“The Fury of the Firestorm” was the cheesiest episode of The Flash to date, but even if it was so-so, it answered one of the biggest mysteries regarding the CW DC universe’ third show, Legends of Tomorrow. Much more importantly, it included the greatest final Flash scene since the debut of Grodd.
As the title indicates—as well as last week’s discussion about how Dr. Stein needs someone to bond with to form Firestorm before his body burns up—Dr. Stein is in bad shape. Happily, Caitlin Snow has found two people with the right blood type who were hit with the same dark matter that affected Stein and Ronnie Raymond: Henry Hewitt, a scientist, and Jefferson “Jax” Jackson, a former high school football star-turned mechanic. Caitlin is obviously pro-HH, him being a scientist and all, but when HH is brought to STAR Labs, the fusion is unsuccessful.
So the SuperSTARS turn to Jax, who initially says no, as the particle accelerator/dark matter accident caused him to bust his leg, destroy his chance at playing college football, a scholarship, etc. Mainly he considers the accelerator accident the night his life was ruined, and wants to move past it. Fair enough! Except Caitlin doesn’t quite see it that way; she’s quite irritated that this Jefferson Jackson kid would 1) not instantly agree to come to a mysterious lab for some mysterious purpose, and 2) choose to be a mechanic instead of going to college. She’s more or less happy telling everyone that Jackson is a garbage person, even Jackson himself.
It’s actually really uncomfortable for this white woman to be complaining that a black man is too uneducated and lazy to be a hero, although at least The Flash has enough sense to have HH also be a person of color, so Caitlin’s attacks seem personal instead of just racist. But it also feels like HH’s ethnicity was very much a deliberate choice by the showrunners, because they realized Caitlin’s lines sounded horribly, horribly racist. I think a better choice would have been to change the lines themselves, but whatever.
Anyways, when Jackson learns the gray-haired Dr. Stein is going to die without his help, Jax of course offers to merge, and of course it works, and voila, we have a brand new Firestorm. But of course—there’s a lot of “of courses” in this episode—trying to merge with Dr. Stein has awoken HH’s minor Firestorm-esque powers, and of course he’s an asshole, and of course the new Firestorm has to help the Flash to defeat him, which of course they do, without much trouble.
It’s all pretty perfunctory, and it’s all a perfectly acceptable episode, with the exception of Caitlin being borderline racist for a while. Really, it seems that “The Fury of the Firestorm” exists solely to a couple of mysteries about the upcoming Legends of Tomorrow: 1) Who the hell is Jay Johnson playing? Well, he’s playing Jefferson Jackson, a.k.a. Jax. 2) How will Dr. Stein become Firestorm on the show if Ronnie Raymond isn’t part of the cast? Again, Jax.
This mystery has been more mysterious than it should have been, mainly because the first season The Flash introduced Jason Rusch, the character-of-color who becomes Firestorm in the DC comics. I don’t know if the old actor wasn’t available or maybe the didn’t think he could star in Legends, but rather than recast the role of Jason, they hired Franz Drameh as Jefferson Jackson and then let us wonder who the hell that was (it also didn’t help that they described Jax as a high school football player, exactly as the DC character Cyborg was before he… well, got all cyborg-y).
As it turns out Jax actually is a character from the DC Comics, although a very minor one; he was good friends with Ronnie Raymond in high school and went on double-dates with him and was very much not ever a part of the Firestorm matrix. I suppose the nerd in me wishes that Jason Rusch had returned, but to be fair, the Jax/Stein pairing is much, much more interesting than Rusch would have been, or Ronnie Raymond was. Both RR and Rusch were scientists in the Arrow-verse, so they would have been on the same page as Stein pretty much 100% of the time. Now, the brilliant but socially naïve Stein will be a voice in the head of the young, ready-for-action, not-at-all scientifically minded Jax, a pairing which should be far more interesting to watch in Legends of Tomorrow. Which was exactly the point, I imagine!
So Jax and Stein fly off for training (a.k.a. prep for the Legends premiere) and Barry starts giving an incredibly on-the-nose, lame speech inspired about “taking a chance,” ostensibly about Jax’s willingness to merge with an old man while on fire, but which Barry is mostly using to psych himself to ask out Patty Spivot.
This is when King Shark arrives and things get GREAT.
It was done so perfectly! In the beginning of the episode, Patty gave a bunch of shark teeth found in an alley to Barry for examination; she laughingly tells him that a witness saw a “shark walking away” which ha ha, isn’t that crazy, but given everything else happening in Central City let’s not totally dismiss it. But then it’s never mentioned again until King Shark’s giant fin-hand flies into frame and grabs the Flash by his throat. (You can and should watch the scene below.)
Let’s completely ignore the question of how the hell a giant bipedal shark-man managed to sneak up on the fastest man alive, and just be glad it happened. King Shark! Was on TV! In primetime! He was a giant CG creation and he looked pretty good! It was a beautiful thing to see, especially watching Barry kick his legs pitifully as King Shark namedropped Zoom while Patty Spivot fired bullet after ineffective bullet.
Suddenly, though, King Shark collapses, and a hooded man lowers a strange energy weapon. The man walks away, as if the Flash isn’t going to be able to catch up to him in seconds, which he immediately does. And of course under the hood is none other than HARRISON MOTHER-FLIPPIN’ WELLS. ROLL CREDITS.
The “next week on” preview instantly identifies this is Earth-2 Wells, who has come to help fight Zoom, as Zoom has “poisoned” his world and Wells ostensibly wants to help save Earth-1..Can Wells be trusted? Can Barry and the others trust Wells even if they should? How does Zoom figure into this? I don’t know, but ladies and gentlemen, I think season two The Flash is officially about to kick into high gear.
• Iris meets her mom, and basically tells her to blow. Eventually Iris’ mom admits she’s dying, and Iris meets her again… except that Iris has done research and discovered that she has a brother or half-brother somewhere, and tells her mom to blow again, but also never tell Joe, because learning he has a son he wasn’t there for will break his heart.
• I’m not super-excited about more West family secrets, but I do like how Iris is at least a badass in her own storyarc. I just wish her storyarcs weren’t completely separate from the rest of the cast.
• Midway through the episode, Dr. Tina McGee of Mercury Labs catches Harrison Wells breaking in (presumably for the energy weapon he uses to stop King Shark in the final scene). When Joe arrives to investigate, Tina says she saw Wells, walking again, and asks Joe, “Is there any possible way he’s still alive?” Joe instantly replies “No.” JOE. COME ON. WE’VE ALREADY GONE OVER EARTH-2. YOU SHOULD BE ABLE TO FIGURE THIS OUT BY NOW.
• Even Dr. Stein gets weird about Jax. Once they’ve merged, Dr. Stein starts commenting about Jackson’s “natural athleticism” and I know the show means it because he played football, but coupled with Caitlin’s comments it’s still really, really uncomfortable. We were one Dr. Stein quip about suddenly having a big dick from total calamity.
• Barry casually mentions that HH is imprisoned in the pipeline until he promises to keep quiet about the whole ordeal. So in case you were wonderng if the SuperSTARS are back to unlawfully imprisoning people, the answer is yes, even if those people are basically only guilty of property damage and causing a mild public disturbance.
• Jax’s nickname for Dr. Stein is “gray.” I’m not sure how I feel about this yet.
• Caitlin gives Jax a compass Ronnie once gave her. 1) It’s super-bizarre that Ronnie gave his fiancée a compass and 2) it’s bizarre she’s giving it to a dude she met about two hours earlier. I assume it’s going to play a major role in Legends of Tomorrow, but right now it’s a complete non-sequitur.
• One more thing: I’m still confused about how Barry’s dad took off in the season premiere. However, I’m slightly gratified to learn that the cast of The Flash is just as baffled as I am. I really, really hope there’s still a reason for this weirdness coming later this season.
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