Episode 114 “Fallout”
[Photos: Cate Cameron/The CW]
Well, let’s call it what it is: the back-door pilot for Firestorm. Because that’s what this is.
This episode picks up where “The Nuclear Man” left off, with Barry and Caitlin racing to stay ahead of the shock wave of a nuclear explosion in the Badlands — thirty miles outside of
Kansas City Central City.
[Again, a note: there are no badlands anywhere near Kansas City…]
No villain-of-the-week this week, although General Eiling more than makes up for it. And as we spend quite a bit of time working on the problem of separating Ronnie Raymond and Professor Stein — and more importantly, keeping them separate — these two hours really feel like Berlanti, Guggenheim, and Kreisberg are pulling a fast one.
OK. So, the nuclear explosion that’s oddly not radioactive at all results in the division of Ronnie Raymond and Martin Stein into their respective individual bodies. Which means Caitlin gets Ronnie back, and Martin can go home to Clarissa. Everything’s turning up roses, and we all live happily ever after, right?
Except General Eiling is on his way to retrieve Firestorm, and there is apparently a residual connection between Ronnie and Stein that results in shared personality traits. Stein now has cravings for pizza, when before he couldn’t stand it. And they’re both running a little on the warm side, with body temperatures hovering around 108˚ and holding steady.
Turns out, that connection comes in handy when Team Flash has to locate Stein after Wells turns him over to Eiling. Now, no one knows this, of course, and it’s not too clear what Wells could be trying to accomplish. Perhaps he’s using Stein and Ronnie to track down the location for Eiling, which makes it easier to grab him in a Reverse-Flash burst later in the episode. More on that in a moment.
Since we’ve brought up Reverse-Flash, let’s divert over to our other plot thread for a moment. Joe brings Barry back to the house to show him the 3-D images Cisco developed last week. So Barry now knows he will eventually be in that room on the night of the murder. The question is whether or not he’s failing to save his mother or making sure she dies so an as-yet-tampered timeline is restored? Maybe at some point Barry realizes his mother has to die in order to avoid some Really Bad Future scenario.
No Sherry (like the drink) to be seen, which is both disappointing and confusing. Disappointing because Chase Masterson didn’t get very much to do last week, and she should be all over Joe. Confusing because… Joe has a key to the house and can let himself in whenever? Not sure it works that way, unless Joe has reached an … understanding… with Sherry (like the drink). But as we’re in her house, we should see her at least acknowledge her guests. Right?
We need more Sherry (like the drink). Because you can never have enough Chase Masterson.
This scene between Barry and Joe not only introduces time travel officially into the mix, but it also introduces some troubling story possibilities that old school DC Comics fans might not take a shine to — specifically, the use of The Flashpoint Paradox as source material. The show has clearly incorporated elements of Rebirth in the origin (the murder of Barry’s mother by a speedster), but Flashpoint set up the New 52 and established a brand new story continuity, with mixed — mostly negative — results.
It’s hard to think that’s what the show is about to do, so at this point we just have to wait and see how the time travel elements work into the show. Not only will they have an impact on The Flash, but it also will affect Arrow.
Iris gets to do something other than be the girlfriend/not-girlfriend this week. Enough pieces of the pie don’t fit together for her mentor at the newspaper, and after Caitlin dodges a question about Ronnie’s identity, she starts to get a little curious herself about the goings-on inside S.T.A.R. Labs.
Said S.T.A.R. Labs is where Ronnie sits while Team Flash tries to figure out where Stein has been taken. And their connection through the Firestorm matrix allows Ronnie to communicate with Stein, giving Barry a chance to zip in and save him just before Stein shoots him. Then Stein and Ronnie are able to fuse together again into a more stable Firestorm (doing it voluntarily makes a big difference), and we now start to get our first bits of the Firestorm from the comics — Ronnie in charge of the body while Stein is a disembodied voice. Only if Firestorm goes to series, I’d expect to see some effect similar to the transparent floating Stein head we saw in the books. Otherwise, you’re wasting Victor Garber.
Very much like the two-part Arrow episodes that introduced Barry Allen and also delivered his origin, so now we get a two-part story in The Flash that sets up the Firestorm series. At the end, when the two fuse together to make a trip to Pittsburgh to visit one of Stein’s former colleagues, it feels very much like they just launched a travel buddy show mixed with The Fugitive. Because Firestorm is still wanted.
But maybe not by General Eiling. When Reverse-Flash grabs the general and takes him to the sewer to reveal his identity, Eiling is faced with too many variables at once — Wells as a speedster, Wells as a bad guy (different from how Eiling is a bad guy), Reverse-Flash bringing him to this underground tunnel… and that voice in his head that lets him know he’s in a whole lot more trouble than dealing with Wells would bring.
The CG is well-done, smartly limited to a few seconds, and we’re left with the Schrödinger’s Cat question of whether Eiling is dead or not. And it also firmly gives us a telepathic gorilla in the DC TV universe.
And the internet explodes.