‘The Flash’ Season 1 Recap, Episode 13, ‘The Nuclear Man’
Welcome back to Up To Speed, home of the the Flashest Recaps Alive. Here we’ll recap the episode, dispense some Flash Facts and talk about what works, what doesn’t and where the series might be headed, as we try and keep up with the adventures of the fastest man alive, Barry Allen, more widely known as The Flash.
This week, we’re looking at the lucky thirteenth episode of the first season, “The Nuclear Man.” In this episode, you'll meet desperate housewives, (literally) blazin' hot hunks, hormonal metahumans, and a kennel full of dead puppies. FULL DISCLOSURE: This episode does not feature Business Beanie™ – the character find of 2015 – but I hope you'll find it in your heart to read on, True Beliebers…
FLASHBACK: What Happened This Week
We start off with Barry prepping for a date with Linda Park, sister of Linkin, the extremely forward young lady from last week's episode. You know, the lady who flirted wit Barry hardcore at the karaoke bar? After trying on a barrage of outfits in preparation, and also after being threatened with getting shot by Joe West, he finally settles on a look that can most easily be described as "Guy Who Is Waiting For His Turn At the Chuckle Hut On Open Mic Night." Barry and Linda go get tacos at a place blasting the most stereotypical mariachi music imaginable. The tacos are, apparently, very spicy and Barry can barely finish his before he starts doing this and guzzling water.
Linda excuses herself to use the ladies' room and Barry gets a call on the FlashPhone from Cisco. There's a robbery, but Barry's like, "Please don't c-block me here," but Cisco guilts him into Flashing over and back before Linda can get back. Linda and Barry go for a walk, but both of them get calls: for Linda, it's work, for Barry, he gets another call from Cisco to grab a dude who's gonna jump off a building, right in front of Eddie. Poor Eddie. This is literally the only time we see him this episode and all he gets to do is yell a line into a bullhorn and act blown away when the Flash drops the suicidal dude off in front of him before he hauls ass out of there and back to his date. After that, Barry drops Linda off. There are smooches.
Cut to a place called Concordance Research, where some old nerd is being accosted by a grungy dude in a bad wig who, oh, wait … it's Ronnie Raymond/Martin Stein/Firestorm/F.I.R.E.S.T.O.R.M. Martin Stein, who's driving the nuclear Ronnie Raymond meat puppet around, starts dropping secret knowledge on the old guy in this dumb, halting voice, asking for his help before he flames on and burns the dude pretty bad. Oops.
The next morning, at the coffee shop, Barry is kissing-and-telling to Cisco and Caitlin. What follows is the most uncomfortable discussion about how Barry's powers could impact his sexual life. Namely, that he might "go too fast." Cisco suggests that Barry "think of a lot of dead puppies. Like, we're talking a whole kennel," and whoa, that is a gloriously effed up thing to think of to stave off you know what-ing.
Iris shows up and overhears Barry talking about Linda and now it's her turn to be mega-awkward around Barry. The shoe is on the other foot. Cisco gets a call and bolts, while on the TV, there's a news story about The Burning Man burning up some old nerd and Barry and Caitlin are like ,"Ooooh."
Cisco took off to meet Joe at Barry's old house to look for clues. The house is now owned by the horniest cougar in Central City. She answers the door in a robe and a nightie and starts pumping her boobs out in front of Joe like NBD. This is the randiest episode of this show yet.
At S.T.A.R. Labs, Caitlin, Wells and Barry are trying to figure out what's up with Firestorm burning dudes up. Wells asks Caitlin if she's ready to do what needs to be done here, and Caitlin's like, "What do you mean," and Wells is all, "You know," and makes that noose motion while sticking his tongue out and closing his eyes halfway. Typical good guy stuff. Barry asks what Stein even looks like, so Wells shows him a picture and Barry's all, "Oh yeah, that guy. I had a really long conversation with him on the train the day the reactor blew up. Isn't that a weird coincidence?" And then we get a flashback of the two talking on the train. Stein is like one ascot away from looking full-on Charles Nelson Reilly.
Anyway, Stein goes to the reactor launch party with his F.I.R.E.S.T.O.R.M. box and then it all explodes and his glowy box falls out and as he pick it up this happens:
Wells, Barry and Caitlin head to Clarissa Stein's house, hoping she can explain it all to them about what happened to Martin Stein. They show her a photo of Dirty Ronnie and she's like, "That dude came to my house." Then we get a flashback of Crazy Dirty Ronnie showing up and being, "Hey babe, it's me." She calls the cops.
The S.T.A.bbers leave and have the following conversation:
BARRY: I wonder if he'll show up again.
WELLS: DID SOMEBODY SAY STAKEOUT?!
CAITLIN: No. Nobody said stakeo-
WELLS: STAKEOUT! STAKEOUT! STAKEOUT! STAAAAAAKEOUUUUUUT!
BARRY: Uh, I have a date, so…
WELLS: That's fine, let's go Caitlin! STAKEOUT! STAKEOUT! STAKEOUT!
Back at Cougartown, Cisco and Joe are scoping out the Allen Murder House with some science doodads, but not turning anything up. Sherry, the very friendly divorcée who now owns the place, makes some more not-at-all subtle hints that she'd like Joe to jump her bones, but Joe is on a case. He notices a mirror that was in the room that somehow managed to stay in the same place after the house got sold. It also somehow has a silver nitrate backing that could supposedly act as a film negative, taking pictures of what happened that night. Sure. Why not.
Linda shows up at the West house for their date. Barry has a full evening planned, all laid out in an itinerary, but Linda's like, "Nah, let's just take our shirts off and make out." Barry, who is now living with his Cop Dad, is like, "This is the best idea ever. Let us retire to the couch that sits opposite the front door, m'lady."
In the Staaaakeout Van, Wells is eating french fries all gross and Caitlin and him talk about love and home and stuff. Wells gives another speech about how he needs to fix his whole "blowing everything including your fiancée up," mistake when Firestorm shows up at the Stein house and they call Barry, who's rounded second and is getting the wave-thru by the third base coach. There's a point where he sort of loses control and his body starts vibrating and Linda is all, "Mmmm, that feels real good!" and I got skeeved out a little. Again, this a mad rutty episode.
Anyway, Barry gets called away and makes the dumbest excuse ever for leaving Linda there, mumbling through some weird, noncommittal excuses before leaving Linda alone in his Cop Dad's house to go fight a fire-guy.
Barry shows up and is like, "Hey, Professor Stein, let's not fight, okay?" But Professor Stein remembered this is a TV show and that it's been a little bit between action scenes, so he fights Barry anyway, pulling him up into the air and dropping him from a crazy height. Thankfully, Firestorm swoops in and slows him down enough that the S.T.A.R. Mobile can break his fall so he doesn't wind up as a red, greasy smear on the road. Firestorm is about to fricassee the Flash, but Caitlin jumps out of the van, stops him and he gets all weird and flies off.
At the former Allen residence, Joe walks in the Murder Room all winded to tell Cisco that he "sent Sherry to the movies," which I'm gonna assume is a euphemism for sex. Meanwhile, Cisco has been hard at work setting up a doohickey to develop the decades-old images and then shoot them around the room, Tupac hologram-style. They watch the little home movie, seeing the same scene we see every week in the opening: Barry's mom screaming as a red flash and yellow flash circle her and Young Barry screams in the background.
But hey! That's this?! A clue! There was some blood spattered on a wall that's been freshly wallpapered. Joe pulls the wallpaper off like it's nothing and guess what: the blood is till there. He has Cisco take a sample so they can try and match it.
At the newspaper, Barry drops in to visit Linda, but she's a little bummed out that Barry left her hanging the night before, and I kind of love how she's kind of a total dudebro about this. Like, if Barry's not gonna put out, she's gone. Barry tries to talk his way out of it, but his phone is ringing and he has to take it. At least he manages to use the "police emergency excuse," rather than whatever nebulous excuse he had the night before. Once he takes off, Linda goes to ask Iris what Barry's deal is and Iris sort of blows his cover, saying that Barry might still be hung up on somebody else. Somebody IN THIS VERY ROOM. Somebody whose name rhymes with "Shmirus Vest."
Meanwhile, under a bridge, the S.T.A.bbers find Firestorm and try to get him to accept their help, pulling out Clarissa Stein to try and talk him around. Clarissa asks him some tough questions to confirm his identity like, "What's my favorite color?" (Answer, and I kid you not: "stripes") "What's my favorite Bill Murray comedy?" (Answer: Also Stripes.) and "What's my favorite brand of chewing gum?" (You guessed it: Fruit Stripe gum. You know with the zebra mascot?) Martin is like, "I don't want you to see me like this," to his wife and I was like, "What, young and vaguely hunky? Really?" Sad piano music plays and he agrees to accept their help.
At S.T.A.R. Labs, RonnieStein shows up all clean-shaven and sans wig and drugged up to the gills in an attempt to keep his personalities in check. Linda calls Barry and catches him in his "police business lie," and sort of basically dumps him over the phone because he's still hung up on Iris. Barry confronts Iris on it and is like, "Listen, you are KILLING ME HERE." and tells her he's over her and pleeeeease stop talking to Linda.
Up in Barry's lab, Cisco has run the blood sample and found two blood types, one of which is a super rare type. Joe is like, "Awesome. Don't tell Harrison Wells tho because he is shady as heck and I think he killed Barry's mom somehow." And Cisco gets all offended and basically storms off. Cisco: Listen to your friend Joe West, he's a cool dude!
At S.T.A.R. Labs, Caitlin is checking out Firestorm and also doing some tests on him. (Brazingles!) She asks to talk to Ronnie, but unfortunately, Stein's the only one able to drive the meat machine that was Ronnie Raymond. Wells calls Caitlin in to look at
his screen saver an animation of RonnieStein's cells. They're gonna explode and soon, unless they can split the personalities apart.
Barry and RonnieStein have a little heart to heart, and Stein tells Barry that life is too short to live with regrets, so Barry zooms over to the newspaper with a super-duper-hot Ghost Pepper and tells Linda that if she doesn't agree to go out with him, he's gonna eat that pepper. This is a good plan. No way this will backfire. She sort of waffles on it, so Barry eats the pepper, almost dies, and Linda relents while literally everybody – including a pouty Iris – looks on in horror. Mission accomplished?
Wells goes into his secret science closet and gets a gun to "take care of" RonnieStein, but then he's like, "Oh, wait. I have this science thing in the Professor Zoom harness that might work." So he goes with Plan B and builds a Firestorm-y looking device to go on RonnieStein's body. But WHOOPS, RonnieStein took off to the outskirts of the city to hopefully not kill anybody when he explodes, so Barry and Caitlin go out there to find him.
Cisco's computer beeps and he sneaks off to call Joe cuz the computer found a match on the blood. It's not Wells' blood: it's Barry's!!! Joe's like, "Yeah, Kid Barry," but Cisco tells him it's adult Barry. Which, I mean, duh, we know that the red blur is a time-traveling Barry trying to stop his mom's murder, but I guess now Joe's gonna start figuring that out as well. Joe should read more comics.
Out in the mountains, Barry and Caitlin give RonnieStein the device and RonnieStein smooches Caitlin, but the device doesn't seem to work and Firestorm, not unlike Neo Tokyo, is about to EXPLODE.
Cut to a secret Army base where General Actual Human Giant Clancy Brown is informed that there was a nuclear detonation outside Central City. The General is like, "Aw heck yes. Go ge me my F.I.R.E.S.T.O.R.M." Aaand scene.
FLASH FACTS: Random Observations
- I'm super-glad this Firestorm plot seems to be wrapping up, and hopefully we can get away from brooding, damaged RonnieStein and get closer to something a little less doom-n-gloom. Also, that acting style is not a good fit for Robbie Amell. Growly, weird and twitchy is not his strong suit.
- Also, I have nothing against the character, but at this point I feel like maybe they should have just done a Firestorm show? It's really been the Flash/Firestorm Super Friends Hour for the last while.
- Tom Cavanagh continues his trend of the weirdest damn line-reads on television, doing some bizarre low-key Shatner aping every time he has to deliver a block of pseudo-sciencey malarkey. Speeding up bits, slamming lines together, doing weird voice modulations from line to line. I mean, I can only imagine what it's like to have to say that stuff out loud,so whatever you gotta do to make it work, I guess.
- Quentin Quale, the old nerd who got burned up, was originally created by Gerry Conway and Pat Broderick, appearing first in Firestorm, vol. 2, issue #1. Quale was Stein's project manager at Concordance Research and essentially fired Stein from Concordance.
FLASH-FORWARD: Future Happenings
The teaser for next week's episode, "Fallout," we get even more Firestorm stuff, as well as the show opening up the time travel door. Are y'all ready for some Flashpoint?