With Dr. Stein's health failing and his Firestorm powers manifesting erratically, the STAR Labs team start looking for a possible "match" who might be able balance him out. They find two possibilities - scientist Dr. Henry Hewitt and ex-football star Jefferson Jackson. Caitlin immediately takes a liking to Dr. Hewitt, but is he really the best man for the job?
Meanwhile, as Barry continues his flirtation with Patty Spivot and Joe learns the seemingly tragic reason behind his wife's return to Central City, a burglar with a familiar face breaks into Mercury Labs...
Various Firestorm and The Fury of Firestorm comics (the characters of Jefferson Jackson and Henry Hewitt, and the many stories where the Firestorm powers went wonky because one half of the Firestorm Matrix needed another person to bond with)
Jax asks Caitlin if Ronnie was the man who flew into the breach and saved everyone. Yet in the first episode of Season Two, it was implied that nobody noticed the flying man and everyone thought The Flash had saved Central City.
Why doesn't The STAR Labs team hand Hewitt over to the CCPD? He did blow up the lab that employed him. And Iron Heights has the ability to hold an explosive metahuman now, if it turns out they're wrong about him losing his powers. And while putting Hewitt in prison knowing everything he does about STAR Labs isn't a great idea, it's not like holding him in The Pipeline until he agrees not to talk and trusting him to keep his word is a workable solution either.
Once again, Victor Garber steals the show as Professor Stein.
Franz Drameh offers a surprisingly strong performance as Jefferson Jackson. He immediately makes Jax into a likeable and heroic figure in the opening scene, where we see him trying to warn people of the explosion and stopping to help an injured teammate. This helps to keep him sympathetic despite his reluctance to get involved at first and you really feel his joy at being able to fly.
Candice Patton hasn't been given a lot to do as Iris West. But her scenes here, in which she confronts the mother who abandoned her twice, show that she's a great actress when given something to do besides play the damsel in distress.
The soundtrack for this episode is fantastic. The music as Jax and Professor Stein merge is of particular note.
There's a lot of ironic humor in this script, with Joe telling Patty she'd better learn to lie (that DOES seem to be a pre-requisite for being a character on this show!) and Cisco saying he'd love to be a superhero, even as he's been hiding his newfound powers from everyone but Professor Stein.
The closing sequence is very well directed and choreographed. And wow - a twice surprising ending!
The name Jefferson Jackson comes from the original Fury of Firestorm comic. In that book, Jefferson Jackson was a friend of Ronnie Raymond, who played with him on their high-school's basketball team. The two double dated with their respective girlfriends and Jefferson helped Ronnie in dealing with the class bully.
The DCTVU version of Jefferson "Jax" Jackson is a star quarterback on the Central City High football team rather than a basketball player. He had a 4.0 GPA and wanted to go to college, but his family couldn't afford to send him there. He suffered an injury on the night of the Particle Accelerator Explosion which destroyed his ability to play football and his chances of going to college. Instead, he became a mechanic.
It is speculated that the DCTVU version of Jefferson Jackson was created due to a failure to bring back Luc Roderique, who played Jason Rusch in Episode 110.
On the show, Rusch was a graduate student who had helped Professor Stein with his work. In the comics, Rusch was the young genius who replaced Ronnie Raymond as Firestorm following the events of the story Identity Crisis.
The DCTVU version of Dr. Henry Hewitt is a Summa Cum Laude graduate of Hudson University - the same college Professor Stein worked for. He dual-majored in applied physics and bio-engineering. After acquiring energy absorption and projection powers, he seems to become more powerful the angrier he gets.
In the comics, Henry Hewitt was the name of the Firestorm villain Tokamak. Hewitt was a scientist and CEO who attempted to recreate the accident that created Firestorm. He was unsuccessful, but did give himself the power to absorb and project energy as well as the power of flight, though he had to forge a special atomic containment suit. He was seemingly defeated by the Ronnie Raymond Firestorm after his suit was breached, but emerged years later as an enemy to the Jason Rusch Firestorm.
Tokamak takes his name from a device used to contain plasma within a magnetic field that becomes more unstable as it increases in power.
Francine West claims to be suffering from MacGregor's Syndrome. This is a frequently cited fictional disease in DC Comics media adaptations. In the movie Batman and Robin, it was the disease which plagued Nora Fries, which inspired her husband - Dr. Victor Fries - to put her into cryogenic suspension until he could find a cure. Alfred Pennyworth also suffered from the condition. On Arrow, it was the condition which plagued William "Clock King" Tockman.
In Batman and Robin, MacGregor's Syndrome's symptoms were never discussed beyond Alfred Pennyworth becoming increasingly weak and tired. In Arrow, it caused a build-up of fluid in the lungs, causing oxygen deprivation and eventual multi-system organ failure. Francine West claims ex-drug addicts frequently develop it.
Henry Hewitt worked at Eikmeier Technologies. This may be named in honor of Brooke Eikmeier - a writer on The Flash TV show and The Flash: Season Zero comic book.
The latest Earth 2 villain who attacks Barry at the end of the episode, though unnamed, appears to be modeled on King Shark. Originally a Superboy villain, King Shark had two wildly conflicting origins - one that named him as a mutant that evolved from sharks as man evolved from apes and the other that named him as a son of an ancient Hawaiian Shark God. The New 52 incarnation of King Shark is a member of the Suicide Squad and has no clear background as of yet.
Curiously, The Flash: Season Zero comic introduced an Earth 1 version of King Shark in an eight-part storyline told in The Flash: Season Zero #11-18. This King Shark was a sick man named Shay Lamden, who was caught in the Particle Accelerator Explosion while undergoing an experimental treatment involving shark cells. The merger of dark matter and shark DNA transformed Shay into an ever-hungry monster, who the DCTVU version of Amanda Waller eventually recruited into The Suicide Squad.
Cisco creates a new version of the stabilizer Eobard Thawne created to merge the two halves of the Firestorm Matrix, using the power source from Thawne's wheelchair.Cisco transfers the stabilizer into a "power cane" that will enable Professor Stein to walk but he guesses it will only last for a few days.
Caitlin notes that when the Particle Accelerator exploded, the dark mater released collided with Professor Stein and fused him with The Firestorm Matrix, altering the normal molecular processes that occur within his body. The highly reactive molecules created by this process needed something to bond with in order to stabilize - i.e Ronnie Raymond. As a result, Stein is becoming more unstable the longer he goes without merging with a suitable partner.
Caitlin finds two potential candidates, based on an analysis of people who were affected by the dark matter, showed signs of gene rearrangement mutation upon being hospitalized and who also share Professor Stein's blood type.
Caitlin claims that if she can isolate the genetic locus of the two candidates and cross-reference it with the mutations in Professor Stein, she may be able to find a match.
Caitlin's analysis of the blood samples Barry retrieves from both Firestorm candidates determines there is no agglutination and cross-matching was negative for both. She also determines the dark matter mutated their genes in a similar way to Professor Stein's.
Barry notes that more of Jefferson Jackon's alleles match up with Stein's than Hewitt's.
The splicer releases a molecular primer into the body of a perspective partner. This causes a rush-like sensation, after which the partner can make physical contact with Professor Stein and the Firestorm Matrix takes over.
Caitlin and Cisco describe Firestorm's powers as the ability to process fission and fusion, harness excess energy and turn it into nuclear blasts. He can also fly.
The "shark teeth" that Patty finds contain human DNA.
Like Professor Stein, Henry Hewitt requires a grounding agent to remain stable after his latent powers are activated.
Professor Stein develops a 142 degree temperature, though the exact scale is not noted. Caitlin notes that he's going into rapid oxidation and requires some kind of coolant.
Caitlin compares Hewitt to a tokamak - a controlled fusion device used to contain plasma within a magnetic field, which becomes more unstable as it becomes more powerful. This leads to her suggesting they make Hewitt so angry that he literally blows a fuse.
Barry: (Opening Voice Over) Everyone secretly thinks they've figured out what their life is going 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 fight it and be left behind.
(Upon Barry's return with blood samples from Henry Hewitt and Jefferson Jackson)
Cisco: Damn! That was fast, even for you!
Barry: (wincing) I may have skipped the "asking for permission" part.
Iris: I'm sure that you've been through a great deal. And I can appreciate you feeling like this is suddenly the right time for you to want me in your life. But that doesn't mean that it's the right time for me.
Iris: No, Dad. It's okay. I've thought about this a lot. And it wasn't fair for me to make you the bad guy. (turns back to Francine) So I want you to hear this from me. I don't hate you, Francine. I do wish you well. But we have lived separate lives for over twenty years. Let's keep it that way.
Patty: I'm not really good at lying.
Joe: Well, you'd better learn. Quick.
Caitlin: Professor Stein is getting worse. And Hewitt's like this because of me. And now Jefferson Jackson will never come back because of what i said about him. I just... didn't believe that he had what it takes!
Barry: This isn't because you didn't believe in him. Sometimes great possibilities are right in front of us and we don't see them because we choose not to. I think that... we need to be open to exploring something new.
Caitlin: My husband, Ronnie? He used to be Professor Stein's other half. He actually helped build the Particle Accelerator and when it exploded he was affected by it too. Ironically, that's how he got the chance to show the world what he was truly capable of. And he died saving this city.
Jefferson: Wait - he was that guy who flew into the black hole? That was him?
Caitlin: He was a hero. You can be one too.
Jefferson: I never wanted to be a hero! What I wanted was to go to college, but we couldn't afford it. Football was my way in...until that got taken from me.
Caitlin: I know. Look, 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 protecting people from losing what you lost. I believe you were meant to be a hero.
Jefferson: Well, like my coach always said - "Out of yourself and into the team".
(After Jefferson and Professor Stein merge)
Caitlin: Jax? Is Professor Stein...?
Jefferson: How will I know?
Professor Stein: (Voice Over) Hello Jefferson. Now you know.
Jefferson: Woah! So I get Grey as my co-pilot?
Professor Stein: (Voice Over) Did no one ever inform you of that fringe benefit?
Professor Stein: If I may offer a bit of parting advice? Cisco, I know you're scared. But this ability you have is a gift, not a curse. It's naturally to be apprehensive about the unknown but look at Jefferson. He took a leap and it changed his life for the better. The very thing that makes you different is what makes you special. Tell your friends.
Barry: Things aren't always what they seem. Our fears can play tricks on us, making us afraid to change course. Afraid to move on. But usually, hidden behind our fears, our second chances waiting to be seized...
(Cut to Caitlin updating her file on Firestorm to change Ronnie's name to Jefferson's)
Barry: Second chances at life...
(Cut to Jefferson, as Firestorm, flying and whooping in sheer joy)
Barry: At glory....
(Cut to Iris, sitting on a couch, looking sad)
Barry: At family...
(Cut to The Flash, stopping and watching Patty at CC Jitters, through the window)
Barry: 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.
(As Barry thinks this, a large, clawed hand reaches out and grabs his head, as we pull back to reveal a giant man-shark creature)
Cisco refers to the events of 122 and how they tapped most of energy in the power cell from Eobard Thawne's wheelchair making a dampening field to contain the metahumans they'd been holding. That same cell is used to craft a new stabilizer for Professor Wells, which Cisco is able to turn into a "power cane".
Iris' favorite ice cream flavor is mint chocolate chip.
Jefferson Jackson is apparently prone to allergies, as he keeps over-the-counter 4 hr. allergy pills with his kit in his garage.
The motto of the Physics Department of Hudson University is"Vector, Variance, Hypotenuse, Proton, Neutron, Go H.U."
Dr. Tina McGee makes her first appearance since 118.
Dr. McGee makes reference to still needing to find a replacement for Dr. Snow (i.e. Caitlin) who had started working for Mercury Labs during the break between Season One and Season Two but quit to rejoin STAR Labs in 201.
Dr. McGee makes reference to Eddie Thawne's death and knows about how he was romantically involved with Iris West. She says that she admires Joe West's gift for discretion, which is why she asked for him to handle the report regarding her burglary.
Dr. McGee identifies her burglar as Harrison Wells, but notes that not only was he alive and well but he was walking again. This confirms that Harrison Wells' "death" at the end of Season One is public knowledge and that McGee does not know that Wells was really Eobard Thawne.
Francine West claims to be suffering from MacGregor's. This is the same syndrome that William Tockman a.k.a. The Clock King from A214 had. She claims to have felt weak, says the disease is common among ex-addicts and says she won't live longer than a year.
Cisco officially calls Barry's special treadmill "The Cosmic Treadmill".
Henry Hewitt had a sealed police record. Apparently he had been charged on one count of battery and two counts of aggravated assault and been sentenced to anger-management therapy.
Jax calls Professor Stein "Grey".
Cisco is now a skilled enough hacker to break into sealed police records and to shut down sections of the city's power grid.
Francine West gave birth eight months after she left Iris and Joe. Iris tells her to stay out of her and Joe's lives because the news that he might have had a son who grew up without him would destroy him.
Hewitt's powers are said to have burned out and he is locked up in The Pipeline until he agrees to keep quiet about what happened.
Professor Stein and Jefferson leave at the end of the episode to meet with Stein's wife, Clarissa, in Pittsburgh, where they'll meet up with the colleague Stein mentioned in 114 as possibly being able to help Ronnie and Stein in mastering their powers. He does not name this colleague but does confirm it is a woman.
Caitlin gives Jefferson a compass that used to belong to Ronnie.
In the episode's end, Barry is attacked by a shark-man and Patty fights the creature as well, only for it to be brought down by an exotic weapon wielded by a man who looks like Harrison Wells.
The Fridge Factor
Caitlin is portrayed as far more eager and naive than usual in this episode, instantly spilling the beans on the secrets of STAR Labs and Firestorm's secret identity to Henry Hewitt.
The Bottom Line
Darn near flawless. It's a little repetitive, covering a lot of the same ground as the original Firestorm origin last season. But Jefferson Jackson is an engaging new protagonist and his story is a good one. This episode's closing sequence may be the best in the show's history. And just when you think it can't get better, King Shark shows up!