After multiple episodes of The Flash teasing Firestorm, the winds have finally changed. The calm before the storm (oh yeah, I went for the weather jokes) is over, and we are finally privileged to see Ronnie (Robbie Amell) and Dr. Stein (Viktor Garber) as more than just a fleeting fiery figure in the night.
Ep. 13 of The Flash finally brought Firestorm to the forefront of the show. While Hartley Rathaway (Andy Mientus) had revealed much of the origins of Firestorm in a non-agreed upon trade with Cisco (Carlos Valdes), there was little explaining who or what he had come to be. Who was Firestorm? What had happened to Ronnie and Professor Stein? What would be their ultimate fate? This episode finally brought us face-to-face with the result of the particle accelerator accident for the two men. They had been joined on a cellular level, and the combination was going critical in a serious way – a potential nuclear explosion. The beautiful portrayal of Ronnie by Robbie Amell was impressive. It is often difficult for actors to play multiple roles within a show (such as one actor playing a set of twins), but it is even more difficult to play two characters in one person. Amell handles the challenge with class and finesse. When speaking as Stein, an older scientist, in a young man’s body, it never feels out of place, but seems to be a true blending of two men trying to find their home in the women they love.
Meanwhile, Barry Allen (Grant Gustin) is having troubles of his own in the field of love as he struggles to balance the life of a superhero and dating a sports reporter going by the name of Linda Park (Malese Jow). Rather than leaving Barry to pine, wallowing in his unrequited love for Iris (Candice Patton), we find a refreshing change of pace as he woos a young lady who actually reciprocates his feelings. Things don’t always go according to plan, and the nerdy, awkward, and devilishly sweet Barry we were introduced to in Arrow and the initial episodes of The Flash is back in full force. He is not just the young man fighting as a superhero, wounded by the loss of his mother, and terrorized by the Reverse Flash. He once again brings the joy to the superhero world, which makes The Flash stand apart from other DC shows currently on television and in the cinema.
But Reverse Flash is not necessarily on the back burner for Joe (Jesse L. Martin). The detective enlists the help of Cisco to return to the crime scene of the murder of Barry Allen’s mother. He is determined to continue the investigation with his new knowledge about the “speedsters” and a suspicion that all is not as it seems with Dr. Harrison Wells (Tom Cavanagh). Comic book fan suspicions are confirmed as some blood analysis reveals that an adult Barry was present the night of the murder. Helloooo time travel! The Flash writers once again tease us with what is to come while expertly navigating the issues of current episodes. This attribute is one of the many that allowed the show to be renewed for a second season so early in the first.
Overall, The Flash has once again revealed an emotional depth that was initially unexpected, given the timbre of the first few episodes. While there are moments of sunshine and rainbows, the writers have been smart to create a past for characters, each with their own demons haunting them and some with skeletons in their closets.
“The Nuclear Man” ended on a cliffhanger, with an explosion after a device was placed on Firestorm in an effort to separate Ronnie and Dr. Stein. General Eiling (Clancy Brown) is seen in the final moments of the episode, a forewarning of what is to come as a result of the nuclear explosion. We can take a guess what is next to come, but surprises from the writers of The Flash are to be expected.
Keep watching The Flash on CW on Tuesdays at 9/8c to find out what happens next!