Apr 9, 2018
The Flash: Reunited And It Feels So Good
In the aftermath of last week’s giant mushroom cloud cliffhanger, the evil General Eiling returns, still trying to create a superhero army, willing or not
Previously on The Flash: Cisco and Joe re-investigated Barry’s mom’s murder at the family’s old house and found adult!Barry’s blood, Ronnie and Martin are sharing a superpowered body, and Team Flash tried to separate them with cliffhanger success.
Flash is speeding Caitlin away from Firestorm’s detonation, but he can’t outrun the shockwave. It
pulverizes them, shreds them with shrapnel, collapses their lungs, and kills them knocks them down. They’re fine, of course, even non-superpowered Caitlin, who skidded along the ground after being dropped by someone who can run the speed of sound.
Caitlin looks back at the mushroom cloud in dismay, because they may’ve outrun the explosion, but they couldn’t have avoided all the radiation. Surprise, though, the sensors in Barry’s suit aren’t picking up any radiation, so they speed back in and pick their way down to the brand new crater they just installed outside Central City. Ronnie, or at least his body, is lying in the center of it with strategically tattered clothing, and he and Caitlin kiss. It’s really Ronnie! And Martin Stein is nearby; where he got his body is just as much a mystery as it is in the comics (as long as the mystery is in the comics too, I’m kinda okay with it). Safe and mostly sound, they all head back to STARLS.
Meanwhile, General Eiling’s men are searching the crater and find imprints of two different people. Eiling realizes that means Firestorm was separated, though it’s unclear how he knows so much about Firestorm. Either Hartley has been blabbing to more people than just Cisco, or Eiling is spying on Team Flash somehow.
In the lab, Caitlin is examining Ronnie (no, that’s not a euphemism). He’s fine, except for being 100.6 degrees. Harrison performed the same examination on Martin (without the kissing, presumably), and since they’re separate, they can’t harness nuclear energy anymore. But Martin is running hot, too, which maybe indicates they aren’t back to complete normal. He and Ronnie get in a body-sharers’ spat about how Martin never let Ronnie drive, and Ronnie was too busy being panicky in the back of the brain to help with anything. Unsurprisingly, Harrison dispatches Barry to take Martin home.
At the police station, Joe has been worried, what with Barry not answering his calls and a giant crater in the Badlands, but what he actually needs to talk to Barry about isn’t that. He takes Barry back to his old house, because DNA evidence is best viewed at the crime scene. Joe spills the whole deal about developing pictures from the mirror and shows Barry the slide show, revealing the bit about the blood too. Barry seems a little upset about the fact that in the future he’s going to go back to the past and fail to save his mother.
Harrison says “time travel” with something like incredulity, which is pretty funny coming from him. He agrees that it’s possible but has lots of problems, which Cisco likens to Terminator or Back to the Future for Joe’s benefit. Harrison says he doesn’t know enough to give Joe some sort of working theory on time travel, but Cisco thinks there’s someone who might be able to: Martin Stein. The other lab in town that’s working on tachyons might make more sense, but whatever.
At the newspaper, reluctant-mentor Mason offers Iris a Danish, but she’s more interested in the blueprint of the particle accelerator on his desk. She asks if he knows anything about physics, and he says it “might as well be in Dothraki,” which amuses me, because of course it does.
Mason, turns out, is suspicious of Harrison’s motivations for admitting he knew the accelerator might fail, and he just doesn’t think that the explanation that Harrison is a good person holds water. Iris argues that he saved Barry’s life, but Mason is exploring the angle that maybe Harrison wanted the accelerator to explode. Turns out the Danish is a bribe for Iris to ask some questions, since her family is all involved with Harrison and co. these days. The Danish is not a fair price, but both Mason and Iris know she won’t be able to resist her curiosity.
Barry is at the Steins, chatting with Martin’s wife Clarissa. She thinks Martin seems a little different: for one, he wants pizza and he used to hate pizza (which is impossible). Barry uses his Flash powers to acquire a pizza, and Martin is grateful enough to invite him into the home lab while he stuffs his face. Barry’s there to talk about time travel, and turns out Martin has entire chalkboards covered with thoughts about it. He waxes poetic about the Chicago World’s Fair and Tesla (continuity note: Tesla shouldn’t exist in this universe, because in episode 4 they used a picture of Tesla to represent in-universe scientist Saul Erdel instead) and asks Barry if he’d go visit some moment in history. Barry thinks he already has. Martin thinks the implication is that Barry will be eventually be able to run so fast that the kinetic energy buildup breaks a hole in the space-time continuum, allowing him to access the “space-time superhighway” that Martin believes allows for time travel. He’s delighted by the prospect, but Barry’s not; he realizes that he didn’t save his mom, even though he was there.
Caitlin and Ronnie are out together, and Caitlin’s catching him up on Team Flash’s adventures with tales of Captain Boomerang. Ronnie asks if she’s ready for life to get back to normal, and Caitlin is confused; this is normal for her now. Ronnie wants to leave town and start over, but Caitlin is not on board with that idea. Her job hunting metas is important to her, dangerous or not. He give an impassioned speech about STAR Labs taking a year of their lives, even accidentally, and how he doesn’t want that to happen again, and Caitlin is not really buying it. But she’s more immediately concerned with the laser targeting dots that have appeared on Ronnie’s chest. They get down before General Eiling’s men can hit Ronnie with a tranquillizer dart, but the chaos seems to be affecting Ronnie—and Martin, who is starts staggering around in his house. Ronnie escapes into the alley, but soldiers are waiting for him. Martin realizes that his suddenly racing heart is coming from Ronnie and sends Barry to find him.
Eiling himself is there, and he tells Ronnie he wants Firestorm. Ronnie seems confused because he thinks he’s stopped being Firestorm, but before Eiling can elaborate, Flash arrives. He takes out all of Eiling’s men and comes to a stop, allowing Eiling to throw some little box into the air. Hundreds of needles rain down on Barry, all of them impaling him, and Eiling exposits that the microfragments are attracted to kinetic energy. The weapon was specially made just for Flash. Caitlin shows up just in time, of course, in a STAR Labs van, and Ronnie punches Eiling and drags a groaning Barry into the van. They speed off, and Eiling says this is a war, because he is terrible at being a general.
At STARLS, Caitlin is removing each fragment individually while Harrison warns that he’s healing around them, making them harder to pull out.
Barry urges them to hurry for another reason: Eiling is going to be after Martin, too. But Martin is fine, which they know because he’s showed up at STARLS. As Caitlin looks at Martin’s and Ronnie’s brainwaves, which are perfectly in synch, Martin says he’s still inside Ronnie, and Cisco makes the joke so I don’t have to. Martin’s worried about his wife, but Barry promises to keep Clarissa safe as long as Martin stays at STARLS. Barry brings Caitlin and Ronnie to his own home, always the best place to go when being hunted by a crazy military general. Iris shows up a few minutes later to make dinner, because it’s Tuesday, a fact both Joe and Barry have forgotten. Because Iris can’t know anything ever, they introduce Ronnie as Caitlin’s cousin Sam visiting from Coast City (comic check: home of the Green Lantern) and claim Caitlin has a gas leak in her apartment. They are all fucking terrible liars.
Harrison stops by Eiling’s office to chat, and Eiling lets everyone know that he totally knows Barry is the Flash because Barry took his damn mask off after Eiling shot Plastique. THIS IS WHY WE WEAR MASKS, BARRY. Anyway, Harrison admits he doesn’t know how Firestorm works, and Eiling doesn’t either–but he also doesn’t care. Eiling seems to think Harrison will decide to turn Ronnie and Martin over to him. Why did Harrison go there, again? That was utterly pointless.
Barry is moping in the living room the next morning when Joe comes across him, concerned. Joe is feeling guilty for telling Barry about the blood, because it’s still his job to guard Barry against harm and heartache, and knowing he was there the night his mother died (well, twice there) is just another burden. Barry realizes that to find out the blood was his, they must’ve tested it against him specifically, and Joe admits that Cisco tested the sample against everybody on Team Flash. Cue another lecture on how Harrison clearly had nothing to do with Nora’s murder.
Harrison pours Martin a glass of scotch, and they talk shop and life. Briefly, because Martin passes out. Harrison drugged him. (At the West home, Ronnie is dizzy too.) Eiling shows up to drag Martin away. Harrison sure looks like he has an ulterior motive, though.
At the newspaper, Mason has security camera footage of Caitlin and Ronnie at the coffee shop before and during Eiling’s attack. He’s asked the Army if soldiers are allowed to storm a civilian coffee shop on U.S. soil and gotten a “no comment” for his trouble. Iris thinks it’s weird that Caitlin failed to mention the attack when Iris saw her the night before. But Iris is sure there’s an explanation. Mason leaves, and Iris continues researching, bringing up the one picture on the Flash blog of Firestorm, who she finally recognizes as Caitlin’s “cousin Sam.”
At STARLS, Harrison is telling the team about how Eiling just marched on in and took Martin. Barry says they have to get him back, but Harrison is concerned that they have weapons against the Flash so it won’t be that easy. The more immediate problem, though, is where Eiling would’ve taken Martin. When Ronnie brings that up, the entire team looks at him. Guess who’s the new bloodhound! Ronnie is focusing on trying to feel Martin, but it doesn’t seem to be working—at least until Harrison suggests that their link is just residual and will wear off with time. Then he starts to get some feelings.
Eiling is interrogating Martin in a very, very cold room, which is what Ronnie was able to feel through their connection. Martin insists Firestorm was never meant to be a weapon, and he tells Eiling he’ll die before he lets that happen. Eiling is unperturbed, because they’re going to kill Martin, obviously. They’re just going to dissect him first. As two of Eiling’s people–in plainclothes, no military uniforms–jab Martin with some sort of cattle prod, Ronnie arches out of his chair, too. Inspired by pain, apparently, Ronnie breaks a glass and begins carving something into his own forearm: the word WHERE.
There’s a convenient plaque on the wall that says “military research facility #27,” so Martin starts tapping his watch/cuffs against the cold metal of his chair. Ronnie can feel the tapping, and they quickly realize it’s Morse code. Luckily, facility #27 is on Google Maps. Caitlin doesn’t want Ronnie to go, because if he gets too close to Martin under stress, they might merge again. But Ronnie points out that it probably won’t end well for him if Martin dies, either. Cisco gives him the quantum splicer, and he and Barry take off.
The facility is appropriately creepy, and as Barry and Ronnie consider how to get in, Harrison warns that if Ronnie merges with Martin again, they may not be able to separate them. Meanwhile, a scientist exposits to Eiling that they’ve isolated the Firestorm matrix, so Eiling heads on in to execute Martin. Ronnie knows this, somehow, so Barry speeds in just in time, pulling Martin out and back to Ronnie. (So much for that not being so easy.) Before they can flee, though, a jeep pulls up and fires a rocket at the trio. Maybe Flash should have traveled more than 20 feet outside the base? Flash leaps up to grab and redirect the rocket, but as soon as he touches it, it goes off: it’s filled with weaponized phosphorus, eating away at him. Harrison instructs him to create a vacuum by running, which will keep the phosphorus from…doing whatever it’s doing.
Ronnie and Martin are running, but the military is on their trail. Ronnie says they have to merge or they’ll never get away. While Caitlin protests, they don’t really have a choice; Harrison thinks if they accept the merge rather than fighting it this time, it’ll be a lot smoother. Ronnie sticks the splicer to his chest and they come together. It’s actually really awesome, and now we can hear Martin’s voice in Ronnie’s head, which is how Firestorm is often represented in the comics.
They confront Eiling, but he’s not afraid—he has another little gadget that blows out the flames and knocks Firestorm down, destabilizing the matrix. Eiling pulls out his gun again, but he should shoot faster, because again Flash is there to save the day in the nick of time. For some reason they do not take Eiling into custody; they just head home. No way Eiling will think to follow them there! Except he doesn’t, of course.
Barry has some pretty serious phosphorus burns, but he’s okay. Ronnie and Martin are going to try to split without a big explosion this time. Wanna head out of the city just as a precaution, guys? Nah. Because of the power of friendship and acceptance, everything goes fine.
Ronnie and Martin are saying goodbye to Caitlin and Clarissa, because they have to stay a step ahead of Eiling and they can’t do that by staying at STAR Labs. Also, because Harrison totally drugged Martin and turned him over to Eiling, but apparently we’re just going to let that go. Martin tells Barry that he thinks he’ll get a second chance with the whole time travel thing, so to try not to worry too much. With final goodbyes, Firestorm merges and takes off.
Cisco and Caitlin are having coffee while Caitlin recaps the whole losing-gaining-losing thing with Ronnie. She’s okay now, though, because she has a good life and she knows Ronnie’s alive and well and she’ll see him again. Of course, Iris runs into them, asking after Caitlin’s “cousin.” She claims he went home to Midway, because she cannot remember their lie for ONE DAY.
Back at the paper, Iris slides the photo of Firestorm across Mason’s desk. Iris is in for figuring out what the hell is going on at STAR Labs.
At Barry’s old house, he’s brought Joe over (apparently when Joe sent the owner, Sherry, to the movies last episode, it was forever). He says the slide show from the mirror shows him what he did wrong to lose the fight last time, meaning when he does travel back in time, he’ll do it right. My brain hurts.
Eiling is pouring himself a drink when the lights flicker in his compound. A beat later, a red streak–Harrison–speeds by and picks him up. He’s deposited in the sewer from last episode, and when he asks who the not-Flash is, Harrison takes off his mask. Eiling is appalled that Harrison is “one of them.” Harrison says yeah, and he protects his own. Which is why he’s brought Eiling to this lovely sewer. There’s a growl from deep inside, and Eiling wants to know who it is. “An old friend,” says Harrison, smirking. Grodd growls, “General,” except telepathically. “Dear God,” exclaims Eiling.
“Not God, Grodd,” says Grodd, telepathically, and it’s amazing, because if anybody pitched a show featuring a telepathic gorilla and a metahuman who’s actually two people merged into one and on fire, and Captain fucking Boomerang, I would think they’d get laughed out of the state of California, and yet…here we are. WELL DONE, CW.