THE FLASH Review 2.04 “The Fury Of Firestorm”

Jax Jackson flies away with our hearts.

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"I know the particle accelerator took something from you. But it also gave you something in return, something even more spectacular: the opportunity to be part of something bigger, to be part of a team that's working to protect people from losing what you lost."

"The Fury of Firestorm" introduces us to Martin Stein's new other half, a reminder that Greg Berlanti and company seem endlessly successful at creating fun and lovable adaptations of comic book superheroes. Jefferson "Jax" Jackson is a high school football player turned mechanic, with no aspirations of becoming a hero. He just wants to go to college, a goal robbed from him when the particle accelerator explosion injured him and ended his football career. The opportunity to merge with Stein and the Firestorm Matrix brings him no joy, and it takes a few warm pep talks from Firestorm widow Caitlin to convince him to take on such a high-minded mantle. Attack the Block's Franz Drameh does such great things with the character; his reluctant heroism isn't sullen or gloomy, but instead speaks to vast untapped potential waiting inside. It helps that the first we see of Jax reveals a game-winning touchdown followed by his rescue of a teammate once the STAR Labs explosion reaches the field. The character fits in so beautifully with Team Flash that, like Stein, it's almost a pity that they're preparing to leave for Legends of Tomorrow by the end of the episode. The Flash and Arrow are doing such a stellar job of building up Legends without any of these storylines feeling like what they actually are: mere groundwork for another show.

Demore Barnes (from SupernaturalHannibal and Hemlock Grove) shows us the opposite face of the coin as Henry Hewitt: he's a polished scientist, like Stein, with great initiative and an eagerness to join with the Firestorm matrix. But Hewitt represents the dark side of ambition, hungry for power and certain to use Firestorm's awesome abilities for ill. The two potential candidates are a perfect portrait illustrating what makes a villain and what makes a hero, even with the very same powers. Jax and Hewitt are also interesting because they speak to appearances: Caitlin can be forgiven for assuming the tony scientist is the right match for Stein, but Barry - an unlikely hero himself - recognizes a brother in Jax.

We also get a Royal Tenenbaums plotline in this week's episode, as we all know that prodigal parents never return unless they're dying or pretending to be dying. Francine West seems to be legitimately dying of DC-disease MacGregor's Syndrome, but good on Iris for showing some real skepticism at this claim. Some people might find Iris cold in her dealings with her mother, but I don't hold with the idea that we must always forgive our wayward parents once they finally decide they want to be a part of our lives. Iris demonstrated her compassion with the right parent last week, forgiving Joe for telling her Francine had died, but if that act of mercy depleted her patience with the drug addict mother who abandoned her twenty years ago, who can blame her? I'm sure we'll meet this looming brother, or half-brother, soon enough, and I hope and expect Joe to grant Iris the same understanding when he learns that she kept a potential son from him to protect him. 

Finally, we have the return of the great Amanda Pays as Dr. Tina McGee, who heralds Harrison Wells' return to Team Flash. They're suspicious at first until he shows up just in time to save Barry FROM A GIANT MAN-SHARK in the final seconds of the episode. It's a terrific, very comic book-feeling end to the hour, and though the disparate storylines in "The Fury of Firestorm" never quite cohere - including Patty and Barry's flirtation, which is always a fun aside but doesn't feel like part of a whole just yet - each plot is thoughtfully executed and serves to usher us further into the season's arc, which is beginning to take real shape. 

Coolest moments this week:

King Shark looks AMAZING and I want him in every single episode from now on.

Barry's lightning-quick blood theft is probably immoral, but certainly efficient. 

"I'm a quarterback. I can take a hit." When Jax finally takes to the skies, it's thrilling. This guy was born to be a hero.

"Please, call me Professor." Victor Garber has played so many wonderful roles, but Dr. Martin Stein has the potential to become my favorite.

"Chance to have superpowers? Sign me up." Cisco, you've already been signed up, son.

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