‘The Flash’ Post-Show Analysis: Season 2, Episode 4: ‘The Fury of Firestorm’
Welcome back to Up To Speed, in which Flash TV show veteran Dylan Todd and newbie Ziah Grace break down the latest episode of The Flash, dispense some Flash Facts, and talk about what works, what doesn’t, and where the series might be headed.
Episode Four gives us further Firestorm action, more West family drama, Caitlin Snow being kind of a jerk, and, improbably, King Shark on television and in the homes of millions. ‘The Fury of Firestorm’ was directed by Stefan Pleszczynski, and written by Kai Yu Wu and Joe Peracchio.
Ziah: So, this episode brought us back to the heavy focus on Firestorm. Henry Hewitt AKA the villain Tokamak, which is the best name for a Godzilla monster not currently used, and Jefferson Jackson, a supporting character and friend of Ronnie from the original series, now the other half of the power couple of JaxStein. Or is it JaxStein’s Monster? Now, I know that one of your major complaints from the first season was that it was basically The Flash & Firestorm Power Hour, so how did you feel about this episode?
Dylan: Well, as it was essentially a send-off/set-up episode for NüFirestorm before he pops up again in Legends of Tomorrow, I’m fine with it, but yeah, all Barry does this episode is clumsily flirt with Patty and run around/taunt Tokamak at the end.
Ziah: This was an episode that had a metric ton of references. Francine, Joe’s estranged wife, has MacGregor’s disease, which Mr. Freeze’s constantly-frozen wife has. King Shark showed up, and it was perfect, and Gerry Conway and Pat Broderick deserve royalty checks with at least five zeroes for how much of their work shows up in this episode. How do you feel about an episode with references this heavy?
Dylan: It’s fine! I knew I recognized MacGregor’s disease, but didn’t realize where I’d heard it. It definitely sounds made up, for sure. As far as King Shark goes, I actually loved those 30 seconds of the episode, and am kind of bummed that he’s (probably) an Earth-2 guy as opposed to an Earth-1 native, if only because I’d love more dumb bonkers stuff like a shark-man roaming around the CW-verse. Like, I understand that their budget just won’t allow for a King Shark-centric episode, but just the idea of more crazy villains in the show is exciting. I’m not sure how many more “people in regular clothes whose eyes glow or whatever when they activate their powers,” I can take.
Ziah: I would love an episode where King Shark is literally the child of a Shark God, and the STARios have to find a way to justify that.
Dylan: Keep chasin’ that waterfall, Ziah. Though I say that like it’s a crazy request, and meanwhile, the Jay Garrick of Earth-2 is lounging around STAR Labs somewhere because this show is crazy.
Ziah: He’s even got his hat! But speaking of hilarious details, I outright laughed out loud when Joe told Patty she’d need to get good at lying. As much as we’re both fans of the Joe Train, that dude just can’t imagine a plan that doesn’t require keeping everything secret from everyone he cares about. Then again, considering the double bombs Francine drops in the episode, and Iris’s decision in response, it must run in the family. Offhand: When Patty said she’s just good ol’ P. Spivot, it really just made me want a webisode spin-off of DJ P. Spivot, fastest record spinner alive.
Dylan: Oh yeah, Joe loves him a lie. Also, Patty trying to lie was the best thing since that time Tina Belcher was told to lie on Bob’s Burgers. Actual footage of Patty Spivot trying to lie to Barry Allen:
And as much as I want to love Iris, her moral superiority and inability to budge even a little when it comes to her mom is just annoying here. Is it just me?
Ziah: I suppose, although I bought it, since everyone else that’s lied to her, and has since been forgiven, had years of past relationship to build upon. This woman just shows up and keeps lying, so I sort of get Iris just putting the stop sign up. On the other hand, we’ve been talking about how Iris needs better plots, and her refusing to hang out with her disease-ridden, penitent mother is prrrrrrrobably not what we meant.
Dylan: So you’re saying that I shouldn’t pitch my new reality show My Disease-Ridden, Penitent Mother to MTV or what? But for reals, her mom didn’t tell them about Joe’s son/Iris brother precisely because this is how they would react.
Ziah: That’s fair. The lady’s got a tough climb keeping secrets from the West family. And speaking of the West family, Barry talks to Joe about moving on from Iris, and actually makes a decision to pursue Patty, which is great. Good for the show moving on, good for more Patty/Barry flirting, and good for viewers like myself that are still uncomfortable with a dude hitting on his adopted sister for a literal decade.
Dylan: I just hope it sticks and also that Iris can find somebody who doesn’t wind up having to commit suicide to save the world. I mean, we’ve all been there, right, folks?
Ziah: “Committing Suicide To Save The World” is the number one relationship danger in the DC Universe, I think.
Dylan: That or “Left You For Dick Grayson Because I Mean Look At Him,” probably.
Ziah: The writing felt a little weaker than usual this episode, too. The early technobabble was rough, and I outright groaned at “it feels weird to be 50% of a person.” “But you’re 100% a hero.”
Dylan: Yeah, there were some egregious moments this episode. That entire bit with Caitlin and Jax at the mechanic shop was just trash all around, acting- and writing-wise.
Ziah: It’s a good thing they were at a car repair shop, because that scene needed some real tinkering to get the motor running.
Dylan: I will say that Jax’s response to being set up, superhero-style, with a very old man was pretty perfect. If a room full of strangers suddenly all looked at me expectantly and said, “We need you to put this doohickey on your chest and hug our very old friend here,” I like to think I would also say, “Nope. Have a nice life, weirdos.”
Ziah: Even if the old man just clarified that the two of you needed to achieve “convergence?”
Dylan: Especially if somebody used the word “convergence.” Like, what did they think was going to happen with that?
Ziah: They really should’ve led with “You will look like a flaming carrot, and can fly, and also our old friend won’t literally die of super-heat stroke.”
Dylan: Super Heat Stroke was my favorite 70s funk-rock fusion band. Real heavy stuff, man.
Speaking of terrible things, did you detect a weird undercurrent of coded racist speak in here? The way Stein says that he prefers Hewitt as a partner because he’s striving to “make something of his life,” and his appeal to Jax to use his “natural athleticism,” both struck me as kind of tone-deaf. I know Stein’s supposed to be an old-fashioned square, but… lots of side-eye at some of this stuff.
Ziah: Yeahhhhhh, no, there were definitely some wincing moments. I could see them being a little dismissive of a non-PhD candidate for Firestorming, but the actual way they phrased it was really really questionable. Honestly, Stein’s whole search for a partner felt really weird and off-kilter to me? I got a brief laugh at Cisco wanting to use Tinder to start a firestorm, but really didn’t need the, “Oh, this man’s a scientist. What’s the other one done, besides throw a rubber ball?” stuff.
Dylan: It did manage to drive home the point that Martin Stein is a pedantic Old. The D-plot this episode involved Harrison Wells stealing… something from Mercury Labs that he uses to take down King Shark. The Red Herring is looking even more red after this, right?
Ziah: That red herring is flopping around on the red fishing boat at this point. He even saves Barry (and the show’s budget) by taking care of King Shark, so maybe it’s time to reevaluate the suspects of Earth-2 Zoom. Earth-2 Barry’s still the frontrunner, right? Or Eobard Thawne on Earth-2?
Dylan: Earth-2 Barry makes the most sense, especially when I thought back to the “running through the Multiverse” montage from the season finale, where we saw Barry behind bars at one point. From a meta/writer’s room approach, Evil Alternate Universe Doppelganger seems to be the easiest solution.
Ziah: I am delighted at the possibility of seeing Grant Gustin play a villain against puppy dog Flash.
Dylan: The idea of natural-born goody-goody Grant Gustin playing a fake tough guy fills my heart with joy. Black motorcycle jacket. Sunglasses. Candy cigarettes rolled up in a white t-shirt cuff. Like Grease acted out by a theater troupe composed of home-schooled kids who grew up in an underground bunker. Which sort of describes Gustin’s previous show, Glee, I guess.
Ziah: In an entire episode full of a sick old man and fireballs, that is the sickest burn.
Dylan: “Sick Old Man & Fire Balls,” should be our vaudeville-style comedy duo name. Aaaand on that note, we bid you adieu until next week.