The Flash is DC’s television adaptation of the comic book of the same name. It airs Tuesday nights at 8/7 Central on The CW. Our writer, Nicole Drum recaps the series each week updating you on the latest episode here in The FlashBack.
One of the things I love most about The Flash is that the show never loses sight of its emotional center. Yes, it’s a show about super humans and some extravagant, questionable science, but underneath the spectacular is a beating heart. Last night’s episode showcased that beating heart as well as how emotion drives the characters. As always, this recap will contain spoilers beyond this point.
The episode opens up two years ago at night in an industrial building. A couple of bad guys have a man tied up and are dangling him over a vat of hot, bubbling tar. The bound guy has money that the thugs want and if he doesn’t give it up, they will drop him into the tar below. As any person in an information-or-tar situation would, our unfortunate man does give the bad guys information but this does not save him. The extra-cold looking bad guy drops him into the tar and what is no doubt a brutal death. The bad guys don’t get to deal with what they have just done for long though, as this particular night is the same evening the particle accelerator disaster occurred. As we switch back to present day, construction is being completed at the same industrial building and as equipment disrupts a bit of the pavement outside the building, up through that disruption comes a human hand covered in tar.
Iris, Joe and Wally are spending time together over pizza, but it isn’t exactly family time. Joe is acting more like a friend to Wally than a father but Wally is eating it up. Iris takes on the parental role and busts Wally for his continued participation in drag racing. This kills the mood quickly and Wally leaves. With Wally gone, Iris tells Joe it’s not okay that he’s being Wally’s friend instead of his father.
Over at STAR Labs, Harry is combining what he learned from the Turtle with what he has learned from the Reverse Flash to create a speed-leaching device that he can place in Barry’s suit. The device would steal Barry’s speed and Harry could then take that to Zoom and free Jesse. Despite this potential benefit, Harry does not seem happy about what he is doing and that guilt compounds when Barry shows up. Barry wants to work with Harry on things that might close the breaches between worlds. In a sense, they were a team after all. Harry tries to get him to leave, but Barry insists upon staying (he even speed reads so he is up on the science).
Over in Drag Race Alley, Wally is at it again. As things are gearing up, a gorgeous girl shows up and gets everyone, including Wally’s attention. Wally realizes it’s his sister, Iris. Yikes! Disclosing that she is there to research a story, Wally says that most of the people at the race have no desire to end up in the paper. Iris counters by asking what part of the paper as she is very worried about Wally’s safety and wants him to stop. Wally resists and is still up for the last race of the night. While her brother races, Iris sneaks a photo of a hard, sketchy-looking guy at the race.
In a garage elsewhere in the city, there is a well-dressed guy who is sitting alone, when all of a sudden a man covered in tar pops up through the floor. The guy in the nice suit? Turns out he’s the same one from the opening who dropped our tar man into the vat of bubbling goo. It seems it’s payback time! After describing the horrible experience of being thrown into tar—goodbye, bad guy in a nice suit. The next day our favorite CSI and cop duo of Barry and Joe show up to investigate. Dead suit guy looks like he fell into a volcano. This is a sure sign they’re dealing with a metahuman. Barry’s going to take some samples to the gang at STAR Labs, while Joe has lunch plans with Iris.
At the lab, Harry continues working on his plan and still seems really emotionally bothered by it. As Barry comes in, he and Cisco are talking about an app that Cisco’s just created that is a social network aggregator that will alert the team and track possible metahuman incidents. Barry and Cisco start ribbing each other about each of them having too much time on their hands (there is a great “Tinder for metahumans” sort of joke) while Harry installs his device on Barry’s suit. While this is going on at STAR, Joe meets up with Iris at CCPN. In hope to get Joe to intervene and stop Wally, Iris shows Joe some rather gruesome photos of people who have died while drag racing. She asks Joe what he’s afraid of in regards to Wally and Joe tells her that he’s afraid of being rejected by his son. Joe wants his son to trust him before he starts acting fatherly towards him, especially since his first attempt didn’t go over well.
Back at STAR, Harry and Barry are in the lab continuing to work on a solution for the breaches. After some more speed reading to keep working, Barry waxes a little nostalgia about the other Dr. Wells. Barry tells Harry that he was a mentor and a father figure to him, but this upsets an already emotionally tense Harry. Snapping at Barry, he kicks him out of the lab. A little stunned and hurt Barry leaves and talks to Cisco. The tests they ran on the samples of the guy in a suit have come back and he didn’t burn to death. Instead, he died of suffocation—but there’s more to it. The test results are identical to those run on animals who are trapped in tar. They dub the new metahuman “Tar Pit.” This is good timing too, since there is rumbling on the app that something is going on. With the speed-leeching device working along secretly, Barry makes it to the scene where Tar Pit is going after another guy. (This one clearly recognizable as the other bad guy from the opening scene.) Hoping for his vengeance on this guy too, Barry is fortunately there to stop it. He gets the near-victim out the way and starts distracting Tar Pit. To defuse the situation Barry, has to cool Tar Pit down and successfully does that by having Tar Pit strike a fire hydrant. The water does the trick and Barry takes the almost-victim into custody for some questions.
As all of this is happening, Harry’s device is working back at the lab. He has successfully captured some of Barry’s speed. Harry’s a little excited about his success as he can now bring Jesse home.
Using the information about the dead suit guy and the almost-victim as well as an image of Tar Pit’s face, the team figures out the identity of their metahuman. Now all they have to do is figure out what the connection is and who else he’s targeting. Cisco gets Barry alone for a moment and asks him if he’s okay because he picked up that Barry was a tiny bit slower than usual. This doesn’t seem to bother Barry who tells Cisco that “fast is fast.”
Iris tracks down the man she took the photo of in Drag Race Alley and confronts him in his seedy office. Telling him that she wants him to stop the races and that if he doesn’t, she will run an exposé in the paper, showing him the advance of that story. This doesn’t really seem to faze him though, as he turns the tables on her, threatening to make her life a nightmare if she does so, in addition to threatening actual violence. Iris counters by showing him that she’s recording their conversation and how the recording syncs back at her office. If something were to happen to her it would lead them right to him. He tells her to leave. Soon after, Wally confronts Iris about how dangerous that man is, but Iris wants to know why her little brother is still doing the races if this man is so dangerous. She tells Wally that he is good and knows that he was raised well with love. She just wants him to stop. Wally tells her that if she shows up again at the races he can do nothing to keep her safe and leaves.
Back at the lab, Harry talks to Barry and opens up about Jesse. He tells Barry that he reminds him of Jesse and Barry wants to know if he sometimes scolded Jesse too—and he did. But It’s hard for Harry, the whole situation. Barry tells Harry that he isn’t alone, but Harry says otherwise. He tells Barry that he’s a father first and would betray Barry to save his daughter. Barry tells Harry that he has an idea on how they can close the breaches for good. It seems that some of the research Dr. Wells was doing led to an idea and seems to be solid. Harry wants to check it and will get back to Barry later. He leaves and goes to meet with Zoom. Harry gives Zoom the dose of Barry’s speed and tells Zoom he has enough. However, Zoom disagrees and wants more, telling Harry that he doesn’t have to kill Jesse to make sure he gets what he wants. Zoom will just torture Jesse to the brink of death repeatedly until he gets all the Flash’s speed.
The gang is trying to figure out the connection between the victims and Tar Pit. Joe says he can’t find one, but Cisco has been digging deeper by accessing sealed juvenile records. It turns out that the men all served time in the same facility together. They identify Tar Pit’s cellmate as the next probable target but aren’t sure where to find him. Enter Iris: Turns out the next target is the creep running the drag races. Joe and Iris go to Drag Race Alley while Harry and Barry go to test the device that will close the breaches. While they are testing the device, Barry yawns and says that he’s tired—The Flash shouldn’t be tired. This concerns Harry, but the device works. They now have a way to close the breaches.
Joe and Iris get to the drag races. Tar Pit is also there, but he is incognito. Wally is up to race and things quickly go wrong as Tar Pit interrupts by raising the asphalt like a tidal wave. Barry shows up and is able to save Wally as well as the sleazy bad guy, but that is when his speed starts to slow a little. Barry is still fast, but just slow enough that he can’t quite catch a large shard of glass that the crashing cars sent flying. The glass strikes Iris in the chest right before Barry can stop it. Barry gets her to the hospital.
Iris will recover. The glass struck her shoulder more than her chest. At the hospital, Wally comes to see his sister and brings flowers. He is clearly rattled by what happened to her, but can’t handle it and tries to leave. Joe goes after him to talk, acting more of a father than a friend this time, telling Wally that they’re a family and that he is not letting Wally go. Wally chooses to stay with Iris while Joe goes to Barry.
At the lab, Barry is clearly troubled by his slow speed. Cisco thinks that Barry is worried about Tar Pit, but Barry tells him that there is something more off and Caitlin confirms it. Barry’s usage of the speed force is down by two percent. Harry hears this and his conscience gets the better of him: He confesses to the team about the device and leaching. Harry tells the team that he’s helping Zoom because of his daughter. Joe does not take this well and ends up tossing Harry into the holding cell to keep himself from killing him.
Now it’s time to stop Tar Pit. Joe uses the man they have in custody as bait to lure out Tar Pit, while Barry disables him. It is a little anti-climactic, but the real story here is Harry. Joe and Barry go to visit him and Harry tells them to send him back to Earth 2, then seal the breach. Harry tells Barry that dealing with Zoom is his fight—not theirs.
Back at the hospital, Wally talks to Iris. He tells her that when he was a kid they didn’t have much, so his mother would just take him on long drives—Wally loved this and shares why he likes racing. It takes him back to that place in his life where he felt safe and loved, connecting him to his mother. Iris appears to understand and they bond. While this happens, the rest of the team is at STAR and Caitlin reveals that had Harry continued to steal Barry’s speed, it would have ultimately resulted in genetic mutation and Barry completely losing his powers (sounds kind of like what happened to Jay, actually). Joe is really upset about it and ready to ship Harry home, but Barry stops him. Barry isn’t ready to give up on Harry and points out that what Harry did by choosing to do whatever it took to save his daughter is no different than what any of them would do for those they love. He admits that everything has happened up to now is on him because he trusted Harry, but tells them that they have to make a group choice now.
The gang goes down to see Harry in his holding cell and they let him out. Barry tells Harry that he isn’t sending him home because he isn’t ready to give up on him, Jesse, or the people of Earth-2. The team has decided to help Harry as he is part of their team. They won’t make him face Zoom alone and will go with him to Earth-2.
Next week? Earth-2! Wait, is that Killer Frost, we see?
This episode hit me in all the feels. What did it do for you? Share your reaction in the comments. See you next week!