The Flash: "The Nuclear Man" Review

Kalem Lalonde's picture


Since it’s returned from the midseason hiatus, The Flash has been building towards Firestorm’s first central role. Every episode contained advancements to this plot-line and this week we finally got the payoff to all the buildup. And it pays off decently, but this episode is just the beginning of a two part crossover. We’ll see how the Firestorm story turns out next Tuesday but for now, it hasn’t reached the maximum potential of the show it’s featured in.

Aside from the Firestorm story, which I will get to later, this week’s Flash presented 2 storylines. One I loved and the other, not so much. The CW has their fingerprints all over the new love triangle between Barry, Linda and Iris. This episode elevated Iris to unlikeable status for me as she attempted to sabotage Barry’s new relationship by informing Linda of Barry’s “lingering” feelings for her. I really don’t like her character drama that can be summed up with, I don’t want you but I don’t want anyone else to have you. Iris is becoming more irritating with each episode and her actions here broke the boundaries for me. I love this show and this creative team but they really don’t know how to handle supporting female characters. First Laurel (season 2), now Felicity and Iris. Good luck Supergirl….

Though, on the other side of the love triangle came Linda, a character whom I predominantly enjoyed throughout this episode. She’s an independent and witty woman, devoted to her work as a journalist and she proved to be amusing here. I loved that she was moving too fast for an inexperienced Barry whom she has solid chemistry with. This is a good primer for her character but I’m just worried that she’s going to fall into the pit of the aforementioned poor writing of woman of this creative team.

Typical CW drama aside, this episode build on my favourite plot-line of this show, set-up 2 episodes ago where Joe West begins to investigate the murder of Nora Allen with one suspect in mind; Harrison Wells. This led to one of the best team-ups of this series with Joe asking Cisco to aid him. Obviously, this led to a lot of great comedic beats (Joe’s reaction to the current resident of the Allen residence making passes at him and Cisco making his remarks was great) but it also served as an advancement for the underlying mystery of Nora Allen’s murder.

Unfortunately, though it isn’t much of a mystery for some people. I feel like I know exactly how this story is going to turn out. It’s revealed that an adult Barry Allen was at the scene of his mother’s murder and now people are speculating that Reverse Flash is a future Barry Allen. No way. In the first episode it was completely evident that there were two streaks fighting at the scene of the crime and one of them is obviously Barry. He followed the Reverse Flash back in time and tried to stop him but failed. I’m hoping that the writers have a few tricks up their sleeves and I’ll be greatly disappointed if my predictions become real. It’s too obvious to comic readers and Geoff Johns should know that.

Predictions and worries aside, Joe’s doubt of Wells’ sincerity and motivations continues to be a great story for the character. Seeing him talk to Cisco about how you view people when you become a cop was a standout for this episode. Cisco who has been a bit of a naïve character and is brought out of his bubble when he realizes that Joe’s suspicions may be justified as he notices Wells’ callous attitude towards Firestorm. The tension within Team Flash will soon begin to rise and I’m eager for this show to begin focusing on that. I’m always more pleased with a show that focuses on one storyline rather than cases of the week. This is what Flash is building to with this storyline and I can’t wait!

In terms of Firestorm, this episode did a decent job of bringing his character into the show. Ronnie Raymond has yet to make an appearance as Dr. Martin Stein remains the mind dwelling within Ronnie’s body. The episode did a good job of conveying the tragedy of Stein’s character even though some of his actions were questionable and strange. Specifically the scene when he breaks into his own home and completely freaks his wife out. The way that handle that situation was ridiculous and the scene was a little awkward. Though, I must give credit to Robbie Amell’s performance in said scene and in the overall episode. Amell was faced with the challenge of portraying an older man living inside the body of a younger man. He did a solid job of changing up his mannerisms and postures to come across as believable scientist (and sometimes he reminded me a lot of his cousin Stephen).

Though, my favourite aspects of the Firestorm story was Caitlin Snow’s arc. I haven’t been the greatest fan of Caitlin Snow throughout this series but she’s been on the rise for me since her great showing in last week’s episode. Her accepting that Barry has to go after Ronnie was a strong development for her and made me like her more. I also appreciated her chemistry with Dr. Stein and all of her reactions to seeing her deceased fiancée’s body walk around without him in it. Which all climaxed in a strong and poignant ending where Caitlin hopelessly begged for Ronnie’s survival. The episode ended on a strong note, setting up next week’s story quite well.

The Flash has been building towards a Firestorm-centric episode since its 2015 debut and overall, the payoff was strong. This might just be my least favourite episode of the show thus far and that’s saying something because it was still quite enjoyable. We’ll see next week how this whole Firestorm story plays out but for now it’s good but not great.