An emotional FIRESTORM episode suffers from Iris (Candice Patton) being a manipulative beyotch.
Let’s bitch it out…
As AV Club rightfully points out, there are too many gears in ‘The Nuclear Man’s machine. While each might have worked independently of one another, jumbled all together these separate story lines feel like a misfire.
The most successful of the three is definitely the return of Martin Stein (Victor Garber) / Ronnie (Robbie Amell), whose arrival announces impending doom when the team realizes that he is about to become the titular Nuclear Man. As suggested by his inability to contain his fiery composure in previous episodes (and tonight when he asks a colleague for help), the two personalities’ battle for dominance is making Stein/Ronnie unstable. That lends itself well to some interpersonal conflict with Caitlin (Danielle Panabaker) and Stein’s wife and the struggle of both women to reconcile the differences in the men they loved and lost provides the episode’s most emotional moments. At this point the nearest comparison is that Panabaker has essentially taken over the Felicity role from Arrow as Caitlin’s tragic romance with Ronnie has provided a strong narrative anchor for much of this first season. Even the last minute scientific solution that finds Caitlin and Barry (Grant Gustin) racing into the mountains to rescue Stein/Ronnie before he blows manages to circumvent cliche because of Panabaker’s teary, anguished performance (It’s certainly not because Amell helps her: he’s perfectly adequate as someone their age, but the former Tomorrow People star lacks the gravitas to convincingly pull off an older man like Stein. Tatiana Maslany he is not).
Unfortunately the FIRESTORM storyline is the highlight of the episode. The less than surprising reveal about adult Barry’s presence on the night of his mother’s murder is little more than confirmation of a fact that we already suspected thanks to the red streak in the flashbacks. And while the mirror/photograph science is interesting and the projected slide show images works well visually, the pairing Joe (Jesse L. Martin) and Cisco (Carlos Valdes) should have been more fun. The less said about the inclusion of the single cougar character the better; I think that she was there to add humour and reinforce that Joe is not an asexual cop, but let’s face it: this was awful, mind-boggling and odd. Did one of the folks from Two and a Half Men stumble into The Flash‘s writers room?
Worst still are the developments in Barry’s love life. Malese Jow continues to impress with her fun, flirty performance as Linda Park, but the latest development with Iris lampooning Barry’s romance (inadvertently?) is definitely ill-advised. Why would the writers take the least popular/useless character on the show and have her act like a complete beyotch in this way? I know, I know, it’s because she has feelings for Barry too, but I feel compelled to speak on behalf of all sane viewers when I emphatically state that no one is interested in that storyline. Honestly – Iris needs to be written out of the series because I’m experiencing traumatic Oliver/Laurel (from Arrow) deja vu and I do not like it. When are the writers going to figure out that Iris isn’t working and switch her role from “end game romantic partner” to “contributing member of the show” or, better yet, “casualty of heinous candy corn accident”?
- I appreciate that Gideon (Morena Baccarin), Wells’ (Tom Cavanagh) AI, finds guns unbecoming. If you are going to design an all-knowing computer system, you might as well give it taste and standards. In the world of The Flash, a gun is among the least creative ways to off someone. Wells needs to show a little more imagination.
- Before Barry realizes that he and Stein shared a conversation on the train the night of the accelerator blast, our young technician claims he doesn’t even know what the scientist looks like. Has Barry never heard of Google? It’s called the Interwebs, Barry! Sure it’s filled with cat memes, Kim Kardashian’s butt and Fifty Shades of Grey fanfiction, but it also has useful stuff like pictures of famous (fictional) scientists.
- Amell’s talent to play multiple characters may be in question, but with a body like that, is there any doubt that he’ll lands another leading man/shirtless role in the near future? Jeremy’s leaving The Vampire Diaries this week, right?
- Sooo…are we going to place bets on the nature of Barry’s super speedy sperm or should we just agree to let that alliteration sit still?
- Finally: the inclusion of General Wade Eiling (Clancy Brown) means that Stein/Ronnie isn’t dead (obviously). No, the question we should ask is what form they’ll be in. Also: does anyone understand how the separation process would have worked? We’re all in agreement that Stein doesn’t have a body anymore so he would have totally died, right? Bueller?
- Cisco (to Joe, after the cougar offers Joe wine): “I would not judge you.”
- Barry (approaching Stein): “I’m not here to hurt you and you don’t want to hurt anyone, so if you could just not…[Stein sets himself on fire]…flame on”
- Stein (when Barry expresses surprise that Stein knows he’s nuclear): “Plus, your friends all argue very loudly.”
Your turn: was ‘The Nuclear Man’ a little bit of a kitchen sink episode (everything thrown in)? Are you hoping to see more of Stein/Ronnie? Was Panabaker your episode MVP? Do Amell’s pecs deserve their own special shout-out? Isn’t Iris the worst (below even the cougar)? And how long before we get some resolution on the time travel paradox raised by the blood discovery? Sound off below.
The Flash airs Tuesdays at 8pm EST on The CW. Next week: time travel enters the equation!