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
Cisco & Joe Murder Mysteries:
While the rest of Team Flash plays with fire, Cisco and Joe are in charge of setting the other half of the Chipotle catered dinner table for next week—and most likely the rest of the season. Joe calls on Cisco to help with his reinvestigation into Nora Allen’s murder by going back over the murder scene. Joe and Cisco head over to Barry’s childhood home, which has been bought by a cougar named Sherry who makes sinful strawberry daiquiris and gets rather hot for Detective Joe. I think the horny cougar was supposed to be funny, but it was just a distraction from the good stuff.
Cisco runs his super light across the living room and finds nothing, which make sense since the crime scene is years old. However, Joe notices a mirror in the corner, which is the only thing that remains from the night of Nora’s murder. Cisco shines his light on it, finds some particles, and, because science, is able to produce several 3-D pictures from that night. They show the Man in Yellow, red blur, Nora screaming, and lil’ Barry coming down the stairs. Through these photos, Joe realizes that they missed some blood splatter, which is still there, but was covered up by some ugly-looking wallpaper. Joe asks Cisco to test the blood against Dr. Harrison Wells’ blood, which upsets Cisco who has the utmost faith in Wells. During his time in Central City, Wells has done a great job of creating his own Beygency of people who believe he can do no wrong, and Cisco is the prime example of this. Wells hired him when he was nothing and made him into something, and Cisco can’t believe that man would be capable of something like murder. Joe tries to reason with him, but it doesn’t work.
Well’s willingness to kill Ronnie/Stein forces Cisco to reconsider and he goes ahead and tests the blood. The results are shocking: One of the blood samples matches Barry’s blood. Sorry, let me clarify, the sample matches Adult Barry’s blood. The level of some protein in the blood is too high for an 11-year-old boy, which means that it came from an adult. Which also means we’ve got TIME TRAVEL! As everyone in the audience already knew, it’s now confirmed that Barry was there the night his mother died. Unfortunately, we have to wait to find out more next week.
As I said before, Malese Jow’s portrayal of Linda Park was very amusing and was definitely a highlight of tonight’s episode. Linda Park is smart, strong, a fan of witty banter, and kind of perfect for Barry. Tonight, Linda and Barry go on their first date, which goes really well and they make plans for a second one. Unfortunately, their second date which turns into them making out on Joe’s couch is interrupted both by Barry’s speed getting the better of him and by his phone. Mid-makeout sesh set to the tunes of Sam Smith “I’m Not the Only One” (can’t think of a song that could’ve been more on the nose), Barry has to run because of Firestorm, but makes his exit rather ungracefully and leaves Linda topless on the couch.
Linda doesn’t have time for scrubs and makes that plainly clear to Barry when he shows up at her job later. He says he’ll make it up to her, but not right now because he’s got to run off on “police business” again. Seeking some advice, Linda turns to Iris, who she knows is Barry’s BFF. Iris—who is a Joni Mitchell/Counting Crows/ song tonight—ruins it for Barry by telling Linda that he recently got out of an unrequited love situation and may need some time to get back into dating. Again, Linda is no fool and figures out that the unrequited loved sitch involved Barry and Iris. In light of all of this, she decides that she and Barry should call things off. However, Barry won’t take no for an answer and after causing a scene at her work with what he claims is the hottest chili pepper in the world, he convinces Linda to give him a third chance.
Giving Barry someone to love other than Iris was a great move on the show’s part because watching him pine after her alone in a corner was getting rather tedious. However, the writers decided to muck it all up by resorting to one of the most basic and unoriginal plotlines: Iris getting jealous of Barry and Linda’s relationship. Yes, this is what most TV shows and movies eventually do with this kind of “unrequited love situation” (in Iris’ words), but that doesn’t mean it works or is even remotely interesting. With the introduction of Linda Park, we were given reason to hope that maybe the show would put “Biris” on the far back burner for a bit and give Iris a chance to become a character not completely defined by her relationship, or lack thereof, to Barry/The Flash. But, alas, tonight we were forced to watch Iris start to realize that you don’t in fact realize what you got until it’s gone.
Wall of Weird:
- Kudos to Danielle Panabaker for recovering from last week’s episode and for making us feel for her as she pleads with Wells to find another way to save Ronnie without killing him.
- “I don’t have those feelings for you anymore,” said the liar when he confronts Iris about her ill-conceived conversation with Linda.
- “If you change one more time, I’m going to shoot you,” says Joe as Barry is getting ready for his date.
- Cisco is worried about the things that matter, like whether or not Barry’s super speed will cause him to become a walking Lonely Island music video/SNL digital short.
- Commenters: Yay or nay on Firestorm’s Human Torch look? I think it’s better than them trying to make the character’s traditional costume work, but at the same time it’s still not working for me and feels a little generic.