Finally, after a near-constant breadcrumb trail of hints and clues, The Flash has finally blown the lid off of one of the many mysteries of the show and revealed the true fate of Ronnie Raymond, Caitlin Snow’s supposedly-dead fiancé and now mysteriously-powered vagrant.
Before we get to that, we see Barry getting ready for a date with new love interest Linda Park (also, awkwardly, Iris West’s coworker at CCPN), and super-speeding through a series of outfits (none of which featured a tucked-in shirt…come on, man!) before finally meeting her for “the hottest tacos in Central City.” He’s called in to multiple crime scenes over the course of his date, managing to sneak away while Linda’s back is turned (for a reporter, she’s not very observant). The date ends, and they agree on a second one after sharing a kiss. Awww!
We then cut to Concordance Research, where metahuman hobo Ronnie confronts a scientist by the name of Quentin Quayle, talking about how they were classmates in college. Quayle doesn’t believe Ronnie, until Ronnie explains that he’s really Martin Stein, and he tells Quayle a secret that he told Stein in confidence. He ends with a plea for help, before suddenly combusting into a massive fireball.
As a palate cleanser to watching an elderly research scientist get immolated, we see Cisco and Barry talking about Barry’s newfound romantic life. Cisco mentions that Barry’s super-speed may have some…undesirable effects when it comes to…you know. “You’re going to have to think a about a lot of dead puppies,” Cisco quips, a joke that suddenly makes my own sex life seem incredibly normal by comparison. Satisfied with the awkwardness, Cisco departs, explaining that he has to “go help a friend.” Shortly thereafter, Barry spies a news report about Quayle being in critical condition after being horribly burned…
We then find out that the “friend” Cisco was talking about was actually Detective Joe West, who’s reopened the case of Nora Allen’s murder. They meet up at Barry’s old house, where they are met at the door by its new owner: a man-hungry divorcee in lingerie. I quickly press the “Guide” button on my remote to make sure I haven’t actually ordered a pay-per-view movie. Nope. It’s The Flash.
Based on the clues that the S.T.A.R. Labs team have uncovered thus far, they determine that the nuclear-powered body of Ronnie Raymond is actually being controlled by the brain of Martin Stein. Barry reminisces about meeting Prof. Stein on the day of the accelerator accident, and the two share a few words before the camera pans down to a mysterious case under Stein’s seat emblazoned with the acronym F.I.R.E.S.T.O.R.M. We then cut to the moment of the accident itself, and Ronnie’s vaporized essence merging with Stein as he holds the contents of the case: a fiery orb encased in a metal cage.
Barry and Wells go to the Stein residence to talk to his wife, who hasn’t seen her husband in a year. Barry shows her a photo of Ronnie, and she confirms that a month after Stein’s disappearance, Ronnie showed up at their house, frightened and confused.
Cisco and Joe are continuing their fruitless investigation of the Allen residence, when they determine that there is a piece of furniture present from the night of the murder: an antique sideboard with a mirror. Cisco checks it out and finds out that the mirror is actually backed in silver nitrate, which was also used in early photography. The bright flashes of light that surrounded Nora Allen as she was murdered may have left an image on the silver nitrate, which he could “develop” for new clues.
Linda meets Barry at his home, and wastes no time in seducing him. I certainly hope Barry has a link to some dogfighting videos or those Sarah McLachlan commercials stored on his phone.
Caitlin and Wells are staking out the Stein house, when RonnieStein shows up in his nuclear-powered glory. Wells tries calling Barry, interrupting his tryst with Linda. Barry has to leave, saving him from having to think about the dumpster behind the Central City Human Society. He races to the Stein household, and RonnieStein grabs him and carries him airborne before dropping him unceremoniously to the street below. RonnieStein is about to deliver the killing blow, but Caitlin stops him just in time, saving Barry and forcing RonnieStein to fly off into the night.
Back at the Allen house, Cisco has developed the mirror and used its image to extrapolate a 3D hologram of the moment of Nora Allen’s murder. Joe spots a third figure in the scene, and peels back a bit of wallpaper where he finds a mysterious blood splatter…wait, what?
OK, I don’t like editorializing in the middle of these recaps, but come on…seriously? So after they carted the murdered corpse of Nora Allen out of her home, they just put wallpaper up over the blood-spattered paint? Someone couldn’t just use a little soapy water or a Magic Eraser or something on the streak of gore before they threw up new wallpaper? Really? Really???
Barry goes to the CCPN to try to apologize to Linda for having to leave so suddenly last night. He tries to explain that she’s important to him, but he gets called in yet again by Caitlin. Apparently his copy of Where the Red Fern Grows got delivered from Amazon. Linda asks Iris a bit about Barry’s romantic history, and Iris hints that he still harbors feelings for someone (wink, wink).
Caitlin, Barry, and Mrs. Stein track RonnieStein to a highway overpass, where Mrs. Stein confronts him about his true identity. RonnieStein explains to her that he does indeed have the brain of Martin Stein by telling his wife what her favorite color is. “You could never decide, so you picked stripes.” Convinced that, in one way or another, both Ronnie and Stein are alive, the team responds to RonnieStein’s plea:
“Please, help us.”
Back at the lab, Wells explains that Stein is trying to split his consciousness from Ronnie’s body. RonnieStein enters, calmed down by the cocktail of drugs Wells gave him—the same cocktail used to treat dissociative identity disorder. RonnieStein is ready to move forward with dividing himself back into two distinct people, but Caitlin is very shaken by what’s become of her fiancé.
Linda tells Barry that she can’t be with him because he’s still hung up on Iris. Barry, justifiably pissed at Iris’ cock-blocking, confronts Iris and tells her that he’s moving on and he doesn’t have those kinds of feelings for her anymore.
Back at the CCPD, Joe and Cisco analyze the blood spatter and determine that there are two types of DNA present, meaning that there were two people present at the scene besides Nora. Joe asks Cisco to test if the DNA is a match for Wells, which infuriates Cisco.
Back at the lab, a series of tests reveal that Ronnie’s body is rejecting Stein’s intellect, which is causing a violent exothermic reaction. Wells delivers the solemn warning that RonnieStein could “go nuclear” within a few hours. Wells thinks that the only solution is to disable the vessel that Stein inhabits; they would have to kill Ronnie, and idea that Caitlin violently objects. Barry goes to talk to RonnieStein about their discovery. RonnieStein tells him that he already knows, as they were violently arguing about it.
Barry, desperate for another chance with Linda, shows up at CCPN with an ultimatum: agree to another date or he’ll eat an entire bhust jolokia pepper (that’s ghost pepper to you and me) in front of her. She calls his bluff, and Barry chows down on—and promptly pukes up—the pepper. Linda finds this gesture sweet (what?), and kisses him, even though his mouth is full of puke and pepper bits. Aww!
(Also, there’s an obvious pun involving Flash and “the runs,” but I’m taking the high road.)
Additionally, Iris seems upset that Barry and Linda are back together, because she’s really awful this episode.
Back at the lab, Wells has gone to his secret hideout to retrieve a gun to kill RonnieStein, but has another idea: reconfiguring the Tachyon Converter (the one he uses for his Reverse Flash powers) into a Quantum Splicer to separate Ronnie and Stein. He goes to tell RonnieStein of this new development, but he finds that RonnieStein has left, 30 miles outside of Central City, in case he goes nuclear.
He builds his quantum splicer, and sends Barry to deliver it to Ronnie. Caitlin is insistent that she goes along, as she knows how to operate the device.
Cisco calls up Joe to tell him the startling results of his blood tests: one of the two samples belong to Barry. When Joe explains that it’s possible, as Barry was present at the site of his mother’s murder, Cisco explains that his blood is too rich in certain proteins to be from a child; the blood belongs to an adult Barry.
Caitlin and Barry make it to RonnieStein just in time, and he attaches the device. Unfortunately, it seems as if it was too little, too late, as Ronnie goes nuclear as predicted. Barry and Caitlin race away from the blast, and barely make it out. We then cut to a secret military base, where General Eisling (the secret military man/Highlander villain from Wells’ past) gets a report of a nuclear event. Eisling issues his stern command: “Bring me Firestorm.”
This was a very challenging episode on a number of levels. One, the more emotional scenes with RonnieStein and the women he loves are wrenching at times, as Stein’s wife has to hear her husband’s memories issued from a stranger’s mouth, and Caitlin has to deal with her lost love’s face holding a stranger’s mind. Robbie Amell (Stephen Amell’s cousin) does a surprisingly good job of portraying a confused, displaced man without getting resorting to outright lunacy, and the final reveal of the Quantum Splicer strapping across RonnieStein’s chest in a configuration just like Firestorm’s costume in the comic’s is a deliciously geeky moment. Also, this episode started to creep back into the Reverse Flash/Nora Allen murder mystery with delicious results, hinting at time travel to come.
Then, there’s the romance angle. While Barry’s awkward attempts at romance initially come across as endearing, his ghost pepper gambit comes across as a little ridiculous. Also, I’ve never really cared that much for Iris so far in this show, and the entire episode simply paints her as a possessive brat. The lack of romantic elements have been very sparse in the show thus far, and the sudden introduction of these elements feels kind of jarring, especially when they’re done in a way that feels like this show is on the CW or something…