“Everyone secretly thinks they’ve figured out what their life is gonna to be like. But what no one ever considers is that life has its own plans for you whether you like them or not. And so you’re left with a choice; you can either embrace the change and move forward. Or you can fight it and be left behind.”
Though Barry’s voiceover reminds viewers on the need to move forward in the face of adversity, it’s ironic we begin two years ago when Jefferson Jackson, football star, fresh after a game, witnesses the particle accelerator explosion. While he’s able to lead others to safety, including an injured teammate, Jax receives the brunt of the energy wave and…
Fast forward to now—Professor Stein is in a bad way. Cisco’s able to retard the symptoms, the gang knows the prof is living on borrowed time. Caitlin believes she can save him and to do so just needs to find the perfect vessel with which the professor must merge. Based on research and data from the wave, two such individuals have been tagged for this: Henry Hewitt, a braniac of sorts on par with the good professor and Jefferson Jackson, the football player who also has a head on his shoulders. After Barry gathers blood samples from the two, it’s revealed that Jax seems to be the better of the two matches but Caitlin’s firmly on Team Hewitt. And, when he’s brought into the fold, Hewitt’s just as excited to be a part of the team—only, when he and the professor attempt to merge, it sort of fizzles out. The disappointment is something Hewitt can’t take and, for the first time, we see a darker side to him. One that eventually translates into a rage lets loose his once-latent powers.
Surrounding the Hewitt front is Jax. He receives the same pitch but can only see his future dreams of playing pro football gone by the wayside after damaging his knee during the particle accelerator disaster. Caitlin doesn’t take to his reservations on being a hero but Barry understands Jax’s predicament. After having his own eyes opened by Joe in regards to his burgeoning feelings for Patty Spivot, Barry tells Caitlin that “sometimes great possibilities are right in front of us and we don’t seem them because we chose not to. I think that we need to be open to exploring something new.”
Whereas part of the gang is working on Stein’s failing health, Iris has her own issues, namely that of a mother who’s decided that now, after two decades in the wind, is the time to meet and get to know her daughter. Iris rebuffs her mother’s initial attempts at reconnecting but then Francine drops the secret weapon of sympathy: she’s dying and will be lucky to last the year. Iris meets with her estranged mother once again and though Francine hasn’t been duplicitous about her condition, she did hold back the tiny fact that she had a son 8 months after leaving Central City. We never find out if it’s Joe’s kid but Iris makes it crystal clear that Francine needs to get out of dodge and stay out.
Circling back to the main plot, after Barry’s talk, Caitlin pays a visit to Jax where she apologizes to him and opens up about Ronnie. “I believe you were meant to be a hero,” she tells the young man and just as he’s taken in by her words, an explosively angry Hewitt shows up, ready to take his frustrations out on Caitlin. She and Jax are able to escape the crazed baddie and make it back to the lab where, after getting the super-short tutorial, Jax and Stein merge to become the new Firestorm. Of course it’s just in time as Hewitt’s at high school football stadium, recharging himself. Flash and Firestorm confront the enraged Hewitt—AKA Tokamak—and, using Caitlin’s advice, anger the violence-prone Hewitt to “blowing his top.”
In the aftermath, the new Firestorm heads to Pittsburgh to train alongside the same individual that helped Stein and Ronnie get a grasp on their powers. Before he leaves, Stein suggests to Cisco he needs to tell the others about the visions. “The very thing that makes you different,” he says to the concerned young scientist, “makes you special.” As we come to the end, Barry makes very interesting observation:
“Things are always what they seem. Our fears can play tricks on us, making us afraid to change course, afraid to move on. But usually behind our fears are second chances waiting to be seized. Second changes at life. At glory. At family. At love. And these opportunities don’t come around every day. So when they do, we have to be brave. Take a chance, and grab them while we can.”
…and then comes the Man-Shark!
Spivot sees the beastie and tries to help the Flash but her bullets do nothing to the creature…and then it’s blasted from behind by the one make Barry thought he’d never see again.
- It’s been building for a while now but it seems that Barry will finally make a move on Patty. And why not? They are both quirky, smart, awkward and yet competent. The chemistry between the two seems more solid and natural than what Barry shares with Iris (from an on-screen perspective). Oh, they’re both also terrible liars as seen when Spivot tries to keep her knowledge of Wells from Barry. As it stands, Barry and Patty are two of the most endearing characters on television now, not just in the show, and exploring a relationship between the two would add a bit of a light hearted fluff to things…it seems like we’ll probably need that little distraction as events progress.
- The appearance of the Man-Shark was an interesting throwaway. Did they really need to include the CGI-awkward beast in there? Not really, though discovering another agent of Zoom out there is a reminder to Barry that he cannot, for one second, leave his guard down.
- Talking about surprises, I did not expect the Wells/Barry meeting to happen so quickly. Despite his theft of energy weapon from Mercury Labs, I never believed this version of Wells to be a bad guy. Remember, the original Earth-1 Harrison Wells was a white hat; it was Eobard Thawne’s taking his place that cemented Wells as the bad guy in our (and Barry’s) minds. Still, it may be difficult for Barry to see this man’s face as anything other than the one who murdered his mother and betrayed him and Central City. But I believe this Wells has the same agenda as our merry band of Flash fighters—stop Zoom, at all costs.
- In all the hubbub there was no mention of Jay Garrick. It seems like the gang would have picked his scientific brain a bit as they tried to slow Professor Stein’s deterioration.