Firestorm. Firestorm. Firestorm. This week’s episode of The Flash was all about Firestorm. And time travel. I am definitely not complaining. The wait for the development of Firestorm as a potential superhero with the ability to transmutate has been a slow burn. (Oh yes, pun intended.)
Last weeks’ episode of The Flash left us with Barry Allen (Grant Gustin) running with Caitlin Snow (Danielle Panabaker) from an explosion that occurred with the hopeful separation of Dr. Martin Stein (Victor Garber) and Ronnie Raymond (Robbie Amell). We came back this week with the reveal that the explosion was not nuclear and the two men had finally been separated, each having control over their own bodies once again. Their separation and story then became an emotional catalyst for the rest of the episode.
The emotional content of this episode was not necessarily the level of emotion we see nearly every time Barry visits his father, Henry (John Wesley Shipp) in prison, but it was interesting and varied nonetheless. What I have found interesting is the emotional depth we have discovered with Caitlin. From the start of the series, she was cold and calculating as a perpetual scientist. The writing tried too hard to make us feel sorry for her and the loss she felt after her fiance Ronnie died in the particle accelerator accident. However, the last few episodes have shown us that even Caitlin has a character arc worth following. We see Caitlin become more animated with the entrance of Barry and his powers into the lives of the STAR Labs team. We see Caitlin hit a drunken low just a few weeks ago, singing some terrible karaoke and trying to move on with her life. Now we see Ronnie back in the picture and find that Caitlin has become her own woman, choosing the battles she wants to fight, and learning to stand on her own two feet with perseverance and strength. Although not initially a fan of Caitlin, she has grown on me in the last couple weeks and with this episode I found her strength and unyielding desire to stay in Central City to be pleasant.
So we not only saw the roller coaster of Caitlin Snow, we also took a ride with Ronnie and Dr. Stein upon their return to the world. For Ronnie, his time away changed the place and people he left significantly. While he was at a standstill, sharing a body and mind with Dr. Stein, STAR Labs had moved on without him. This adjustment was a smart choice in writing, because audiences generally question things when characters come into a story as if they belonged, without any struggle. The drama between Ronnie and Dr. Stein is light, nearly comical, but is essential for the later developments in abilities to combine and separate at will.
In addition, Barry has an emotional load he must come to bear in this episode of The Flash. Joe (Jesse L. Martin) shares the news recently discovered by himself and Cisco (Carlos Valdes) concerning the murder of Barry’s mother 15 years ago. This is when the paradox of time travel (and its inherent logistical issues) makes its way into the Flash universe. Is Barry’s mother destined to die, as the events that happened were actually the cause of everything, creating a time travel loop? Or can Barry go back in time again and set things right? If so, what are the possible ramifications of this change? One of the BEST parts of this episode, hands down, was Cisco explaining these concepts to Joe using movie references (Terminator and Back to the Future). C’mon… admit it. With all that time travel talk, it wasn’t just Joe who needed the movie references to understand. There’s nothing better than nerdy characters on a nerdy show that the audience is nerdy about.
While Barry is dealing with time travel, he and Firestorm are also dealing with General Eiling (Clancy Brown), who is very simply out to create a super soldier army… like any militarized villain in comic book canon. While certainly not the most complex or deep baddies, he is still utilized effectively to move the story along in the development of Firestorm’s abilities. His capture of one individual provides us with a glimpse at the connection between the two joined men with the power of fire and flight at their fingertips. And General Eiling has also served as a means to introduce Grodd into the story, being a point of contention between Dr. Harrison Wells (Tom Cavanagh) and Eiling in the past… and now, in the present it would seem as well too.
Overall, there were lots of fun moments in the story. First, the visual effects on The Flash have been extraordinary from beginning to end. A computer generated gorilla on television could easily go wrong. It doesn’t. A man on fire might look cheesy. It’s amazing. I don’t know what they’re feeding their VFX team, but keep it coming! I have no complaints about the Firestorm focus of the last two episodes of The Flash as we see the abilities develop, and the start of a superhero outfit (the chest piece). I certainly have no complaints about the furthering of the time travel aspect of the show that is a staple of the comics involving our scarlet speedster. I squealed and wiggled my legs like a little kid after Flash and Firestorm took off down the road, side-by-side once defeating General Eiling. And we finally saw the present day Reverse Flash unmask. And we saw Grodd walk, talk, and get some well deserved vengeance. What’s not to love?! So this episode was a comic-centric creation, an ode to the characters we have been waiting for all season long, and I can’t wait to see what’s next.
The next episode of The Flash will be on March 17, 2015 on Tuesday at 8/7c. Keep watching the show on the CW to see what comes next!