Last week’s attempt to separate the two entities combined in Firestorm (Ronnie Raymond and Martin Stein) ended with a bang, a big ol’ nuclear bang. But does that mean Dr. Wells’ plan went up in smoke? Once Barry and Caitlin get to safety (and get the all-clear from the suit’s Geiger counter reading normal levels of radiation), they zip back in to ground zero to check things out. Martin and Ronnie are separate, whole, and very much alive.
Back at the lab, Ronnie reunites with his old team. Caitlin’s checking out her fiance (and Martin, as well), and both men are running pretty hot at 106 degrees. Now that they’re separate entities again, Ronnie gets a chance to vent his frustrations with Martin’s choices during their little escapade. The tensions are eased when Barry takes Martin home to see his wife, and receives an apology of sorts from the curmudgeon.
Back in Central City, Joe has some interesting news for Barry. Apparently Joe now has the keys to Barry’s old house (Is he hooking up with the divorcee?) and has left Cisco’s virtual GIF setup in the dining room. He plays the series of images back for Barry … who gets to not only witness his mother’s death again, but sees two speedsters fighting around her. Joe also lets him know that one of the blood samples came from his future self, ie Barry gets his mind blown, time-travel style.
Wells provides some scientific expertise (and doubt) on this time-travel theory, and although he’s certainly the smartest man in the room, he also has some ulterior motives considering he’s likely a closet time-traveler himself. Cisco points Barry to Dr. Stein, who’s convinced that time-travel is a two-way street that one could take to the future and/or the past, if only they could manage to merge onto the super-highway. Dr. Stein is elated by Barry’s time-traveling evidence, theorizing that Barry’s superspeed must have smashed through the barrier. Barry, however, realizes that it’s his destiny to fail if and when he attempts to save his mother.
Ronnie and Caitlin attempt to make up for lost time, but General Eiling puts the kibosh on that by coming after one half of the F.I.R.E.S.T.O.R.M. project. Interestingly, Dr. Stein is able to sense Ronnie’s predicament and his location. Barry zips off to help his friend, but doesn’t account for Eiling’s newest toy: a shrapnel-expelling device of sorts that sends electromagnetically attracted metal spikes that embed themselves in Barry’s body. (He’s the fastest porcupine on Earth.) They make a quick getaway thanks to Caitlin, but Eiling is undeterred.
The S.T.A.R. Labs team descends on Joe’s place in order to hide from the ruthless Eiling. Wells pays the General a visit and feigns knowledge of F.I.R.E.S.T.O.R.M., but his ultimate goal is not quite revealed. Later, the two-faced doctor shares a drink with Dr. Stein. Perhaps the drink is a bit too strong for the older man, who passes out; the effect is felt by Ronnie as well. Wells and Eiling’s purpose is revealed as the General’s team drags the unconscious Dr. Stein off to God knows what horrors.
Wells plays innocent as the team tries to use Ronnie’s connection to Stein to get a bead on the kidnapped scientist. Eiling has him kept in a sub-zero facility in an attempt to force out his nuclear powers. His aim is to militarize Stein’s abilities in order to grant his soldiers with superpowers. Ronnie feels the pain along with Stein as Eiling’s cronies electrocute him. They exchange more pain as Ronnie etches the question of “Where?” into his arm with a shard of glass. Stein responds in a much less crude manner by tapping out the answer in Morse code. When they learn the location of Eiling’s prison, Ronnie and Barry head off to rescue Stein; they take the quantum splicer in order to control the Firestorm merger and take down Eiling.
Eiling nearly assassinates Stein, but Barry rescues him in the nick of time. Unfortunately, the military comes prepared for The Flash’s arrival. Barry tries to take out a rocket, but it ends up dousing him in an unextinguishable chemical. Wells once again tells Barry to “Run!” which creates a vacuum in order to quench the reaction. No problem, Ronnie and Martin have this one well in hand as they merge into Firestorm once more. The difference this time is that they actually agree to combine their powers and are able to use them quite effectively to fight off the soldiers. However, Eiling’s got another trick up his sleeve: an ion grenade that disables the Firestorm matrix. But Barry quickly disables Eiling instead.
Back at the lab, Firestorm attempts to “manually” separate Ronnie from Martin, and surprisingly it succeeds. (I can’t imagine it’ll stay like that forever though.) Looks like Ronnie and Martin are hitting the road to visit a colleague that can help them with their abilities, but in Pittsburgh? Yeah, it’s the base of operations for the Firestorm of the comics, so it’s a nice nod to the non-fictional city. (Along with an Easter egg for the fictional Coast City, Earth-based home of Green Lantern and Ferris Aircraft.)
Meanwhile, in a side story, Iris’ new co-reporter “friends” are stirring up trouble by digging into the reasons behind the particle accelerator’s explosion, and are weighing Dr. Wells’ culpability. Following up on the assault on the coffee shop, Iris nabs an image of Ronnie, who she recognizes from seeing the gang at Joe’s house. When Iris catches up with Caitlin and Cisco, suspiciously without Ronnie, she becomes convinced that something fishy is going on at S.T.A.R. Labs and will investigate further.
We just about close out tonight’s episode with Barry regaining confidence in the idea that he can use the new information about his mother’s murder to successfully go back in time and save her. A plot for the rest of the season, or for season two? Let me know what you think!
And now for tonight’s stinger:
General Eiling is enjoying a drink, or attempting to anyway. The Man in Yellow picks him up and zips him away to the sewers. Here, he reveals himself to Eiling (and any doubting viewers who don’t think Wells was behind the mask) and introduces Eiling to a long-lost friend: GORILLA GRODD! (I love that they’re not planning on keeping Grodd totally in the shadows; a bold move.)
Tonight’s episode shows that you don’t necessarily need a metahuman antagonist to give the good guys someone worthwhile to fight against. General Eiling, with his team of expendable soldiers and cutting-edge technology, was a nasty piece of work and a fun villain to both watch and root against. (Clancy Brown has that effect on people.) That being said, I did very much enjoy the oh-so-early teasings of a possible Legion of Doom, or at the very least, a big villain team-up. The only downside to tonight’s episode is that it will be a MONTH before The Flash returns!
(An explanation of our ratings system follows here.)
Barry: “Nice to see you in the flesh again, Professor Stein.”
Dr. Wells: “Doc Brown! … Tremendous picture.”
Barry, who speeds away for pizza for Martin without his heroic outfit, apparently cares not a lick about his secret identity anymore.
Eiling: “Stings, doesn’t it? I had that one made especially for you.”
Cisco: “I say this knowing we have a guy locked up in the basement that can turn himself into poison gas.” Ronnie: “Wait, really?” Cisco: “Dude, that was like week three!”
Eiling: “Last time I did this, it was to a gorilla.” That must be one pissed off gorilla…
Cisco: “Area 27! I betcha that’s where they’re keeping Stein. I betcha that’s where they’re keeping the aliens, too!”
Stein: “Once more unto the breach, dear friend.”
Barry: “Whoa! That was a lot of running!”
I’m more excited about the team-up of Reverse-Flash and Gorilla Grodd than I am any other superhero partnership out there right now.
The Flash returns March 17th!