The Nuclear Man gave us an episode with a main focus on the DC comics character of Firestorm, and while it was exciting, the main storyline just didn’t resonate as one of The Flash’s best. The potential was there though, and by the end of the episode, despite a few missteps, I was completely on board. Well, I’ve waited my mandatory week, and I’m happy to say that this week’s Flash, aptly titled Fallout, was worth the wait.
This time around, the main storyline of Firestorm appropriately dominated the screentime, with that of Nora Allen’s murder getting pushed to a close second. It’s for the best though. The time spent on the story of Firestorm sets up a satisfying narrative for the character, and replaces the usual investigation aspect with that of discovery, and utilizes the theme of teamwork to introduce an untapped and surprising chemistry between Ronnie (Robbie Amell) and Professor Stein (Victor Garber). It’s a little bit generic at times, taking full advantage of Clancy Brown’s fully established evil military character of General [Bad Guy], in a plot about the military attempting to convert a scientist’s invention in to *yawn* …weapon. Though the scientist is opp *yawn* osed to the idea of this use for…*snore*.
Alright, so maybe I’m being overly critical since this is a comic book based show and that very plot has been used time immemorial in pretty much every comic in the history of…ever; in fact I’d go so far as the say that I’m completely ignoring the fact that even though it sounds pretty standard on paper, some excellent performances (particularly from Garber) manage to elevate it to a level of legitimacy that it had absolutely no business having. I’ll have to admit that Ronnie and Caitlin’s chemistry is sort of nonexistent. Their implied relationship is built up far too much to make the reality seem any less than disappointing. It was unfortunate watching Caitlin (Danielle Panabaker) who has excelled at playing a reserved yet secretly vulnerable young scientist suddenly have to shift her character’s dynamic in to that of a lovesick teenager. It just doesn’t do the best job of serving the character that has been molded by her performance thus far. On the other hand though, Robbie Amell’s Ronnie seems much more natural this time around, and while he and Panabaker’s chemistry left much to be desired, their sad and affecting story was still well written and had appropriate levels of humor, naivete, responsibility, and heartbreak to come out as a thought provoking narrative all on its own.
But if you’re worried about no being able to see some great action, you can put that fear to rest. Firestorm is amazing! Though it takes him pretty much the whole episode to really flame on, it’s worth seeing it happen. The effects are top notch, and it may not be the most accurate representation of his abilities as a character, but knowing what I do about him, I can see it making a compelling discovery narrative later on in the series.
The side arc of Barry doing his own research in to time travel is well conveyed, and appropriately downplayed to really build anticipation for how it will come in to play later. It’s true that while losing Barry (Grant Gustin) as a focal point does stunt the main story’s emotional impact, as well as decrease the charm of the proceedings drastically, his short yet incredible scene with Ronnie’s Firestorm was definitive proof of the amazing amount of possibilities of seeing both of the characters work together. I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out the defining moment of Ronnie sparing a villain, as if the thought of taking a life never even registered as a possibility. This brief yet moving moment was projected effectively thanks to a subtle shift in a attitude from Amell’s Ronnie.
Of course the sewer scene at the end was the perfect dessert for the episode, sending me in to a comic book powered frenzy that I’m embarrassed to say involved a higher than average level of squeaking. I won’t say much, but I do have to admit that I’m surprised that they could make a Flash villain that off the wall look as good as they did. I mean…just wow!
Final Word: Compelling moments between Ronnie and Stein open a multitude of possibilities as the characters showcase a better than expected chemistry to build up a subtle and complex yet surprisingly accurate representation for one of DC’s classic heroes in Firestorm. The villain is a bit weak and a little too obvious, but it’s effective at giving up a scenario that is rewarding to see Firestorm take part in. Barry takes a bench this time around, but still provides plenty of support on the sidelines, building on a very interesting storyline that’s sure to be picked up again very soon. Ronnie and Caitlin’s scenes just didn’t pop as much as I expected they would (or were implied to), but Garber’s Stein is absolutely out of the world as the man switches sequentially from uncompromising, intelligent, and cold to emotionally tumultuous, tortured, and penitent as easily as flipping a light switch. The character is phenomenally complex and instantly likable thanks to some outstanding work from Victor Garber. Iris’ own investigation has a slow burn, but it’s a good fit for the character with some steady progression. Barry’s investigation on the other hand is less revealing, but is emotional and interesting with Grant Gustin’s multifaceted performance and standard ideal chemistry with Joe West (Jesse Martin). It reveals just enough to provide a hook, but also leaves plenty of room open to be expanded upon in a future episode. There are a lot of firsts here, and though there are times when it wavers, Fallout is easily one of the most straightforward episodes of the season, and while I have my issues with Robbie Amell’s own performance, he’s got a great character that he can play with a casual attitude in Ronnie Raymond. The great chemistry when Garber doesn’t exactly hurt either. Firestorm is on fire, and I can’t wait to see him in action again, hopefully next time in full costume.