, Wells giving into his guilt caused all of Team Flash to lose their shit. Joe goes on a rampage (punching Tarpit in the face), Cisco and Caitlin lock Wells up in the pipeline and Barry doesn’t know what to do with himself. It’s a great series of events that more than make up for the general lack of action this week (Tarpit kind of just loses).
Having Barry choose to free Wells, after hearing his reasons behind stealing the speed (to save his daughter), continued to trend of growth for Barry. Aside from becoming a fast and more powerful hero, he has also become a better person. Choosing to put personal grudges aside, he opts instead to help Wells in any way he can. This more mature Barry is a considerable step up from the morose one we got in the first couple of episodes and I have to admit, I love it.
And somewhere in the middle of it all Barry figured out how to close the rips in reality.
With Team Flash off to Earth-2 next week things are bound to get even more interesting. Doppelgänger’s are sure to pop up and Zoom better be looming (or zooming… punny!).
Overall, Fast Lane gets an 8/10.