If The CW wants a Firestorm series to join Arrow and The Flash, “Fallout” provides the perfect springboard for a spinoff, as the character is now a deeply engrained part of the DC television universe.
Before now, Firestorm personified science out of control, a Frankenstein-like consequence of Harrison Wells’ experiments (and hubris) gone horribly wrong. He also represented a tragic loss for Caitlin Snow, who mourned her fiancé, and the Burning Man, another urban legend for Iris West to investigate. However, by the end of this week’s episode of The Flash Firestorm is transformed into a hero.
“Fallout” picks up where last week’s episode left off, with The Flash and Caitlin trying to outrun a nuclear blast from the Nuclear Man; the visual is just as awesome as it sounds. It turns out the blast is caused by Ronnie and Martin Stein separating, as the two were now free of the confines of the unified Firestorm. For the first time, we’re treated to both parts of Firestorm as fully realized characters as we learn their likes, dislikes, foibles and fears as the episode does a good job of making the viewer care about both halves of Firestorm.
That empathy leads to the episode’s main source of conflict, the returning Wade Eiling, who, when last we saw him, was demanding that Wells hand over a certain super-powered gorilla, which the general confessed to having tortured. Eiling now wants Firestorm, and dogs Raymond and Stein as they try to enjoy independent life for the first time in more than a year. We witness a joyous reunion between Caitlin and Ronnie, and we even get to know Stein’s wife Clarissa a bit.
Sadly, the two don’t get to enjoy their freedom for long, as Eiling abducts Stein from right under The Flash’s nose. In the episode’s only quality hiccup, Eiling is able to defeat The Flash by throwing a shrapnel grenade into the air and riddling Barry with metal quills that prevent him from running. For some reason, Barry just stands there and watches the grenade instead of, you know, moving away really fast while punching Eiling, saving Stein and doing a crossword puzzle. He’s The Flash, he can do that.
However, Eiling seizes and tortures Stein, which alerts Ronnie, who’s able to communicate with his “other half” by carving his own flesh in a Tomax and Xamot-like exchange that leads he and Barry to the general’s doorstep. Eiling gets the jump on The Flash again with a phosphorus grenade that leaves Stein and Raymond alone to take down their adversary by willfully becoming Firestorm and kicking some major ass. To see Firestorm in action does Gerry Conway and Al Milgrom’s creation proud, especially because there’s a sense of fun to the character now that both halves have accepted their predicament.
We get another “Run Barry, run” moment as The Flash extinguishes the phosphorous and helps Firestorm defeat Eiling. Of course, now Raymond and Stein are in a Bruce Banner-esque position where they will be hounded wherever they go, so they decid to head to Pittsburgh to receive help from an old friend of Stein’s. Despite the tearful farewells, it’s not really that sad, as Barry can run Caitlin and Clarissa to Pittsburgh in mere moments, but it does put a nice bow on the Firestorm subplot for now.
The rest of the episode can be summed up in two words: time travel. Joe West reveals to Barry that it’s his own blood staining the house where his mother was murdered. Barry understands the ramifications, and tries to learn whether time travel is indeed possible. In a great Marty McFly/Doc Brown moment, Martin Stein explains that with Barry’s speed, it’s theoretically possible. So now Barry has a mission: to train so that he doesn’t make the mistakes that led to his mother’s death. However, we also have to grapple of the question of what will happen to time if Barry stops the Reverse-Flash from killing his mom. DC Comics fans know that saving Nora Allen led to “Flashpoint” and the New 52, so there’s precedence for serious consequences from that scenario.
Barry will also have the complication of Iris West, who decides she should snoop around STAR Labs to learn the truth about the Burning Man and Wells’ accident. At this point, it’s unclear whether the producers want to make Iris a foil or a Barry’s true love.
And then we have the ending of “Fallout,” which I’m sure will become a favorite moment for many fans. Eiling is defeated and licking his wounds when he’s taken by a red blur – the Man in Yellow, who unmasks to reveal Harrison Wells. We witnessed Wells beaten up by the Reverse-Flash weeks back, so it seems there are of them running around. But fans have been waiting a long time for this unmasking, and the moment doesn’t disappoint. The coolness doesn’t end there, however, as Wells can’t very well allow Eiling to go on knowing his secret. Therefore, he hands the general over to a being with every reason to hate him.
When Eiling sees the approaching bestial form, all the battle-tested soldier can muster is, “Oh, God.”
To which a guttural and animalistic voice replies, “Not God, Grodd.”
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