NOTE: This episode aired last week, though our regular television reporter was indisposed at the time of airing
NOTE 2: Full spoilers for this episode of The Flash are present in this review
After the cliffhanger conclusion of “The Nuclear Man”, “Fallout” brought a close to the origin of the Firestorm storyline. With Ronnie Raymond and Dr. Martin Stein appearing to be separated, all would seem to be well for the mysterious ‘burning man’ of Central City… Until General Wade Eiling re-enters the equation, and begins targeting Dr. Stein for his F.I.R.E.S.T.O.R.M. research, believing that he can make a pretty strong weapon out of it.
Yes, General Eiling continues to be one of these one-dimensional military douchebags. Given that Eiling is a mighty DC villain in the printed panels, he’ll no doubt have better arcs later, but for now, he’s just portrayed as a bully who doesn’t seem to know what he’s dealing with. That’s illustrated all the more by the end of this episode, but I’ll get to that.
Anyhow, with Ronnie and Dr. Stein appearing to be back to normal, happy reunions are had on both sides. Caitlin gets her fiance back, Mrs. Stein gets her husband back, and all appears to be well… Until the two men begin exhibiting strange behaviour. All of a sudden, Dr. Stein loves pizza for example, despite initially hating it. Ronnie also seems to feel Dr. Stein’s pain and emotions, which is how S.T.A.R. Labs learns that Dr. Stein has been abducted by General Eiling in the first place.
On the note of Ronnie’s emotional challenges, Caitlin was a real star this week. Ronnie attempts to persuade Caitlin to move out of Central City and start a new life, but Caitlin finds herself hesitant to do so. She’s made a new life for herself in the wake of Ronnie’s death, particularly considering her missions with The Flash, and it’s clear that she doesn’t want to throw it away. If anything, the return of Ronnie just up-ended her life all over again, and Danielle Panabaker ended up providing the heart of this episode as much as Robbie Amell or Victor Garber did. It’s predictable that Caitlin doesn’t leave Central City in the end, but even so, the dilemmas presented by Ronnie’s return were superbly done.
In fact, Barry himself seemed to be firmly in the background this week. There is one moment with Joe where Barry wonders if he can re-write the past, after he sees the evidence of his future self being there when his mother is murdered, but that’s about it. The moment is stolen by Cisco anyway, who shares some pretty hilarious dialogue with Joe as he attempts to explain time travel’s possibilities in an accessible manner. Time travel is the bread and butter of The Flash, and the DC Universe generally plays pretty fast and loose with it, so it was fitting to see this show take a similarly nonchalant approach to it.
The coolest part of this episode by far however was the climax, which saw Barry and Firestorm team up together to lay waste to Eiling’s operation. After Barry helps recapture Dr. Stein from Eiling, the two combine their powers in an amazing display of cool effects. Yes, they’re still TV effects, but they’re a lot of fun to watch here, particularly as Barry speeds off while Firestorm flies above him afterward. It could almost tease a potential Firestorm spin-off, particularly after Ronnie and Dr. Stein depart on new adventures to perfect their powers soon afterward, but at least it concluded the Firestorm story on a very cool note.
Speaking of cool notes, the episode also ended with an awesome conclusion that is sure to make the month-long wait for the next episode of The Flash pretty agonizing. Wells, who is seen in his Reverse Flash costume for the first time, kidnaps Eiling and brings him to the sewers, where Eiling is left to face what he’s wrought as Reverse Flash reveals that he looks after his own. At that point, a now fully intelligent and upright Grodd comes and drags Eiling away, responding to Eiling’s declaration of, “Oh my God!” with, “Not God. Grodd.” His first spoken line, and already Grodd is one of my favourite villains on this show, with that line probably being my favourite line on the entire series at this point. Even Grodd’s effects are surprisingly convincing, especially for TV standards!
The only character that really suffered this week was Iris, who yet again feels like too much of an obstacle for Barry. True, she didn’t directly interfere in anything yet, but the idea that she’ll be this nosey Flash reporter that will create more problems than she fixes is kind of unsettling. Also, where was Linda Park? Yes, there probably wasn’t much room for her with so much going on with Firestorm, but it’s strange that Barry wouldn’t even mention her at all this week, especially with so much love in the air with Ronnie and Dr. Stein.
Still, “Fallout” was an excellent episode that beautifully concluded the Firestorm origin arc. It also sets forth tons of interesting developments for the final push of the season, as we settle into a difficult month-long wait for the next episode. Even in the back half, this series is showing no signs of slowing down. It still remains one of the best overall new shows of the 2014/2015 TV season, and that makes the wait for its return all the more brutal, especially after a fantastic episode like this!
The Flash excellently concluded the Firestorm origin arc with "Fallout", an episode that also spoiled viewers with tons of cool developments to come, even if Barry himself slipped more into the background this week.
THE GOOD STUFF
Superb, emotional end to the Firestorm origin arc
Awesome climactic team-up between Flash and Firestorm