FULL EPISODE SPOILERS
Okay, so, this episode wasn't as time-travel heavy as I'd have expected, but, all of the material in the episode was still pretty cool. It seems like this is the first true "arc" the series has taken, given the heavy focus on Firestorm we've had. In that way, this is a pretty good episode.
It seems like this episode also went back to the roots of the show by having pretty good humor mixed in with an interesting story and, of course, a great cliffhanger. There were tons of references to not only past episodes but also other shows that actually worked well. Most of the time they feel rather forced but this time they flowed with the dialogue.
Much of the episode zeroed in on the dynamic of Firestorm, and how the Firestorm Matrix is going to affect both Stein and Ronnie. Admittedly, I would like to have seen this maybe drawn out a little more, but given the preview for next week as well as what we saw in the post-credits scene, I think we'll be okay. Plus it looks like they're setting up something bigger for Firestorm in the future, maybe something toward the end of the season.
Unlike other episodes, though, the other big subplot wasn't at the toll of the overall story. They didn't focus on the time-travel probably to continue planting seeds for a big reveal next time. Barry's role was almost limited to this, besides the obligatory aid he had at the end of the episode. Still, knowing that he was there the night of his mother's murder would be pretty shell-shocking for him.
The only thing that didn't really work this episode was the random desire for Iris's coworker to learn more about S.T.A.R. Labs. Why not bring it up before? Is it because of the explosion? How do they know S.T.A.R. Labs is behind this? A part of me is saying that this subplot is going to amount to very little in the end, or it's going to somehow skewer something in the main story. Either way, it just feels like a forced way for Iris to get more involved and potentially learn about Barry's identity as the Flash.
I was also curious as to how Iris wasn't able to recognize Ronnie Raymod. I feel like, if her or her partner did any research into S.T.A.R. Labs she would instantly have recognized Ronnie when she went to Joe's place. It seems like Iris is always just there for the sake of being there.
The time-travel subplot took a backseat but was still interesting. We didn't learn much about it, and it looked like the bloodstain moved from its spot on the wall from last episode but that might've just been me seeing things wrong. The main beef of the subplot this week was Barry dealing with his failure to stop the Reverse Flash, which by the end of the episode led to his determination.
We were only given hints at what the time-travel may lead to. Wells brought up two possible theories of how Barry was able to travel back in time (one of which has to be true, since he obviously traveled back in time): the linear theory of time, where one event will change the future, like in Terminator, or the multiverse/ comic book theory, like in Dragon Ball Z or Back to the Future. More than likely they're going to deal with the multiverse theory and it may be revealed that Wells is actually from a different universe entirely. It wouldn't surprise me and it would help explain how DC is keeping the movies and television shows separate.
A wise move.
One of the better parts of the episode was when Stein was talking to Barry about his work with time-travel, which is quite extensive. He had a very "Doc Brown"-like attitude when talking about all of it. He even had a chalk board dealing with it, or, his "random thoughts." My random thoughts end up on my Notes app on my iPhone. Weird.
It was just funny to watch Stein bounce around the room excitedly. Obviously his youthfulness is a side effect of the connection he feels with Ronnie but it helped out the character significantly, keeping him from a groggy old man scientists and making him more of a little kid.
Basically, all we got out of all the time-travel business was theories, but, at least we're making progress. There is yet to be a solid case of what theory they will choose, but they are certainly leaning toward multiverse theory as well as the "Flashpoint" storyline. Barry's proclamation that he'll save his mother led me to that assumption. It would make for a fun season finale. You could have half, or at least up until Episode 9 of next season, deal with Barry trying to escape the Flashpoint universe he creates from saving his mother. I dunno, just food for thought.
Our villain this week was an old friend, General Eiling, as he hunted down Firestorm. He was probably more forceful this week than last week. I mean, it helps that he's faced off against the Flash before, so he was pretty prepared for it. You could say it's a coincidence that it's the same guy that they fought earlier, but, I feel that a superior would have assigned him the mission anyway because he has experience with them. He wasn't a bad villain, but, the way he was able to just pull the devices out of nowhere was a bit much. I understand that they would have the weapons prepared, but, still. Did they really have the device prepared for Firestorm before they had access to the matrix? If they didn't, were they able to create it so quickly?
The General wasn't the main issue, as we had a much better issue: Ronnie and Stein being split. It was interesting to see their similarities continue to grow as the episode neared its climax. Clever story telling. They also didn't convey it in such a way that it was unbelievable, as it scientifically made sense. You could think of it in a way that the Firestorm Matrix has created them into something like an atom, or an element. The matter will eventually come back together, because it is drawn back together by the sheer nature of it.
The personality elements simply come with sharing a mind. They weren't of the same mind, more like the same body, but their minds being so close is going to cause some intersections. The juxtaposition provided by both characters was all well done, as Ronnie was more serious and Stein was more youthful, rather than the normal way. When they willingly joined and separated, I liked how they were in full control of everything. Perhaps that was a bit rushed, but, they shared a body for fourteen months. I think they can feel each other out pretty well.
I especially enjoyed the way they displayed the connection when Stein was trapped. I'm not sure if its supposed to be that their bodies are both affected, I thought it was more their minds, but I think they would have figured a way around it. The Morse code, the writing on the skin, and the use of the senses was done very well by both characters and shows why they were such highly regraded men.
When they were together was also awesome to see. It's the same feeling I get when I watch Arrow, Arsenal, or the Flash. It's like they're jumping right off the page of the book, but with Firestorm in particular it's great because they have Stein's voice playing over everything like he does in the books. It was obvious that they would do that (it's part of the character), but it's nonetheless amazing to see done on screen. Firestorm also looks cool now that he's in control. I'm hoping he gets a great suit, as that final shot of him and Barry leaving the military base was wicked cool.
No The Flash episode is complete without a great ending scene, and this week in particular was uh-mazing. Not only did we see Wells actually in the suit, not only did we get confused as to his true motives, not only did we see Gorilla Grodd utter such a ridiculous line of "not God...Grodd!" but the fact that we saw the Reverse Flash and Gorilla Grodd standing in the same room, working on the same team is probably one of the coolest villain scenes we've had since that first time we saw Deathstroke back on Arrow. That was great. This was just as great, perhaps greater!
Makes me wonder, though, where Grodd stands in all of this. Is he willing to follow Wells? If so, would he be willing to help the Flash? Grodd is clearly in on some greater plan, as he has shown now to have great intelligence. I mean, he's walking (like a hulking mass of monster!) and talking, so, Wells can probably tell him his plans. It just begs the question of what Wells's endgame really is? What does he want? He seemed rather disappointed that Barry was able to get Firestorm back together, but, he also took out Eiling, I assume, who was an impediment.
What do you want?
Either way, this was a great episode that really hearkened back to some of the better The Flash episodes and continued the trend of having a good episode without a "villain of the week." The interplay with Ronnie and Stein was great to see, the time travel subplot is gearing up for some big things (given what we saw in the promo for next episode), and now we have a possible new hero to join our repertoire/ potential TV Justice League!
Hurry for advancements! But boo for the next episode being in a freaking month...
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