Effectively part one of a two-part story, this episode feels to be something of a curate’s egg, or perhaps half thereof. Much of what we see this episode comes across as setup for part two, though there is still plenty to enjoy.
That said, surprisingly, for a show that has so far managed to be so strong with the character interactions, this episode feels a little disappointing on that front.
It’s early days for Linda Park, but far from being the acceptable alternative for Barry, now that Iris is with Eddie, she seems to have been introduced just to make Iris appear better. Like Laurel in Arrow, Iris just doesn’t seem to have the right chemistry with the lead to play the role in the space the character traditionally inhabits. At this point, it seems unlikely that Linda will become involved with Barry to any significant extent, though it’s perhaps possible she will be used to provide an alternative to the Barry/Eddie/Iris triangle.
The A plot for this episode is very much about Firestorm’s origin, starting from a point several hours before the explosion at Star Labs. Dr Martin Stein had been working on Project FIRESTORM, and had the equipment with him at the launch. When the accelerator exploded, his equipment caused him to be fused with Ronnie. Interestingly, unlike the original comics, it is Stein who is in charge of the body. Robbie Amell is no Victor Garber, but his portrayal of Stein in Ronnie’s body carries enough pompousness to distance it from his brief time as Ronnie earlier in the series. The fire effects are also perfectly credible, demonstrating just what can be achieved on a TV budget nowadays.
The B plot has Joe and Cisco teaming up to investigate Barry’s mother’s murder fifteen years previously. Whilst the idea of oddball pairings has been frequently used as a catalyst for humour, this first occasion doesn’t really mine that vein as deeply, though it shows enough potential to hope that future such pairings might take place.
Given that the scene of the crime was fifteen years ago, it’s no surprise that Cisco had to pull something out of the bag to aid their investigation. That he uses a mirror to do so is interesting, and potentially adds to the list of Rogues situations he has had a hand in.
With this investigation leading to the (perhaps not surprising) revelation that an adult Barry’s blood was found at the scene, it both introduces the potential of time travel into the show, and raises doubt once more about who the Reverse Flash was that killed Nora Allen.
The reappearance of Wade Eiling in the concluding part of this story has him tasked to take down Firestorm – the last time he had such a mission (with Plastique), it didn’t go well.