‘The Flash’ 2×12 Roundtable: Discussing ‘Fast Lane’

Every week, Fangirlish writers will be discussing new episodes of The Flash and sharing their thoughts, feelings, and speculation about the hour’s hot topics in a little something we like to call Fangirlish Roundtables.

Today, we’re breaking down episode 12 of The Flash, “Fast Lane,” where we discuss how we think the show is finally starting to kick it into a higher gear, the Harrison Wells betrayal take two, and the progression of the West family.

What were your overall thoughts on “Fast Lane?”

ALYSSA

I was very pleased with this episode. For a while The Flash has kind of been in that sophomore slump for a good portion of season two. It hasn’t been as fresh or thrilling as its first season, which let’s be honest is incredibly hard to top. But for the first time it feels like it’s finally gearing up to what could become a great second half of season two. I loved the family dynamic between the Wests because it continues to let two of my favorites who often get pushed to the side – Joe and Iris – really shine. I also really enjoyed where this show took the whole Harrison Wells betraying Barry Allen again storyline. I love how Wells felt guilty enough to fess up, but what I loved even more was Barry’s mature reaction. Plus it set the stage for the next couple of episodes when the group travels to Earth-2, which has the potential to be really good or bad.

LIZZIE

I’ve enjoyed The Flash this season. I’m not saying it’s been groundbreaking television, or that it’s been as good as Season 1, but I’ve still enjoyed it, because I don’t really ask my TV shows for anything other than entertainment and some people to love, and The Flash does both in spades.

That being said, this was, crossover aside, probably the strongest episode of a somewhat lack-luster second season for the show. It was hard to be as good as they were in the first season, and they’ve suffered from giving too much preponderance to weekly villains instead of Zoom, but this time, with the renewed focus on the core team, and a touch of West-family dynamics, the Flash at least feels like it’s heading in the right direction once again.

LYRA

I feel like the pieces are finally starting to fall together in this episode of The Flash. Barry is focusing on something else besides his relationship with Patty. As much as I loved her she was dragging Barry down because he wasn’t ready for this part of his life. Everyone knew it besides Barry and it was frustrating me more with each episode that passed. Also the Zoom storyline feels like it’s started gaining some traction! *waves hands in air* We’re heading to Earth-2 and have a chance to see evil Caitlin. Now that’s what I’m really excited for!

The Flash -- "Fast Lane" -- Image: FLA212B_0066b.jpg -- Pictured (L-R): Tom Cavanagh as Harrison Wells and Grant Gustin as Barry Allen -- Photo: Katie Yu/The CW -- © 2016 The CW Network, LLC. All rights reserved.

In this episode we saw Harrison Wells begin to betray Barry Allen in order to save his daughter. What were your thoughts on that?

ALYSSA

This was a storyline that I was cautious about seeing playing out only because we’d already seen it done last year – where Harrison Wells gains the trust of Barry Allen only to break his heart when he betrays him for something sinister. Been there, done that. But I have to admit I absolutely loved how they handled it. For a while it felt like this was going to be something they’d drag on forever only to pull a similar “I trusted you!” betrayal moment toward the end of the season. But by the show addressing it so quickly – and the way Barry handled it – proved that this wasn’t made to be too big of a moment like last season.

LIZZIE

Tom Cavanagh is a hell of an actor. I say this because, in Season 1, I hated his guts, and at the beginning of Season 2, I still hated his guts, but I found him amusing. Now? Now I just plain like him. I understand him. I want everyone to help him.

Barry speech to the team at the end of the episode really struck a chord with me, because I’d been thinking about it since Harry told Barry that, one day, he’d betray him. What would we do, in his place? Would we really sacrifice our family? Would we put someone else, anyone else first?

If your answer is yes, then you probably deserve some award. I hold no such delusions about myself. If I had to choose between my family, the people that I care about, and anyone else? I’d choose my family every day and twice on Sundays and I wouldn’t even look back.

LYRA

This version of Harrison Wells is many things. He’s intelligent, cunning, a smartass, brave, and a hard headed man. Above all Wells is a good man. You might not think so after the betrayal, lies, and rude behavior but it’s true. He’s bonded with Barry & Co. on Earth-1.

The entire episode was a ticking time bond for Wells spilling the beans. Every time they put their trust in him he felt the weight of his lies bear down on him. His reasons for betraying Barry are understandable. It’s his family. A reoccurring theme on The Flash is how far we’re willing to go for the ones we love. In the span of a short period he’s come to think of these people as his loved ones. He broke because he wanted to protect them and they repaid him by promising to find his daughter. What he feared the most might end up being his salvation.

Near the end of the episode we saw Barry deliver one hell of a speech where he essentially said Wells was justified in his actions. What did you think of Barry’s forgiveness and do you feel Wells is justified?

ALYSSA

The thing I really enjoyed about this storyline being wrapped up was the staggering differences between the two situations. Last season we had Eobard Thawne intentionally getting close with the intent to steal Barry’s speed for himself. This season, we have this poor father backed into a very dark corner and forced to betray someone he’s starting to grow closer with in order to save his daughter from the epitome of a monster. So his reasons for the betrayal are valid, much like Barry acknowledged. Wells was entirely valid in doing what he did. Was it wrong? Of course. But that doesn’t change the fact that most of us would risk anything – do anything to protect our family.

That speech, by the way, was my favorite part about it. Barry could’ve handled it in a similar way that Joe, Cisco, and Caitlin did. But Barry showed his maturity in how he approached the situation. Sure, the betrayal stung, but he realized the reasons why Wells did what he did, and most importantly he realized that Wells admitted what he was doing before it got out of hand. Wells could’ve kept draining Barry of his speed and gotten his daughter back, but he realized that he couldn’t live with himself if he did. And like Barry said, what would we do to save our family? We all know the answer to that: We’d go to hell and back – or Earth-2 in this instance.

LIZZIE

As always, I start rambling and answer a question before it’s asked, but yes. Although maybe justified is not the right word. I’m not going to argue that what he did was right – it wasn’t. He hurt Barry, who he clearly cares about, and he was indirectly responsible for putting Iris in the hospital (Though Iris was being so reckless I was kind of glad there was some consequence to her actions). He didn’t do a good thing – he did a bad thing, for a good reason.

That’s still a bad thing, though, and the fact that he came forward at the end proves that he knew it. He isn’t a sociopath. But that’s not really what we’re arguing here. We’re arguing for what a person who was put in an impossible situation did to save the one family he has left. And I think Barry hit the nail in the head when he gave that speech. Cisco gave up Barry’s identity and no one judges him for it! Why are we judging Wells for doing what he needs to in order to protect Jessie?

Rhetorical question. I know the answer. It’s because he did so before. Except he didn’t. This is not the same person who betrayed Team Flash last year. In fact, THAT person wasn’t even Harrison Wells. And, maybe we love Cisco more, but this Harry is as much part of the team as Cisco is, and if we could forgive one, then …

LYRA

Barry’s forgiveness shows how much he’s grown. He could’ve taken the whole situation with Wells at face value and thought, ‘Here goes another Wells betraying. I’m a chump.’ But he didn’t! Barry sat back and thought of everything he’s done for the people dearest to him and saw himself in Wells. He’d do the same thing, so why punish the man for simply trying to secure his daughter’s life?

Trying to understand your enemies intentions/motivations in the face of overwhelming evidence makes Barry a stronger leader. With Wells on their side the success rate of their mission sky rockets. I hope the faith placed in that oddly good looking man is well deserved and returned.

The Flash -- "Fast Lane" -- Image: FLA212A_0257b.jpg -- Pictured (L-R): Candice Patton as Iris West and Jesse L. Martin as Detective Joe West -- Photo: Dean Buscher/The CW -- © 2016 The CW Network, LLC. All rights reserved.

In this episode we saw Joe act more friend than father toward Wally for a good portion of it. What are your thoughts on how Joe behaved?

ALYSSA

One of the reasons I’m really enjoying Wally’s introduction on this show is how it’s affecting Joe. First it was Joe dealing with the fallout that he has a son – a son that has grown up to be a man without him. It was heartbreaking and eye-opening for him character-wise, and now we get to see a new dynamic arise from this newfound fatherhood. Following Joe’s confrontation with Wally in the midseason premiere it was evident that Joe believed it possible that he might lose Wally. Wally, despite losing his mother, wasn’t necessarily bound to Joe or Iris emotionally so why would he stay if he didn’t want to? So after realizing that he could spook Wally and up and lose him, we saw Joe act more like a friend than a father. Like Iris said, that’s not who Joe is.

There was a great moment when Barry and Joe were discussing Wally and Barry said Wally was getting one hell of a father, though Joe wasn’t too sure about that because he was strict as hell on Barry. But like Barry said, strict isn’t always bad especially when it’s coming from a place of love. Strict means you give a damn, and I think the part that Wally was most worried about in being thrown in this new family with Joe and Iris was that they wouldn’t give a damn. But guess what, kid. They do care.

LIZZIE

I’m so glad Joe finally saw that Wally didn’t need a friend, he needed a father. I mean, I get it, Joe was scared, and he didn’t want to ruin things with his son before he even got a chance. He didn’t want Wally to run away. He was, as he said, trying to give him space, get him comfortable. We may not have seen it, but this is probably the same thing he did with Barry. Except Barry was a kid whose worst offense might have been throwing a tantrum. That made so much more sense than this. But hey, what worked once…

From the outside, it’s easy to judge. I was getting tired of Joe being all buddy-buddy, but I understand that Joe had a plan. With Iris in the hospital, however, and with Barry being so kind as to point it what makes Joe such a good dad, it was good to see Joe confront Wally. And not only good for Joe, no. I think, in a way, Wally had been hoping/waiting for Joe to do exactly this. He might have grown up without a father, but, as Iris said, he’s no stranger to having people care for him, after all.

LYRA

Joe has been testing out the waters since meeting Wally. It’s a completely different dynamic that he’s never experienced. With Iris he raised and nurtured her into a wonderful woman. Barry was young enough to be molded and pulled out of his early rambunctious years with the love of family. Wally is a completely different story as he was raised by the woman who abandoned Joe and his daughter out of fear. Joe has never been more out of his element.

When Wally first came on the scene he was wild. Joe took on his new roll by befriending him after Wally rebuffed his fatherly attempts at counsel. He was trying in the only way he knew because he doesn’t want to lose this second chance with his son. After everything that happened in this episode he’s seen the error of his ways, coming out stronger and more resilient in his role in Wally’s life. He is the young man’s father, not his friend. I’m glad he’s finally realized it.

Joe is a magnificent man and an even greater father. It’s time Wally experienced it.

We saw Iris and Wally grow closer in this episode and saw the fierce protectiveness she already had for her brother. What are your thoughts on that relationship? 

ALYSSA

I found it interesting in this episode that in the beginning it was Iris taking on the parent role while Joe came to the realization that he can’t treat Wally like that because that’s not who he is. But from the start we’ve seen this protective big sister vibe from Iris as she’s fought to keep her little brother in her life as she’s just found him after 20 years. Iris is a character that isn’t recognized enough for her brilliant strength and incredible resilience. We saw that on display in this episode when she went down to Wally’s drag race to, sure work on a story, but this all about keeping an eye on Wally because she was worried about him. And for a while we saw Wally kind of roll his eyes to the idea. But once Wally saw what kind of danger he put his sister in – and how she was hurt on his watch – that brother instinct kicked in, and you saw him realize that he doesn’t want to lose his sister. He wants to be a part of this family.

LIZZIE

I love it. I love that Iris is getting a chance to be proactive, and I love that she cares about Wally enough to push the issue. But does she really need to be so stupid about it? She has a superhero on speed-dial. She had nothing to prove in this situation. She could have asked Barry to handle it. Or, at the Barry least, she could have told Barry where she was going so he could keep an eye on her. Yes, the fact that Harry stole some of The Flash’s speed force might have been the main reason why Iris ended up in the hospital, but her own recklessness also played a part.

LYRA

Iris was setting an example for her father and brother that they both needed. Family doesn’t wait to be asked for help (most of the time.) They take the first step forward all on their own because it’s the right thing to do. She showed Wally that she was a girl with perseverance and a heart of gold. Bad guys stopping her from getting closer to her brother? Boom! Gone. Iris is about results. She wanted that man out of the way so her brother could see the life he was leading was destructive. When he stayed in the hospital room with her it was like turning a new leaf for Wally. Maybe if this badass thinks he’s worthwhile then maybe he shouldn’t be such a stuck up brat to her. He’s not 100% down with blending with this new family but he’s ready to accept that Iris and Joe deserve a chance.

Now that Team Flash is headed to Earth-2 what are you expecting?

ALYSSA

I’m expecting craziness to the nth degree. This is a storyline that I’m incredibly excited for but one that I’m cautiously approaching. Earth-2 is such a huge deal – with the dopplegangers and such – and it’s something that this show has been building towards. We get to see these characters we love as completely different people, and that’s thrilling to think about. But I’m hoping it doesn’t prove to be a letdown or feel like it was forced for the shock value of it all. I want there to be a reason why we’re going to Earth-2 that will impact the season moving forward. But let’s be honest, I’m most excited to see Killer Frost make her icy debut.

LIZZIE

I have no earthly clue. It’s awesome. We already know we’ll see Earth-2’s version of Barry Allen, and we’ll get to meet Killer Frost, but other than that I’m not sure. They could do anything. There’s a whole world out there.

What I don’t think they’ll do is save Harry’s daughter. Not in episode 13. That would just be too easy, wouldn’t it?

LYRA

I’m expecting Barry and Cisco to be blown away by the power that Killer Frost possesses. (Oh yeah and for them to be shocked by her hubbie’s alive and evil status. Let’s not forget that.) When they get back to Earth-1 they’ll never look at Caitlin the same again. In another life she was driven by darker and more sinister impulses. They’ll love and appreciate Caitlin more for the opportunity they have to be in her presence.

On a side note, can we enter wishful thinking for a second and say pretty Ricky?! I just want Eddie back in all his beautiful unicorn glory. Pretty please tell me he’s safe and sound on Earth-2. *crying* Please!

What are your thoughts on “Fast Lane?” Sound off in the comments to keep the discussion going!

Join us for another The Flash roundtable next Monday!

The Flash airs Tuesdays at 8/7c on The CW.

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