For weeks, Ronnie (Robbie Amell) and Professor Martin Stein (Victor Garber) have been stuck in B-plot/episode ending stinger limbo, but tonight they finally took center stage in an episode that was basically a table-setting episode. “The Nuclear Man” wasn’t marketed as a part one of two-parter, but that’s definitely what it was. The episode’s incredibly abrupt ending made this very clear as I felt like nothing had been resolved in the A-plotline. It was all teaser for next week—albeit, not very compelling teaser. To be honest, everything else going on around tonight’s A-plot—Joe and Cisco working together, the introduction of Linda Park (Malese Jow)—was far more interesting. By the way, Malese Jow is amazing as Linda Park, and I pray she sticks around for a while.
METAHUMAN OF THE WEEK: Firestorm, a.k.a. Professor Martin Stein and Ronnie Raymond
Ronnie/Stein come across Team Flash’s radar after they (in Ronnie’s body) accost one of Stein’s old University of Chicago classmates who is now working as a physicist in Central City. Since the explosion in which they were fused together, Professor Stein has been controlling Ronnie’s body because Darwinism—Ronnie’s body triumphed over Stein’s old body, but Stein’s genius mind overpowered Ronnie’s, thus Robbie Amell spends all of tonight doing his best Victor Garber impression. (10 points for effort!) In light of the attack, Wells decides that Ronnie/Stein can no longer be allowed to to roam free, thus making this a job for the Flash. As luck would have it, Barry has met Professor Stein before, on the train he took from Starling City to Central City on the night of the particle accelerator explosion.
Barry, Wells, and Caitlin decide to pay Martin Stein’s wife, Clarissa, a visit. Clarissa thinks she hasn’t seen her husband since the night of the explosion, but that’s actually not true. Via flashback we see that a month after the event, Stein, obviously in Ronnie’s body, shows up at his home and scares the living hell out of his wife. He’s confused, rambling on about losing keys, and wearing a wig that’s worse than anything the Jennings’ wear on The Americans. So, Clarissa starts to call the police, but Ronnie/Stein flees before she gets off the phone. Since then, Clarissa tells Team Flash, she has felt like somebody’s been watching her. Having figured out that Firestorm has a thing for protecting/monitoring/stalking his loved ones, Wells decides that it’s time for this nascent Scooby Gang to level up and go on their first stakeout.
Naturally, Firestorm eventually shows up at Clarissa’s home and Barry speeds over from his date (definitely more on this later) to meet him. The Flash’s first encounter with Firestorm goes pretty much as you would expect and Firestorm manages to escape, but not before Barry plants a tracker on him. Later, Caitlin, Clarissa, and Barry (who clearly has just given up on the whole secret identity thing) track Firestorm down. Even though Stein is in complete control of Ronnie’s body, part of him—the Ronnie part—wants to go home to Caitlin. Clarissa is able to calm Firestorm’s dueling mind down long enough to convince him to let these nice young people take him back to S.T.A.R. Labs to run some tests. Upon arriving, he’s dosed with some heavy meds and his mind is clear for the first time in ages. Unfortunately, things go downhill from here. Tests reveal that Ronnie’s body is starting to reject Professor Stein’s presence like a host rejecting a parasite and that Firestorm’s fight with the Flash disrupted the Firestorm matrix (something that’s not explained in this episode, so we’re just gonna blame everything that happens on the boogie). If S.T.A.R. Labs doesn’t find a way to cool Firestorm’s body down, a chain reaction will be set off that will lead to a nuclear explosion.
Ever the pragmatist/scientist, Wells concludes that the only way to stop Central City from becoming a nuclear wasteland is to render the host’s body non-functional, which is high-functioning sociopath for murder. Caitlin, Cisco, and Barry do their whole standing up for what’s right thing, which drives Wells to his chamber of secrets to review the situation. In a selfless-ish moment that’s also very calculated, Wells decides to convert his tachyon prototype into a quantum splicer, thereby pushing his own timetable back in order to separate Ronnie and Professor Stein. By the time he returns to the Team with his last minute brilliant long-shot idea, Professor Stein has left for the Badlands, a snowy mountain area located 30 miles outside of Central City that accomplishes two things: It’s a suitable location for a nuclear explosion and also proves I know nothing about U.S. geography and have no idea where Central City is supposed to be located in the United States.
Once the device is complete, the Flash, with Caitlin in tow, rushes to the Badlands to give it to Firestorm. After bestowing upon Caitlin a passionate goodbye kiss from Ronnie, Stein uses the device and it appears to malfunction. As a mushroom cloud forms in the wake of Firestorm’s explosion, The Flash speeds Caitlin out of the scene. Miles away in a super top secret military facility, General Eiling (Clancy Brown) is notified of the explosion. He gets all excited because he thinks he’ll finally get his hands on the Firestorm matrix/tesseract/boogie.
NEXT: Spicy food, lazy writing, AND TIME TRAVEL