In this episode of The Flash, “Fallout,” the Firestorm duo separate only to find themselves linked forever as they are hunted by the villainous General Eiling. Barry learns pertinent information from Joe about the night his mother died. And the recapper decides this is a bad episode.
It was bound to happen: The Flash has had its first bad episode. At least, memorably bad. The show still feels like a Flash episode, but it’s missing all of the things we love about it. It’s also missing consequences.
All of our favorite characters (and ones that we barely know anything about!) aren’t just pushed to the side, but pushed to the edge of the story in favor for a wrap-up to a storyline that’s clumsy. The idea that two men — of different ages, backgrounds and more — share the same body might have been awesome (imagine all the buddy cop headcanons!), but it fails here because we know they have to leave. It’s the conventions of TV storytelling (and budgets). And for that, it feels like wasted time and space (no puns intended).
Perhaps the greatest “sin” of the episode is all the wasted time the Firestorm storyline takes up without leaving any lasting effects. The most positive thing I can say about it is that Caitlin isn’t devastated over Ronnie again. Good. She can finally prove that she’s a brilliant scientific mind who likes helping people instead of a wet blanket hung up on her sort-of dead beau. The other idea is that maybe Cisco feels resolved of his guilt? And that Firestorm can team up with the Flash in the future? That’s all I’m really getting from this mess of a storyline.
Best Flash Quotes from “The Nuclear Man” >>>
JK About the Nuclear Explosion
In the last episode, the show decided to end on a cliffhanger with Team Flash trying to separate two men in one body. It was supposed to give out to a big nuclear explosion in the Badlands. Psych! Just kidding. It wasn’t a nuclear explosion at all, but a really big dust cloud that somehow separated two men into two different bodies. They also conveniently wore layered clothing which was equally divided between the two of them.
Back at S.T.A.R. Labs, Ronnie and Stein are pretty happy to be separated from one another. Sure, they got their bodies back and are reunited with their lovers, but these two really dislike each other. That’s another thing that’s shaky with this episode — why exactly do they hate each other? Is it the resentment of sharing a body and mind? Are they just really different people? A stronger script or maybe more time could have explored that, but it seems they need to be at odds so that they can eventually come together again.
The two are psychically linked, which is a big problem for someone who doesn’t like pizza. (Also: who doesn’t like pizza? People who have never had good pizza. Carry on.) And it’s attracted the attention from the not-so-friendly military, led by General Eiling.
Eiling wants to use Firestorm in combat against terrorism. And Ebola (lol). Soldiers equipped with flight and fire will be unstoppable compared to other countries who don’t have these supersoldier. I always find this to be a stupid argument when the G-man gets involved in mutant myth. Other countries will develop their own serums to fight against yours, just like what happened with the nuclear arms race. Just once, I would like to see a G-man as similarly minded as me.
Anyway, Eiling tries to capture Ronnie and Caitlin and fails magnificently thanks to the Flash, who he happens to incapacitate with a bunch of metal, kinetic stopping pins (insert headache here). So he grabs the less chiseled Stein instead with the go-ahead from Wells. After some standard torture, the duo connect psychically to figure out where he’s being held. A quick trip with the Flash takes them to a military base miles away for a quick rescue mission. That is, until the Flash is hit with some burning chemicals that he can only resist by creating a vacuum where he can’t burn.
Meanwhile, the duo decide to peacefully join together to once again become Firestorm. Flaming on, it flies away back to S.T.A.R. Labs, where Firestorm can separate at will. It is now time for Firestorm to say goodbye to their loved ones and venture off until the next time The Flash needs a friendly metahuman. Does no one remember that Wells just did a really shady thing?
Back to the Future vs. Terminator vs. The Future
The Flash desperately needed to wrap up this storyline and the introduction of Firestorm, but it also gets to introduce time travel, a staple of the comics. Joe introduces new evidence to Barry from his mother’s murder case — the idea that, at some point, Barry travels to the past to save his mother.
Disclosure: I love time travel stories. It’s one of my favorite parts of science fiction. While others balk at it, I adore it. It brings so many options to the table, all of which are simplified brilliantly for Joe by Cisco by mentioning movies. There’s the classic Novikov self-consistency principle, which prevents changing the past, or just a good old-fashioned grandfather paradox, which can, but with dire circumstances.
The Flash is more Back to the Future in spirit than The Terminator, but damn it if I want them to choose the Terminator type of timeline. Barry is a good person — one who is often too trusting for his own good — and he often does not fail. So when Barry says he’s prepared to study what went on that night so he can fix the mistakes of the past, I want Barry to fail. Or maybe prevent the murder and change everything, only to go back and let it happen again. It would be so powerful and it would touch on all of the things that The Flash does so well. It could even erase the bad Firestorm storyline taste from one of my favorite shows.
Best Flash Quotes from “The Nuclear Man” >>>
— Iris is turning full-on Lois Lane — yay! — as she begins to investigate what really goes on at S.T.A.R. Labs; did Wells intentionally blow up the particle accelerator? Probably. It’s great that Iris is getting something to do that is non-romantic pairing related. I’ll be very pleased if she’s the one to uncover that Wells is up to no good.
— I’m very excited that Firestorm is going away, in case that is unclear, if only because of that uncomfortable voiceover.
— I’m pretty sure The Flash writers forget that Eddie exists. Even if it is a contract thing, he doesn’t even merit a mention? I hope we see more of him in the rest of the back nine.
— The meta is on-point in this episode. References to Tuesdays, the poison gas guy in the basement, time travel itself.
— The coda scene reveals Wells in full Reverse Flash getup, kidnapping General Eiling to deliver to Grodd, whose CGI looks a-okay. I am pumped to see how this turns out!
The Flash airs Tuesdays at 8pm on The CW.
(Image courtesy of The CW)