We start off this week of our time-traveling heroes and villains with Ray Palmer, Heat Wave, and Professor Stein being held captive in the…wait for it…NIGHTMARE GULAG. (Okay, that’s a great name, I mean as if a Gulag wasn’t a bad enough place on its own, this place is a nightmare version of it.) Professor Stein is currently being held captive by Vandal Savage and Valentina, who are grilling him and torturing him for information on how to build their very own Firestorm. They start off the sessions by tricking Stein into thinking that he’s actually talking to good old Cisco, which allows for a nice cameo from The Flash’s Carlos Valdes. Stein, of course, eventually sees through the faux-Cisco’s disguise and attempts to barter for a shower and a fresh set of clothes, only to be answered by Vandal Savage demonstrating his interrogation weaponry, given to him by Stalin of all people. Savage sure does love name-dropping historical figures, but I suppose that’s a fun aspect of the character.
To attempt to get a lead on where Stein is being held, Rip, Snart, and White Canary go to a Russian spa in order to ask some not so helpful Bratva mobsters where the gulag might be. In a scene ripped out of Eastern Promises, the gang beats on the mobsters until they get the information that they need. This leads to some nice action beats and gives us a shirtless Rip in the process. (I think most of the male cast loses their shirt at some point during this episode!) Meanwhile at the Nightmare Gulag, Ray and Mick are attempting to blend in, in their own unique ways. Mick is satisfied with playing the wallflower and staring into the flame of a stolen lighter, while Palmer tries to make some friends in order to discover the location of Stein, with disastrous results. It once again proves that the best pairings of the show are usually Palmer and the Rogues, considering their strongly opposing backgrounds.
his latest installment offers a lot of interesting ideas for you to chew on. The idea of a nuclear arms race for Firestorm is an interesting one, with Rip and Sara being shown a possible vision of the future in which an army of Russian Firestorms wreak havoc across the land. Also interesting is the idea that in order to stop said future, Rip asks Sara if she’s ready to kill Professor Stein in case he breaks and blurts out all the secrets of the Firestorm matrix. While this is all well and good, I thought this latest episode, while action-packed, was lacking a lot of the humor and lightheartedness of the previous episodes. Not to say that this is necessarily a bad thing for the show to take a more serious tone every once in awhile, but I hope it manages to keep maintaining a nice balance between the two moving forward. Another great idea is that Jackson is able to communicate with Stein by carving a message in his own arm, which appears on Stein later on.
Things go from bad to worse, when Heat Wave and the Atom are brought in front of Professor Stein and gone through some “shock therapy” in order to get the good professor to spill the beans. A nice touch in having Rory scarred across his body due to his pyromania. On the other side of the Nightmare Gulag, Sara and Captain Cold sneak their way in and attempt to rescue their fallen comrades. Well, Cold does anyway as Sara finds a bird’s eye view to take out Stein if need be. Unfortunately, the clock is ticking with Valentina discovering Stein is one half of Firestorm and hoping to fuse with the Professor herself. When “Lady Firestorm” is born after they combine together, Jackson saves the day by giving Stein a pep talk which splits the two. In the comics there was a “Lady Firestorm” named “Firehawk” though I don’t think this is the same character here. Valentina, Firehawk or no, unfortunately can’t handle the power by herself and literally creates a nuclear explosion.
Prior to that, Hunter and Hawkgirl encounter Savage in the Gulag and manage to get the drop on him. A lot of complaints I had heard around town about the team’s previous encounter with Savage was that they didn’t disable him or anything when they got him where they wanted him; not so this time around! Hunter sets the room to blow and Savage literally is blown into a thousand pieces as the duo run to safety. That’s going to take some time to heal from, immortal or not. With everyone finally back aboard the Waverider, the team gets a nice relaxing moment to drink and talk about the day’s adventure, until Chronos comes back with a vengeance, knocking them out of the time stream for our big reveal.
The team lands in a city that has clearly seen better days. Fires are raging in the buildings and on the streets, cars are flipped over, windows shattered, dogs and cats living together! The crew manages to see the building that used to have Ray’s name atop it only to see the name Smoak written there instead, obviously referring to Arrow’s Felicity Smoak. Realizing that they’re in the future year of 2046, they’re presented with an archer dressed in black. Believing it to be Oliver Queen, Sara tries talking to him, only to realize it’s someone else entirely once the archer – who happens to be Black – has the team in his crosshairs.
I thought that this episode was ultimately serviceable, with the ending being a real jaw-dropping affair. I wouldn’t quite put it at the level of our past entries, but still, the show is moving at a nice clip and promises to get even crazier next week.
Rating: ★★★ Good
– Gotta love the old Russian man sauntering out of the sauna as the fight gets going.
-Heat Wave and Captain Cold are Prison Break-ing all over again!
-You think Jackson could have written “I’m coming” a little smaller on Stein/His own arm?
-Come on Rip, you have to stop telling Vandal Savage all of your information that he can use against you in the future!
-I’ve said it before but time travel is weird and confusing. The team is usually wondering how not to affect the timestream, but with Lady Firestorm’s death, they inadvertently caused a nuclear explosion! I would imagine that would be one for the history books, but Gideon says it’s cool, so whatever.
-Hey Sara, yelling out Green Arrow’s real name in front of two super villains behind you probably isn’t the best idea.
-With that preview, I cannot WAIT for next week’s episode!
– Vandal Savage – “You haven’t aged a day.”
– Stein – “I have a good hair dresser.”
– Captain Cold – “Can’t we skip the Wikipedia crap?”
– Heat Wave – “I changed my mind. Ivan Drago lives at the end of the movie.”
– Guard – “You’ve got quite a mouth on you.”
– Ray – “That’s just what your mother said last night.”
– Captain Cold – “You call that a flame?”
– Captain Cold – “Can’t believe you’re risking your life for this idiot.”
– Heat Wave – “More drinking, less feeling.”