Synopsis of 2×04: As Dr. Stein’s condition worsens, Team Flash becomes desperate to find a replacement for Ronnie, sending them to two very different but equally qualified candidates for help.
The greatest episodes of television, almost without fail, are unified efforts. They are chapters where the converging strands of even the most disparate shows come together to work toward a common goal. Even Lost, whose episodes sometimes tended to span decades depending on the season, aired its finest efforts when everything was pointed in one direction. I’m talkin’ “The Constant.” I’m talkin’ “LaFleur.” I’m talkin’ “Ab Aeterno.”
“The Fury of Firestorm” may not be on par with any of those efforts in high art, but there was something that still felt beautifully unified about the whole endeavor. I adore The Flash, but it very often feels like the show is jumping between pieces. We spend a few minutes in the romance piece, hop over to the Villain of the Week piece, and ricochet a bit off of the seasonal arc plots to tie those bits together. But “Fury” bears none of those hallmarks. Here, the themes, plot beats, and character moments are all leading back to the same place: second chances.
Over the course of the episode, every character of significance experiences the opportunity for a second chance and either heroically rises to the occasion or flounders the opportunity because of their own fatal flaw.
In the main plot of the week, Dr. Stein desperately needs a second chance. After finding a grounded, working Firestorm partnership with Ronnie, Stein’s condition has been rapidly deteriorating since this death. Without a physical anchor, Stein will lose his mind and his body to the overwhelming fire inside of him. Caitlin, using a lot of science mumbo-jumbo, narrows down the field of candidates to two men: confident scientist Henry Hewitt and disgraced high school athlete Jefferson “Jax” Jackson, two men who could both use some redemption of their own.
Now, the audience knows which one of these men will end up with the mantle of co-Firestorm. Narrative favors the underdog, and a car mechanic certainly fits that role more so than a successful scientist. And only one of these gentlemen gets a backstory-revealing flashback at the top of the episode. It would be more than strange for the other man to end up with the gig. Perhaps the rare double flashback could have made the plot into more of a competition, making Hewitt’s ultimate turn to villainy even more of a gutpunching surprise. And Hewitt has far too much regal self-superiority. It’s unbecoming of a hero to be so self-righteous. To give this man incredible nuclear power would be a mistake, as Barry and Firestorm learn all too well before the end of the episode.
Like so many residents of Central City, Jax’s future was taken from him by the accident at STAR Labs. Just as Weather Wizard’s plane went down and Barry was thrown into a coma for months, Jax had his remarkable future (and physique) taken from him in the blast. In rescuing a few of his teammates, Jax didn’t have time to save himself and was permanently crippled for the effort, taken forcefully out of Friday Night Lights and thrust into an uncertain future. He’s initially resistant to the Firestorm Matrix. It’s only when he saves Caitlin (who herself is undergoing a second chance at helping Dr. Stein) that he sees the future he could have if he took the leap and accepted his future as a hero.
The reuniting of the West family is rife with second chances. It could hardly be more open-facedly about second chances if the words were flashing at the bottom of the screen. But this story is different. Iris denies her mother that second chance. Within this episode, she does it twice. The Flash posits that perhaps not everyone deserves that opportunity. Some people make choices they cannot take back, terminal illnesses be darned. It’s a remarkably stark and honest assertion for a show that tends to err on the light and breezy side. And now’s it’s Iris’ turn to hide a secret.
In the continuation of the show’s sweetest storyline, Barry knows that he maybe has a “second chance at love.” In fact, after a particularly redemptive moment for Jax, Joe bald-facedly tells Barry, “There’s a lesson in this for you here somewhere.” There was an instant kismet between Barry and Patty Spivot, an easy rapport that cannot be taught and ought to be coveted. And Barry, unable to let go of his past love, hasn’t been able to properly grab hold of these feelings (something I know about all too well, Barry, believe you me). It’s only after seeing a former high school athlete accept this destiny as partner to a nuclear fire power with a Jewish scientist that Barry can see that maybe this Patty Spivot is pretty stinking perfect after all. If only we could all be so lucky. And so, only two episodes after her introduction, we may have an already finely-crafted romance on our hands.
Will Barry ever be with Iris? Who knows, at this point? We haven’t seen much of the two of them together since Patty entered the fray, and there have been no bylines from future newspapers to predict Iris’ eventual hubby. Maybe Barry’s one chance with Iris was lost when he went back in time. Perhaps it’s a love Barry tasted but can never possess. And, come on, if your consolation is ending up with Patty Spivot, you are still the luckiest son of a gun on the planet.
But They’re Not Really Dead, Right?
The Flash seems to largely be closing the book on Ronnie and Eddie. Ronnie’s replacement has already been found, and we haven’t seen head or tail of Eddie since he took himself out Looper style. Unless either one of them ends up being Zoom, we may have said goodbye to the Ronnie Raymond and Eddie Thawne of Earth-1. But there are plenty of parallel Earths from which Eddies can be plucked.
Flash Love Lockdown
Though Barry’s intentions with Spivot were interrupted by a giant shark and Harrison Freakin’ Wells, it does seem as if we are plowing full steam ahead into Bivot. I fully endorse this couple. Though less so the nickname I just created for them.
Boy, this show truly knows how to end an episode. Not only do we get hints at Bivot, but we get a GIANT SHARK MAN! Who was a running joke throughout the episode. Who is the latest metahuman hired by Zoom to take out Barry. The Flash just gets me. On any other show, this would be it. Spivot and Barry would put down the shark and share a cute moment together. It would have been great.
This is The Flash.
We get twists on twists on twists.
The Shark Man is put down by a laser rifle-wielding Harrison Wells of all beings. And he and Barry come face to face at episode’s end. I cannot believe it. I’ll see you next week.