The Flash this week juggled three storylines and successfully handled two of them. Not a bad ratio considering that Flash's B-grade is another show's best material. Linda Park and Barry were taking their relationship to another level except things got derailed into a silly and awkward crash and burn date. Joe enlists Cisco to help investigate the murder of Nora Allen. But 'The Nuclear Man' really was about Firestorm's origin story and let's just say it's complicated.
Moving on from unrequited love turns out to be easier than expected for Barry as Linda is smitten and taking him out of his comfort zone. It may be all too much, too soon for Barry as the life of a superhero comes first, putting a damper on his love life. It doesn't help either when the former object of your affection tells your new flame how he's not over her. He does the only rom-com thing to do and that is to prove his commitment by eating a really hot pepper at Linda's workplace.
On a more serious note, Joe is still investigating the murder of Barry's mom and with Harrison Wells still in his sights he asks Cisco for help. They go back to the scene of the crime - Barry's boyhood home. They come across the new owner and the writers oddly chose to make her a sexy, flirty divorcee hitting on Joe the whole time. Cisco introduces a bunch of scientific gobbly-goop to which Joe tells him to get on with it already. Cisco's able to reproduce images in 3D from the night Nora was killed. The set-up pays off as blood stains found reveal it was Barry's blood...adult Barry. Time travel anyone? At least it's now on the table and Joe is one step closer to finding the killer.
The emotional center of the episode involves Ronnie's return as Firestorm. Except he's not really Ronnie anymore, but a shell infused with Dr. Martin Stein's consciousness with his own buried deep in his mind. Robbie Amell does a decent job of playing a stuffy professor, but he's no Victor Garber. We do get a glimpse of Garber in flashback when Barry meets him on the train before the accelerator explosion. With his FIRESTORM experiment in tow the day of the launch, Stein's proximity to the blast fuses himself to Ronnie.
After some disastrous attempts to reconnect with his wife and a colleague, Caitlin convinces him to seek treatment at STAR Labs. There he receives some medication and the team tries desperately to devise a way to separate the two before he "goes nuclear." It's painful to watch Caitlin interact with the man she loved who is there in body (yes, shirtless) but whose mind is scrambled with little recollection of the love they shared. The splicing experiment in the Badlands at least offered a new landscape away from Central City, but Danielle Panabaker's heartwrenching attempt to save her former fiance goes kaboom. A cliffhanger that leads to a cameo from Gen. Eiling.
'The Nuclear Man' was three shows in one - a rom-com, a police procedural and a superhero origin story. The Flash usually handles these storylines very well and this time the execution was mixed. Still, the story behind Firestorm and the new evidence from the murder scene made it all worth it and set the table for more drama.
Check out scenes from the next episode, "Fallout."