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.
They managed to pull off the same cliffhanger twice in the past two weeks, which I was quite impressed by. Both of the last two episodes ended with Professor Stein in some sort of medical distress; it was a clever device which has set up a rather tense emergency at the beginning of this particular episode.
Now, admittedly, going into this episode, I already knew a fair bit about what was going to happen, because I’ve been following the news about Legends of Tomorrow with a fair bit of excitement. It had always been obvious, I think, that even though Ronnie was no longer part of the show, there would be a Firestorm of some sort of another. And going by the casting announcements, I already knew we’d be seeing Franz Drameh as the new Firestorm, as opposed to… Demore Barnes, who played Henry Hewitt.
But, to be honest, I don’t feel like that was a problem; certainly, I don’t think I’ve missed out any important aspects of the episode, and I’ve more or less derived the same level of enjoyment from it that I would either way – which was, to be clear, a fair bit. It was a good episode!
I’ve always enjoyed the Firestorm central episodes, actually, because Victor Garber as Professor Stein is one of my favourite supporting characters, hands down. He’s an excellent actor, giving a brilliant performance; I enjoy seeing his character a hell of a lot. There’s always some great humour from him and his interactions with the other regular cast, but a fair bit of pathos too; despite the fact I knew Stein wasn’t going to die, there was some genuine emotion surrounding his circumstances in this episode.
Franz Drameh as the new Firestorm was also impressive, but I’m not sure if this was the best possible debut he could have had. I think that in part it’s because his origin was held back by a few clichés – specifically the lost football scholarship aspect, which felt overly familiar. But, on the flip side, they did a pretty good job of setting up some interesting character elements as best they could within the constraints of a 45 minute episode; I’m hoping that his reluctance to be a hero is expanded on somewhat in Legends of Tomorrow, because it seems like an angle that has a lot of potential to it.
More interesting to me, admittedly, was the further development of the plotline featuring Iris’ mother – and the first reference to her brother, the as of yet unnamed Wally West. As I’ve said in my previous reviews, I’m really enjoying the weightier plotlines given to Iris this year, and I very much appreciate the continuation of them here.
It’s been really well handled, I think, and a lot of that comes down to the acting skills of Candice Patton, Jesse L Martin and Vanessa Williams, who plays Francine West. It’s a very interesting dynamic they’ve set up; Francine is clearly a struggling woman, even broken, and Iris is consistently very forceful in her dealings with her mother, because of the betrayal she feels. They’ve managed to give the characters entirely believable motivations, and their actions clearly stem from said motivations; the use of the MacGregors disease (which is from Batman and Robin, according to the internet) added a great layer of pathos to the whole thing.
It was also interesting to see another nod to Joe West’s lying in this episode, when he chooses to hide the sighting of Professor Wells at Mercury Labs from Barry. As a character flaw, it’s quite impressive, and it definitely has legs (haha) for them to run with it (hahaha) – it’s a subtle little thing, but it certainly has potential, and I’m glad that they’re turning it an actual facet of his character.
(Though, having said that, I sometimes worry if the character moments they throw in can be too subtle? It seemed clear to me that part of the reason why Caitlin has been placing so much emphasis on Professor Stein’s health in previous weeks, and her borderline desperation to save him this week, is because she sees him as her last link to Ronnie – and, similarly, the educated scientist Henry Hewitt reminded her of Ronnie far more than mechanic Jay Jackson. It was clearly there in subtext, but I wonder if perhaps that aspect would have been stronger had it been made more overt?)
The rest of the episode was similarly entertaining too, of course. I love the fact that they used a character like King Shark – who’s properly expensive for them to render in CGI – as little more than a throwaway joke. That’s genuinely hilarious, in more ways than one, and I really admire the panache of The Flash.
Shantel VanSanten remains completely charming; Patty Spivot is a wonderful character, really brightening up the show every time she makes an appearance. Genuinely love the character, she’s wonderful. (Which is making me think she’s going to end up dead by the end of the series, which would be a huge shame. Hopefully we can avoid that particular route.)
And, of course, the cliffhanger ending is worthy of comment – Harrison Wells is back.
Brilliant. I love Wells. I’m so looking forward to seeing where this goes.