We pick up where we left off last week as Ronnie/Stein explodes and Barry runs with Caitlin to get out of the way. They escape the grasp of the mushroom cloud but quickly realize that there’s no radiation in the blast. Barry and Caitlin head back to the crater to check on Ronnie and Martin to find them totally separated. Ronnie reunites with Cisco and Dr. Wells back at STAR Labs while Martin plays the stodgy old man card ready to head home and get out of his burned-up clothes. Back at the explosion though, General Eiling and his crew are poking around and notice two distinct body prints in the ground, noting that Firestorm has been separated.
Caitlin checks Ronnie’s vitals at STAR Labs and notes that everything seems normal though he is running a little hot (rimshot). Wells and company enter where he explains that the two of them can no longer harness nuclear energy now that they’re not together. Ronnie and Martin get into a bit of a tiff like you would with someone you’ve been sharing the backseat of a car with for hours and Stein leaves. Ronnie asks for pizza. That’s important. Barry escorts Stein back to his wife who gets weepy upon Martin’s return.
Barry returns to CCPD to a worried Joe, who wasn’t so much worried about the explosion in the badlands but just that he couldn’t find Barry. Under the guide of “needing to tell him something,” Joe takes Barry back to his childhood home and explains Cisco’s crazy weird invention. As Joe explains, Barry figures it out thanks to the images there were two speedsters in the house that night before Joe drops the truth hammer that one of them is him. Back at STAR, they have a time travel pow wow where Wells posits that it’s possible yet problematic. Is time linear and your entry into the past results in the initial event ala Terminator or is it fluid and your changing the past influences the future ala Back to the Future? I mean, I’ve always wondered that. As they all scratch their heads, Cisco says he knows someone they could ask.
Over at CCPN, Iris notices that creeper co-worker Mason Bridge has blue pritns of the STAR Labs particle accelerator. He says he thinks the explosion wasn’t an accident and Wells has some secret meeting for revealing to the world he knew there was a chance it might explode. He then bribes Iris with a danish to investigate STAR.
On Cisco’s recommendation Barry goes to the Stein residence where Martin’s wife tells him that while he seems okay there are some differences, like his demand for pizza which he hates (told you it was important). Barry runs to get a pizza for Martin and then they talk about time travel. Stein theorizes that time is like a highway where one can go back by getting off on the right on-ramp – easier said than done. After Stein explains this Barry reveals his whole predicament, his mother’s death and his presumed trip into the past, which excites Stein that he can achive this but bums out Barry because it means his destiny is to fail.
At Jitters, Caitlin tells Ronnie about all the adventures they’ve been having since the series started and he makes the suggestion afterward that they skip town and start all over. Caitlin is reluctant to the idea but Ronnie wants/needs to get out of Central City. A waiter comes by to ask if they’d like anything else and Caitlin notices a laser sight from a gun on his chest. She and Ronnie fall to the ground as the waiter gets hit with a dart. Ronnie sends Caitlin running as smoke grenades fly into the establishment. He takes off outside but is cornered by soldiers and General Eiling who is eager to nab Firestorm. Barry, still at the Stein residence, is told by Martin that Ronnie is in trouble and runs to the rescue. After knocking down all the soldiers, Barry confronts Eiling who tosses a nifty little grenade into the air that sticks so many needles into Barry he looks like a porcupine. Caitlin swings by in her van and picks them up before the General can throw any more toys at them.
Caitlin removes the needles from Barry at STAR Labs, but has to work quickly as Barry is already healing around them. The group decides they need to warn Stein about what happened, but Ronnie says he already knows, because he’s there. It becomes apparent that the two of them are still connected, as Ronnie’s devotion to pizza is now felt by Martin and vice versa. They relay everything they know to Martin who wants to warn his wife and get her out of town, but Barry manages to talk him down and that they’ll take care of it. Over at the bachelor pad, Caitlin and Ronnie enter with Barry who tells them they can stay in Iris’ old room. Joe is puzzled by their presence at first but then Iris enters too, it is Tuesday after all, and inquires about who their latest acquisition is. They cover for Ronnie by saying he’s Caitlin’s cousin Sam from Coast City.
Dr. Wells goes to see General Eiling at his base where he reveals that he saw Barry remove his mask during their first encounter and knows his secret identity. Though Wells reveals he doesn’t know how Firestorm works, Eiling is confident he’ll “do the right thing” when he figures out how. Barry ponders over a photo of he and his mother at the bachelor pad, leading Joe to regret showing him what he did. He’s remorseful that he’s not protecting Barry the way he should be, a notion he seems to have never shown for Iris. Barry shifts back to the task at hand and asks how they knew it was his blood, as they had to have been looking at specific samples. Joe reveals they were running it against everyone at STAR Labs and Barry once again champions Doctor Wells, secure in knowing he had nothing to do with his mother’s murder.
Speaking of the devil, Wells and Stein enjoy some scotch and talk shop about their achivements and how they both failed at them. Stein then gets wobbly and falls to the ground, elliciting the same response from Ronnie back at the bachelor pad. General Eiling and his goons come in and take Stein away. Over at CCPN, Mason talks to Iris about Caitlin Snow and the incident at Jitters, which Caitlin didn’t mention the last time they spoke. She goes back to her Flash blog and sees a photo of “The Burning Man” and realizes it’s “Sam.”
Wells explains to Barry and Co what happened, albeit with some embellishments, and that the army came and took Stein. They can’t do a head on fight though as they’re already too prepared, and they decide to use Ronnie’s connection with him to find Stein. We see Stein tied to a chair in a cold basement where Eiling reveals he wants the Firestorm matrix to make soldiers just before shocking Stein into submission (with a fun Gorilla Grodd nod). Ronnie feels the effects of the shock and asks for a glass of water, breaking it apart after having it handed to him. Eiling is impressed with Stein’s resilience and leaves the room. As everyone panics, Ronnie carves a message into his own arm with the glass (hardcore yo) asking Stein where he is. He taps out a message via morse code leading them to Facility 27, the nearby army base. Caitlin and Ronnie debate about him going and what if he merges again, but it’s a risk they’ll have to take. Cisco hands him the quantum splicer and Ronnie and Barry head to the base after Caitlin plants a kiss on him.
Barry and Ronnie arrive just as Eiling is putting a gun to Stein’s head, and in perhaps his fastest feat yet Barry enters the base and rescues Stein before the trigger is pulled. An Army jeep approaches and a soldier with a modified RPG launches it at them. Rushing into the fray, Barry grabs the weapon to chuck it out of the way but it was a chemical weapon and it’s ruining his suit. He’s got to run so fast he makes a vacuum to seal it up. Stein and Ronnie fall back but are quickly cornered and resolve to merge again. The two have a proper merge with both of their minds working in tandem in Ronnie’s body and blasting army goons all over the place. Eiling has a new toy, an ion grenade, that extinguishes the Firestorm matrix but he gets knocked to the ground by Barry as he prepares to deliver the killing blow. Our super powered heroes run off into the night in perhaps the coolest image of the entire series.
At STAR, Ronnie and Stein separate once again and appear to have extended their bond beyond their atomic connection to an actual respect for each other (and Stein neglects to mention that Dr. Wells drugged him). Later they go to Stein’s home where Caitlin has made peace with Ronnie leaving. He and Stein are headed to Pittsburgh where one of Stein’s colleagues could help them (John Monroe aka the villain Weasl, perhaps?). They kiss and Stein tells Barry he’ll get his second chance (going back to their time travel talk). Stein and Ronnie merge once again and fly off into the air.
Later Caitlin and Cisco talk at Jitters where Iris shows up, inquiring about her “cousin.” Caitlin says he went back home, to Midway City (perhaps this is a long shot but I’d be they’re laying an Easter egg trail for a Doom Patrol appearance in Season 2). Iris goes back to CCPN and tells Mason about her theory that The Burning Man used to work at STAR. Barry takes Joe back to his childhood home and tells him his plan, that using the images they have he’s going to learn his lesson and change the past, saving his mom.
In our closing sequence, General Eiling stands in his office only to be kidnapped by an unseend speedster, revealed to not only be the Reverse Flash but we see Dr. Wells unmasked in the suit. He takes him to a previously-seen location, and one of an old friend of theirs. Then we see Gorilla Grodd himself lumber down the hall, speaking to Eiling via telepathy before dragging him off to an unseen portion. If that didn’t get your blood pumping then you might want to check your pulse.
You can check out a promo for the return of “The Flash,” which will be on hiatus until March 17, in the player below.