THE FLASH Season 1, Episode 13 'The Nuclear Man'

PrintE-mail Written by Andrew Pollard

Not to worry, The Nuclear Man does not feature the coiffed DC villain best known for going up against Superman in The Quest for Peace. No, the titular man (men?) in question is Firestorm.

This latest outing for The Flash centres on the dual identity of the tragic Firestorm. With Ronnie Raymond (Robbie Amell) and Martin Stein (Victor Garber) trapped together as the tormented hothead, the job of the day is to try and separate the two beings. Using Ronnie’s body and Stein’s mind, Firestorm is a bit of an angry, confused being who yearns for the two lives that where once had by Ronnie and Stein.

On the Barry Allen (Grant Gustin) front, it appears that our hero is finally attempting to seriously move on from being hung up on Iris (Candice Patton). Linda Park (Malese Jow), who debuted in last week’s Crazy for You, is the new object of Barry’s affection and the show manages to keep the moments between the two both light and sincere. Given how The Flash isn’t afraid to bring humour to the table when needed, it’s great to see Barry having to literally nip out mid-date to save the day and return just in time for Linda to get back from the bar/rest room/other convenient plot device (*delete as applicable). As Cisco (Carlos Valdes) puts it to Barry, “You’re a crime fighting, lady saving machine.” Not quite as catchy as Scarlet Speedster or Sultan of Speed, but definitely one of our favourite nicknames for The Flash. It’s also with plenty of nudging and humour that the show approaches the subject of Barry Allen getting to do the horizontal hustle with Linda. From what we see in The Nuclear Man, Barry is seemingly the rabbit that all women would kill for. And we’re not talking Bugs Bunny.

Away from the Firestorm issue and Barry’s new romance, this episode also looks to further Joe’s (Jesse L. Martin) hunch about Harrison Wells (Tom Cavanagh) – who is seemingly back to being nicey-nicey Wells for now - having something to do with the death of Nora Allen. This time, Joe brings Cisco more into the fold and the two end up actually recreating the night of Barry’s mother’s death. Jesse L. Martin’s chemistry with Grant Gustin has been one of the standout moments of the series to date, and Martin seems to share the same sort of dynamic with Carlos Valdes; the two playing off each other brilliantly. And on the chemistry front, Gustin seems to have already struck up a great dynamic with Malese Jow and we just hope that the character of Linda Park gets to appear in a prominent role going forward. If this episode is anything to go by, she'll be sticking around for the foreseeable future, at least.

Whilst Barry Allen is moving on with Linda at this point, The Nuclear Man does nothing good for the character of Iris West, making her look like some strung-up teenager who is essentially stalking Barry – seriously, wherever he goes she seems to pop up, be it at home, at the coffee shop, at the newspaper, at the police station. You get the point. We all know that deep down Iris has plenty of feelings for Barry, and maybe that element of the show will be worked out further down the line, but Iris is a character that seems to be being done a disservice in the majority of this first season, feeling like The Flash’s equivalent to Arrow’s Laurel Lance (Katie Cassidy), somebody who has suffered from some horrendous writing during The Flash’s Emerald Archer-centric sister show. Maybe that’s the point for now, though. And it does have to be said, it was good to see Barry Allen actually calling Iris out on her dickish behaviour.

Of course, key to The Nuclear Man, to bring this review full circle, is the character of Firestorm. We’ve seen him before and we’ve also seen parts of the backstory of Ronnie Raymond, but here we get to see our first real, in-depth look at Martin Stein and the origin of sorts of Firestorm. The focus on the character and his tortured soul also lends itself to a fight with The Flash that results in a rather brilliant set-piece of Barry being taken to the skies by Firestorm. We guess that’s what you get for dropping a “flame on” line, Mr Allen.

With Firestorm subdued and seemingly coming to some form of his senses at S.T.A.R. Labs, it becomes clear that he is set to explode and go, err, nuclear (hence the title) and take out all of Central City. The Firestorm character has been fleshed out by this point so that we truly feel his pain and have sympathy for him, helped enormously by another great performance (which is becoming the norm lately) from Danielle Panabaker as Caitlin Snow, the heartbroken fiancé of Ronnie Raymond who has mourned his death and now must comprehend with his body seemingly being alive and well (well, maybe not “well”) but with the mind of another inhabiting it. In the last few weeks, the character of Caitlin have been given more and more screen time and characterisation, and Panabaker has knocked it out of the park with this added responsibility. Whether Killer Frost is down the line at some point, Caitlin Snow has certainly been developed wonderfully well so far.

In some final notes, as much as Firestorm was played out well in The Nuclear Man, the added screen time for the character made you start to notice the fairly horrible wig that poor Robbie Amell had to don. Seriously, it was as obvious as an Elton John hair piece. It was also a tad creepy to see the Martin Stein-controlled Ronnie’s body plant a kiss on Caitlin at one point. Yeah, that was for Ronnie, really, honestly, definitely nothing pervy about a man in his ‘50s or ‘60s using the toned body of Robbie Amell to get him some action.

The Flash himself spent most of The Nuclear Man moving from one hot piece to another, but it appears that the threat of The General (Clancy Brown) is on the horizon for Barry Allen in the near future. It was good to see an episode that didn’t have a villain as such for The Flash and Co. to have to deal with, instead focusing the show’s time on giving Firestorm some characterisation and fleshing out other elements of the season, such as Joe’s investigation on Nora’s killer, and also Barry’s love life. Then there was the reveal that an older Barry Allen was present at the death of his mother. But then again, we all knew that was going to be the case.

The Nuclear Man delivered an episode that was one of the smoothest of The Flash’s run to date, and it only further whets the appetite as to what lies ahead for the rest of the season. Oh, and make no mistake about it, Harrison Well did not mutter the words “We all want to go home again” purely by coincidence…
 

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