Written By Jacob Chimilar (@sweetlows)
This week on The Flash, the villain of the week gets put on the back burner, serving as a means to an end rather than a real threat to Barry and instead it is Harry who is the threat.
The show opens with the creation of the always aptly named bad guy, Tar Pit, who during the lab explosion was dropped into a vat of tar at a tar factory by some thugs who are trying to collect some money he owes. I haven't really touched on it before but since the explosion turns people into weird things I've found that plot device to be something I actually quite like. The idea that there is a lot more going on outside the world you know where all these crazy, random things can happen on the same day. Then there is the one huge incident that can cause a massive wave of change, effecting a whole city is an interesting concept to explore in terms of creating villains. Instead of coming up with a ton of different “experiments gone wrong” we get one experiment gone wrong and a whole lot of variables that have affected a lot of people. Some could see that as lazy and I'm sure some writers love coming up with all the weird and whacky ways people can change, but having the event be the same for all of them I think gives them more creative license to mess around with the variables and that I think also helps give brevity to the origin stories because we only need one half of the equation to understand how they got to where they are. All that said, this week's villain has a very generic origin and as it turns out a pretty generic story line too.
The gist of his revenge tale is that Tar Pit goes after the men who dumped him in the vat as well as the big boss, Clark Bronwen, who has a lot of fingers in a lot of evil pies.(ooh there's a new villain right there, Pie-man played by Lee Pace reprising his role as Ned from Pushing Daises, I should write comic books!) He just so happens to be the guy who has set up the illegal drag racing ring that Wally West is involved with. Here in lies our connection to the rest of the episode. Iris, wholeheartedly against Wally's Need for Speed, thinks him a future Death Racer, living 2 Fast 2 Furious. She, unlike Joe, is in a Rush to have him Gone in 60 Seconds from the drag racing scene. Joe's reasoning for letting him continue is he is simply afraid that now that he has Wally in his life, discouraging him from what he wants to do, despite it being illegal, would push him away. That is a tough choice to make and one as a father I can understand him making. Iris isn't buying it however and choose to dawn her investigative journalist cap and put a stop to the racing. She does this buy digging up dirt on Bronwen and threating him with it but not before dressing up like the typical “drag race rally girl” making Wally want to wash his eyes out with bleach. After all the evidence is gathered she manages to push Joe to go with her to see Wally and hopefully put a stop to his racing. Little does he know that Tar Pit is waiting there for them to disrupt the race and take down Bronwen.
Now up until this point Harry and Barry have both been working on ways in which to shut down the breach. Harry being very reluctant since he has a side project going in creating a device that will harness Barry's Speedforce and give it to Zoom. He attaches the device to the back of Barry's emblem and because his math is always right, succeeds in very slowly collecting Barry's speedforce. He does this when Barry goes to confront Tarpit when he goes after the hitmen. Cisco notes that his speed was ever so slightly slower, about 100Mph but Barry pays it no mind. Meanwhile Harry tests out the other invention, the breach closer, Barry throws it into a known breach and it too works like a charm, closing the breach, seemingly for good.
Now for the second time, Barry goes to face Tarpit , this time at the drag race. Having used more Speedforce since their previous meeting, he isn't fast enough to stop a piece of glass flying towards Iris from Wally's car that Tarpit flipped and she is taken to the hospital. It's here we get another West family bonding moment. This time with Joe tells Wally it's not his fault and all Iris needs is for you to be there and care for her. She and Wally have a chat about their mom and his reason for racing goes back to car rides with his mom, a special time between the two of them and something he tries to hold onto.
Barry is beside himself as to why this is happening and the rest of Team Flash is racking their brains to figure it out as well. Harry, feeling the pressure inside himself build admits that he did it. Joe one punches Harry and they throw him in the vault. Cooler heads prevail however as Barry, rightfully comes to the conclusion that he was just doing what he thought was right to help save his daughter and he came clean. This is what I love about Barry, he is the voice of reason in the group, he has his problems like anyone his age, he has a hard time coming to grips what others think is right for him to do before its too late, ie Patty, but can see the right intentions in others clearly. Harry tells Barry they should just send him back to Earth-2 to take care of Zoom and close all the breaches so he can't return. Barry has other plans. He instead plans to work with Wells to take down Zoom, with their tested and functional breach closing device and make the journey together to Earth-2.
This episode was a lesson in doing the wrong things to try and stay close to the ones we love and confronting those wrong doings in order to do something better. The plot wasn't advanced much but as always the characters are more fleshed out, and learn things about themselves and each other. Next week seems like a real adventure episode so I'm happy they took the time to tie up some character threads before jumping into another world.