In many ways, this episode could almost have been dropped into the middle of season 1 without too much effort. Featuring a relatively low-tier villain (Tar Pit), it puts the episode’s focus onto the STAR Labs team and allows their interactions to come to the fore. With the team established halfway into their second year, this can often be the strongest part of the show.
The villain plot follows much the standard season 1 structure. We see Tar-Pit’s origin, an event tied into the time of the particle accelerator explosion. We have the Star Team struggling to find the villain, despite all their resources and knowhow. Similarly, we have Iris ignoring common sense and going after the criminal on her own. That’s about as much as you can say for this aspect of the episode, with it feeling almost a tickbox inclusion than having any real impact.
The episode was more a character piece, demonstrating both how similar yet how different this team is now, a year or so on from when they joined forces.
In Season 1, we saw a darker side to the Harrison Wells character, only to later learn that he wasn’t the real Wells, with the original being an all round nice guy killed by Thawne. In recent weeks, we’ve seen the Earth 2 Harry Wells walking down a dark path with the aim of stealing Barry’s speed for Zoom. Whilst it wouldn’t be impossible to see Harry go down the route of being a bad guy, it might sit at odds with the direction we’ve seen so far.
As with Smallville’s take on the concept, the CW Earth 2 seems to hold a greater affinity to the comics’ Earth 3, a world of opposites where heroes are villains and villains (those who are left) are the nearest thing to heroes; rather than to the world populated with old-school WW2-originated Golden Age characters. Whilst the general populace seem to be generally decent, and there is at least one hero (Jay Garrick’s Flash), with other’s being teased, the majority of metahumans we’ve seen from there so far have been evil to some extent or other. This would have left some wiggle room, had they wanted to position the Earth 2 Wells as amoral, if not completely immoral.
However, before we got too far down that particular rabbit hole, Harry confesses to what he has done and gets to spend a night in the Star Labs lockup. It’s worthy of note that Harry isn’t shown as being a one-track guy – although you can’t get away from what he did, it’s clear he feels guilty about it; and unlike the Thawne version of Earth 1 Wells, he can’t maintain a deception for any length of time without it eating away at him. Barry’s pep talk to the team about how they are (including Harry) a family is reminiscent of Joe’s many such comments so often heard during season 1, and echoed again several times this episode.
Next week… roadtrip to Earth 2!