Season One, Episode Thirteen – “The Nuclear Man” 

The-Flash-season-1-episode-13-Caitlin-Ronnie-deviceBy Molly Jane Kremer and Jarrod Jones. After last week’s episode landed with a spectacular thud, ‘The Nuclear Man” felt like a deep lungful of clean, fresh air. The Flash has returned to what made this show monumentally great: fast-paced action coupled with compelling scenes featuring characters we genuinely care about (and who genuinely care about each other). With a new character added to the mix (well, make that two characters, technically), Barry Allen’s family continues to grow. Now, if only he could balance his work with his personal life.

WHAT WORKED: Surprisingly, Robbie Amell fared pretty well with his hour-long Victor Garber impression. Especially once Amell’s wig – a monstrously hideous thing that resembled a dead rodent more than anything else – was finally removed. The flashbacks concerning Barry’s first introduction to Victor Garber’s Professor Stein worked well too, and as far as the execution of Firestorm thus far? It’s just nice to see the show (once again) taking an element from the comics (one that could have just as easily come across as really goofy), and making it fit within the context of the story.

In one of the episode’s more thrilling scenes, Joe (Jesse L. Martin) and Cisco (Carlos Valdes) conduct a surreptitious investigation at Barry’s childhood home (the site of his mother’s grisly murder). Using an old mirror, they manage to recreate scenes from the crime that had imprinted (via lightning) into the silver nitrate lining the mirror’s back. (Cisco’s hyper science-babble makes that all sound more probable than it should.) Once Cisco jury-rigs a techno-apparatus inside the house, the duo uncover a hidden clue underneath some questionably tacky wallpaper: a blood spatter that confirms something many of us already suspected. Barry (and not kiddo-Barry, either, but a full-grown Barry) was at the scene of his mother’s murder. Is that time-travel we smell…?

All in all, with no villain-of-the-week to chase around, The Flash’s fantastic writing team placed their focus on an episode that adds more depth and drama than we’ve seen since the midseason finale.

WHAT DIDN’T: While the investigation at Barry’s old house bore great fruit, one facet to it was weird as hell: the house’s current resident, Sherry (“like the wine”), slinks around – in multiple, embarrassingly revealing outfits, no less – offering the boys daiquiris for some perplexing reason (to Cisco’s grinning delight, of course). Sherry felt like a completely foreign entity in The Flash, a strangely artificial and out-of-place addition in a show that tries to wear its heart on its sleeve.

BEST LINES: You change one more time, I’m gonna shoot you.” – Joe, to Barry, after the Scarlet Speedster changes his damn date outfit like fifty times.

I won’t judge you.” – Cisco, to Joe, after Sherry offers him some of her “strawberry daiquiris”. (Sherry, it should be noted, was strawberry blonde.)

BEST MOMENT: That ending. Once Dr. Snow attaches the thingamajig to Ronnie/Prof. Stein, Barry pulls her out of the, er, explosive situation. Watching Barry run Caitlin away from an igniting Firestorm as she looked on the man she loved detonating into a nuclear blast was easily the most exhilarating moment The Flash has had since, well, its last exhilarating moment.

EPISODE’S MVP: Det. Joe West. Joe’s appearances have been glaringly less frequent in the last few weeks, even though he’s sharing living quarters with the Fastest Man Alive. The sequences Jesse L. Martin shared with Carlos Valdes this week were potent highlights for the episode. (Though the patented Barry/Joe heart-to-heart was missed.) He took the awkward advances of “Sherry” with aplomb, and his attempt to uncover more facts concerning Nora Allen’s murder puts Joe one step closer to uncovering the dark secrets of Dr. Wells (Tom Cavanagh). We’re committed to seeing Barry through this season, but it’s Joe we’re beginning to really worry for.

The-Flash-season-1-episode-13-The-Flash-carries-CaitlinFLASH FACTS: 

– At the end of the episode, when Barry took a bite of a ghost pepper to get back in Linda Park’s good graces, it looked like Mr. Gustin actually ate that pepper. Didja see how red his face got? Rather endearing, if you ask us.

– We finally get to know Barry’s new squeeze, Linda Park, a little. And… she is a delight. She’s not afraid to say exactly what she thinks, or to go for exactly what she wants (the latter being Mr. Barry Allen). Though it still feels a little uncomfortable to watch a character we know to be the mother of Wally West’s children making out with Barry, it’s just nice to see him happy with a lady that isn’t milquetoast Iris.

– We guess if we wrote Firestorm into The Flash, we’d sneak in a “Flame On” joke too. (Wotta revoltin’ development.)

– Two things that seem to run in the Amell family: wearing doofy wigs poorly, and dem abs. (Although how Ronnie acquired that bod, and those shockingly white teeth, while starving on the street is quite the conundrum.)

– It’s nice to see that the ability to vibrate one’s molecules, well, comes in handy.

– Barry wants to take Linda to “an underground jazz club” where one Mal Duncan is booked to play… that’s the second Guardian, or we’ll eat our hats. Mal’s gone by a few other superhero-y monikers (Vox, Hornblower, The Herald), and has taken up residence in the Titans Tower more than a couple of times when he’s not pinch-hitting for the Doom Patrol, or running his own nightclub called, “Gabriel’s Horn.”

– Quentin Quayle? Quentin Quail? We’re going with the latter, an obvious reference to an old, obscure Merry Melodies cartoon short. (By Warner Bros! How is it not a reference?)

– There’s a cross-street in Central City that goes by 52nd and Waid. “52” is an obvious shout to either the New52 DC Universe, or more likely, the 2006 weekly maxi-series 52 co-written by The Flash co-showrunner Geoff Johns, Grant Morrison, Greg Rucka, and – yup, Mark Waid. (Who also wrote one of the definitive runs on The Flash back in the 1990s.)