The Flash, Season 2, Episode 4, “The Fury of Firestorm”
Directed by Stefan Pleszczynski
Written by Kai Yu Wu and Joe Peracchio
The Flash, Season 2, Episode 5, “The Darkness and the Light”
Directed by Steve Shill
Written by Ben Sokolowski and Grainne Godfree
Airs on Tuesdays at 8 pm (ET) on The CW
With the first season of The Flash ending with the opening of the Multiverse, the first few episodes of the second season spent their time setting up the show’s new paradigm. What couldn’t be forgotten, however, is that the team itself needed to be rebuilt after having lost its most crucial member in the former Harrison Wells, aka Eobard Thawne. With Dr. Stein also having lost Ronnie, and by extension his stabilising force, the past two episodes have shifted the focus towards rebuilding the team, adding new members to replace those who are gone and add more strengths. The result has been an exciting pair of episodes that bodes well for the season as a whole.
The addition of Earth 2 Wells to the team is an exciting shake-up to the dynamic. The differences between Eobard and Wells are stark, most notably in the differences towards the way they handle Barry, but the difference is also necessary. As Garrick establishes this week, he is more than capable, even without his speed, of filling the role of experienced mentor that Eobard vacated, and his willingness to help and work with other members of the team makes him a great substitute for Eobard. What he doesn’t bring, however, is scientific expertise, and with Dr. Stein now gone, Dr. Wells can fill that role and make the team whole again, with his knowledge of Earth 2 metahumans providing an additional boost. In addition, however, he also provides a contrast to the parental figures who have guided Barry to date. Even though Wells’ insistence on pushing Barry’s limits clearly stem from the panic of Zoom holding his daughter prisoner, it could nonetheless prove to be a key counterbalance that allows Barry to excel. How much Wells cares for the team, however, will make a key impact on his role. While his affection for his daughter is sure to take precedence, just how much he’s willing to sacrifice the well-being of the team will say a lot. While he’s not currently an agent of Zoom, if he gets too frustrated with Barry’s efforts, he may deem it more logical to sacrifice Flash to get his daughter back, or even use Barry as bait without the latter’s knowledge. The emotional scars left by Eobard’s betrayal, however, make it unlikely that the team will trust Wells, which may frustrate him faster. Especially given the lack of love lost between Garrick and Wells, how the team dynamic develops from here on out will heavily affect how the story goes.
The addition of Jefferson Jackson to the Firestorm team, and to the group as a whole, also opens up some interesting possibilities. Despite their varied talents, the Flash team has not had a natural athlete and former star player in their ranks before. Thus, not only does Jefferson add a component that was previously lacking, he brings a different way of thinking that could prove invaluable in fights. Finding weaknesses and exploiting open spots in opposing groups is a vital part of being an athlete, and Jefferson could thus think of fights in terms of sports strategies, which may be the deciding factor depending on the metahuman they’re facing. Jefferson undoubtedly faces an uphill battle, however. Not only is he set to replace Ronnie in a team with whom he’s unfamiliar, he’ll be working with a group who’s already comfortable with each other. Even if individuals such as Caitlin put aside their reservations and embrace Jefferson with open arms, it’ll still take him a while to get into the groove of the team, especially one in which he’s not the star. How Jefferson deals with this situation will say a lot about whether he’s a good addition to the team or not, which in turn will inform how integral Firestorm is to Barry’s efforts to fight metahumans.
Overall, however, it has been an exciting two weeks for The Flash, setting the stage for what’s to come while not stalling the action. Tom Cavanagh’s return is a welcome one, and the fact that Dr. Wells seems like such a radically different personality to Eobard is a testament to his acting ability. Linda Park’s doppelganger being a metahuman also opens up some intriguing possibilities for Earth 2 versions of existing characters, particularly that of the core Flash group. The most pressing question is who Barry Allen is in the Earth 2 timeline, as his lack of Speed Force will undoubtedly be countered by the likelihood of his mother being alive and his father being guilt-free. On the other hand, Joe’s old partner may still be alive, meaning Iris and Eddie Thawne never meet. Speaking of Joe’s partner, Patty Spivot continues to be a fun character to watch. As someone who finds the metahuman increase in Star City fascinating, she has the potential to be a valuable member of the team, with both her and Iris bringing a complementary set of skills to the table. While Iris’ admiration of the Flash ended up with a personal connection to her, Patty is largely on the sidelines, meaning that she would react to the knowledge of the Flash team the same way a member of the public might. Thus, bringing Patty onto the team would also open up the idea of bringing in trusted members of the public who are not metahumans or have a personal connection to the team to help in opportune moments. Whatever route the season takes, watching how this reconfigured team works together, especially with Cisco’s power now out in the open, will be worth tuning in for over the next few weeks.