Same Geek Channel: ‘The Flash’ Episode 2.04 “The Fury of Firestorm”

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The Flash -- "The Fury of Firestorm" -- FLA204A_0306b -- Pictured (L-R): Carlos Valdes as Cisco Ramon, Grant Gustin as Barry Allen, Victor Garber as Professor Stein, Danielle Panabaker as Caitlin Snow and Franz Drameh as Jax Jackson -- Photo: Cate Cameron /The CW -- �© 2015 The CW Network, LLC. All rights reserved.
Wait a minute, Caitlin… what happened to that well-spoken young man who was here earlier? All images: The CW

When I was a kid, my bedroom was at one end of the hall. The bathroom was at the opposite end. The distance between the two couldn’t have been more than a few dozen feet, but when the lights were out in the middle of the night or early in the morning in the middle of winter, something magical happened. Not the good magic, where people with high moral fiber gain the ability to run really fast. The kind of magic that –to paraphrase Plucky Patty– gives murderers the power to do anything.

I knew there weren’t any meta-humans waiting for me in dark hallway. No snakes or spiders, neither. But fear isn’t an intellectual experience. It’s an emotional response. A stupid, irrational, emotional response. I have hated transitions, both literal and from a storytelling perspective, ever since. I understand that transitions serve a purpose. I understand they connect point A (or contrived plot device A) to point B. I still don’t have to like them.

This episode of The Flash is a hallway. It serves as nothing more than a bridge from the crises of last episode(s) to the crises of the next episode(s). Oh, and a plug for Legends of Tomorrow. Since this episode has to serve the function of being a transitional episode, it’s probably not going to be submitted for an Emmy nomination. Still, it could have been tolerable had the episode contained a strong, self-contained narrative that distracted us from the fact that this is a filler episode.

Sadly, this episode did not. What we got was a heavy-handed moral with all the subtlety of a nuclear-powered haymaker. No wonder the smooth-cheeked and handsomely coifed Jay Garrick gave that lame excuse last week of needing to get a shower, a shave, and some sunlight. He must have read the script for this week’s episode and wisely decided to sit this one out.

When we left our heroes, Dr. Stein was having a nuclear meltdown. The Firestorm matrix is unstable without an opposite to balance it. Dr. Stein can’t be Firestorm alone. The team needs to find someone else who was similarly affected by the STAR Labs reactor explosion. Someone like Ronnie.

But Ronnie was vaporized by the explosion. So was Dr. Stein. It would make sense then that the team must be looking for someone else who was vaporized, right? How do you find someone like that?

The Flash -- "The Fury of Firestorm" -- Image FLA204A_0074b -- Pictured (L-R): Carlos Valdes as Cisco Ramon, Grant Gustin as Barry Allen, Victor Garber as Professor Stein and Danielle Panabaker as Caitlin Snow -- Photo: Cate Cameron /The CW -- �© 2015 The CW Network, LLC. All rights reserved.
The likely candidate should be my nuclear opposite… oh, and was vaporized when the reactor blew, like Ronnie and I were.

You don’t. You find a pair of individuals who survived the blast. People who were treated for other injuries suffered during the explosion. People like that football player from a poor family who finally got his shot at glory in the big game and can use his athletic ability to write his way into the school of his choice. The guy who risked his life to get others to safety during the blast. Or, you know, a young scientist with a rap sheet.

Caitlin feels protective of Dr. Stein. I get that. He’s not just a part of the team, he’s the kindly old man filling the Obi-Wan role of mentor to these fledgling heroes. More than that, he is one half –the surviving half– of Firestorm. Of Cait’s dead husband. Of course she wants to protect him. Of course she wants to find someone like Ronnie to plug in and be the one to stabilize the Firestorm matrix and save Dr. Stein.

So, why is it that when presented with two possible candidates, Cait chooses the complete opposite of Ronnie? Ronnie worked at STAR Labs, but he was an engineer. A designer. A builder. So, do you go with the mechanic or the scientist? Let’s not even get into the whole race discussion. For a show that embraces diversity, we have the white girl choosing between the white-washed black scientist and the colloquialism-speaking black mechanic.

Oy vey!

The Flash -- "The Fury of Firestorm" -- Image FLA204A_0152b -- Pictured: Danielle Panabaker as Caitlin Snow -- Photo: Cate Cameron /The CW -- �© 2015 The CW Network, LLC. All rights reserved.
I don’t have any issues with the fact the world needs people to fix cars so the scientists can focus on doing important things.

Cait is so sure that the former, Henry Hewitt, is the right match for Dr. Stein that she brings him to STAR Labs and gives him the full tour, even showing him where they hang the Flash suit, filling Hewitt’s head with promises of great power and glory. So sure that Hewitt is the ideal match for Dr. Stein, Cait only does a cursory “I’ll check but don’t expect to find anything so I’m not going to really dig” check and (shockingly!) misses Hewitt’s sealed criminal record. What could possibly go wrong?

Well, the merge between Dr. Stein and Hewitt doesn’t work. Who would have seen that coming? Sorry, pal… guess there’s no super powers in your future after all. Stop by the front desk on your way out and the receptionist will validate your parking. But that’s not the case, is it? Something about being exposed to the Firestorm matrix in Dr. Stein during the failed merge attempt has awakened the dormant powers in Hewitt.

Did I mention that Cait forgot to check Hewitt’s criminal record?

The other possible candidate is that hero from the gridiron from two years ago when the reactor blew. The reactor wasn’t the only thing to blow out that night. Jefferson Jackson, “Jax” for short, blew out his knee that night saving his teammates. That injury blew his chances at college. Instead of moping about what was taken from him, Jax got a job, dealt with his frustrations and moved on, putting the events of two years ago behind him.

The Flash -- "The Fury of Firestorm" -- FLA204A_0342b -- Pictured: Franz Drameh as Jax Jackson -- Photo: Cate Cameron /The CW -- �© 2015 The CW Network, LLC. All rights reserved.
How’s this device gonna fix my knee again?

So, when Dr. Stein and Barry show up and invite Jax back to STAR Labs, Jax turns them down. The two leave Jax their card and welcome him to stop by STAR Labs anytime. They can do that now. Just invite any old stranger to pop in unannounced. They’re totally comfortable with their upgraded security system. The system that allowed Jay to show up without triggering any alarms. The system that lets Earth-2 Harrison Wells wander the halls without raising any red flags.

Jax does decide to pop in and see what the group at STAR Labs can do for him. Maybe fix his knee so he can walk onto some college football team and earn his way into a scholarship. No such luck. They want him to fly around on fire. When Jax sensibly says “no thank you”, Caitlin loses it. She goes off on Jax for no clear reason. Not cool with the lady he just met berating him, Jax heads back to the garage. (Aside: Why do they assume that Jax’s body is going to be the Firestorm body? They try to sell it that his athletic body would be perfect for Firestorm, but what if Dr. Stein’s body had been the one to host Jax’s mind? What then?)

The Flash -- "The Fury of Firestorm" -- FLA204A_0215b -- Pictured (L-R): Franz Drameh as Jax Jackson and Carlos Valdes as Cisco Ramon -- Photo: Cate Cameron /The CW -- �© 2015 The CW Network, LLC. All rights reserved.
Seriously, Cait… you’re not helping.

Hewitt gets angry at his supervisor for telling Hewitt to start acting like a good employee, and the now-awakened Firestorm powers blow up the lab. Hewitt tracks down Caitlin at Jax’s garage, where she is doing a botched job of apologizing to Jax and selling him on being a hero. “You can be like my husband! You can die saving the city!” I wonder why Jax is still not sold…

Hewitt confronts Cait, saying that she did this to him. Hewitt sounds like he thinks his powers are a curse, but sure seems to get a thrill out of using them. Like Plucky Patty told the Sand Demon, getting powers didn’t change the person, it just amplified who they already were, deep down. Jax shows off his quarterback skills, saving the day. Jax and Cait escape back to STAR Labs, where Jax is finally ready to become the hero.

Hewitt goes to the most likely spot in Central City where he can charge his powers. The high school football stadium! Wait, what? I get it. I really do. I know this is a symbolic thing. Jax is brought back to the spot where he lost one dream in order to actualize the new dream of being a superhero. The problem is that symbolism works when it enhances the story, not when it’s forced down our throats. Predictably, Flash and Firestorm defeat Hewitt. Hooray!

That’s it. That’s the thrust of the episode. We go from Dr. Stein needing a new partner to Dr. Stein and the new partner leaving to go film Legends of Tomorrow. The vehicle that gets us there is a “don’t judge a book by its cover” morality play that forces Cait to deal with her issues. Not her survivor’s guilt and the need to replace her dead husband. No, we get to see her deal with her socio-economic and educated elitism prejudices. Only, not really. We just brush past them and move on.

The Flash -- "The Fury of Firestorm" -- FLA204A_0169b -- Pictured (L-R): Grant Gustin as Barry Allen and Danielle Panabaker as Caitlin Snow -- Photo: Cate Cameron /The CW -- �© 2015 The CW Network, LLC. All rights reserved.
Come on, Cait. Didn’t Joe teach you that the first rule of crime fighting is to always check your potential partner’s past?

Speaking of moving on… in other plot threads that needed to move from plot point A to plot point B:

Iris sees her mother and makes it clear that she wants nothing to do with Francine. A few scenes later, Francine comes clean with Joe. She is dying. So, Joe facilitates another meeting between Iris and Francine (because Iris’ “stay out of my life” message wasn’t clear enough the first time.) Iris agrees to the second meeting, but not before doing a little digging. Seriously, they should have had Iris look into Hewitt’s past. Iris listens to Francine, then confronts her dying mother about the secret she’s still keeping. Cue the introduction of the brother that Iris never knew she had. We have so many well-realized and fully fleshed out characters that we need to throw another into the mix in the form of that other Flash, Wally West.

Plucky Patty is making googly eyes at Barry. So, naturally, Joe asks Barry what’s up between Barry and Patty. Why is Barry always flirting with Patty? What’s a guy gotta do to keep his kids from hooking up with his partners? (Maybe get a partner that doesn’t look like an actor or actress on The CW?) Barry doesn’t understand the question. Neither do I. Up to this point, Barry has been totally oblivious to Patty’s flirtations. But, we have to move that plot point, so by the end of the episode, Barry is ready to allow Patty to flirt with him.

The Flash -- "The Fury of Firestorm" -- Image FLA204A_0007b -- Pictured (L-R): Shantel VanSanten as Patty Spivot and Grant Gustin as Barry Allen -- Photo: Cate Cameron /The CW -- �© 2015 The CW Network, LLC. All rights reserved.
What’s up with these kids always hooking up with Joe’s partners?

Until the shark man shows up. King Shark, who is a shark. How is it that the self-proclaimed “fastest man alive” keeps getting jumped? Patty tries to come to Flash’s rescue, but it is Earth-2 Harrison Wells, using a sciencey weapon he stole, who saves the day. Oh, that Harrison… he’s a bad man. Except, he’s not. It wasn’t Harrison Wells that murdered Barry’s mother. It wasn’t Harrison Wells who was the Reverse Flash. It wasn’t Harrison Wells who betrayed Barry’s trust. That was Eobard Thawne from the future, wearing a good man and beloved scientist Harrison Wells costume. We all know that. Barry and the rest of the team knows that. Still, expect them to not trust Earth-2 Harrison Wells, because… I don’t know. Because dramatic tension that makes no logical sense.

Kind of like how fear of dark hallways makes no logical sense.

Catch up with The Flash here on Same Geek Channel:
Episode 4.01: The Man Who Saved Central City
Episode 4.02: Flash of Two Worlds
Episode 4.03: Family of Rogues

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12 thoughts on “Same Geek Channel: ‘The Flash’ Episode 2.04 “The Fury of Firestorm”

  1. Wait, they did Firestorm without Ronnie Raymond but didn’t use Jason Rusch? Also “Jefferson Jackson”? Alliterative names stopped working in the 1960s after Stan Lee perfected them (so much that even Stan Lee hasn’t been able to come up with good alliterative names since).

    I do like the angle of the hero being a blue-collar character who was able to maturely put a tragedy and lost opportunity behind him…though by the sounds of things I wouldn’t enjoy the execution nearly as much.

    “The problem is that symbolism works when it enhances the story, not when it’s forced down our throats.”

    And that’s how the screenwriters found the slightest shade of subtlety and mercilessly bludgeoned it to death!

    (I am so disappoint that this was not a Jason Rusch-Bernie Sanders team-up that I thought it would be based on the first screen cap.)

    1. Alliterative name is likely a throwback to “Ronnie Raymond”.

      Jason Rusch was already used on the show in another capacity, so they must have decided to just pass.

      1. The name comes from a Firestorm supporting character, an African-American friend of Ronnie’s who played basketball at their high school. The character was inconsistently referred to as ‘Jefferson’ and ‘Jackson’, so the show took him from the comic and decided that those were his first and last names, respectively.

        http://dc.wikia.com/wiki/Jefferson_Jackson_(New_Earth)

        As for Jason, not only had they already used him, but in a way, their introduction of Jax gets closer to the traditional Firestorm setup than either the TV Ronnie or Jason. In the comics, Ronnie was just a high school student, and Jason was a Detroit teenager who couldn’t afford college. Either one of them would provide contrast for Professor Stein, but the show made Ronnie Raymond a STAR Labs engineer and Jason Rusch a scientist who was already Stein’s research assistant. Jax has more in common with the comic book Jason than the TV Jason does.

  2. The problem with this one was that it was so obviously shoe-horned in to a) “repair” Firestorm and then b) move him/them on to Legends of Tomorrow. I think that explains why everything is so obvious and clumsy. Let’s face it, having to set up the new characters, stage the contrived “conflict” between Jax and Hewitt so that we could have the obligatory battle and resolution, not to mention squeeze in a couple scenes to move the sub-plots forward was a lot to ask of this episode. I will miss Victor Garber as Prof. Stein in this show. He was a surprisingly good replacement for the erstwhile Dr. Wells. Otherwise, this one was a bit of a trainwreck, as the writers fell into some bad habits: Iris overreacts to her mom’s return and huffs off saying she doesn’t want to see her anymore (even though the writers desperately tried to write Iris “against type” by not blowing up at Joe, they can’t seem to have her act in a calm, deliberate manner to any setback. She’s always stomping off about something.); Joe hides the truth from Iris (again) for “her own good;” Caitlin, a brilliant scientist, can never seem to remember the right terminology or solve problems unless someone (usually Cisco) jumps to her aid; and Barry seems a step slow (if you’ll pardon the pun) against a relatively minor antagonist so as to give the new Firestorm a chance to shine. I did enjoy the quick King Shark cameo because KING SHARK. The return (sort of) of Wells is welcome, especially as Prof. Stein leaves. Tom Harrison has been so phenomenal in this show and I am looking forward to seeing what the writers do with the “new” Dr. Wells. But sort of telling that the best parts of this episode occur in the closing minute or two.

  3. Beyond a doubt, the best part of this episode was at the end when King Shark caught Barry monologuing. Doesn’t make up for the 58 minutes (counting commercials) that preceded that, but it did make my small heart grow three sizes that day.

  4. King Shark’s cameo just made me think “we coulda had a goddamn King Shark episode”.

    Also: “Where exactly has King Shark been hiding and how come people weren’t yelling “OH MY GOD A WALKING SHARK” near Barry? Was he wearing a trenchcoat with glasses like the Turtles used to? And is he an Earth-2 guy because if not, then how in the heck did nobody notice him before?”

  5. The parts about Hewitt & Jackson were very, very uncomfortable to say the least. From Barry not even getting their permission for a blood sample, to the team treating them like organ donors without any thought to their agency. Jax’s decision feels more forced & false than Rob Liefeld attempting to draw perspective correctly.

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