The Flash: The Fury of Firestorm

"So you're left with a choice. You can either embrace the change and move onward, or fight it, and be left behind."

In a Flash take on a code blue, Martin Stein is shooting out sparking flames and suffering from cardiac issues as a result of losing Ronnie Raymond. Can the Flash team find him a new partner so he stabilizes and lives?

I love the writers for this show. Writers don't get enough recognition. We focus on the actors. But the twists, the surprises, the story, the pacing? Remember the writers. The opening monologue just made me think and wonder so many things - was it about the friend who had to step down so Jax could play? Jax himself, who lost his shot at a football scholarship thanks to the Accelerator explosion? Martin Stein, who clearly needs to change something if he's going to live? Or Iris, who's fighting change with every weapon she's got?

Martin's health is seriously threatened by losing Ronnie. (I guess he really is dead, which sucks, because I wanted to see Robbie Amell again.) Cisco and Caitlin realize quickly Martin's out of balance and start looking for a Ronnie replacement. I think this is a bit of a plot hole that got glossed over - it sounds like several leaps to get to "genetic similarity means we can remake Firestorm;" I always thought Firestorm happened because Martin and Robbie were close by as the Particle Accelerator wave hit - but the show pulled two great characters out of the hole: Tokamak and Jefferson Jackson, AKA Jax. Both Henry Hewitt and Jax are identified by Caitlin as potential replacements for Ronnie, but while Jax is compatible, Henry is activated into a monster. I was bothered by Hewitt's schmoozing and desperation for power from the beginning, and wasn't surprised when his activation led to his going, well, nuclear! I loved the special effects and how they differed from the normal Firestorm from the very beginning. Jax's resistance to heroism and his subsequent acceptance of the mantle of Firestorm felt a little rushed, but worked–and Jax frankly looked good as Firestorm. His team takedown of Tokamak with Flash was pretty well scripted, but again, rushed; Jax needs almost no time to master his powers. Will Cisco take Stein's advice and also attempt to explore what he can do? I hope so, because it looks like Stein and Jax are leaving for a few episodes, or possibly another series.


Last episode left me wondering what the heck we were going to see with Iris and Francine. Commenters made me wonder how the series was going to approach this relationship, and predicting doom. Now, looking back, I realize there was one option we never really discussed: namely that, just maybe, Iris has a lot of cards and that she's been holding them for quite a while. I was intrigued by her responses to Francine all along. She didn't seem very surprised or shocked last episode when Joe told her about Francine, did she? She looked prepared... as if, knowing her father's tendency to keep secrets, she'd decided to investigate everyone after the Singularity, and found out more than she wanted... and is now keeping a secret, the existence of Joe's son, for the purpose of protecting Joe. Iris had no bones about investigating her mother, and she was completely ready to shut her mother down. She wasn't interested in the whole emotional blackmail I'm-gonna-die thing (and she shouldn't be.) I'm shocked Joe fell for that, by the way–not that dying isn't a legitimate reason to want to tie up loose ends, but that the fact of Francine's illness–Macgregor's Syndrome–is being used to manipulate him. While every line Iris had tonight was delivered with snap, I was left wondering: wasn't this total rejection and shut down a little predictable for Iris? I'm looking forward to seeing how this plays out, and hoping the show takes this in a unique direction.

I'm also curious about what's going on inside Barry's head! Is he really attracted to Patty Spivot? She's definitely acting like a girl with a crush, but as he says to Joe, he hasn't gotten over Iris yet–although Joe is rolling his eyes at yet another partner getting involved with his family. Patty tries but fails to get Barry to share her investigation of the mysterious man-shark (formerly on Buffy the Vampire Slayer.) I wonder if they're setting up the two for conflict later. What happens when Spivot finds out Barry's a metahuman?

While they flirt, and Barry tries to help the team help Martin and Jax, Harrison Wells is walking around in the background throughout the show, going from lab to lab, motives all unclear and sinister. (Yes, walking.) He's spotted by Dr. McGee, who lets Joe know–but in another stupid move, Joe decides to keep the information from Barry.

Barry is playing stalker and seems to finally decide he wants to go after Patty when he's randomly and suddenly attacked by the Man-Shark, who has totally been working out or taking steroids since Buffy and is quite a bit scarier than Tokamak. Patty gets Man-Shark to drop Barry, but we learn Man-Shark is impervious to bullets. Simultaneously, a mysterious hooded man appears, shocking the monster and allowing Barry and Patty to run free. (And nice that she's saved the Flash already: kind of equalizes any potential relationship to some extent.) Wells reveals himself, sort of (we still don't know which Wells he is, although I think it's a safe bet he's from an alternate universe) and we cut to the credits while the shocked Man-Shark walks off for fish unknown. Can't wait to see if he meets up with Grodd.

Before and after. All I can say is he looks great for his age.
Bits and Pieces

I sometimes do a little looking up after the show to find out what connections there are to the comics, and make nerdy notes so I can one day read through them all. It seems that there WAS another Firestorm in the comics, just like in the show–and a character with his name worked at Mercury Labs. But that character in the comics was a teen football player; Jax seems to have some of that character's history. All of which is to say, wow, someone's done their research–and I think the writers are having a lot of fun recreating characters.

Cisco seems to be leading up to having or becoming a power himself. Good, because I think he could be the awesomest.

I really didn't like Hewitt. Maybe because his character was rushed too - we didn't have time for more than a sketch of both Jax and Hewitt.

Does it ever seem like the women in this show are islands surrounded by men? Can we have one episode with Patty, Iris and Caitlin working together to solve crime while there's only one man in each scene? I ask merely for hope.

It seems the Man-Shark is called King Shark in the comics. I had no idea the Flash mythos was so full of walking animals. Meta-animals?

Quotables

Patty: First a man-shark, then a dead man walking. (Yep, I felt a Buffy vibe here.)

Overall

This episode was hectic, with new characters and new approaches to old characters. I enjoyed it, but I think the rushed pace as a result of all this hurt the episode and made the characters more shallow than they could have been. Fun, but not as great as the opening of this season. My favorite part was when Jax effortlessly merged with Martin and they started fighting.

2.5 out of four Man-Sharks.

9 comments:

sunbunny said...

Such a good episode. THANK YOU so much for your Buffy reference. Patty said landshark and my mind instantly went to that episode. :)

One thing you missed: Jax saying he had the Titanic soundtrack if Professor Stein preferred. Victor Garber was in Titanic. :)

I hated Hewitt. But I also wish he'd been written more subtly. He practically had "dangerous douchebag" stamped on his forehead. Of course they were going to go with the hardworking, courageous mechanic who sacrificed his education and the possibility of an incredibly lucrative future to pull an injured teammate to safety.

Caitlin's hair was a disaster in this episode. Her bangs were like Little Mermaid big. Step away from the hairspray, honey.

LOVED that Iris is finally getting something to do separate from Team Flash. The poor girl's waited an entire season for a story of her own. And I loved her conversation with Joe. He is such an amazing dad.

Patrick said...

Definitely was a fun episode, even if the newer characters were less than subtle for the sake of brevity. I agree sunbunny, Hewitt had "arrogant d-bag" written all over him from the moment he walked into STAR Labs. On the one hand, I get Caitlin immediately favoring a fellow scientist like herself, Stein and Ronnie. On the other hand, c'mon Caitlin! The guy was a tool! I liked Jax though, I think he'll make a good Firestorm. His story was familiar & relatable, without going overboard into cliche. I think the only thing I would've liked to see is him actually getting the whole "whoa, you're The Flash!" scene. The sort of glossed right over it, and those moments are always fun.

I'm still not a big fan of the Francine storyline. I'm glad neither Joe nor Iris are getting sucked into anything, but if that's the case I'm wondering what the point of all this is, other than to set up the inevitable introduction of a certain younger member of the West family. and is Iris really going to hide the fact that her dad has another kid out there, especially after that kid's mother dies, leaving Joe as the only parent he's got left? I thought these people were getting past keeping secrets from each other.

That being said, I do understand why Joe didn't want Barry knowing about Wells' possible reappearance right away. Barry had a lot to deal with at the time, and Joe didn't really know anything yet. Hopefully Joe will clear the air with him quickly now that Barry's run into Wells-2.

Yes, Patty Spivot was blatantly introduced as a potential love interest for Barry. It's working for me though, they're cute together. She doesn't nerd out as adorably as Felicity does, but that's an AWFULLY high bar to clear. It's time Barry made a decision one way or another, does he stay single and hope someday Iris will want to try and make something work, or does he accept that the two of them missed their moment and look for happiness elsewhere? I think the big question for Barry if he starts dating Patty will be if he tells her he's The Flash. With her being a cop, and Joe's partner no less, it'll be a lot harder to keep from her than from someone like Linda.

Fun little nerdy tidbit: MacGregor's Syndrome, the disease that's killing Francine? That's the same disease that William Tockman aka Clock King is suffering from. It's a made-up disease first appearing in the animated series as the disease Mr. Freeze's wife is suffering from, leading him to put her in suspended animation.

And holy smokes, King Shark looked pretty damn awesome there at the end! Way better CGI than they used when Atom Smasher hulked out in the season premiere. I hope that's not the last we've seen of him.

Josie Kafka said...

Yes, yes, yes to the Buffy vibe of the manshark. Maybe next week someone can actually name-check Buffy. Why not? I'm sure it aired in whatever universe Flash exists in (one with metahumans but also Pittsburgh.)

Caitlin's hair was a disaster in this episode. Her bangs were like Little Mermaid big. Step away from the hairspray, honey.

What is going on with Caitlin this season? She's such a gorgeous woman, but they've just slathered her with makeup this year. For a while I thought it was because she was dressing up to impress the other Flash, but he wasn't around this week and she was still wearing nightclub eye makeup for her lab job.

Billie Doux said...

It was a fun episode, but I agree that it was a mixed bag of elements that didn't necessarily go together. Jax worked for me, but I was also disappointed that he had no learning curve, and he didn't go, "Hey, wait -- you're the Flash?" I like that Iris is getting something interesting to do, because I just didn't like anything about her in season one. The way she calmly told her mother off not once but twice and had already researched her thoroughly was pretty cool. I'm starting to like Iris, and I never thought that would happen.

I like P. Spivot, too. "Put your fins in the air!" Lol. :)

tricksterson said...

Anyone else flash onto the cartoon Street Sharks? I saw a definite resemblance.

Anonymous said...

Buffy reference. Please no.....never again. Let previous gen superhero shows stay there. Time for new blood to stand on it's own.

Freeman said...

Solid episode, little sad Robbie Amell's not gonna be in the spin off show, but I reckon there's good potential for humorous bickering between Jax and Martin, they're basically polar opposites. Maybe Ronnie will pop up again in an Earth-2 variant. Really though this episode was more or less just set up for the Spin=off more than anything. Jay wasn't even in this episode.

I'm glad Iris stuck it to the mom. Obviously this whole thing is set up to introduce Wally into the equation. Seems like Wally is going to be a brother rather than a cousin. I really hope they don't make him an edgy brooder. Give me cheerful Wally dangit.

I thought I was going crazy with Caitlin's hair. Good thing I wasn't the only one who noticed. Maybe her harried appearance has something to do with her becoming Killer Frost? She certainly was a bit more on edge than she usually is during this episode. Can't help but wonder if that was a little hint.

Lydia said...

The Man-Shark was easily the best thing about this episode, and I instantly taught Buffy, too. I guess the Loan Shark has been taking steroids on his time off. I hope we see him again, yes, I'm a card-carrying member of the geek community.

I am so dissapointed in how the writers have been treating Caitlyn this season. I USED TO LIKE HER YOU KNOW. And now she's annoying, behaving out-of-character and looking like she just walked out of the movie Hairspray. (Seriously, to quote iZombie, "Did they find the guy who did that to your hair, or is he still at large?"). Honestly though, she just lost Ronnie for what, the billionth time? and instead of being broken up about it, she's busy flirting with the Hot White Guy With The Abs From Earth 2 - yeah, Jay Garrick, or whatever-is-his-name, I just hate him. I don't know why, and I don't know about his comic book routes, but he's just... I don't know, maybe it's the actor and not the character. Either way, Caitlyn should not be throwing herself at him, and then again this episode, the insistence on Captain D-Bag being Firestorm and her blatant arrogance just pissed me off. Hashtag Caitlyn deserves better 2kforever! The females on this show really shouldn't be having to revolve around the men. I like Patty, but the fact that she has 'LOVE INTEREST' practically stamped on her forehead makes me mad. I am so sick and tired of female characters still being treated so inferior. Well... I hope the writers do something awesome with Killer Frost and mend all the damage they've done to Caitlyn's character.

PARTING NOTES-

I still lowkey ship snowbarry.

Jax was cool.

Cisco is precious and must be protected.

Caitlyn, fix your hair for the love of all that is holy.

Barry Allen is adorable.

Barry Allen and Patty = Bleh.

Sorry Patty. I loved you on One Tree Hill, though.

I don't care for Iris' mommy drama. This isn't a soap opera.

Still don't care for Iris' mommy drama.

ANOTHER CHILD. THIS WOMAN BE CRAY. I MEAN, YOU COULDN'T EVEN BE A MOTHER TO YOUR FIRST ONE. IT'S CALLED 'PROTECTION', SISTER. LOOK IT UP.

THE MAN-SHARK THOUGH.

SERIOUSLY. THE MAN-SHARK.

Anyone else impressed with the CGI?

I miss Buffy! Buffy come back! :( :( :(

Lovely review as always!


Deborah Gallegos said...

LOVED King Shark!

I'm betting that the whole Francine coming back to town plot is to eventually introduce her son as Wally West aka Kid Flash. Missing out on his own son's growing-up years would tear Joe apart, just as Iris says. It would also be an interesting dynamic to try to establish a relationship with his newly-found, blood-related son while dealing with possible ramifications with his adopted son.