Episode 103 “Things You Can’t Outrun”
[Photos: Cate Cameron/The CW]
This episode: the first half of the origin of Firestorm! Plus: more movement forward on Joe helping Barry review the Nora Allen murder case. And a new metahuman surfaces, along with the logical answer to the question, “Where are we going to put them?”
This episode gives us more of the actual accident with the particle accelerator from the inside. The STAR Labs team is very happy that everything is working and wonderful until there’s a big bang that’s not supposed to happen. As the accelerator starts to spin out of control, one of the lead structural engineers, Ronnie Raymond — who wasn’t even supposed to be there — dives in to help, running into the accelerator ring to adjust the magnets to throw the blast up instead of out. Of course, he doesn’t get out in time. So now everyone thinks he’s dead. This gives both Cisco and Caitlin opportunities to return to the access tunnel to have flashbacks and feels.
We’ll get back to this thread in a moment. But now, a word from our main plot:
Gangsters get poisoned inside a locked restaurant. Barry figures it could be a metahuman who can control gaseous substances, but as he’s researching the toxicology with Caitlin in his lab, they run across another strand of DNA inside the victims’ lung tissue. This leads Barry to conclude that the metahuman actually becomes the gas. So when the police scanner peels out a report of a “toxic gas attack” at the mall — and it should have been Twin Pines mall just for grins — Barry rushes off, leaving Caitlin to worry and pace because he says the same words Ronnie said to her before he died: “Caitlin, I have to go.”
Caitlin’s arc in this episode gives her room to breathe, as we see her before the accident as a little more open, more apt to smile. Her line to Barry about Ronnie — “He used to describe us as fire and ice.” — is fan-service foreshadowing, but it’s nicely played as Caitlin describes her relationship with Mr. Raymond. And her “I didn’t want him to be a hero. I wanted him to be my husband.” is played with just enough pain. Too much and it could have gone into melodrama, but it’s deftly handled here after playing out the hour to get Caitlin to the point where she realizes she’s going to be okay, even though the pain of her loss is still with her.
Her concern is certainly warranted, as Barry’s first confrontation with Kyle Nimbus (Cisco promptly designates him “The Mist”) doesn’t go that well. Barry ends up with a lungful of the toxic gas, and he just barely makes it back to STAR in time for Caitlin to shove a needle in his chest and get a sample. The handwavium here is that Barry’s cells regenerate at superspeed, giving him the edge he needed to survive being poisoned. But he’ll feel it in the morning.
Turns out Nimbus was in the gas chamber in the midst of his execution when the particle accelerator blew, giving him the ability to turn into the gas that was killing him. So he’s bent on revenge against the gangsters who testified against him, the judge (at the mall) who sentenced him, and the cop who arrested him — Joe West, of course.
Joe is visiting Henry Allen in Iron Heights, finally coming to see his friend to tell him there’s “new evidence” and that he’s re-opening the case. It’s a well-played scene that really sells the friendship between these two men. John Wesley Shipp brings his A-game every week, but the change in his expression when Joe says, “I know you didn’t kill Nora.” is like a dam cracking. And then the surreal moment when the past Flash watches the current Flash save Joe with Caitlin’s antidote. That’s got to be a weird moment for Shipp.
The last confrontation between the Flash and the Mist is mostly brainy. Team Flash figures Nimbus’ gaseous form is too unstable, so Barry just has to tire him out. Which he does. The resulting smackdown is somewhat anti-climactic, but it wasn’t really the point of the episode anyway. The overriding theme of the week is that “There are some things you have to live with.” Barry figuring out he can’t just break Dad out of prison. Joe realizing his mistake in not believing Henry. Caitlin and Cisco living with the death of Ronnie (ahem).
I continue to think Harrison Wells is Hunter Zolomon. The flashback this week brings us back to the Future Room, where Wells taps into a security camera in time to see Barry get zapped. The implication, of course, is that Wells has set this whole thing in motion to actually create the Flash in the first place. Since he’s from the future, could he be working to make sure Barry fulfills his destiny? Remember, Hunter Zolomon’s goal was to be a good villain to make Wally West’s Flash a better hero. Could that be in play here?
And then there’s that little matter of Iris and Eddie dating. Just when it looks like Iris is about to break up with him — in the middle of the precinct, by the way, in front of how many Central City cops? — she plants a big wet one on him, in the middle of the precinct in front of how many cops?… so when Joe’s lying in the hospital bed revealing that he already knows about the two of them, their surprise clearly shows that nobody was thinking about this. Joe’s “I’m a detective, remember? And you two are lousy liars.” is perfectly appropriate, but the two lovebirds were never really discreet around anyone but Joe, so of course word is going to get back to Dad With a Gun.
EASTER EGG: Barry tells Joe he’s not looking for the city to build a museum or anything… +10 for making it organic in the scene, writers.
Next episode: Felicity Smoak!