‘The Fury of the Firestorm’
There’s a problem with the interconnected universes currently dominating pop culture. That problem is that all the set up and group effort can lead to unsatisfactory solo installments, like say, Iron Man 2. So far, the Arrow/Flash universe has jumped these hurdles, but as the shows gear up for the upcoming Legends of Tomorrow, the storytelling is starting to falter.
Victor Garber has been attached to Legends of Tomorrow since its announcement and due to the death of “his other half” in The Flash’s series two opener, he’s in need of someone to converge with. ‘The Fury of the Firestorm’ spends most of its plot flicking between the S.T.A.R Labs Squad’s efforts to find a suitable match for Dr Stein, so Firestorm can spark up once again, and the ongoing West family drama.The split between the franchise building and the soap opera makes the episode stall as the writers don’t develop either plot prong well. This episode is so full of set up that it actually forgets to put the Flash (Grant Gustin) in The Flash. Seriously, he gets one and a half scenes. Barry is sidelined in his own show, not really doing much beyond flirting with Patty Spivot (Shantel VanSanten) and reminding you how similar the Flash and Spider-Man can be.
The find-a-new-Firestorm scenes aren’t a total bust as they’re still entertaining to watch with Danielle Panabaker selling Caitlyn’s change from snootiness to supporter of the new Firestorm, Jefferson ‘Jax’ Jackson (Franz Drameh). Drameh seems like a good fit but isn’t in the episode enough to make much of an impact. The Firestorm subplot is also hampered by the heavy-handed writing as the moral message is so trite in superhero lore that it doesn’t stick. The Flash’s writing has always been a bit on the nose, but this time it just jams it up the audience’s sinuses.
Elsewhere, Joe West (Jesse L. Martin) continues to be the best paternal and adoptive father around, doling solid advice to both Barry and Iris (Candice Patton). For so long in series one, Iris was a passive character, thus it’s a nice change of pace to see that she is now keeping secrets from the other characters. Joe’s talk to Barry about moving on from Iris and considering a date with Patty will strike a chord with many, but it again raises questions about Patty’s purpose.It is pretty clear that wherever Iris goes, Barry will follow, and their eventual marriage has been shown on the show through a future newspaper byline (Iris West-Allen!). Now, the show has mentioned changing the future but the ‘Biris’ ship will sail. So what is the point of Patty? In a couple of episodes Patty has become a welcome presence on the show with VanSanten sharing easy chemistry with Gustin, and it is now impossible not to root for her. The kick received when watching Patty take on a giant shark-man could be classed as a legal superhero high.
Yes, during the episode’s hectic final five minutes Barry fights King Shark before coming face-to-face with the enigma that is Earth-2 Harrison Wells (Tom Cavanagh). Cavanagh and his particular brand of intellectual evil has been missed, with his fleeting appearances throughout the first four episodes only adding to the mystery. Earth-2 Harrison Wells may not be Reverse-Flash evil, but he is pretty shifty. Next week should shine a light on his hopefully machiavellian plan.