“The Nuclear Man” combines the best parts of The Flash‘s DNA to give some real conflict to nearly all of the cast by introducing an interesting metahuman. Two minds are stuck in the body of one Firestorm and it’s up to Team Flash to separate the two before a nuclear reaction occurs.

Did anyone else else get a little nostalgic for the first season of Heroes once it became clear Team Flash has an exploding metahuman on their hands? Was that just me? The Flash hasn’t quite reached the cultural status of the “Save the Cheerleader, Save the World” moment, but it has finally introduced us to an interesting metahuman. Or, at least, a metahuman who has introduced interesting ideas and conflict.

As theorized last time, it is clear that Ronnie Raymond and Martin Stein are sharing the same body. After a run-in with the Flash, the team tracks down Firestorm to help do the impossible: separate the two using nuclear fission. (That’s not even the weirdest science of the night.)

Remember, friends, The Flash is a comic book show heavily based in science fiction. There are metahumans after all. In this episode, science is definitely fiction (I think?), but the science and decisions behind it has raised some really interesting ideas and conflicts.

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Romancing a Journalist

Let’s be clear: Barry Allen is an adorable creature. If it weren’t for his unrequited love for Iris, he’d be locked down by now. He’s sweet, romantic, funny, nerdy, flawed, a good soul — in other words, a great boyfriend. Add in the fact that he’s a superhero fighting crime and doing good and he’s a great character.

So, his whole date and romance with Linda Park (who plays a pretty important role for another Flash speedster) is deserved. Linda’s maybe too much of a “Cool Girl” journalist, but she’s the only one with some sense to actually date Barry. Which spurs the jealousy of Iris.

I wish that the writers would have hit the beats a little less on this and give us room in Iris’ mind a bit more. A scene with Eddie — her boyfriend of a year whom she lives with — is really necessary for us to see where she’s at. Maybe seeing her best friend who just admitted — and then recanted — his feelings for her is making her see him in a new light, but she’s acting petty without much base into what her current relationship is like. The Flash once beat the crap out of Eddie just for dating his unrequited love; I think Iris can feel a little jealous that she’s not the apple of Barry’s eye anymore. Also, it’s not like the writers are using Eddie to do anything else.

Silver Nitrate Mirror

Joe enlists Cisco to aid him, on the downlow, in his continued investigation of Nora West’s murder. Reopening a 15-year-old investigation may seem tricky, but Joe West has that certain kind of charm that makes single ladies open up their house.

Finding evidence from a 15-year-old murder is difficult. Super difficult, actually, but no worries. The science behind this next part is crazy (and stretching it), but it’s also rather inventive science fiction. The current owner of the house bought a mirror that belonged to the Allen family, and that antique was made with silver nitrate. The same silver nitrate used in old photographs, cameras and mirrors. Thanks to the lightning storm between the two speedsters, it created a photographic imprint of what went on the night of Nora Allen’s murder.

Cisco has rigged the 2D images to become 3D images (so it’s more exciting to look at for those of us at home) and Joe realizes that the wallpaper is new. Tearing behind it, he sees there is blood — gross — which you don’t think the new homeowner would have cleaned that up? 

Here comes the interesting part: Joe asks Cisco to run the blood samples against Wells. I love this because 1) Joe is the only one able to see Wells’ general shadiness (though that’s some pretty specific shadiness), and 2) it creates some real conflict for Cisco. In recent episodes, the show has smartly set up Cisco as a loyal friend and scientist to his mentor Wells, one who doesn’t question the man who made him. But still he runs the test — not necessarily because he’s suspicious of Wells, but because he’s curious? It’s unclear. Regardless, the test results show that the blood belongs to none other than … an adult Barry Allen? More on that later.

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The Nuclear Man

Two minds and one body shared by Ronnie Raymond and Martin Stein known as Firestorm. Sharing this body has succumbed it to madness. This is why Ronnie/Stein is seen on the streets in his hobo hipster wear, flying about with no regards to how much clothes it will burn through. 

I appreciate that this episode tries to give weight to Martin Stein’s life. He had a wife he loved, a field he won many awards in and a real respect for science. He even met Barry the day of the particle accelerator explosion before all of the madness happened. But the most compelling parts of this story thus far are the complications and real internal conflict this storyline brings up for almost all of our characters.

The one we probably care about most is Caitlin, who is doing her best to seem like she doesn’t care, but she actually really cares. She may be looking at her ex-fiance, but she’s not talking to him. It’s not the man she fell in love with, but he’s in there, sharing memories with Stein. 

Then, the one I’m more fascinated with, is the “sacrifice a few to save the many” dilemma. Firestorm is a ticking time bomb, a nuclear one that could kill millions if left unattended in Central City. And the only way Wells considers to stop it (at first) is to kill both of them, to the horror of Team Flash. If the Arrow were here, he’d have no problem pulling the string, but this is a different kind of show. A lighter one, where they just illegally imprison people.

But, seriously, this moment is definitely glossed over when I could do with more basking. The Flash is a seriously fun show to watch because it doesn’t linger too long on anything, but the episodes in which it does have been my favorite thus far. “The Man in the Yellow Suit” is a prime example of narrowing in and focusing on conflict to great effect.

I love that Wells immediately goes into his lair to get the gun and pull the trigger, and then mulls it over with AI Gideon before deciding to sacrifice his own plans with one of his devices. Wells decides to save the day — because of the greater good or the greater good that benefits his plans — and builds a quantum splicer with Cisco to try and separate the two beings. (Again, remember that this is science fiction.) 

Firestorm knows that he’ll likely explode on the city, so he travels to the Badlands, 30 miles northeast of Central City. Does that mean this show is acknowledging it takes place in the Midwest?!) And that it takes Barry to run Caitlin over so she can convince him to put on the quantum splicer. I love that the show doesn’t neatly wrap things up for once but lets the conflict stew a bit more than normal. And I love that the show is bringing back the military for some extra pressure.

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Other Thoughts

— Spoiler Corner: I’m stoked that the show is getting ready to introduce time travel, a major component of The Flash universe. Two Barry Allens were there on the night Nora Allen died and the Man in Yellow. Is it possible more than one Reverse Flash was there as well? 

— Do the writers have no idea what to do with Eddie? Because that’s one scene with maybe like two lines an episode.

— Barry’s idea of a romantic gesture — date me or I’ll eat the hottest pepper in the world to prove how much I dig you — is entertaining but odd, to say the least. 

— I’m glad the show acknowledged the Flash’s possible sexual limitations or possibilities, though very teasingly.

The Flash airs Tuesdays at 8pm on The CW.

(Image courtesy of The CW)

Emily E. Steck

Contributing Writer, BuddyTV