A new baddie is released thanks to construction activity and Barry soon has to fight Tar Pit. But will Wells' plan to steal Barry's speed leave our hero in danger? And will Joe and Iris be able to save Wally from a dangerous and borderline criminal life?
I think this was the first Patty-free episode for a while, and while I like Patty, I realized after watching this that I'm sort of happy she's gone. With her out of the way, Barry and we are both enabled to focus more on the problem of the breaches, the problem of Zoom, the problem of the metahumans–waitaminute, we had all these problems? Who knew? WHO KNEW? It's not that I don't think Barry deserves love, but the entire Barry/Patty sequence felt totally forced.
Thanks to the change, we're also getting more screen time with Wally West, and that's a good thing, despite the drag racing gimmick. Although, to be fair, I have to confess. It's a big problem, and not just in 60's and 70's sitcoms. A couple days ago, after posting my last review, there was a news story about injuries resulting from a 5-car crash due to illegal drag racing on an interstate. So. Mea very culpa.
Keiynan Lonsdale turns out to have some acting chops; I felt like he was naturally becoming part of a new family, despite some friction. Wally's still drag racing despite the fact that Francine's passed and he no longer needs to raise money for her medical services. I liked the opening dinner where Wally accidentally confessed his love of speed and all things shiny. Iris called him out on the truth during dinner–Wally's drag racing addiction is NOT all about helping Mom–and while she comes across as slightly helicopter in her newfound sisterhood, she's entirely right. Wally can't be allowed to be hurt through his own stupidity, and Joe needs to step up and be a dad instead of a buddy (maybe especially right now, that Wally's lost his mother and probably needs that structure in his life.)
I thought it was nice plotting that some of the criminals involved with Tar Pit's creation turned out to be involved with Wally's drag racing, and this helped Tar Pit not to be entirely useless. The irony that Iris is the one hurt through racing, while trying to protect Wally, and that not even Barry can save her, is going to have an impact. Even though it's Wells stealing Barry's speed that's causing this, it places Barry's concerns about Patty being hurt in a new light. I guess it's true: no hero can save everyone. It also means Barry's either got to date another superhero or some complete ditz who would never find out what's going on, like Patty did. That kind of thinking is a mental trap.
The Wells plot was, I think, a blockbuster tonight despite the powerful story going on between the Wests. Wells was obviously tortured throughout the episode - some freaking fantastic acting again here. He has clearly been developing all these feels for Cisco! Barry! even Caitlin! and Joe! This new family can't replace the existing, however, and no matter how much he likes them, he feels trapped into betraying them. As usual it's Barry giving the good advice: nothing has to be either/or here. There have to be other options. When Wells confesses what's been happening, he finds his way out. Working with the team WILL create new options. I'm already imagining Cisco poisoning Zoom with fake speed energy or something.
If there was a theme tonight, it was the theme of breaking out of binary thinking. Wally has to break out of some thinking of his own - he's still very either/or regarding his family. Wells has to break out of the mental trap he's in. Barry, I think, finally completely resolves his ambivalence about Wells. So: the stage seems fairly well set. The team has come together. Secrets and lies have been removed. Breaches are being closed. Is Zoom going to see this as an attack on his mobility? And now they're going to go to Earth-2.
Marco Grazzini joins a huge list of really good looking bad guys, although in the end Tar Pit wasn't that exciting. Apparently he's also on Heroes Reborn.
Wells stealing Barry's speed with that elaborate equipment rocked. The moment when he realized Zoom is the Dane, though. Cavanagh is the bomb as an actor. (If you don't get the reference, there's an old poem by Kipling called "Dane-geld." In this episode, Cavanagh is paying off Zoom with speed, but he realizes after the first delivery that once he starts paying Zoom, the Dane will never be satisfied till he gets all of it. "And that is called paying the Dane-geld/but we've proved it again and again/that if once you have paid him the Dane-geld/You never get rid of the Dane.")
Gender watch: is it just me or do all the bad guys lately seem to be, well, guys? I find myself missing the Golden Glider and Peek-a-Boo.
Family watch: Barry seems hesitant about getting involved with Wally, doesn't he? Almost as if he fears being replaced. Remember who gave you the watch, Barry!
Wally's expression when Iris gets hurt is almost as heartbreaking as Barry's. Maybe Wally really does need the whole structure thing more than even he realizes.
Wells: I work better alone.
Barry: Oh, no, haven't you heard the expression, two heads are better than one?
Barry: Must be an Earth-1 thing.
I'm going to miss Patty, but the show did the right thing cutting her out, removing some drag, and allowing Barry and the team to focus on the issues facing them. But still, my little heart whimpers, what about Barry's need for love? Well, there's always Gorilla Grodd. I can't wait for next week. Five out of five speed-containers.
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