It’s funny how this episode of The Flash feels like an after-school special, teaching lessons like: never judging a book by its cover and when life hands you a bad card, what matters is how you play it. Yes, some of the executions of these concepts were a bit hammy but the one lesson that no one on this show seems to get is that LYING LEADS TO NOTHING POSITIVE! There might have been more secrets and lies brought up in this episode than any other thus far…what?!!! Alright, time to speed through this episode.
One thing of note, Jay’s absence in this episode. Hope that’s important for later. Anyway, we flashback to two years ago. We see a young man who has lead his football team to victory. This gentleman is Jackson Jefferson and it looks like this kid has his future waiting for him. “Jax” sees the particle accelerator explosion in the distance…more importantly, the wave emitting from it is heading his way so Jefferson gets everyone to safety. They all enter the tunnel that the football players go through but Jax has to save one of his teammates who was on crutches. Jackson gets him inside and tries to shut the door but the blast (which looks a lot like the firestorm matrix) knocks him against the wall. (We’ll find out that was what ended his promising football career.) Cut to present day, Cisco manages to stabilize Professor Stein using the power source from Harrison’s wheelchair, but he knows it’s only temporary. Caitlin explains that the dark matter that hit him changed his molecular structure so that it could bond with the firestorm matrix. That’s where Ronnie came in. As long as Stein’s particles have nothing to compatibly merge with, his condition will grow more unstable. Furthermore, Caitlin’s research finds two potential candidates who were affected in a similar way, showed signs of gene manipulation and have the same blood type as Stein and Ronnie. We’ve already met Jax, the other is Henry Hewitt. Barry, without asking uses his super speed to get a blood sample from both individuals with them being unaware. We see Iris and Joe looking at old baby pictures, Iris preparing herself to meet her mother. Back at the station, Patty wants Barry to help her with a story; apparently there was a shark walking on land and she has a tooth from the scene of the report. So a very flustered Barry agrees to analyze the teeth when Joe interrupts. Can I just say, rather Joe says it clear as day, Barry obviously has something for Patty. What is it with Joe’s partners and his “kids?” At S.T.A.R. Labs, CIsco creates a “power cane” using the reactor that stabilized Stein so as to keep mobile. There are two big components to this episode, one is obviously going to be the meeting between Iris and her mother Francine and the fallout from that. The one on deck now is that “after-school special” example that I alluded to earlier.
Team Flash looks to decide which candidate to go with. Caitlin enthusiastically starts with Henry. Graduated from the same university as Stein, Summa Cum Laude, double majored in bio-enginerring and…(you see where this is headed, right.) I’m not saying that this was a misstep or that this story was being told poorly, it just seems telegraphed and lacks the depth that usually happens in these episodes. Also, some of the messages being sent…not going to lie (don’t worry there will be plenty of that later) I really frowned upon. Barry notices that more of Jax’s vitals are compatible than Henry’s. Also we find out that besides being the star quarterback and having the obvious physical attributes, he has a 4.0 GPA. Which was practically ignored by Caitlin and her elitist attitude that Henry would be more apt for this sort of thing because he’s a scientist and says “he’s actually trying to make something of himself.” Since these are two characters who are African-America, I’m am going to bring up something that’s prevalent to this situation. One of the biggest arguments I hear in the black community when it comes to black men and music; making commercial music with no real substance or out in the street committing crimes. This notion of rapping or robbing someone, you know some of us do neither. Some people actually make good music and still are horrible people behind the scenes. My point going back to the episode is that you make something of yourself however you can not based on what society or what some individual thinks success really is. I appreciate Barry trying to ground everything in reality. I mean look at him, forensic scientist who is clearly socially awkward with a heart of gold. Maybe everybody shouldn’t be on this Henry Hewitt hype train. I can excuse Professor Stein’s affinities because after all, he’s got to merge with this person and it’s his life that’s on the line. You want to know why people get so offended with outside individuals try to pass of their own ideals into people’s situations? Usually it’s because they lack any empathy to what the background or extending circumstances are. While Team Flash heads out, a familiar face appears in the hallway where the secret room is located, it’s Harrison Wells.
Barry and Stein head off to meet with Jackson who happens to be a car mechanic. When Professor Stein notices the music that is playing in background, Jax quips that he has the Titanic soundtrack in the back and can play some Celine Dion if he’d prefer. Another example of being typecasted and that underlying assumption of “oh this guy listens to rap music, he must not be cultured in anything else.” Me personally, rap is not even in my top five favorite genres of music to listen to. After Jackson lets them know that he’s not really feeling anything having to do what happened to him two years ago, Barry just leaves his number and tells him to think about it. I like Barry’s approach. It shows that he remembers his dealings from before with earlier characters who have lost a great deal and in order for them to come around, one must no be so gung-ho about helping an individual move past those hardships.
Iris finally comes face to face with Francine. So after two decades, Iris could have handled this a multitude of ways but she decides that having a relationship with her mother is something that she does not want right now. As someone who didn’t meet his own father until after I became an adult and having to come to that same crossroad, I don’t blame Iris one bit for her tone, her delivery and ultimately her decision. It does seem awfully convenient the timing of Francine’s desire to reenter the picture; I don’t think that something to ignore. Iris, I don’t believe is angry about her mother leaving, I think that once she finally got to see Francine and put everything together from what she feels on the inside with what Joe has already told her, she just came to a conclusion and made peace with it all at the same time. Acceptance and forgiveness does not always mean a warm, cozy ending.
Back at S.T.A.R. Labs, Barry and Martin return to see that Henry Hewitt is there chatting it up with Caitlin and that he’s all in with the idea of Project Firestorm. Notice that when Barry introduced himself and offered a handshake, Hewitt completely ignored him and went right for Stein. Also Caitlin’s over enthusiastic attitude with the idea and Cisco saying he’s got an ego the size of Texas. It is cute that he’s like a miniature Professor Stein, but I believe that Barry apprehension is warranted. Sometimes you do pick up things off of people that go beyond what the eye can detect. Cisco places the splicer on Henry’s chest but when he starts to merge with Martin, it’s as if the firestorm matrix cancels itself out. So much so that on the second attempt, nothing happens at all, much to an angry Henry’s disappointment. As he gets on the elevator and leave, something in his molecular structure seems to have been made active after the failed attempted fusion. We cut to Mercury Labs and see that Caitlin’s office has been ransacked and what looks like Harrison making off with something.
You’ve been waiting for it. Detective Joe and Spivot arrive at Mercury Labs and get updated on what we already know. So when Patty wants to call in Barry, Joe will have none of it. He explains to Patty that Harrison is the man who killed Barry’s mother Nora and to protect him, Barry can’t know about the possible return of Harrison Wells. Patty says that she’s not very good at lying to which Joe responds, “You better learn, quick.” Just drop an anvil on me already with the lies. It’s almost as if the characters on the show are so habitual with this that it’s become a meta-joke…but I don’t find it funny at all. Joe you just had a breakdown over something you kept from Iris, now you want to keep another big secret from Barry because you think it’s best for him. Did you confirm that? So Joe and Patty get back to the station and upon seeing Francine, Joe sends Detective Spivot ahead and confronts her in a way that was almost unnerving for Joe’s character. He wants her gone, now as in ‘don’t come back’. Francince says there was something else that brought her back…here we go. She says that basically as former addict, she contracted a condition that basically gives her a few months to live. Look, a lie of omission is still a lie. How does one forget to bring that up? I was going to tell you sooner, but…but what? It’s like you was about to die or something, right? Yes, that comes across a little dark but I am tired of these scenarios where someone uses impending doom as a backdrop for their lack of attention to detail. I mean Martin Stein is basically in that same spot. I am scratching my head. Anyway, Jax decides to come down to S.T.A.R. Labs thinking that when they said “help”, that meant fixing his knee. Team Flash basically explains the Firestorm process to him and like any normal young adult that would hear all of this…I wouldn’t believe it either. Caitlin especially gets fired up (no pun intended) as Jax’s seemingly dismissal of becoming a superhero. And then we get the line of the episode right here…
Line of the Night: “I saw your test scores Jax, your grades were good enough to get into college, but you didn’t go. Why? Is this the type of guy you are, one setback and you fold. Well, then maybe you’re not the guy for us anyway.” Caitlin talking to Jax
Right away I see Barry and I see the first real problem with this, why drive off the guy that might be the only hope to save Professor Stein’s life. No Caitlin, Barry is right, it is not as simple as just saying no to being a hero. Jackson, a guy who doesn’t have much, is being asked to give up what he does have to journey into the unknown. That’s a hard step for anybody in any medium. My second problem was with Caitlin did after, she was so adamant about getting Henry back to try again just because he was a willing participant. Now, I’m not ignoring the subtext behind what Dr. Snow said. Everybody does not see opportunity the same way and you can’t bully someone with your words just so you can try and get a person to see your point of view on a subject. Personally though, I don’t have a problem with the “Line of the Night.” Too often we as people allow a tragedy or a misfortune to come into our lives and strip us of our very identity. We can’t prevent bad things from happening sometimes, but we can always control how we deal with it. We get knocked down and sometimes we can’t get back up, but that doesn’t mean that we decide to never want to get up again. I lost my grandfather right after I graduated from high school. I was supposed to go to a big name university. Like Jax, my grades were good enough to where I could go wherever I wanted and I wasn’t even an athlete anymore. Death hit me like a ton a bricks and I stayed down for some time but eventually I knew I had to go on because life was going to with or without me. It wasn’t going to bring my granddad back anymore than it’s going to resurrect Jackson’s football career. Everyday you have to ask yourself, do you fold or do you remain stable? Sometimes the best we can do is hold on and at some point, things will lean toward our advantage and we can make a new opportunity out of that. Those opportunities allow us to do things and go places that we would otherwise never attempt.
This leads right into to Joe letting Barry know how obvious his feelings for Patty. He tells Barry that Iris will always be different because she was the first girl he ever loved but that shouldn’t stop him from pursuing something new. We go to Henry Hewitt’s lab and after having his job threatened because he apparently is a bit of a slacker, ignites literally and seems to be on the verge of a meltdown. Professor Stein deduces that the attempted merger triggered Henry’s dormant abilities and without a grounded mechanism to stabilize him…boom. Cisco, after hacking into some sealed security records discovers that Henry has a history of anger management issues, including battery and assault charges. After feeling weak, Stein is taken back by Cisco to lie down. Caitlin decides to put all of the blame on her self, feeling that she ran off Jax by her words and Hewitt’s situation was brought on by her spearheadedness. Barry comes to a conclusion very similar to the one I did. Caitlin probably had her reservations about Jackson because let’s face it, this is going to be Ronnie’s replacement. Also, the whole hero thing has a different connection with her because Ronnie basically died a hero by what he did to stop the singularity. So, in her mind, she can’t understand why anyone wouldn’t want to use their life to serve (and in this case, save) others and be a hero. Barry, who hopefully takes his own advice…which he got wholesale from Joe, tells Caitlin that we have to be open to new explorations. Back at home, Joe informs Iris on what Francine told him and Iris is skeptical to say the least. She does make a good point; Francine tells Joe about her dying after the meeting with Iris, after she tells Francine she wants nothing to do with her. Remember that Francine had that opportunity when she found Joe in the first place, not only at the station but at the bar as well. With all the lies that have gone on, especially in the case of people keeping things from Iris in particular…is it really that far-fetched of her to be suspect of her own mother? Something to think about. I’ll get more into this when I show why Iris was tonight’s MVP.
Speaking of which, Caitlin goes to the car shop to apologize to Jax and to also ask him to reconsider his stance on the Firestorm Project. What’s interesting is that Jax saw Ronnie fly into the massive negative space, before the singularity collapsed in on itself. In the midst of their exchange, Hewitt arrives, seeking out Dr. Snow and throws a kinetic blast at Jax knocking him down. But, being a former football player, he quickly recovers and throws a car part right at Henry. While he’s temporarily stunned, Jax and Caitlin jump into the car and head for S.T.A.R. Labs…Hewitt soon to be in hot pursuit. When Jax sees Professor Stein in the shape that he’s in, he decides to go for it. Cisco gives an abridged version to Jax while Barry and Caitlin prepare Martin, whose temperature is rising rapidly. Barry lets Jackson know that there’s no going back after this. So with that, Jax activates the splicer and Firestorm is reborn. Time for some on the job training as Hewitt attacks the high school that Jax once played at…odd. Cisco and Caitlin tell Flash and Firestorm that they need to get him even more riled up so Hewitt will blow his fuse. Stein, acting as co-pilot helps Jax get better accustomed to the powers of Firestorm. We also get to see the Flash antagonize in a way we haven’t before. This gives the opening for Firestorm to put Henry down for the count.
The way this episode wraps up, hold on to something here. First, we get Iris meeting with Francine. Iris, being honest, told her upfront that she didn’t know if her mother was telling the truth. Then, Iris lets it be known that she is an investigative reporter and that her job is to find out what people hide and keep secret. So you know I’m out my seat while I’m watching this play out. Iris says that she ALMOST was willing to give Francine the benefit of the doubt, but in her digging she (as well as the rest of us watching) find out that Francine was not being completely honest, still keeping secrets. The one is question being eight months after leaving Central City, Francine birthed a baby boy. I got nothing. If I really wanted to delve into this…Iris thankfully, gives some implications behind the biggest shocker to date. This gets really hard to watch when you stop and think about it. Iris, questioning about her potential brother and is her dad even the father but she decides that at this point, it could be another lie on top of the one that she uncovered. Showing that she’s daddy’s little girl, demands that Francine stay away from her and her father; not wanting to hear an explanation or rather an excuse, Iris storms off holding back the tears in her eyes. As a man, there’s something to be said about fathers and sons. So, if Joe knew that he had a son that never knew who his father was, imagine how devastating that would be for him; even though it would be no fault of his own. We see Iris at home crying; it is her that now has the big secret that no one else knows but her. Given the history and the fact that’s she’s been on the receiving end of many of these secret and lies (including this one) can we really blame Iris if she decides to keep this to herself for the time being? If you can’t trust family, who can you trust? But I’ve heard it many a time that family will hurt you a lot worse than anyone else close to you will and that’s no lie. Believe that. We unfortunately have to say goodbye to Jax and Professor Stein who tells Cisco to learn from Jax and not be afraid of his own abilities. As Firestorm departs, Joe reiterates the lesson that Jax learned to Barry. The Flash, in the suit, is seen checking out Patty when a hand just snatches him out of frame and we hear, “Zoom wants you dead!” A giant shark has put Barry down. Detective Spivot rushes out and tries her gun to no avail when suddenly a hooded individual uses a weapon that discharges some kind of energy and saves Patty and the Flash. So when Barry confronts him, underneath the hood is revealed to be Harrison Wells? What!?
Flashlines: Love the interplay between Jax and Stein…Jax calling him “Grey.” Could that “man-shark” that attacked Barry be King Shark? The fight between Hewitt, Flash and Firestorm, Barry really shows how insufferable he can be when he starts to provoke his enemies: “Paging Dr. Hewitt.” If you know your comics, who is Barry Allen’s nephew? Considering the New 52 and the ethnicity of Iris and Joe and Francine…who do you think that little boy could be (what is Iris’ last name)?
If the last five minutes of this episode didn’t give enough bite for next week…maybe that shark should’ve picked a different target, just saying. Flashout!