'The Flash' Episode 1.13 "The Nuclear Man" (7 out of 10) Starring Grant Gustin, Candice Patton, Rick Cosnett, Danielle Panabaker, Carlos Valdes, Tom Kavanaugh, and Jesse L. Martin. Guest starring Robbie Amell, Victor Garber, Malese Jow. First broadcast February 10, 2015.
One of the strengths of "The Flash" is that even though the main character is a likable guy, and he's got enough superheroing and superpowers to run (ha!) a show all on his own, they've decided to make it an ensemble show. Only thirteen episodes in, and there's a cast of around a dozen recurring characters, each with story arcs of their own leading toward other things. For some that arc is moving them toward being a superhero, others toward villainy. If you watched this episode just for the Fastest Man Alive, you were probably disappointed. But "The Flash" has become much more than just the Scarlet Speedster. It's still about Barry Allen, but also about Harrison Wells and Caitlin Snow and Cisco Ramon and Joe West and Ronnie Raymond and all these other characters, some of whom existed in the comic books beforehand. Even then, this Caitlin Snow is vastly different from the one we've seen in comic books. The Caitlin we knew was Killer Frost, the archenemy to Firestorm. Could our sweet little Dr. Snow turn into...that? We're starting to see how she could. And I love it.
How does the saying go? "Better to have loved and lost than to have your fiance explode into a particle accelerator and then come back reincarnated with his body but an old physicist man inside and he doesn't remember you, but he...oh he blew up again?" Yeah, that's the saying. That story is basically the life of Caitlin and her one-time fiance, now gestalt-being Firestorm. The title "The Nuclear Man" is a kind of nickname for Firestorm, like Superman is the Man of Steel and Batman the Dark Knight. The particle accelerator "accident" in Central City fused Ronnie Raymond and Dr. Martin Stein together, and it's going to be a real bitch getting them apart again. Caitlin stands up to Dr. Wells, getting him to forfeit some power from his Reverse Flash suit to create a device that could split Raymond and Stein back into two people.
This episode shows us more about Firestorm, Ronnie Raymond, and Dr. Stein than we've had in the previous dozen episodes, and yet it feels like a natural outgrowth of the series, not another hero shoehorned into the show. When I first heard about them putting Firestorm into the mix, I didn't see how they could take such a patently cartoony concept -- two guys who are separate most of the time, but unite to become one hero, who can transmute materials -- and make it watchable TV. But they've done it. And made him someone we care about via Caitlin's relationship with him.
I didn't see how they could take such a cartoony concept and make it watchable tv. But they've done it.
For Barry Allen, he's around, he gets the B-story, which is basically him and Linda Park getting to know each other better. I like her, a lot. A lot more than Iris. She's funny, smart, good looking, and just seems to have better chemistry with Barry than Iris does. I'm curious to see what they do with these characters, and if they have the same destinies their comic book counterparts do.
The other B-story is Detective West and Cisco working together on Nora Allen's murder case, where they find DNA evidence that doesn't seem to make sense. This piece of information will carry us into a storyline that will probably last through the rest of the season, and one that producers say will "change the show forever." They've got a great group of characters to work with, I'm interested to see where they're going.