This The Flash review contains spoilers.
Now this is how you bounce back after a couple of bad episodes. I feel like I’ve said this before, but I really mean it this time. I wasn’t remotely satisfied with last week’s installment, “The Nuclear Man.” It was slow, poorly written, and felt completely out of sync with the rest of this season. “Fallout” didn’t just correct that, it delivered one of the season’s better episodes.
Sure, there are some problems. Eiling’s objective was standard baddie fare, and it certainly wasn’t the most inventive of plots. But Clancy Brown is such a welcome presence, especially after the last couple of weeks, that he really helped elevate the proceedings. Seriously, I don’t care what he’s doing. If Clancy Brown is the villain, I’m at least going to pay attention. As kinda by-the-numbers as Eiling’s scheme was, at least the stakes felt high this week, which they certainly didn’t last week.
One problem, though: I will never, ever buy that a badass like Wade Eiling…no, sorry…GENERAL Wade Eiling gets suckerpunched by Ronnie Raymond. C’mon. Overall, though, it was a cool scene, with some iconic Flash imagery as he takes out the soldiers. Eiling busted out some appropriate anti-metahuman artillery against Flash a couple of times, too.
I love this show, but I had my knives out for this episode. When Professor Stein made a “are we all going to sing Kumbaya” crack, I was ready to dig in. Seriously, we need to retire “Kumbaya” jokes across all media as a shorthand for a curmudgeon expressing dissatisfaction with people getting along. Whatever…all is forgiven It was the briefest of hangovers, because “Fallout” did what The Flash does best for nearly its entire runtime.
Remember last week when I felt we were shortchanged with Ronnie and Professor Stein? Not this week! A couple of (to be expected) talky “origin story” moments aside, they made Firestorm’s tricky backstory and power set work better than I ever would have thought possible. Firestorm is a great visual, but what really nailed it for me was the audio. Just the simplicity of hearing Professor Stein in Ronnie Raymond’s head like that…they got it right. Especially their bickering when not merged.
I’m not going to sit here and tell you I’m the world’s biggest Firestorm fan or any nonsense like that. But this is a character who presents certain unique challenges on screen. For the most part, instead of trying to avoid it, The Flash took it head on, and won.
Robbie Amell felt like a big hunk of wood last week, didn’t he? I can’t be the only one who noticed how much more at ease he seemed this week. What’s more, Victor Garber nails Professor Stein. Most importantly, the two work well on screen together. I don’t think this was really intended as a backdoor pilot for a Firestorm show (but really, you have to figure that emboldened by this show’s success spinning off of Arrow, that anyone we meet is likely on the negotiating table for a solo show at some point), but I could see Ronnie/Stein becoming a key supporting player on this show and fitting in nicely. Was it me, or did we hear the beginnings of a “Firestorm theme” in some of the musical cues at the end?
Aside from nicely wrapping up the Firestorm stuff (for now), they aren’t playing around with these time travel promises, are they? Yes, we’re back with the “magic mirror” nonsense, and the fact that Barry and Joe are still just waltzing out of the horny divorcee’s house like they own the joint is faintly ridiculous. But now that Barry is going to make it his business to not make the same mistakes he made in the past (future?) in his fight to save his Mom, this suddenly carries some more weight. What’s more, the potential amazingness of the time travel story we’re going to get aside, this also allowed for a (quickly becoming traditional) great moment between Joe and Barry.
Finally…maybe linking up and blasting off in Mrs. Stein’s front yard to make their escape wasn’t the brightest idea those two ever had. All is forgiven for the shot of Flash and Firestorm racing at the camera. That’s a visual I never in my wildest dreams thought I’d see in live-action.
By the way, by my count this is now the third Flash suit that’s been completely destroyed. Didn’t Cisco once say he only had three suits built? Are we about to see further tweaks and evolutions to the design? In general, the suit has grown on me, but it could still be a little more red…
– Lots of very meta jokes this week, weren’t there? It’s always Tuesday. References to “week three” of the show. Arrow and The Flash mostly take place in real time as it is, and I love the fact that now I’m going to be thinking about how much of each episode is actually happening on Tuesday or Wednesday.
Come to think of it, there is a hint of Marty/Doc Brown around Barry and Wells, isn’t there? Well, minus the bit about Doc Brown becoming an evil speedster who kills Marty’s mother, I guess.
– Coast City, home of Green Lantern Hal Jordan gets another mention this week, but there have been so many of those here and on Arrow that I’m becoming immune to them.
– A little cooler is the mention of Midway City, which, correct me if I’m wrong, this is the first time we’ve heard this mentioned. Midway City is the home of Hawkman and Hawkgirl. Considering that Smallville actually gave us a Hawkman visual that was pretty damn good, I’m so ready to see Flash take a crack at this. Our DC TV Atlas now contains: Central City, Keystone City, Starling/Star City, Coast City, Bludhaven, and Midway City. Am I missing any? If Opal City gets a mention I may die.
* thanks to Ronald (not Raymond) for keeping my city-focused head honest tonight, because the nations of Khandaq and Markovia also should be on the ol’ Atlas.
– Wait…there was a gorilla this week? Yes. Yes there was. Grodd looked great! Well, at least as great as can reasonably be expected on a TV budget, but I’m into this. His psychic voice sounded terrific. I’m so ready for this.
Just to map this out for you: The Reverse-Flash just fed Wade Eiling to Gorilla Grodd on TV. This is a convergence of ridiculousness that I can barely even process. Grodd is coming, boys and girls! Look busy!
– The Reverse-Flash suit looks pretty great up close and not in motion, doesn’t it?
– I wanted more out of Area 27. I figure the 27 is a callback to Detective Comics #27, the first appearance of Batman. But I really want to know more/see more of what’s been going on down there. Maybe there’s some random Thanagarian or Mikaal Tomas or Abin Sur or J’onn J’onzz stashed away in the basement. It’s all good. They had enough to worry about this week.
You know what to do if I missed any…
Seriously, if they ever find an excuse to use Opal City on this show, Mike Cecchini will lose his mind. Watch his meltdown in Twitter.