“That Power Was Supposed To Be Mine!”
A TV show is a bit of a juggling act. You have to set up stories, include character drama, move plots along a given path and give resolutions that seem satisfying as an episode and season as a whole. That means every once in a while, you need an episode that sets up future characters and plot points. While it’s not the most glamorous episode, it does a ton of heavy lifting for you. This week’s episode of The Flash , “The Fury of Firestorm” had a lot of setup and subplots that are clearly going to pay off later this season but, for the moment, made for some uneven storytelling.
This week’s episode dealt with the growing problem of Professor Stein’s Firestorm matrix. Without a second person to bond with, his body was going into a type of meltdown, so it was critical that Team Flash find a suitable partner. The discussion of tracking down a suitable candidate and proposing this merger, while dire for Stein, was defused with some great humor. Comparing the hunt for a new partner and potential atomic meltdown to Tinder and “the ultimate swipe left” was priceless and added some much needed levity to an episode that could have gone very dark.
Regardless, this introduces us to Jefferson Jackson (Franz Drameh) and Henry Hewitt (Demore Barnes). The pseudo-science leading us to these to candidates isn’t important other than while Jefferson “Jax” is nominally more compatible with Stein, Hewitt is a scientist and could understand the long term implications of becoming Firestorm. In the opening flashback we’re given an excellent summary of Jax’s background: a charming football player who is a natural leader who was denied greatness because of injuries he suffered in the particle explosion two years ago. Hewitt on the other hand, doesn’t get the same treatment anew comes off as a condescending gas bag. It telegraphs the cliched “odd coupling” that will surely occur between Stein and Jax but it’s easy to forgive because Franz Drameh is so likable.
Demore Barnes gets equal kudos for playing a man who wants to have a better future but is ultimately too angry to accomplish his goals. Unfortunately he wasn’t given more material to work with. One moment he is an optimistic young man who hopes to achieve something more than he can imagine and the next he’s a boiling font of anger looking to take it out on anyone that gets in his way. I hope we see him get fleshed out later on in the season, because I feel there could be some real meat to this character instead of another throw away villain that won’t return anytime soon.
Flash Fact: Henry Hewitt is also known as Tokamak in the comics, as classic foe of Firestorm. In the comics he tries to recreate the Firestorm matrix but unsuccessfully turns himself into an atomic man. With unstable powers he has to develop a suit of armor that can contain his energy as he tries to cure himself. Ultimately he dies, transferring his mind into an unending batch of clones, making him a repeat villain for sure!
Of course, none of that matters once we get to the big team up with The Flash and the new Firestorm. Superhero team-ups are a comic book staple and fans never seem to get enough. I can say, without reservation, I totally agree. Combining these two characters as they take on Hewitt made for some hilarious banter and spectacular visual effects. Between the smart-ass quips, taunting and all around victimless destruction, this was the essence of a childhood fantasy. All the awesome with none of the negative repercussions; bravo! I will make one tiny gripe though: I want to see more of Firestorm’s powers. He has a vast array of abilities and the episode teased that Stein and Jax were going off to develop that powerset, so here’s hoping he becomes a more fleshed out than a measly Human Torch rip off.
That brings us to Francine. Can I just say, I can’t get into this? Ok. There. I said. It smacks of too much melodrama and I could not care less about Francine and her trying to reconnect with Iris and Joe. It feels like an added element that was so stale, it was dead on arrival. That said, I love how the writers are acknowledging the trope and wink at the audience with the Joe and Iris declaring they wont get dragged into the drama. Iris standing up to her mother was a solid moment though that really helps us see her as a proactive character, especially when she digs up the truth about her mother. Francine is dying from MacGregor’s Syndrome (I can’t believe they references the horrid 90s Batman and Robin movie) and wants to make her peace. What’s more interesting though is that apparently Iris has a brother, born just a few months after Francine disappeared. The writing on the wall here is that the unknown brother will turn out to be Wally West, the third man to take on the mantle of The Flash. In any event, there wasn’t a lot of traction on this storyline and I hope it resolves sooner rather than later.
Flash Fact: Wally West actually begun his career as Kid Flash, sidekick to Barry Allen. Nephew of Iris, he was struck by lightning in Barry’s lab years after his mentor’s original accident and in a spooky sense of deja vu obtained his exact power set as well. For years he stuck by Barry as a protege until one day he was entrusted to put on the scarlet cowl and became the definitive Flash for the better part of 25 years.
On the plus side though, we did get a few great scenes between Barry and Patty, further cementing the chemistry these two actors have with one another. It’s a great pairing and I can’t wait to see how it all shakes out. Of course, that brings us to the coda of tonight’s show and the reveal of King Shark, a human/shark hybrid that looks phenomenal. Even though he only had a few seconds of screen time, he looks amazing and was just delightful to watch on screen. I can’t wait to see him return for a full on fight.
With the reveal of Harrison Wells (saving Barry from King Shark no less) and the goodbye to Doctor Stein as he flies off into Legends of Tomorrow we had a lot of plots moving along that created a sense of disjointed storytelling. Not a horrible hour of TV by any means but not The Flash‘s finest moment either. With Wells in the open and the Zoom plot looming overhead, things should get awfully interesting in the next few weeks!