Your regularly scheduled recapper, Chancellor Agard, will return for the next episode. Until then, forgive all the horrible puns I’ll make in his place.
After finally addressing the mystery of Ronnie Raymond and Professor Martin Stein last week, The Flash wasted no time in “Fallout” dealing with the… well, fallout. The episode picks up immediately where the last one ended, with Firestorm seeming to explode in a nuclear blast. Firestorm is revealed, however, to have survived, with Ronnie Raymond and Martin Stein living comfortably back in their own bodies—minus some charred clothing from the blast. All should be well. Caitlin and Ronnie are reunited, Stein is back at home with his wife, and other than Stein taking on Ronnie’s love of pizza, they appear back to normal.
But nothing is exactly normal in a world full of metahumans. The two halves of Firestorm learn they may have a lingering connection despite their animosity for each other, while General Wade Eiling is hot on their trail. “The Nuclear Man” may have been all set-up for “Fallout,” but it paid off in a (mostly) satisfactory way with plenty of nods to Firestorm’s comic origins.
METAHUMAN(S) OF THE WEEK: Firestorm, a.k.a. Professor Martin Stein and Ronnie Raymond (but this time as two separate people!)
With the Firestorm case seemingly put to rest early in “Fallout,” despite the lingering, identical fever Ronnie and Stein share, Barry decides to tackle the other metahuman problem in his life—his mother’s death. Joe brings Barry to his childhood home for the first time since the night that changed his life. There, he shows Barry the DNA evidence Cisco found about adult Barry’s presence at the scene.
This revelation allows the show to broach the never whatsoever confusing topic of time travel, which Wells explains to Barry, Joe, and the S.T.A.R. Labs gang is theoretically possible. Cisco refers to the bastions of time-travel lore, Terminator and Back to the Future (the latter of which Wells is a big fan), as helpful explainers for the ramifications of what fooling around in time could cause. For the moment, it’s all theory and sci-fi movie tropes, though. They don’t know how it would actually work.
So Barry seeks out Stein for a second opinion. Victor Garber plays the good professor with just enough looney glee as he discusses the possibilities of time travel to make his excitement genuine, but not cartoonish. Stein sees time like a highway. If one were to simply find the on and off ramps, they could visit the past and future. (Stein’s personal preference? The Chicago World’s Fair so he could hash out some ideas with Nikola Tesla.)
Stein supports the idea that Barry’s abilities could allow him to jump through time, though the scarlet speedster takes this news as confirmation that his destiny is to fail in saving his mom’s life.
Barry continues to discuss the subject at Stein’s home until the professor suddenly stumbles in pain, yet there’s seemingly no cause. That would be because the pain results from his connection to Ronnie, who is currently under assault by General Wade Eiling’s troops while trying to catch up with Caitlin. Stein recognizes the source of the pain and sends Barry off to save Ronnie.
Barry knocks out all of Eiling’s men, but the general has a trick up his sleeve in the form of a small metallic cube full of metal spikes attracted to kinetic energy like a magnet. They pierce Barry’s body, trapping him in place until Caitlin arrives in a S.T.A.R. Labs van that Ronnie throws Barry into to save him.
In the episode’s first physically painful scene, Cisco and Caitlin remove the nails from Barry’s body while the entire team catches up to Ronnie and Stein’s mental connection. Wanting to keep them safe until they fully understand what’s happening to the two men, Barry brings Caitlin and Ronnie over to Joe’s house to stay the night, where they have to lie to Iris about who Ronnie actually is.
While they cover up one lie, Wells is hiding his own at the labs, where he shares a drink with Stein. The two commiserate about the particle accelerator’s explosion, but Wells actually has Stein there to hand him over to Eiling. A nice sedative in his drink allows Eiling to come in and scoop up one half of Firestorm without a problem, Wells having bought into Eiling telling him it’s the best move to make.
The general takes Stein to an abandoned military compound, (because there’s always at least two or three of those lying around, right?), torturing him via electrocution, just like he did to a poor gorilla named Grodd, for information on how Firestorm works. Stein refuses to tell him, but the pain is having one effect—on Ronnie, who has the brilliant idea to ask Stein where he is by way of wound. Ronnie cuts the word “where” into his arm with a piece of glass. It’s disgusting, particularly when the same scars appear on Stein’s arm, who Eiling has given a moment to rest.
Next: Things are about to become very hot. [pagebreak]
Thankfully, Stein has the actually brilliant idea to use Morse code and not, you know, a piece of glass, to send a message. Ronnie and Barry use the message to find the facility Stein is held in, and just before Eiling can fire a bullet into Stein’s head, Barry saves him. One of Eiling’s men fires a bomb full of phosphorous, however, burning Barry and leaving him incapacitated as he creates a vacuum by running to prevent his death. That leaves Ronnie and Stein together, and as Wells predicted, the Firestorm matrix inside each of them is yearning for the two of them to reunite. And though they fear doing so again may be irreversible, the two decide to—rather than fight each other’s existence in the same body—accept it. This little trick works, as Ronnie’s body and mind appear on the outside while Stein’s voice guides him along as a second inner monologue.
Ronnie and Stein go full-on Firestorm, working in harmony to control their nuclear capabilities as they lay waste to Eiling’s men while Barry, free of the phosphorous, comes in to knock Eiling off his feet. (In a punchy way, not a romantic one.)
The heroes return home, though Ronnie has decided he needs to leave town—he’d never forgive himself for putting Caitlin in Eiling’s way again. Stein is going with him to Pittsburgh, where the professor has a colleague who may be able to help them understand what this newfound power means for them. The two depart as one because 1) it’s easier and cooler to fly than drive to Pittsburgh and 2) they appear to be pulling off their merging with grace and even a little bit of flair (flare for the pun-inclined).
Barry returns with Joe to his childhood home after seeing Firestorm off, promising the information he now has about the night of his mom’s death is a lesson. The evidence he has teaches him not what to do when he does eventually go back so that, this time, he can save her life.
As for Eiling? He doesn’t make off with just a bruise or two. No, Wells, dressed as Reverse-Flash, pulls the general out of his command bunker and into the sewers where an old friend (friend in the loosest of terms of course), is there to greet him. Grodd appears from the shadows, telepathically communicating with his former keeper before pulling him into the depths of the gorilla’s makeshift home. Because there’s nothing quite like sending the show off on a month-long hiatus than with a psychic, talking gorilla.
The Iris of it all
Iris took a backseat to the week’s main proceedings (as did Linda, who was entirely absent despite her brief but memorable appearances in recent weeks), but her plot did inch her closer to learning Barry’s real identity. Her editor, Mason Bridge, wants her to look into what really happened the night of the accelerator explosion, as he has some suspicions it may not have been an accident.
Digging into pictures surrounding the Flash and other metahumans leads her to Firestorm and Ronnie. She only knows him as Caitlin’s fake cousin at this point though, but her interest is piqued when Caitlin trips over her lie when Iris questions her again. She doesn’t make much headway into the case, but it wouldn’t be surprising to see Iris pop up around S.T.A.R. Labs in the next few episodes.
Wall of Weird
- “Fallout” felt particularly pop culture heavy, with Back to the Future, The Twilight Zone, and Terminator all name-checked, while Cisco describes Caitlin and Ronnie’s relationship as “10 seasons of Ross and Rachel smushed into one year.” Mason Bridge also describes a few documents as being written in Dothraki. So it’s good to know Central City also has HBO (or at least an HBO Go account borrowed from their friends in Starling City).
- Cisco makes a great meta-joke about a metahuman, but his funniest line comes a little later in the same scene. As the Ronnie-Stein connection lingers, Stein, referring to his mental state, says “I’m still inside Ronald.” Cisco, not missing a beat, replies “There has to be a better way to phrase that.”
- When Barry asks Joe, his foster father tells him he no longer believes Wells played a role in the murder of Barry’s mother dying. Though Jesse L. Martin plays the scene to definitely suggest that Joe hasn’t completely given up on that theory.
- Speaking of that tragic night, Grant Gustin nails playing the role of someone who’s lost a loved one believing they may see them yet again. Real life never provides that kind of opportunity, but time travel and super powers at least present a glimmer of hope, and Gustin strikes the right balance of determination and the desperate longing to, even for just a moment, see a loved one who’s been lost. Whether things work out as he hopes, it may not exactly lead to the life he wants, at least if any of the time travel movies referenced in the episode are to be believed.