“Our names are Martin Stein and Ronnie Raymond and we are the most nuclear man alive. All our time was spent in labs in pursuit of the impossible, then an accident made us into the impossible. To the outside world we’re an ordinary pair of scientists, husbands and fiancés, but secretly we use our powers to fight crime and fend off the military. We are The Firestorm!”. If last week’s opening part was the origins recap then this is half is the hero’s ascension as Martin and Ronnie finally unleash the full potential of their combined powers like someone yelled “Go Planet!”.
Fallout – The quantum splicer may have separated Martin Stein and Ronnie Raymond but they’re far from left alone as the military headed up by the returning General Wade Eiling seeks to capture and harness the Firestorm matrix. Meanwhile Joe reveals to Barry that he’ll be there in the past when his mother is killed and time travel becomes the word on everybody’s lips (pizza is a close 2nd).
So this episode is all about making us understand the Firestorm character and the duality of its Ronnie and Martin components. Despite a few minor flashbacks this is our first real chance to meet both men as individuals and the contrast between the pair is brilliant. The episode brings in some great arguments and banter between the pair from the comics as they go from separation fallout (Ronnie furious about Stein’s decisions while in control) to mutual acceptance of each other and what they can become as one. The final successful merger sequence finally delivers the normal character format on Ronnie in control but Stein acting as a wingman voice in his head in way many non comic fans will associate with Tony Stark and Jarvis inside an Iron Man helmet. The transitional scenes across the episode of the lingering imprinted connection separation makes for great viewing. Both in a fun capacity as Stein inherits Ronnie’s stoner munchies level pizza obsession and in the more serious as the pair share pain and emotions. The episode also serves to find some heroic motivation for the nuclear man as Ronnie considers just running away with Catlin to start a fresh but she refuses to leave for the work she’s doing with The Flash. As with last week, Catlin serves as a wonderful conduit for Ronnie’s feelings as his love for her ultimately drives his motivation to understand his powers and why people are after him in the hope of one day being with her again. The pair also gets a few good happier moments this week when it seems all’s well again and Catlin’s “Ross & Rachel decade” recap of their luck is a good laugh. Yet for the second week running the star of this story is Victor Garber as Stein. In his mild pomposity he really stands out as a unique character in comparison to the other STAR labs alums and gets some great lines along the way from his poetic pre-merger “once more onto the breach dear friend” to his passionate revelations to Barry about the ideals of time travel.
After last week’s bombshell conformation of present day Barry Allen attending his mother’s murder this week is the glowing intellectual fallout as all manner of different causality and predetermination theories are discussed. Crucially this is done with understandable injections thanks to the clever inclusion of Joe in the room as a non-scientist to represent the audience as Cisco relates to time travel franchises like The Terminator and Back to the Future (of which Wells is fan!). Following on from referencing Ghostbusters a few weeks ago The Flash is fast turning into geek bingo with all the welcome little name drops (did you catch the GoT “Might as well be in Dothraki” joke?) and something tells us that Planet of the Apes won’t be far behind. The episode does a great job of planting little memory triggers for Grodd (not God) and as Eiling states “last time I did this was to a gorilla” about electro shock therapy part of you is drooling for the big hairy key to get the chance for revenge..... which happens sooner than we think with the best ending of any episode this season! Looping (yes Ronnie’s arm message also screamed of Looper) back to time travel here there’s some great emotional exploration here Barry applying these different sci-fi franchise rules to his own situation. From hopelessness and despair when convinced that even if he does manage to travel back he’ll still lose (and his mother will still die) anyway. That’s certainly not a frown we want our hero to wear which is why his final speech to Joe delivers exactly what we want to hear. “knowing that I’m supposed to lose give me the advantage; those images are a lesson in what not to do. When I face off against the man in yellow I won’t make the same mistake twice”. Barry has now set out to change the past (and therefore the future) in full acknowledgement of alternative timeline it may create. This is exactly the kind of story we want to see! In continuation of our thoughts about alternative possibilities last week one more quite likely possibility springs to mind this week at that’s new intervention of a new speedster.... Harrison Wells. We know he’s at Nora Allen’s death as the past/future (Grood this going to get confusing!) stands and that the yellow suit man present is a different Reverse Flash. Then consider the extremes he has already gone to this season to ensure that “the future remains intact”. Barry trying to change the past feels like the biggest threat to that yet so unless there’s some insanity level wibbly wobbly causality “that was the plan all along” plot going on here it would make perfect sense for Harrison to try and stop Barry from saving his mother this time and creating an alternative timeline.
Iris fared much better this week by being given a more significant story role in indulging her curiosity about her colleague’s STAR Labs conspiracy theories before ultimately agreeing to help uncover the truth. Firstly this lays imminent ground for Iris learning Barry’s identity (though in fairness, that club is fast losing its exclusivity) along with the potential for a more public exposure for Harrison and STAR labs wider scale activities. Although it’s also worth considering that they may be more exposed than they already realised as the military actions this week might suggest. Since his run in with The Flash and Plastique, Eiling has had a number of highly effective anti-Flash weapons developed from the chemical burning bazooka to the very cool looking kinetic energy shrapnel grenade. Even if those designs were specific to just his military unit how long before they start leaking on to the black market or get stolen by a group such as The Rogues?
Fallout is a great fun episode to fully establish an awesome new character in an exciting way for the show. It’s littered with little highlights like amazing meta-series reference of “Impossible is just another Tuesday for us remember” and many other scattered Easter eggs. Not to mention that jaw dropping fist in the air swoop and streak shot as Flash and Firestorm head home together. Although Firestorm looks to be departing this episode it’s been confirmed he will return before end of it. As for the rumoured discussions of Firestorm spin off; after this week we’d have to give that idea two flaming thumbs up. The show is on such a good run right now it’s a real heartbreaker to learn it’ll be gone for another 3 weeks (Arrow will continue next week, the shows will re-sync by finales).Until then may the speed force be with you as we all try and accelerate our lives towards episode 15.