You might say that this week’s episode of ‘The Flash’ jumps-the-shark. I’m not sure if that’s a good or bad thing in this case, but some fans actually seem to be excited about it.
We open with a flashback to the particle accelerator explosion two years ago. High school football star Jefferson “Jax” Jackson (Franz Drameh), the nicest and kindest sports jock who ever lived, is thrown against a wall by the shockwave and gets doused in dark matter. Gee, I wonder if this will be important in the present day somehow?
Let’s find out! With the flashback over, we jump back to today and learn that Dr. Stein is in pretty bad shape. The molecules in his body have become unstable due to not being able to merge with Ronnie anymore. Stein needs someone new to bond with – literally bond with, or he’ll explode. (The science in this show hurts my head sometimes.) Fortunately, Caitlin has found a couple of possible candidates. How she determined that two random people she’s never met have the right molecules, I have no idea. Cisco cracks a joke about making a Tinder-like app for meta-humans.
One of the candidates, a young guy named Henry Hewitt (Demore Barnes from ‘The Unit’), is a budding scientist who graduated from Stein’s alma matter. Both Caitlin and Stein are very excited about him, even though he’s not quite a perfect match. Jax, on the other hand, tore his ACL in the explosion and never went to college, and now works as a humble auto mechanic. Neither Stein nor Caitlin even want to bother interviewing him, but Barry insists that they should bring him in anyway and give the kid a shot. (Notably, both candidates are black, so we can’t accuse either the show or the characters of being racist for dismissing Jax.)
Personally, if a weird old guy called me out of the blue and told me that he wanted to “merge” with my body and become one with my cellular matrix, I’d run the hell in the other direction. Hewitt, however, is really psyched about it. He’s a big fan of Dr. Stein and can’t wait to get super powers. He’s also kind of an arrogant dick, but neither Stein nor Caitlin is bothered by that. Unfortunately, his attempt to merge with Stein fails. Their molecules aren’t compatible after all. Hewitt is pissed and storms out angrily complaining about them wasting his time. In the elevator, his hand emits some flames. Apparently, even the failed attempt has triggered an instability in his own molecules.
Barry and Patty Spivot continue to flirt with each other. Even Joe encourages Barry to hit that, but he’s still hesitant. He hasn’t quite gotten over Iris yet, of course. Patty asks Barry to assist on a case she’s working about reported sightings of a shark-man downtown in the city. He thinks that sounds ridiculous, but agrees to run some tests on teeth found at the scene. Later, he’ll deliver the bad news that they were just human teeth.
Despite Cisco’s claims of having beefed up security in the lab, Dr. Wells (who arrived from Earth-2 via the wormhole) skulks around the hallways totally unnoticed. Later, he’s spotted intruding into Mercury Labs by Dr. Tina McGee, who immediately calls Joe. He asks Patty not to tell Barry about this, because Wells murdered his mom. (Remember, Patty is the only person on the team who doesn’t know that Barry is The Flash yet.)
When Jax hears the pitch about fusing his body with Dr. Stein’s, he says he’s not interested in becoming a superhero and returns to his job as a mechanic. Unfortunately, Stein’s condition has gotten progressively worse. Caitlin goes to Jax’s garage to apologize for being dismissive toward him earlier. She gives him an inspirational speech about how she believes he was meant to be a hero, but he still isn’t totally convinced.
Suddenly, Hewitt strikes from out of nowhere and attacks Caitlin. His body is on fire and he blames her for doing this to him. Jax is able to fend him off with a monkey wrench. In retaliation, Hewitt next attacks Jax’s old high school football field. Jax realizes that it’s finally time to be a team player. He agrees to merge with Stein. Their fusion is successful. As Firestorm, they jet off to stop Hewitt.
By the time Firestorm and Barry get to him, Hewitt is totally out of control, spewing flames at everyone left and right. Cisco posits that the way to defeat him is to make Hewitt so angry that he eventually burns himself out. Barry and Firestorm taunt him by racing and flying in circles around him until, sure enough, Hewitt simply passes out. That wasn’t too tough. Off to the Pipeline he goes.
The next day, Stein and Jax announce that they’re leaving town to go train on how to work together. I expect that we won’t see them again until the premiere of next year’s spinoff series ‘Legends of Tomorrow’, in which they’ll be featured players. Before he leaves, Stein encourages Cisco to come out to his friends as a meta-human.
While racing around town, Barry realizes that he’s being ridiculous and should just ask Patty out. He may even consider revealing to her that he’s The Flash. (Why not? Everyone else knows.) Barry speeds to the police precinct just before she gets off her shift.
Shocking, from out of the blue, Barry gets grabbed by… a giant shark-man!
The shark announces to Barry that, “Zoom wants you dead.” Patty steps out of the precinct just in time to see The Flash getting attacked. She shoots the shark several times, but her bullets do no harm. The shark tosses Barry to the ground and turns toward her. Before it can get near her, however, a mysterious hooded figure blasts the shark with a big particle weapon rifle. Barry gets up as the man reveals himself to be… Dr. Wells!
To be continued.
I don’t read the comic books, but I gather that the monster is supposed to be King Shark, one of Flash’s most outlandish rogues. The producers of the series have stated that his cameo here was just a lark. Wells has killed him and he won’t be back. I have no special attachment to the character, so this doesn’t bother me.
I take it this means that the Wells from Earth-2 is not the villain Zoom – or, at least, he’s pretending not to be. According to the preview at the end of the episode, we’ll find out more about what his deal is next week. I look forward to that.
I’ve read a lot of positive fan reaction to this episode. I wasn’t quite as high on it as some. The Firestorm storyline didn’t do much for me. I’ve never fully bought into the Firestorm concept, but the idea that Ronnie could be so conveniently replaced strikes me as lazy writing. All the stuff about the evil smartypants and the heroic Average Joe is also pretty heavy-handed and trite. Another storyline in which Iris learns that her estranged mother is dying amounts to a whole lot of wasted screen time, except for a last-minute revelation that Joe has a son he doesn’t know about. (Hmmm… Joe’s last name is West. Could the boy be named Wally?)
It’s not an awful episode by any means, but also far from my favorite of the show.