THE FLASH Review: “The Fury of the Firestorm”
By Justin Carter
This week’s episode of The Flash was really dang weird, and I’m not just talking about the giant, talking shark man who showed up and died in the span of about 20 seconds at the end. If anything, that doesn’t really register with me as much as the other stuff, though my reaction to seeing King Shark come out of nowhere was about the same as the rest of social media.
No, what was weird for me this week can best be tied to one specific moment before the Shark bit above. Team Flash has gathered at Martin Stein’s home, Stein and his new Firestorm co-pilot Jefferson Jackson engage in some banter, then they fuse and fly off as everyone looks in awe. If that sounds at all familiar to you, it’s because it happened in last year’s “Fallout” episode, and like that episode “Fury of the Firestorm” feels a lot like a backdoor pilot for an upcoming show (in this case, DC’s Legends of Tomorrow, where Firestorm is one of the stars). Don’t get me wrong, I like Firestorm in this universe, and Stein and Jackson have fun odd-couple chemistry, but putting him back into play this early into the season makes waiting for Legends’ January release seem shorter than it actually is.
Firestorm’s new co-pilot is required because Stein’s body is destabilizing and giving out now that Ronnie’s out of the picture. Team Flash manages to find two people with enough similarities to Stein to be viable candidates: high school football star turned auto mechanic Jackson, and scientist Henry Hewitt. Jackson (played by Franz Drameh, from last year’s surprisingly good Edge of Tomorrow) doesn’t want any part in the hero business. Drameh plays Jackson maybe a bit too on the nose as someone running away from his responsibility; he’s definitely an adult, but it feels like his most of his lines were meant for a kid in an after school special. His reasoning for not wanting to get involved makes sense, given the future it took from him, but it doesn’t matter since Caitlin has already gone and grabbed Hewitt anyway.
Caitlin’s whole arc in this episode is confusing; she’s against the idea of an auto mechanic being a superhero over the two brainiacs who’ve previously filled the role. Her berating Jackson for not wanting to be a part of something that he frankly has no real reason to want (the particle explosion ruined his future in football and brought his mom huge grief) just feels completely out of nowhere and has her come off as a huge jerk.
Granted, being a jerk seems to be a running theme in this episode. Hewitt, frustrated that he isn’t destined to become Firestorm, ends up unlocking his dormant powers after the failed Stein merger. Ol’ Henry’s got an anger problem, and the addition of superpowers don’t make that any better, turning him into Tokamak. He’s an arrogant ass, but once Firestorm 2.0 gets back into the action, it’s fun watching them face off, even if it feels like Demore Barnes isn’t entirely sure if he should be hamming it up or all serious and snarling anger as the bad guy.
Iris, meanwhile, is dealing with some reforming problems of her own, though hers don’t involve merging into one fire-spewing being. She finally meets her mom and promptly shuts her down, which is unexpected, but definitely chilling. Then it turns out that Francine is dying, at which point Iris just proceeds to twist the knife and start digging for more information. Some may find Iris’ actions a bit much (during the first viewing, I did as well), but she’s spent a lot of the show in the dark on things she frankly should’ve been included in. For her to not only know that her mother’s dying, but that she has a half-brother (more on that in the notes), is definitely going to be interesting to see play out. But as nice as these moments were, they don’t entirely gel with what else is going on in the hour, and if anything, I think I rather would’ve seen an episode of that instead of a blatant tie-in to Legends of Tomorrow.
If anything, at least Iris would have found the shark man and let him live to see another episode.
- Iris’ half-brother is Wally West, typically Barry’s nephew who sometimes starts out as Kid Flash before becoming the Flash when Barry dies. He’ll be played by Keiynan Lonsdale in later episodes, but they haven’t said whether or not he’ll get powers this season. Hmm…
- Earth-2 Harrison Wells shows up in the episode to stalk Cisco, steal some stuff from Mercury Labs, and then kill King Shark as a tease for next week. The first two I’m fine with, but did he really have to kill Shark? It’s not every day you see a talking shark man on TV, dammit!
- The show is telegraphing like mad that Barry and Patty should be together, and all I can say is, cool your jets. It’s not doing you any favors.
- RIP, King Shark. Gone too soon. Literally too soon, you spoke like, 5 words before getting ganked.