As a rule, I cut the “science” in comic book shows a lot of slack, but the technobabble in this week’s episode of ‘The Flash’ strains disbelief even by superhero standards.
The episode is called ‘The Nuclear Man’ and purports to finally give us the full story on Caitlin’s hunky fiancé Ronnie (Robbie Amell, cousin of ‘Arrow’ star Stephen Amell), most of which we’ve already pieced together from previous episodes. Just as Hartley explained to Cisco, Ronnie’s body fused with scientist Martin Stein (Victor Garber, finally seen in an extended flashback) during the reactor meltdown. The combined Ronnie/Martin starts the new episode by visiting Stein’s former work colleague at Concordance Research and begging for help, only to uncontrollably burst into flames and kill the guy. Whoops.
Based on absolutely nothing, Dr. Wells deduces that Stein’s brain is in control of Ronnie’s body. He and the team track this new RonStein to Stein’s former house, where he/they have been stalking Stein’s wife. Caitlin appeals to whatever portion of Ronnie’s personality is still buried in there, and convinces him to come back to the lab, where Wells concocts a plan to use nuclear fission to separate the two people back into their original forms. Now, I’m no physicist, but I’m fairly certain that’s not how nuclear fission works. Yes, I realize that pretty much everything in this show is ridiculous nonsense (including the fact that two people could get merged into one body in the first place), but this just seems to cross a line.
Meanwhile, Joe West pulls Cisco away and asks for his help on a separate matter. They go to Barry’s old house and tell the current owner – a buxom divorcee who flirts shamelessly with West – that they’ve reopened an old case and need to re-examine the home for clues missed the first time around. The woman happily agrees. Cisco gets excited when he notices a vintage mirror that had been in the room when Barry’s mother was murdered. He says that if its silver nitrate backing was exposed to light, it can be developed just like a photograph. From this, he quickly whips up a 3D holographic re-creation of the event.
Umm, no. Come on, man. Why would the mirror’s silver nitrate conveniently only expose an image of that particular moment in time? Rather than a flawless snapshot, the best Cisco could hope to extract is a big blur of nothing.
Anyway, Cisco and West also discover some old blood spatters on the wall that had been covered up with wallpaper. Cisco takes samples that appear to be from two different speedsters. West asks him to compare them both against DNA records for Dr. Wells. Cisco is apprehensive about that, but does it anyway. What he finds isn’t a match for Wells, but rather a match for Barry. Yet it couldn’t have been Barry as a teenager. The molecules exhibit signs of being from a much older person, or something. You know what this means… time travel!
At the lab, it’s discovered that Ronnie’s body is rejecting Stein. Their cells are unstable and will explode like a nuclear bomb within two hours if Wells can’t separate the men first. Wells is forced to sacrifice his fancy tachyon device to adapt it into a “quantum splicer” doodad, but RonStein decides not to wait around. He flies off to the desert where he can detonate safely without harming anyone. Barry picks up Caitlin and carries her to chase after RonStein, where she talks him into trying the splicer. Sadly, it’s too late, and he starts to melt down. Despite being told by Wells just a minute earlier that even he couldn’t outrun a nuclear explosion, Barry picks up Caitlin again and outruns a nuclear explosion.
As soon as Ronnie goes nuclear, we cut to General Eiling (Clancy Brown), who was last seen in Episode 5. He immediately detects the explosion and seems to have been expecting it.
To lighten things up a little, the episode also has a comic relief storyline about Barry’s first couple of dates with hottie Linda, who turns out to be very slutty, which makes Barry nervous about being able to control his powers during sex.
Honestly, I didn’t necessarily dislike this episode, but both of its major storylines were very difficult for me to suspend disbelief over. Even a fantasy show like this needs to establish some rules and stick with them. The premise of this series is supposedly based on science, however far-fetched it might be, not magic or the supernatural. Yet the science we’re presented with is sometimes so patently unbelievable that it might as well be magic.
Perhaps I’ll be in a better mood and feel differently by the next episode?