Wednesday, February 11, 2015

The Flash Episode Guide: Season 1, Episode 13 - The Nuclear Man

For a summary of the episode guide layout & categories, click here.


After "The Burning Man" attacks a local physicist, Caitlin and Dr.Wells go off in search of the man who was Ronnie Raymond.. Meanwhile, Joe West recruits Cisco to help him with investigating the scene of Nora Allen's murder.  And Barry tries to romance Linda Park... much to the apparent annoyance of Iris West.


The Flash: Rebirth by Geoff Johns, The Firestorm comics of Gerry Conway and The Flash comics of Mark Waid.


It seems odd that Barry should have a problem with spicy food, given that his favorite pizza is pepperoni, olives and Jalapenos - as seen in Episode 102! (Jalapenos are actually on the low end of the Scoville scale, so Barry could legitimately not like more spicy fare.)

Iris' sudden about-face regarding Barry finding romance seems odd to say the least.


Robbie Amell turns in the best performance of his career here, playing Martin Stein in Ronnie Raymond's body.  You really believe he's an older academic despite his chiseled physique.

The cast get a lot of good moments here, with a number of dialogues that allow the characters to play off of someone they don't usually get to be alone with. Of particular note are Dr. Wells/Caitlin during the stakeout and Joe/Cisco at the crime scene.

Flash Facts

The title of the episode comes from the name of the first Firestorm comic - Firestorm: The Nuclear Man.

The first Firestorm comic was abruptly canceled just five issues into its run, due to The DC Implosion of 1978.  Firestorm continued, however, as a series of 8-page back-up stories in The Flash comic book, before a new Firestorm series started in 1982.

Barry being known as Mr. Punctual is an ironic joke about Barry's usually always being late - both in the show and the comics.

Barry is called in to rescue a suicidal man who is about to jump off a roof at the corner of 52nd and Waid.  Mark Waid was the writer on The Flash for a number of years and is still considered to be one of the best writers to handle the character.  And 52nd Street is yet another example of the significance of the number 52 in DC Comics productions.

Dr. Quentin Quale and the company he works for - Concordance Research - are both callbacks to the original Firestorm: The Nuclear Man comic.  There, Dr. Quentin Quale was Martin Stein's former project manager and Concordance Research was the company Stein worked for before being fired.

Quentin Quale's name may in itself be a reference to Grouch Marx's character in the movie Go West - S. Quentin Quale.  This in itself is a reference to an old slang term - San Quentin Quail - whose modern equivalent is "Jail Bait".  And S. Quentin Quale is also the real name of the character known as Dr. Satan in the Rob Zombie horror movie House of 1,000 Corpses.

Cisco's worries about the effects Barry's powers could have on his love life are a frequent subject of discussion among comic fans in real life.  Indeed, discussion of the problems super-speed bring to an active sex life is perhaps second only to the issues raised in Larry Niven's 1971 article Man of Steel, Woman of Kleenex regarding any attempt by Superman and Lois Lane to having a child together. Ignoring that The Fastest Man Alive is not a good title to have in the bedroom, there are also worries about friction burns in sensitive places.

Barry quotes Albert Einsten regarding aesthetics in science - “Once you can accept the universe as matter expanding into nothing that is something, wearing stripes with plaid comes easy.”

As in the comics, Martin Stein is married to a woman named Clarissa.  The show hints at difficulties in the marriage, with Martin being more devoted to his work than his wife.  In the comics, Clarissa Stein left her husband for this reason.

Reference is made to Martin Stein winning The Conway Prize for Scientific Achievement three times. The award's name is a reference to Gerry Conway - a legendary comics writer who, among other accomplishments, created Firestorm and Vibe.

Barry plans to take Linda to an underground jazz club where Mal Duncan is playing.  In the comics, Mal Duncan was a jazz musician and a member of The Teen Titans and The Doom Patrol.  He held a number of superhero names - Guardian, Hornblower, Herald and Vox - and wielded an artifact known as The Gabriel Horn, which let him open portals and unleash sonic blasts.

Linda Park mentions the local professional hockey franchise - The Keystone City Combines - which is indeed the name of the local NHL franchise in the comics.

Firestorm tells Caitlin he has memories of being with her at Hudson Falls. In the original Firestorm comics, the accident that merged Ronnie Raymond and Martin Stein occurred at the Hudson Nuclear Power Plant.

Martin Stein joking asks Barry for a glass of 1982 Chateau Haut Grion Pessac-Leognan.  The Fury of Firestorm - the second Firestorm comic series and the longest running one to date - first saw publication in 1982.

Firestorm misquotes Albert Einsten, saying "Any man who drives safely while kissing a pretty girl is not giving the pretty girl the attention she deserves."  The actual quote is “Any man who can drive safely while kissing a pretty girl is simply not giving the kiss the attention it deserves.”

The design of The Quantum Splitter - and its placement on Firestorm's chest - is a clear visual reference to the unique design of the chest of the original Firestorm's costume.


Dr. Wells suggests basic Darwinism (i.e. survival of the fittest) as the reason why Martin Stein's mind took over Ronnie Raymond's body when the two merged rather than the other way around.  A brand new organism will select the strongest parts of itself in order to survive - in this case, Stein's intellect in Raymond's younger, more fit body.

Cisco's Super Light is a multi-spectrum ultraviolet laser-enhanced scanner that detects molecular schisms in the 600 mega-volt range.

Silver nitrate was used as the backing in vintage mirrors and is also the compound used in photography.

Cisco is able to pull ten exposures from the mirror, digitally enhancing them into three-dimensional holograms.

Stein theorizes that he can use nuclear fission to separate himself and Ronnie Raymond.

Caitlin administers a combination of anti-psychotics, depressants and mood-stabilizers - the same formula used to treat dissociation identity disorder - to Firestorm in order to help clear his head.

The blood types for the two speedsters present when Nora Allen died are A-positive and AB-negative.  Cisco later determines that one of the two belongs to an adult Barry Allen.  The second one doesn't match Dr. Harrison Wells.

Firestorm's body temperature is 108.6 degrees Fahrenheit.

Wells determines that Raymond's body is rejecting Stein's atoms, like a host rejecting a parasite and the resulting instability is causing an exothermic reaction, which could result in a nuclear explosion powerful enough to level Central City.

According to Barry, Naga Jolokia (aka Ghost Pepper) is the hottest pepper in the world and is 401.5 times hotter than Tabasco.

While it's unclear what scale Barry is using, the Scoville scale - the scale most commonly used for rating the spiciness of food -  rates Naga Jolokia (1 million units) as being 73 times hotter than Tabasco (30,000 units). Also, the hottest pepper in the world is The Carolina Reaper at 2.2 million units.

30 miles away is the minimum safe distance for surviving a nuclear explosion.

P16 is a protein that builds up in the blood as people age.

Wells determines that he can use the Tachyon prototype to fashion a Quantum Splicer - a fission device designed to bombard Firestorm's atoms with as much energy as they experiences during the particle accelerator explosion with the goal of safely separating them.

Dialogue Triumphs

Aren't you worried about moving too fast?
Barry: No.  What do you mean?  It's a second date.
Cisco: No, no, no, no. I meant going too fast. Hurrying?  Look, I mean, you're fast but there's fast and then there's fast. Am I being subtle enough?
Barry: You're really not.
Caitlin: Cisco's right. With your increased blood flow and increased heart rate, theoretically your speed could cause you to...
Cisco: You're gonna need to think about a lot of dead puppies. Like, we're talking a whole kennel. And baseball. Cold showers. You know what - nuns!

Caitlin: Why would he come back here?
Dr. Wells: Because this is his home. I don't mean the actual house. I mean Clarissa. She's his home. We all want to go home again. You know, where we feel safe? Where we feel loved.  Ronnie is your home.
Caitlin: Not anymore.
Dr. Wells: Remember what I told you on your first day at STAR Labs?
Caitlin: A scientist's work is never finished.
Dr. Wells: A scientist's work is never finished.  Well, my work did this to Ronnie and did this to Martin Stein. But it's not finished and it won't be until we bring them both home.

Firestorm: You shouldn't see me like this.
Clarissa Stein: I see you.  I see you, Martin.

Cisco: Dr. Wells is a great man.  I was nothing when he gave me a job.  A chance to change my life! He has helped so many people!  He's not a murderer!
Joe: Cisco.  I'm a cop. I'm good at reading people. So I know I can trust you with my suspicion. When I go talk to the family and friends of a murder suspect - somebody I know is guilty - and I tell them the person they love is a killer, guess what they all say?  That's not the person I know.

Caitlin: I've already lost Ronnie once. I'm not going to do it again. You said we have a couple of hours.  Use them.

Firestorm: If I learned anything this past year, life's too short not to live.


Martin Stein graduated from the University of Chicago in 1974. He was an anti-war protester and was friends with Quentin Quale, whom told him the truth about his brother committing suicide.

Barry Allen met Martin Stein on the train the day of the STAR Labs particle accelerator explosion. The two discussed Einstein and physics.

Wells determines that he can use his stolen tachyon prototype to fashion a quantum splicer, despite this pushing back his time table.

Cisco's analysis of the blood suggests that - at some point - an adult Barry Allen will travel back to the night of his mother's murder.

The episode ends on a cliffhanger, with Barry attempting to outrun a nuclear blast.  We also see General Eiling (last seen in 105) moving in to capture Firestorm.


The badlands thirty miles outside of Central City.

The Bottom Line

A solid episode, despite being lighter on action than usual. As usual, the biggest problem with the episode is the Barry/Iris relationship and Iris' lack of development as a character.  Her butting in to Barry's love-life seems horribly random and is nowhere near as interesting as Barry's scenes with Linda in any case.  It doesn't help that you have the star-crossed romances of both men stuck in the Firestorm Matrix to compare it to in this episode alone.

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