I complained last week about the ridiculously unbelievable science in ‘The Flash’. Although this week’s episode may not rank much higher on the plausibility scale, it somehow plays better. Or perhaps I was just in a better mood and was more receptive to its comic book silliness.
We last left off with Barry (carrying Caitlin) outrunning a nuclear explosion. That’s plenty far-fetched already, but at least episode ‘Fallout’ addresses the fact that they should be covered in nuclear radiation. They’re not, which is pretty strange. In fact, the explosion didn’t create any radiation at all. Barry and Caitlin race back to ground zero and find that Dr. Wells’ quantum splicer doodad worked after all. The Firestorm entity has been split back into the separate parts of Ronnie (Robbie Amell) and Dr. Martin Stein (Victor Garber). How they both came out of this wearing their own clothes (and Stein even with glasses) is something we’re probably not meant to think too much about.
Ronnie is very excited to see his fiancée Caitlin again, as well as Cisco and Dr. Wells. Stein is kind of a grumpy jerk and just wants to go home. Yet he has a strange craving for pizza, which he never liked before.
Shortly afterward, the military arrives at the crater, and Gen. Eiling (Clancy Brown) seems to know exactly what’s going on. He knows all about Firestorm, and about Ronnie and Stein, and immediately concludes that they’ve been separated. That’s pretty clever considering how little information he has to base any of this on.
Joe West brings Barry back to his old house, whose new owner is apparently totally cool with these strangers coming in and out as they please. He shows Barry the hologram and explains about the blood sample with proteins that could only come from an adult Barry. Obviously, it must be time travel! You know who might know something about that? Dr. Stein, of course. Barry pays a visit, and Stein postulates that his speed could have smashed a hole in the space-time continuum. That’s pretty cool and all, but Barry laments that he still wasn’t able to save his mother, even after breaking the laws of physics. “My destiny is to fail.”
Ronnie asks Caitlin to leave town with him, but she hesitates. She likes her life in Central City. As they chat, Gen. Eiling and the military attack the coffee shop and kidnap Ronnie. At his own home across town, Dr. Stein feels Ronnie’s fear. It seems the two aren’t as separated as they thought, and their brain waves are in total sync.
Barry races to save Ronnie, but Eiling is one step ahead. He tosses a weapon up into the air that rains down metal quills that are attracted to Barry’s kinetic motion and impale him like a pincushion. Fortunately, Caitlin and Cisco race up in their van and grab both Barry and Ronnie.
Later, Dr. Wells pays a secret visit to Gen. Eiling to strike an evil bargain. He drugs Dr. Stein’s drink and lets Eiling have him. After the soliders are gone, Wells tells Barry and the others that Eiling overpowered him and kidnapped Stein.
As Eiling tortures Stein to make him give up the secrets of Firestorm for use as a weapon, Ronnie uses a knife to carve a word (“Where?”) into his own arm, which shows up as cut marks on Stein’s. To answer, Stein taps a response in Morse Code, and Ronnie feels the vibrations. Ronnie and Barry then race off to Eiling’s secret military base.
Eiling once again has defenses to use against Barry. He douses him with a burning phosphorous foam. The only way to counter that is for Barry to run around in circles and create a vacuum so that the phosphorous can’t create heat. (Would any of this really work? I have no idea.) While he’s preoccupied with that, Ronnie and Stein are drawn back together and merge into Firestorm once again. Eiling, prepared for just about any eventuality, tosses an “ion grenade” that disables Firestorm’s powers, but Barry has fortunately finished putting out his own fire and is able to rescue him/them.
Safely away from Gen. Eiling, Ronnie and Stein are now able to separate at will and can combine whenever they want to. They decide that it would be best if they leave town. Caitlin is strangely cool with that. She feels that she got enough closure with Ronnie and can move on.
Barry is determined to not only figure out how to travel through time, but to change his destiny and save his mother.
Lest we worry about Gen. Eiling pestering our heroes anymore, the episode ends with him getting grabbed by the Reverse-Flash, who reveals himself as Dr. Wells and deposits the general in a sewer where a very pissed off super-gorilla scoops him up.
This is a fun episode, and it has some particularly beautiful visual effects during the nuclear explosion and all of Firestorm’s merging and separating and flaming-on. I also think the show has been very smart in the way it has slowly teased Gorilla Grodd without showing too much of him at once. However, when it’s finally time to trot him out in full force, the show’s creators will need to be very careful and do something very special to live up to their build-up.