The Flash: The Man with Two Brains
Previously on The Flash: Ronnie is Firestorm along with Martin Stein, and Hartley, a.k.a. Pied Piper, knows all about it.
Barry is getting ready for a date. Yes, a real date. He’s changing his clothes like a million times, except super-speedily. Joe approves his sartorial choice, which makes him change again, which makes Joe threaten to shoot him if he keeps it up, so he takes off. Along the way, he buys a flower from a stand by tucking the money in the flower lady’s apron like she’s a stripper and is waiting outside Central City Picture News when Linda comes out. He banters awkwardly about the flower for a moment, and they take off for spicy tacos.
Barry’s tolerance for spicy is waaaay lower than Linda. She heads off to wash spice-related victory from her hands, and Cisco calls Barry with news of a convenience store robbery in progress. Barry wants the police to handle this one tiny crime so he can continue to be on a date, but Cisco guilts him into helping out. Luckily, he makes it back to the table before Linda returns from the bathroom. Despite the fact that there are at least 7 tacos and a ton of side items still on their plates, they’re moving on to Date Stage 2.
They’re walking with coffee and Linda wants to know what Barry isn’t telling her, because great guys like him aren’t just single. Before he can confess that he’s in love with his best friend/sister and always will be, tough luck, Linda, she gets a phone call from work and walks away to take it, which opens the door for Joe to call Barry. Even though he was reading in an armchair when Barry left on his date, he is now at the police station, because apparently he and Eddie are the only detectives that work there, and major crimes detectives often handle attempted-suicides-in-progress, which is why he’s calling Barry. Eddie is helpfully telling the guy on the top of the building that he has everything to live for, but before he can call back “No, I don’t!” Barry speeds him down the building. So he kinda did get to jump, really.
Barry’s back with Linda (…where did their coffee cups go?) and they’re wrapping things up. She thanks him, and she kisses him to see if she wants a second date. I thought their first date was lunch last episode? The continuity in this episode is already killing me, and it has been less than five minutes. They kiss again, and a second/third date seems imminent.
At Concordance Research (comic check: Concordance is a research firm, though it’s actually in Manhattan, and has been home to Martin Stein and his FIRESTORM team), Dr. Lee from Stargate is leaving the facility when Ronnie calls his name—Quentin Quale (comic check: Stein’s supervisor). It’s clear from the conversation, though, that Ronnie is not the one talking: it’s Martin, since they share a body now. Martin’s trying to convince Quentin that they actually went to school together and protested Vietnam together, but it’s a tough sell when he looks like he’s not yet 30 and also that he got makeover tips from the Winter Soldier.
Martin pulls his trump card: he knows that Quentin’s brother committed suicide and Quentin found his body, which of course Quentin has never told anyone else, ever, except Martin. He’s looking for help from Quentin, but he bursts into dramatic flames, with Quentin apparently caught in the outburst.
At the coffee shop the next morning, Cisco is congratulating Barry on successfully balancing his date and his crimefighting, and Barry announces that date number 2/3 is tonight. And that means it’s time for Cisco and Caitlin to reveal to Barry that not only can he not get drunk, his super-powered cells mean he better stock up on mental images of naked grandmas, because he’s likely to be a little…quick. In bed. Yeah, they’re not very subtle. (You’d think Barry would have already discovered this problem on his own, so to speak.)
Barry protests that he’s not thinking about sex yet, and conveniently Iris is sitting nearby to overhear and join in. While she’s weirdly awkward about Barry and Linda, Cisco gets a call and takes off without real explanation, but because this is television, the news (comic check: I just registered that the news channel we always see on this show is channel 52—possibly a reference to DC’s New 52?) is right then reporting that a “mysterious blaze” has left Quentin in critical condition.
Cisco isn’t off to investigate Firestorm, though; he’s meeting Joe at the house where Nora Allen was murdered, because Joe has some theories on who really killed her and wants Cisco’s technical expertise. I bet there’s lots of trace evidence left! And the people who live there won’t mind! Cisco suggests bringing in Harrison and Caitlin, but Joe obviously disagrees because he thinks Harrison did it. Joe knocks on the door, and both of them are distracted by the attractive blonde who opens the door because apparently they’re 12 years old and not fucking professionals. Her name is Sherry, and she’s Leeta from Deep Space Nine. She does not mind if they come in.
Harrison is reading about Firestorm’s attack–albeit accidental–on Quentin and thinks he’s too dangerous to let roam free anymore. Caitlin clarifies that it’s not Ronnie, it’s Martin in Ronnie’s body. (I’ll clarify that that isn’t how Firestorm is supposed to work, so I hope they stick with the comic version, where both consciousnesses exist in the body.) She calls Martin a vampire. That’s…not how vampires work, Caitlin. Barry wants to know if there’s a reason Martin’s brain is driving Ronnie’s body, so apparently we’re going to pretend there’s science involved here. Harrison absolutely butchers Darwinism in his explanation, claiming that a new organism picks the strongest parts of itself to survive (real life check: I could give you a lengthy explanation about why this is wrong, but suffice it to say…fucking no). He brings up a picture of Stein, and Barry realizes that the day of the accelerator explosion he had a conversation with him on the train.
FLASHback! Barry is reading Harrison’s book and admiring STARLS out the window, and he randomly brings the old guy across the aisle into the conversation. Martin allows this instead of telling the weirdo on the train to go fuck himself. They quote Einstein at one another, Martin insults Millennials, Barry allows him to, and Martin asks if physics is Barry’s trade or hobby, because knowing an Einstein quotation and reading a scientist’s autobiography means “physicist.” Barry says both and explains that he’s a CSI, which is a job that actually involves minimal physics. They say their goodbyes at Barry’s stop, and Barry blathers about how he’s taking Iris, who is totally not his girlfriend, yet, a stellar end to a stupid conversation. As the doors close, the camera scrolls down so we can see that Martin’s briefcase says FIRESTORM. (Way to keep a low profile with the U.S. Army actively snatching and destroying all your research.)
In real time, Barry, Harrison, and Caitlin are talking to Martin’s wife, Clarissa. Barry is the one asking questions, while Harrison gets jealous over a dead(ish) man’s scientific prizes. She admits that his marriage to science made her jealous from time to time, too. Clarissa confirms that she hasn’t seen Martin since his disappearance, but when Barry shows her a picture of Ronnie, she recognizes him.
FLASHback! Ronnie, with much shorter hair (and a wedding band, even though he and Caitlin were not yet married—what, was Martin’s ring the strongest part of the organism for survival?), looks in a broken mirror, confused. A conveniently located discarded paper shows him it’s been a month since the explosion, and he takes off to check on Clarissa, who is less than thrilled to find a strange hobo in her house. He mutters crazy stuff about losing his keys and mind and body, and when Clarissa calls the police, he runs off.
In real time, Harrison muses that Ronnie and Martin both feel the need to protect their women, which is kind of a gross sentiment, actually. Since Clarissa says she feels like she’s being watched, still, Harrison and Caitlin decide to stake out her house for a glimpse of Firestorm while Barry goes on his date.
At Barry’s old house, Cisco is unsurprisingly not finding any evidence 15 years later, even with his enhanced tech. Sherry has slipped into something more comfortable and offers them drinks.
Cisco claims that he will not judge Joe for taking her up on her “sinful daiquiris,” but Joe is focused on the case. Even though it’s been a decade and a half and everything in the room has changed, Joe realizes that there’s a mirror in the living room that was in the crime scene photos. He surmises that Sherry purchased it when the house’s contents were liquidated via estate sale. Apparently silver nitrate, used for developing photographs, was also used to back mirrors, and Cisco thinks that the speedsters’ flashes might have exposed images onto the mirror back (real life check: …really?).
Later that night, Linda shows up at the West house to meet Barry for their date. She’s impressed with his house, though he does readily admit that he grew up there, and she rightfully teases him a bit about living with his parents. Anyway, Barry has a whole plan for dinner, mini-golf, and jazz (his foster dad hooked him up, omg), but Linda has a different idea–and it involves kissing and fading to black.
Harrison and Caitlin are staking out Clarissa’s house. Caitlin asks rhetorically why Marty would come back there, which allows Harrison to get all philosophical about home being where you feel safe and loved. He suggests that Ronnie is home for Caitlin, and she says not anymore. Harrison says he is determined to bring them both home, so I guess he still thinks they’re two entities and not one fake-Darwinian organism. Of course, Firestorm shows up, blazing as ever, the one night of their stakeout.
Linda and Barry are half-naked and making out on the couch. I hope Barry put a sock on the doorknob for Joe. He starts vibrating a little in his, uh, excitement, and she likes it, although she obviously doesn’t know what happened. He’s kind of worried about moving too fast in the metaphorical sense, but she just shoves him down on the couch; this is not a concern for her. Barry’s phone beeps, of course, and he tries to ignore it. But he can’t not check, and of course the Firestorm sighting means he has to go. He awkwardly rambles about the relative importance of this secret thing and her and says he’ll text-slash-call-slash-both her before stumbling out the door.
Flash arrives to confront Martin, which goes super well! JK, he immediately flames on (note: he is not the Human Torch, Barry) and explodes a car, so Barry tackles him, which is stupid because Firestorm immediately flames on and flies them both into the air. Harrison and Caitlin are following in the van, and somehow Barry is not burned to crisp yet. Martin takes him up really high and drops him, and he just happens to fall onto the van, but is apparently fine. Martin gears up to blast him, but Caitlin yells and Firestorm flies off instead.
Joe and Cisco are spending the evening in Barry’s old house–Joe exposits that he sent Sherry off to the movies–trying to expose the photos that the mirror took of the speedsters who killed Nora fifteen years ago. Even dealing with comic book science here, this is stretching it. Cisco has already developed the exposures, digitally enhanced them, and extrapolated a 3D hologram, because of course he has. Sure enough, they can see Nora–and baby Barry–surrounded by two speedsters, one yellow and one red. But they can see something new—blood spatter on the wall, before Nora was killed. Are you seriously expecting me to believe that either a) nobody noticed the blood spatter at the crime scene or b) they assumed it was Nora’s and never tested it at all? COME ON, SHOW. Anyway, they pull back the wallpaper and take a sample of the mystery blood spatter.
Barry comes by the newspaper to see Linda, who uses the local hockey team’s recent loss as a metaphor for Barry running out on their making out the night before. He apologizes, but she’s still a little annoyed and wants to know if she’s wasting her very valuable free time with him. He tries to say no, but of course gets a text and has to run. Iris comes in as he dashes out, and she and Linda take the opportunity to talk about him (this show generally passes the Bechdel test, but every episode does not). Linda asks what Barry’s last girlfriend was like, and Iris says he hasn’t had one in a while because he had this unreciprocated thing and he might just need a little time. Linda looks like she is not fooled for one nanosecond.
Barry, Caitlin, and Clarissa find Martin/Ronnie living under a bridge, because Barry placed a tracker on him during their rumble the night before. He and Clarissa talk a bit, with her verifying it’s really Martin, and him verifying that Ronnie’s consciousness is still floating around in there somewhere. Clarissa tells him that Caitlin and Barry can help him, and he seems amenable this time.
At STARLS, Harrison exposits that Martin thinks he can split them apart with the right equipment, which makes one wonder why he didn’t go to the giant physics lab in the city a long time ago. Ronnie/Martin comes back in after a shower and hundred-dollar haircut that he somehow got in STARLS. He says he feels clearer, and Harrison admits that he gave him a mess of antipsychotics and mood stabilizers. That may be the most unbelievable thing in this episode yet, because anybody with a mental illness knows that shit can take weeks to kick in, if you’re even dealing with the right compound in the first place. He and Caitlin go to run some tests while Barry takes a phone call from Linda. Apparently she called the station looking for him, and they said he’d taken some personal time, which means his excuse about having police business isn’t going to fly. She says she isn’t mad, but thinks it’s best if they don’t go any further, not because he’s being flaky, but because he’s not over Iris.
Probably four seconds later, Barry is at the newspaper to talk to Iris about telling the woman he’s trying to date about their not-feelings. She protests that she didn’t say that to Linda and that she’s happy for him, but he thinks she’s trying to sabotage his relationship. She apologizes and offers to talk to Linda, but Barry pleads for her to not to do that, actually. He says he doesn’t have feeling for her anymore, and Iris doesn’t sound convinced when she says she knows that.
At the Worst Lab Ever, Cisco and Joe are running the blood samples from Barry’s old house and have found two different blood types, confirming their hypothesis that there were two speedsters at the murder scene, which you’d think the magic photo had already done. Cisco starts to run the DNA samples through the station’s database, but Joe thinks he should just test the samples against Harrison. Cisco is not amused by this development.
Caitlin is running tests on Ronnie/Martin–his temperature is 108–and Martin tells her that she can’t talk to Ronnie directly but he can still feel him inside his head. Martin has memories that he knows aren’t his—like the waterfall where Ronnie proposed to her. She retreats to the lab proper, where Harrison tells us that Ronnie/Martin’s physiology is unstable, and if it continues to be unstable, he could just explode.
Cisco storms back into STARLS, only to stop short at shirtless Ronnie (so say we all), though he quickly realizes that it’s actually Martin. Did you know that the actor who plays Ronnie is cousin to the actor who plays Oliver Queen on Arrow? Even though they have the same last name, I did not check this on Wikipedia until I saw Ronnie shirtless. Just saying.
Anyway, Cisco heads over to talk to the rest of the Team Flash about Firestorm, and Harrison estimates he has a couple of hours before he goes nuclear. Plus, of course, attempting to separate them (and thus negate the nuclear option), may also result in the nuclear option still happening, unless the host body (Ronnie) was no longer functional. Which makes no sense to me, and there is a lot that doesn’t make sense in this episode, for instance: if they can’t split them, then Barry can speed them to the middle of nowhere in about three seconds, so they lose nothing by trying.
Down in the accelerator tunnels, Cisco tries to appeal to Harrison, but he just tells him to stay put and wheels off. Barry goes to talk to Ronnie/Martin, meanwhile. He/They know what’s going on, and Martin remembers Barry from the train too, as well as his girl problems, which Barry thinks now is a good time to rehash. Even though he has two hours to live, Martin gives him a pep talk.
Cut to Barry coming by the newspaper, again. Linda is not sure what he’s doing there, but Barry is there to prove himself by holding Linda to an ultimatum: if she doesn’t go out with him again, he’ll eat a ghost pepper. She thinks he’s bluffing, so he eats a bite of the pepper. It does not go well, but she does agree on another date.
At STARLS, Harrison takes his gun from his secret lair, rubbing the back of his neck: he thinks the tachyon device can act as a quantum splicer, which leaves him with nothing to recharge with, but might prevent a nuclear disaster, so. Unfortunately, Martin is gone.
Harrison and Cisco are working on a device to fix Firestorm while Caitlin tracks him—Martin/Ronnie are in the Badlands, far away from anyone else. They finish the device, so Barry runs it and Caitlin to Firestorm.
Meanwhile, Cisco gets a notification and calls Joe—one of the DNA samples from Barry’s old house got a hit, and it’s Barry. And judging by the markers in the blood, it was speedster Barry, not kid Barry. The other sample didn’t hit, though: not Harrison.
In the Badlands, Martin is about to kill himself, but Caitlin has the splicer to separate them. They kiss, which is kind of creepy with Martin driving, and she activates the splicer.
It doesn’t seem to be working, so while Firestorm burns, Barry runs with Caitlin—and Firestorm explodes in a mushroom cloud.
But Team Flash isn’t the only one watching—General Eiling’s team picks up the detonation, and he deploys the rapid response team to pick up Firestorm: he knows exactly what he’s dealing with.