The Flash S1x13 “The Nuclear Man”
WARNING! MAJOR SPOILERS!
With the Firestorm storyline slowly progressing over the past few episodes, it was high time that we got a story focusing on the character, and with the title The Nuclear Man, being pretty heavily connected with the character (In fact, the most recent Firestorm comic was entitled The Fury of Firestorm: Nuclear Men), it was great to see that this episode mostly didn’t disappoint, splitting time between yet more character development and the answer to that mystery question, just who is Firestorm? Yes, it may not be the most action-packed episode on the whole scheme of things, but still, there was plenty of awesome stuff going on here that made it a mostly successful one.
After weeks of building up the mystery of Ronnie Raymond (Robbie Amell, who, in case you haven’t realized yet, is the cousin of Arrow actor Stephen Amell), we finally got the answer here as to just who Firestorm really was. Yes, he may look like Ronnie on the surface, but his mind and body was that of Professor Stein. This was an interesting revelation that will be fun to watch develop going forward, and it was good to see Ronnie/Stein interacting with the main cast at their S.T.A.R. Labs HQ, even if he may not have been Ronnie himself. Whilst Robbie Amell still has a bit to work with regarding his acting here, he does enough to make it seem just about believable, with the ending scene between him and Caitlin being a particular standout.
It’s also worthy of note that The Flash has started to become a tad repetitive of recent weeks, and aside from a few ongoing story-lines, it’s mostly been about stopping meta-humans from causing trouble. This week provided a nice breather from the endless amount of evil meta-humans that were being created left right and centre, shifting the attention onto saving a meta-human instead, and it pulled it off effectively especially as this is something that the series has been building towards for a while. The show even refrained from shoe-horning in a random bad guy as well, which is something that Arrow would have probably done if it had been presented with a situation like this. So whilst there may not have been a lot of action happening, the tension was still there, as the team desperately tried to prevent Ronnie from going Nuclear. Also, it’s worth noting here that one of my favourite scenes from this episode was one of the more action-orientated ones, with Firestorm pulling a helpless Barry up into the air.
We got some character development here with the Barry/Linda Park romance which made a nice change of pace from the usual love triangle involving Eddie (If I recall correctly, Eddie didn’t even feature once this week, although feel free to correct me if I’m wrong), Iris and Barry. The show gave Linda a bit more depth here and it’s good to see that the show is able to flesh out her character a bit more. However, with the attention focused on Firestorm, these scenes came across as more of a side-plot than the main storyline, but when coupled with Cisco’s own scenes this week, it served as a nicely paced break between all focus on Firestorm and worked in a way that didn’t leave audiences simply wanting to fast forward to the part of the plot with the main mystery.
Before we finish for this week, it’s also worth noting that this episode was packed with some nice, humorous scenes, with of the funniest moments of the week came with Barry trying on his clothes for his date with Linda, and Joe threatening him when he couldn’t decide. As well as that, not only did we also got a reference to The Human Torch as well, with “flame on,” being thrown in there as well of course, addressing Firestorm, but also comics writer Mark Waid (who is doing some awesome work with Daredevil at the moment) was name dropped this week, who worked on The Flash before the New 52 relaunch. 52 was also mentioned as well in connection with Waid’s name.
So on the whole then, The Nuclear Man was a pretty strong episode with some nice attention on Firestorm. Yes, the Barry/Iris element, when it featured, was among the less effective parts of the week, but on the whole, this episode was very much an entertaining one and hopefully we will see the Flash writers continue to tackle the Firestorm character in the next few episodes, assuming of course the Nuclear detonation is not the character’s end. There’s plenty more potential here to explore with him as we properly start to enter the second half of the season.