A massive mushroom cloud swells over the Badlands outside Central City, with Barry and Caitlin racing against its ever-expanding border, the atomic result of Ronnie Raymond attempting to separate himself from Martin Stein. The two get knocked over by the blast, but Wells informs Barry that there’s no radiation from the seemingly nuclear explosion. Barry and Caitlin race back to the crater, where the find both Ronnie and Stein separate, but whole. Barry calls back to S.T.A.R. Labs, declaring “we’re coming home…all of us.”
Shortly thereafter, General Eiling is investigating the crater when one of his men finds the signatures of two people at the epicenter of the blast. “It’s Firestorm,” Eiling explains, “he’s separated.”
Back at the lab, both Ronnie and Stein seem no worse for their 14 months of cohabitation, except for a fever of 106 degrees (which can cause coma or brain damage in normal folks!), as well as a clear case of being sick of each other. Ronnie felt that Stein was too dominant, whereas Stein felt that he did what was necessary to keep Ronnie’s body alive. Stein asks to be brought home to his wife Clarissa, and Barry obliges.
Joe brings Barry back to the site of his mother’s murder (why is the new owner never around?) and shows him the hologram that Cisco built from the mirror. He points out to Barry that there are clearly two speedsters fighting around Nora, and that Barry’s adult DNA was found at the scene.
Back at S.T.A.R. Labs, Wells explains to Barry that his theory that he traveled back in time to stop his mother’s murder is possible, even if the science is a bit murky. Barry is concerned about the potential paradox, telling everyone that “if you travel back in time to change something, you become the causal factor of that event.” Cisco references The Terminator, which means he’s inside my damn head. Wells encourages Barry to seek out an expert in the field of time travel for more answers…
Over at CCPN, Iris talks to her mentor Mason Bridge about S.T.A.R. Labs when she spies blueprints for the facility on his desk. Bridge theorizes that Wells wanted the particle accelerator to explode, and he wants Iris’ help in getting more information.
Barry goes to meet with the expert in time travel, which turns out to be none other than Martin Stein. Stein’s wife comments that Stein has been desperate for pizza, which he normally despises, but turns out to be Ronnie’s favorite food. Barry speeds away from the scene and grabs Stein a pie (did Barry just steal someone’s pizza?), and then asks him about the time travel theory. Stein theorizes that time is like a freeflowing highway, and that one merely needs to find the “onramps and offramps” in order to travel through it. Barry confesses to Stein that he thinks he went back in time to stop his mom’s murder, and Stein is thrilled, explaining that Barry at some point will be able to run so fast that the buildup of kinetic energy will tear a hole in the space-time continuum, which leaves Barry less than thrilled. Barry reminds Stein that he failed to save his mother, and that his destiny is to fail.
Over at Jitters, Ronnie and Caitlin are catching up on the events of the past year. Ronnie tells Caitlin that he wants her to leave town with him, but Caitlin rejects the idea. She’s found a new way to help people with the team at S.T.A.R. Labs. Their conversation is cut short when tranquilizer darts and gas grenades blast through Jitters, dropping the customers within.
Back at his home, Stein suddenly becomes overwhelmed with the fear that Ronnie is experiencing at Jitters. In spite of their separation, it seems the two men are still inextricably linked.
Ronnie escapes to the alley behind the coffee shop where Eiling is waiting for him. Flash intervenes and takes out Eiling’s unit with super-speed, but the general throws a mysterious box up in the air. The box explodes, sending hundreds of metal shards into Barry’s flesh. Eiling explains that the microfragments are attracted to kinetic energy, and is about to take both him and Ronnie when Caitlin shows up in a van and rescues Barry and Ronnie. “Gentlemen,” Eiling stews, “we are at war.”
Back at the lab, the team is trying to pull the quills out of Barry, as his hyperactive metabolism is making his body heal around them. Stein shows up and reveals to the team that “I’m still inside Ronald.”
Cisco replies “There’s gotta be a better way to phrase that.” Heh.
They run tests on the two men and determine that, somehow, their brainwaves are still in sync.
Ronnie and Caitlin go to Joe’s house to hide out from Eiling, where Joe seems to take the reappearance of Caitlin’s once-dead fiancé surprisingly well, shrugging off the revelation and offering Ronnie a beer. Iris shows up, and a half-baked cover story is cooked up that Ronnie is nothing more than Caitlin’s cousin Sam from Coast City (nice Green Lantern nod), which Iris isn’t convinced of, as she recognizes Ronnie from somewhere…
Wells goes to meet Eiling (the two men worked together years ago, remember) and tells him that Firestorm is of no use to the military as Stein and Ronnie have separated, and their powers are lost with the split. Eiling doesn’t care, as he thinks that Firestorm is the future of the military, and he intends to use it.
Joe walks in on Barry, clearly upset over his mother and the revelation that he was at the scene of her murder. He asks Joe how he knew that the blood at the scene belonged to him, and Joe explained that they tested the blood against everyone at S.T.A.R. Labs, including Wells. Barry is upset by this, as he believes that Wells is innocent.
Almost instantly proving Barry wrong, Wells drugs Stein and has Eiling come into the lab to collect him. At the same time, Ronnie collapses, as he and Stein are connected. We’re really hammering this one home, huh guys?
Back at CCPN, Bridge shows Iris a picture of Caitlin with a mystery man that was taken the night of the attack on Jitters. Iris recognizes the man, and pulls up her old Flash blog, where she has a picture archived of Ronnie in full Firestorm mode.
Back at the lab, Ronnie is desperate to get Stein back, as their connection could prove to be fatal if Stein is killed. They hook up an EEG to Ronnie, who can’t make an on-demand connection to Stein, but complains that he’s cold.
Lo and behold, Stein is being kept in a freezing cold basement by Eiling, who is interrogating him for the secret of Firestorm for military use. “I would gladly die before I see my life’s work perverted in this way,” Stein says, which Eiling seems ready to oblige: he tortures Stein with a cattle prod (which he last used on a gorilla, he explains…wink, wink!), which Ronnie feels the full effects of. Desperate, Ronnie uses a shard of broken glass to carve “WHERE” into his arm, and the wound shows up in the same spot on Stein’s arm. With Eiling’s back turned, Stein taps out morse code on his chair for the number 27. Cisco determines that corresponds to a military facility with the same number, which was shut down in 1961.
Ronnie and Barry arrive at the facility, where Ronnie feels as if Stein is pulling him in, as if the Firestorm matrix “yearns to be whole.” Unfortunately, Eiling’s scientists find out that there are enough residual chemicals in Stein’s cells to replicate the matrix, so he is no longer needed alive. Eiling goes to shoot Stein in the head, but Barry pulls him away in the nick of time. Eiling isn’t done, though, and he sends a Jeep outside where a soldier fires a rocket at Barry full of phosphorous. The phosphorous eating through his suit and the skin underneath, Wells tells Barry (with sinister enthusiasm) that Barry has to run fast enough to create a vacuum, which is the only thing that will extinguish the chemical.
Outnumbered, Ronnie and Stein realize they need to use the quantum splicer to remerge as Firestorm. “Once more unto the breach, dear friend,” Stein tells Ronnie, as the two fuse once more as a new, improved version, with Ronnie in full control of his body and Stein providing snappy banter. Firestorm confronts Eiling, ready to burn him alive, but Eiling pulls out another one of his custom grenades (this guy’s got a lot of one-purpose grenades) that douses Firestorm in ions, temporarily robbing him of his powers. Eiling seemingly has the upper hand, but Barry knocks him out, saving Firestorm.
At the lab, Firestorm splits back into his component persons, but the two men realize that they need to find a solution to their problem outside of Central City. The men remerge and softly say “We love you,” to Caitlin and Clarissa before flying off to Pittsburgh.
Iris shows Bridge the picture of Firestorm from her blog and tells him that she thinks something suspicious is going on. She offers her help in the S.T.A.R. Labs investigation. Meanwhile, Barry tells Joe that he isn’t going to make the same mistake twice and he’s going to find a way to save his mother.
Finally, Eiling is kidnapped from his base by Reverse Flash, who brings him to the sewers. Reverse Flash unmasks himself before explaining that he’s a metahuman and “we protect our own.” A telepathic voice rings out in Eiling’s mind, and he sets his eyes upon a monstrous gorilla loping down the tunnel.
“Dear God,” he whimpers.
“Not God,” the voice replies, “Grodd.”
Aside from Iris becoming less and less likable (as if that’s even possible at this point), “Fallout” was an amazing episode. The full reveal of Grodd, telepathy and all, was shockingly effective, especially on a TV budget, and the revelation that Reverse Flash is working with him is intriguing. The final resolution of the Firestorm problem was satisfying and bittersweet, but Caitlin’s acceptance of it shows a marked growth of her character. All in all, a satisfying end to a few arcs, but it also opened up a whole new slew of mysteries.
Unfortunately, those new mysteries won’t be explored for 4 weeks while the CW premieres its new show iZombie in the Flash’s timeslot. God. Damn. It.