So much about this latest episode, The Nuclear Man, was on-target that it makes my task of nitpicking it apart that much more satisfying. Clearly I am not alone here, or you wouldn't be reading it. So let's get to it. (Spoilers below.)
Things kick off with a bang when Ronnie Raymond(ish) visits an old friend and colleague of his... before almost incinerating him. Turns out the FIRESTORM prototype merged/fused Ronnie with Dr. Stein, played by the always welcome Victor Garber. Stein's running Raymond's body, and the co-op is going badly. It threatens to go nuclear.
Flash and the gang track him down, get him a makeover, and manage to fit him with an iconic-yet-familiar-looking device. It's called a quantum splicer, it runs on phlebotinum, and it uses a small bit of tech that Dr. Wells may need later. Hmm.
In the B plot, Barry goes on a date with Linda Park, who appears determined to get in Barry's pants at the first available opportunity. She loves spicy food, which is TV shorthand for "an interesting character who will ultimately not be the right fit". They retire to Barry's house for some canoodling, where Barry pulls the following faux pas:
- If you can vibrate and your date is into that, you don't STOP VIBRATING
- Work. Can. Wait. Don't answer the phone.
- Don't leave a woman you barely know alone in your home. This is creepy as it is foolish.
Linda's put off by this enough to consult Iris (NO!!) on Barry Allen 101. Iris confides that no, Barry hasn't dated much recently, because he's been hung up on someone who didn't return his feelings. I really, really wish Barry was around to hear this. It could help cement things for him, things he needs to put behind him.
Linda calls things off with Barry as a result, but not without explaining why. Barry goes and asks Iris why she said those things. Her response is less than satisfactory. I can see how that would be frustrating, since:
- Iris doesn't know why she said those things herself,
- She's fickle, and
- She doesn't realize how her opinion as a Barry Expert will influence someone asking her for input.
Ahem. I have nothing against Candice Patton, the actress playing her, but Iris is currently the worst.
Barry does a dumb and comes to Linda's place of work to win her back with a grand romantic gesture that (accidentally) includes vomiting on her floor. DO NOT TRY THIS AT HOME, READERS.
Barry's bad at dating. I get it. His complete lack of romantic experience, the off-putting encouragement from his foster dad to pursue his foster sister, and having a secret identity to protect have all put a crimp in his social awareness.
Bless him, Barry can't even tell when Victor Garber's Dr. Stein is hitting on him! (You may contest this in the comments, saying they are merely having a friendly conversation. You are objectively wrong.)
After their adorable flirting flashback, Barry embarrasses Linda in front of her coworkers, makes Iris start to see him in a new light— that won't end well— and tries to save Ronnie from exploding. That... doesn't go so well.
It appears to be too little too late, as Ronnie does indeed explode in a nuclear blast just thirty miles outside Central City. (It appears the fallout from this will be addressed in the next episode.) Said kaboom attracts the attention of General Eiling. So that's gonna suck.
So! Will Ronnie survive the nuclear blast and find a way to coexist with that silver fox Victor Garber? Signs point to yes! Will Iris continue to make everything about herself, further complicating Barry's attempts at a love life? You bet! Will the ongoing mystery of the murder of Barry's mom continue to unravel?
Ronnie going nuclear wasn't the only bomb to go off tonight: Because according to evidence collected from the scene (including Chase Masterson as a Desperate Ex-Housewife?), there were indeed two speedsters present the night Mrs. Allen was killed. One of them was Barry, all grown up. I'd be lying if I said I was surprised by this, the Flash has traveled through time before, in the comics. But it's still a great reveal, teased out at just the right pace. Good storytelling is good storytelling.
What do you think?