By Mina Haq
This week’s episode of “The Flash” finally answered our burning questions about the night the particle accelerator exploded. Well, some of them. Mostly it gave us even more questions, but it was still really interesting to see through flashbacks exactly what happened that night and who was really behind the explosion that changed everything for our main characters.
First, there’s the meta-human of the week issue. This time Barry faces his biggest challenge yet: A meta-human that has the ability to transform into a poisonous gas. The meta-human is a man named Kyle Nimbus, who was supposedly executed the night of the explosion by being forced to breathe in hydrogen cyanide. Instead, the explosion affected him as he was breathing in the gas, giving him the ability to change into a gaseous form and poison people. His hit list seems to be those who wronged him, including the judge who convicted him. It’s up to Barry to figure out who his next victim is and stop Nimbus before he can exact his revenge.
Throughout the episode, we’re given snippets of what happened the night the particle accelerator exploded, meaning we finally get to meet Caitlin’s late fiancé: Ronnie Raymond (“The Tomorrow People’s” Robbie Amell and cousin to “Arrow’s” Stephen Ammell) – aka Firestorm for the comic book fans out there. It turns out he was the lead engineer for the particle accelerator, so when it began malfunctioning he tried to fix the anomaly by going inside of it, where the explosion inevitably killed him. Since this is TV and we never actually saw Ronnie die, there’s a huge change he’s still alive, especially since his comic-book counterpart has yet to make an appearance.
When the Star Labs team decides to make the particle accelerator a prison for the meta-humans, we see Caitlin struggling to cope with Ronnie’s death since she’s forced to confront the deadly machine for the first time. It was really nice watching her open up and seeing Barry act as a support system for her, since his relationship with the Star Labs team is one of the most intriguing relationships on the show (especially Wells, because he’s still a complete enigma).
Meanwhile, Joe is struggling with some inner demons of his own. He finally revisits the evidence from Barry’s mom’s case and, upon looking into it again, realizes that Barry’s dad, Henry, didn’t kill his wife after all. The guilt prompts him to visit Henry at Iron Heights Prison for the first time, where he promises Henry that he’ll do whatever it takes to free him.
As if Joe doesn’t have enough to deal with, Eddie is growing increasingly impatient with Iris for not telling her father about their relationship. It baffles me how upset he is by this, because the situation is so uncomfortable already. However, Iris is pretty preoccupied by the mysterious red streak popping up all over the news and avoids Eddie’s needy emotional issues for as long as she can.
Barry is still having zero luck dealing with Nimbus, since it’s physically impossible to fight someone who can evaporate into thin air (or poisonous gas, I guess). Barry realizes that all he can do is outrun Nimbus, bringing us back to the central theme of the episode: You can’t outrun your problems.
Caitlin then realizes that Joe was the detective that put Nimbus away, meaning he’s definitely the next victim. Barry runs as fast as he can, which is quite fast, to Iron Heights where Joe is still visiting Henry. He manages to inject Joe with the antidote, but he struggles with whether or not to just free his father right there or chase after Nimbus. He chooses the latter, deciding that it wouldn’t be right for his father to constantly be on the run, and manages to outrun Nimbus so quickly that Nimbus loses all of his energy and permanently becomes solid.
By the end, everything seems perfectly wrapped up. Iris and Eddie are officially a public item, Caitlin is learning to cope with Ronnie’s death, and Barry is still working to free his father from prison after locking up Nimbus for good in the particle accelerator. But obviously everything isn’t fine, since we haven’t seen our weekly cliffhanger featuring Wells being suspicious and shady.
There is one, of course, and it’s the most shocking one yet. It shows Wells during the night of the explosion in a room by himself watching over Barry right before he’s knocked into his coma, very clearly planning what’s about to happen. It seems as though Wells was behind the whole thing, and I’m sure we’ll find out why in the next creepy closing scene.