The saga of Firestorm continues in "Fallout," which proved to be a reasonably solid episode. But in fact, the episode could have been as awful as Monday night's Gotham and, if it still featured that final scene as its epilogue, I'd still have to give it an A+.
Those of you who watched it know what I'm talking about already, and those who don't watch The Flash but read these recaps — well, you're weirdoes. Watch the damn show. But anyways, we'll get to That Scene shortly. Now, we pick up immediately where the last episode ends, as Barry outruns a goddamn mushroom cloud while carrying Caitlin after Firestorm exploded.
The nuclear explosion just outside a major metropolitan area is the bad news, but the good news is there's no radiation! A Firestorm perk, it seems. Other good news: Ronnie and Dr. Stein have separated, and boy they do not like each other very much. It probably has something to do with Ronnie's voice screaming at him constantly inside his head for over a year, while Ronnie seems to be somewhat miffed Stein chose to live as a hobo for that time period.
Anyways, they're very happy to finally be apart, and Ronnie reunites with Caitlin while Dr. Stein goes home to his wife. Joe takes the breather to tell Barry about what he discovered — that Barry as an adult was at his mother's murder 15 years ago. Barry is shocked, but more devastated — because if he was there, it means he tried to stop his mom's death, but failed.
But he doesn't have long to mope, since General Eiling wants Firestorm bad for the standard "next generation of warfare" type stuff. His troops attack Ronnie at Central City's most inexplicably popular coffee shop, and when the Flash arrive to help, he unleashes a box of shards that are attracted to kinetic energy and immediately turn Barry into a pin cushion. Only Caitlin's quick thinking helps them all get away.
Eiling, of course, won't take no for an answer, and heads to STAR Labs to secretly meet Wells. All Eiling has to do is threaten Wells' beloved Flash and Wells secretly drugs Dr. Stein the next time he comes over to the lab, where the military takes him. Wells tells the SuperSTARS he couldn't stop a bunch of soldiers — a pretty reasonable lie, given that he's seemingly in a wheelchair — but immediately starts helping with a plan to rescue Stein.
It's very quickly determined that Dr. Stein and Ronnie are still connected in many ways, because Ronnie suddenly starts feeling the torture being inflicted on Stein. Ronnie carves the word "WHERE" on his own arm — which is quick thinking but also probably needless, as Stein is able to respond merely by tapping his finger in Morse code. Turns out Eiling is keeping him in Area 27 (a la Area 51), which, sure, why not.
The only thing left to do is for Barry and Ronnie to rescue Stein. Eiling decides to kill Stein — I'm not exactly sure how this works, but Eiling seems confident he doesn't need Stein alive to get access to the Firestorm matrix — but Ronnie feels the cold metal of a gun to Stein's head, and Flash of course grabs the scientist in the nick of time. Barry returns Stein to Ronnie, only for a soldier to hit him with some kind of chemical bazooka, covering him with a burning phosphorus that won't come off… except in a vacuum. So Barry starts running.
With the Flash out of commission, Ronnie and Dr. Stein decides they have to merge into Firestorm. After a pretty hokey speech from Wells about accepting each other, the two form the DC superhero properly (well, at least according to his comic inspiration) — Ronnie in charge of his mind and body, but with Dr. Stein as a quasi-omniscient third-person narrator in his head. By the time Barry has stopped burning (and ruined yet another of Cisco's suits), Firestorm has made quick work of the army, and Barry punches Eiling. Better yet, Firestorm can willingly separate back into Ronnie and Dr. Stein with nary a mushroom cloud!
Alas, Ronnie and Stein realize they are just too dangerous to stick around, unless they get their own spin-off or something, and decide to hide from Eiling and the military by going on the run. Caitlin and Stein's wife, now content with the knowledge that their loved ones are alive, sane, and not flammable hoboes, are saddened but ultimately okay with the decision. As the two merge and fly off in a jet off fire, Barry summons Joe back to his old house (because Sherri has apparently given everyone on the CCPD free run of the place). Having received a bit of a time travel pep talk from Dr. Stein earlier in the episode, Barry is determined to change the past and save his mother's life. He will examine the crazy 3D pictures from the past Cisco developed last episode, figure out where he went wrong, and beat the man in yellow.
Gee, I can't imagine how this won't turn out perfectly well for Barry. I mean, messing with the past never has any unfortunate side effects, does it? (Please note earlier in the episode Cisco references Terminator and Back to the Future as the two competing theories of time travel, which is 100% accurate). At best, Barry will pull a Terminator, and by trying to help, will merely contribute to the pre-determined events that have already taken place. If he can Back to the Future and change the timestream… I imagine his interference is a lot more likely to result in a present where evil Biff Tannen rules everything.
Could The Flash be setting us for a trip into an alternate timeline? It seems crazy to even imagine, but now that Greg Berlanti has brought The Flash's insane penchant for time-travel shenanigans to TV, I can't imagine they're going to solve the case of Barry's mom's murder and leave it at that. I've told you my concerns about The Flash getting too convoluted, but whether it does or doesn't, let's please take a moment to appreciate the fact that Berlanti is putting the full Flash treatment on TV, and not toning any the character's craziest aspects down.
And speaking of "appreciation" and "the character's craziest aspects" HOLY SHIT THAT EPILOGUE. I thought we'd had some good, cool final Wells moments before, but this… this is early contention for one of the best TV moments of the year.
The Reverse-Flash grabs Eiling straight out of his military base, and deposits him in a sewer. He stops his blur effect and unmasks to reveal he is officially, finally, 100% Harrison Wells. But the two are not alone. Eiling hears a booming voice… only to recognize its in his head. Wells says he's brought "an old friend."
"Oh my god," gasps Eiling.
"NOT GOD. GRODD."
AND THEN A BIG EVIL MONKEY SHOWS UP AND KILLS THE HELL OUT OF CLANCY BROWN.
I… I can barely stand how awesome it is, even recapping it now. Grodd's talking! He may be in league with the Reverse-Flash! The Flash put a giant evil telepathic monkey on screen, is going to make him a credible if insane villain! This is really happening, people!
Unfortunately, it won't be happening for a few weeks, since The Flash won't be returning until March 17th — it appears that will be the episode where Wells' secret are revealed to the group. I'm super excited about Grodd, but if The Flash can keep giving us these great, action-packed, mythos-heavy episodes — like about Firestorm and time travel and the SuperSTARS discovering Wells' secret — then, like Grodd, I can bide my time.
• In Iris news, her reporter friend tries to get her to do some investigative reporting by looking in on STAR Labs. Iris, despite being desperate for any kind of article just last episode, doesn't want to investigate her friends… until she meets Caitlin and Ronnie over at Joe's house, they group makes an elaborate yet totally obvious lie that Ronnie is Caitlin's cousin from out of town
• This Iris/Caitlin/Ronnie scene is pretty painful in its stupidity, not because it requires Iris to be a complete moron to not instantly see through it, but it treats the audience like morons, too. And the fact that there is not a single even slightly good reason for telling Iris the Flash's identity — besides the show not knowing what to do with her — is injury added to the insult.
• Still, MOTHER-LOVIN' GRODD. I literally had my arms raised in triumph during the entire scene.
• Some really good make-up effects in this episode. When the Flash is covered in those shards, he is covered, and it looks like he's bleeding from every wound. And when he and his suit are burned, his flesh still has some nasty burn marks on it. Nice work!
• Fun fact: In Monday night's Gotham, there was a moment so spectacularly stupid that it is the complete opposite of this Flash episode's epilogue. While The Flash delivered some actual narrative information inserted into a staggering amount of awesomeness and complete fan satisfaction, Gotham had a scene that managed to fail on pretty much every conceivably level of storytelling. Feel free to read all about it here, if you're so inclined.