The Flash – Season 2 Episode 12
The Flash explore more of Harry’s internal conflict and prepares for a visit to Earth-2 as Barry takes on a villain with the ability to turn himself into tar.
I’ll start with the villain, Tar Pit (Marco Grazzini) because there’s really not much to say about him. He was certainly one of the least interesting villains the show has had so far. His back story amounts to him being a criminal mutated by the Particle Accelerator explosion then being freed 2 years later to go on a mission of revenge against anyone who had wronged him.
Tar Pit was quite impressive visually but as a presence he felt like an afterthought. He was presented as a solid physical threat who was able to challenge the Flash by endangering a number of people at the same time. The sequence where he attacked the drag race was particularly impressive to look at. In contrast Barry’s final fight with him was laughably brief and a complete anticlimax. Villains should never be defeated with a quick throw of a device that would completely subdue them as it removes any potential for them to be taken seriously as a threat.
Harry’s story was the strongest in this episode. He is still grappling with the prospect of having to betray Barry in order to get his daughter back from Zoom and approaches this by completely distancing himself from the team. If he doesn’t see Barry as a person then it’s easier for him to plan a way to steal his speed. It’s a simple emotional distancing but Harry isn’t finding it easy. Tom Cavanagh delivers a very layered performance that conveys these difficulties perfectly.
Barry doesn’t help with Harry’s plan to keep his distance as his personality means that he likes to collaborate with those around him so Harry has absolutely no chance of fading into the background. Barry’s intention is to return to the problem of closing the doorways to Earth-2. I had assumed that plan had been abandoned as it hasn’t really been mentioned in a while but it’s good that it’s still on the agenda.
The real purpose of Barry forcing his help on Harry is to let the two bond on a personal level. At first Harry is resistant and even lashes out because he is so frustrated but Barry remains calm and reminds Harry that they are a team and that teams looks out for one another. Harry’s thinking is very black and white on the issue. He sees no other options and tells Barry that if it comes down to a choice then he will choose his daughter over Barry and the rest of Team Flash. It’s very cold but easy to understand and resonates more effectively since Harry is actually betraying him at that very moment.
One thing that really comes across is that Barry has managed to make some sort of peace with the presence of Harry’s counterpart from last season. What he did to Barry was terrible and that won’t change but enough emotional distance has been gained to acknowledge that Wells was actually a good mentor figure and taught him a lot about being a hero and helped shape his development as the Flash. It shows a lot of growth for Barry that he can admit that.
Barry’s attempt to bond with Harry suggests to me that he is looking for another father figure since Joe is busy connecting with his long lost son and his biological father has left for the time being. Losing Patty seems to have made him lose direction in some way and he is looking for assistance with that. Harry isn’t interested in being his mentor as he has to keep his mind on getting Zoom to release his daughter but it’s an interesting emotional issue for Barry to have.
It turns out that the root of Harry’s frustration with Barry is that he is reminded of his daughter and it makes it much harder for him to keep that distance he works so hard to achieve. His eventual admission of what he did to reduce Barry’s effectiveness shows that he is a decent person and has let his feelings cloud his perception of the situation. Harry is now at a point where he is ready to accept help from Team Flash.
Joe’s reaction to Harry’s betrayal worked really well as it showed the pent up hatred he felt for the original Wells coming through. He had been waiting for this moment since Harry arrived and was glad that he was finally proven right. Barry’s full acceptance of Harry into his team and fully supporting him in saving his daughter. He forgives Harry for his betrayal because it is understandable to some degree and shows how heroic he can be by seeing the best in someone and granting them a second chance. Next stop Earth-2.
Harry’s betrayal was handled really well with it having a visible effect on Barry. His top speed was reduced by 2% which was enough for Iris to be hurt by him not being fast enough to stop her being hit by a stray shard of glass. A small loss in his speed is enough to land someone he cares about in danger and that is real cause for concern. I wonder if that 2% is lost forever or whether his connection to the speed force will recover as time passes.
One glaring possibility was finally addressed in this episode. It has always been an option to close the breaches and leave Zoom trapped in his own universe but nobody has mentioned it up until now. There would be consequences to that such as Jay Garrick’s death and the likely death of Harry’s daughter. The fact that Harry raises the possibility and is willing to make Zoom his problem shows that he does believe in doing the right thing. Barry isn’t willing to let that happen as he wants to help defeat Zoom. Again it shows his growth as a hero and how eager he is to protect people.
When Harry takes the extracted speed to Zoom the reaction was really interesting. His plan of being the only speedster has been revealed but why he wants to be that remains a mystery. It could be simple arrogance and I had sort of assumed it was but the way he reacted when injecting a small part of Barry’s speed suggested that he is an addict. If this is developed properly then the idea of a speed force addict could be very interesting. Zoom’s addiction could ultimately be his downfall as there will never be enough of it to satisfy his desire. It’s possible that he could absorb too much and be destroyed by the very thing he craves. It would be an excellent example of poetic justice and really differentiate Zoom from Reverse-Flash.
The West family were afforded more development this week with a relationship starting to form between Iris and Wally. She doesn’t approve of his Drag Racing and really digs into what motivates him to do it. He used the excuse of needing money to pay his mother’s hospital bills but now that she is dead that excuse doesn’t work. This causes him to open up about remembering going for drives with his mother and enjoying the sensation of speed. He keeps doing it because he loves to go fast and feels that it is some sort of tribute to his mother. Keiynan Lonsdale is a capable addition to the cast and plays Wally as a decent guy who has a bit of an attitude that he needs to work through. There’s plenty of scope for personal growth there and his interactions with Iris are enjoyable to watch.
Iris acts as something of an outside adviser to Wally’s relationship with Joe when she notes that he isn’t acting like Wally’s father. She remembers Joe being strict with her and actually doing a lot to raise her properly but seems to be walking on eggshells with Wally. Joe tries to justify it by suggesting that they are figuring out what their relationship is but Iris sees through that and encourages him to take a harder stance on Wally’s Drag Racing as well as approach the relationship differently.
Joe heeds this advice and tells Wally that he’s annoyed at him for participating in an illegal activity but also annoyed at himself for not behaving properly around his son. The dialogue is fairly corny but Jesse L. Martin manages to sell it well enough. The dynamic building within the West family as everyone gets used to having new family around is really engaging so far and I like how it is developing.
I’m in two minds about Iris going to confront a criminal and threaten to expose him if he didn’t stop. It was a really stupid thing to do and she was visibly terrified but at least she was smart enough to record the threat and have the recording sent to the cloud. Her admission that she probably has a death wish shows a good grasp of her own problems. I wonder if knowing she has the Flash on speed dial has made her more fearless. It’s a bit like Lois Lane risking her life every other day because she knows Superman will fly in to save her every time.
As a scene it doesn’t really work despite the intention to make Iris stand up for her brother and honour her responsibilities as a journalist at the same time. It just felt like an obvious attempt to give Iris something confident to do. I think a more subtle version of this scene would do a better job.
A solid episode with some excellent character development brought down by one of the most boring villains in the history of the show. Tom Cavanagh’s performance makes for essential viewing and Barry is showing tremendous growth putting his feelings about the original Wells behind him. Wally’s troubled induction into Iris and Joe’s lives is proving to be really engaging with Wally being a welcome addition to the cast.
• Tom Cavanagh’s layered performance
• excellent character growth for Barry
• Wally’s slow developing relationship with his family
• impressive visual effects for Tar Pit
• one of the worst villains in the history of the show
• some clunky dialogue