Lives are put in danger by Iris and Harry’s attempts to protect their family members in the Tuesday, Feb. 2 episode of “The Flash,” 212, “Fast Lane.” As the team deals with the latest metahuman, Tar Pit, Harry’s actions in order to try to save his daughter slow things down a bit.
The latest menace for the Flash is Tar Pit, a man who was dropped in tar the night of the particle accelerator explosion and is going after those responsible, wanting them to feel what he did that night. It’s pretty gruesome. (As noted at the crime scene, it looks like his first victim was dipped in a volcano.) Thanks to Cisco’s metahuman app, which syncs up postings on social media about related activity, Barry is able to speed in and save his next intended victim, but Clay’s too scared to talk, so that gets them nowhere. He may not be the world’s best hacker (sorry, Cisco, that title belongs to Felicity Smoak), but Cisco does get an ID on the metahuman, giving them another name for Joe to run a background check on. Though the records are sealed, a few felonies later, they figure out that the metahuman and first victim were bunkmates in juvie – and the second victim’s bunkmate is someone whom Iris recognizes.
That would be Clark, who just so happens to be the one behind the drag races Wally’s participating in, and while Iris is vocal about the dangers of his hobby, Joe’s a bit more concerned about trying to stay on his son’s good side for the time being due to their weird dynamic. But being strict isn’t always a bad thing, Barry reminds him, especially when it comes from love (and from the best dad he could’ve wished for). After Iris shows him the research she’s doing for her story (a.k.a. everything that can go wrong in drag racing), Joe admits that he’s afraid that Wally will reject them. Just let him get him to trust him first, he suggests.
However, Iris isn’t going to just sit back and do nothing, so she goes and threatens Clark with an exposé if he doesn’t stop holding the races. Cue the requisite “publish this and see what happens because I can find out everything about you” threat from him and visit from Wally trying to stop his sister from being involved in this part of his life because he can’t protect her if she shows up again. It’s Tar Pit that is the real threat – for Wally, Clark and Iris – at the next race, with Barry speeding in in time to save both Wally and Clark, but he’s not fast enough to get to Iris before a piece of glass embeds itself in her shoulder.
This is the wake up call that both Joe and Wally need. For Joe, it’s to stop trying to be his son’s friend and to be his father. For Wally, it’s to accept that he’s not alone even though he lost his mother and to admit why he’s still drag racing even though there are no more medical bills to pay. They didn’t have a lot of money when he was growing up, he explains, so Francine would take him for long drives and he remembers being on the road with her, watching the scenery flashing by and feeling happy. Drag racing brings him back to those days. These two scenes, with Wally in the hospital with Joe and Iris, may be the best ones with him yet.
As for Barry not being fast enough to save Iris from the glass, that’s because Harry makes a device to collect the speed force when he taps into it – and he does just that when he runs to save Clay from Tar Pit early on. (He later delivers it to Zoom and tries to negotiate his daughter’s freedom, but Zoom insists on the rest of the speed force first or he’ll torture his daughter.) He wishes there was another way, he notes in his journal entry, but, as he makes clear more than once, saving his daughter in his priority. Still, he does feel bad about betraying Barry and the others, which leads to his outburst when Barry compares him to his other Wells mentor. He didn’t ask to be his mentor and he doesn’t need another kid, Harry tells Barry, sending him away.
He’s never going to be part of the team, Harry insists when Barry finds him later, because he’s always a father first. If it comes down to it, he will always choose his daughter and betray Barry, but Barry doesn’t see why it has to be “either or.” But they are a team – at least when it comes to figuring out a way to close the breaches, thanks to the other Wells’ research and the breach implosion reactor Harry makes. “Have fun fixing the universe,” Cisco says, sending them on their way. That’s one breach closed, and 51 to go – and as Barry tells Harry, the first step in getting his daughter back.
Harry’s guilt gets the better of him when Caitlin notes that Barry has lost 2% of his speed force (though he does try to pass it off as being caused by any number of things). He admits to taking it and giving it to Zoom, and Joe punches him and tosses him into a cell in the pipeline. “If I didn’t, I would’ve killed him,” the detective explains. Once they’ve taken care of Tar Pit (with Clay as the bait and nitrous grenades), it’s déjà vu for Barry, visiting a Harrison Wells in the pipeline and wanting to know “why.” Harry reminds him that he told him he’d betray him, that he’d choose his daughter. He suggests they just send him home, closing all the breaches to keep Zoom from crossing over and leaving this to be his battle to fight.
Barry can’t do that, not even after they figure out that if Harry had kept draining his speed force (and causing chromosomal damage), he could’ve taken his powers permanently. They’ve shown that they’re all vulnerable to making wrong decisions when it comes to their family. He may not be fast enough to beat Zoom yet, Barry acknowledges, but that doesn’t mean he’s just going to leave an entire world to face death at the speedster’s hands. Instead of sending Harry home and closing the breaches, they’re going to Earth-2 with him.
“The Flash” season 2 airs Tuesdays at 8 p.m. on the CW. What did you think of episode 12 “Fast Lane”?