It’s another week and another meta-human for Barry Allen to fight. This time the opponent is a man with the ability to turn himself into a toxic mist. Joe also starts to work with Barry to prove that his father is innocent.
“Being alive means running; running to or from something”. The episode starts off with Barry narrating that line as he streaks around the city, but he’s not running when the episode starts. He and Iris have been taking in a zombie movie. Barry’s nerding out about zombies and Iris is bringing up the red blur again. Eddie calls and interrupts the conversation, which gives Barry just enough time to flash off and stop a high speed chase. They go to get some food to help with Barry’s insatiable appetite and unknowingly walk by a restaurant where a crime family is meeting. What the crime family doesn’t know is that they’ve been set up. As their meeting starts a man locks them in and a green gas fills the air. The mobsters drop one at a time, not being able to escape from the gas chamber.
The next day, Barry and Joe meet up at the station. Joe brings in the evidence from Barry’s dad’s case. As they’re talking about going back over the case with a fine toothed home, Eddie comes in and tells them that the Darbinian crime family has been taken out. When Barry inspects the crime scene he realizes that the family seems to have been killed one at a time instead of all at once as would be the case with gas. Joe figures that this means this is a case that they might need “backup” for, so they head to STAR Labs. The scientists are fascinated by the possibility of a meta-human that can control gasses, but Joe points out a problem: the police aren’t equipped to contain criminals with these powers. So far, they’ve killed all the meta-humans they’ve come across, but they don’t want to become assassins. Cisco suggests that they can use the particle accelerator as a make-shift prison to house the meta-humans they catch. Wells agrees, but Caitlin starts to have flashbacks to the day that the accelerator accident happened. We’ll recap the flashback as one whole piece later but, for now, let’s just say that Caitlin’s shaken by the memory. So, while Cisco and Wells prep the accelerator, Caitlin goes with Barry to “assist” him.
With Caitlin with Barry at the lab, Joe heads home to look over the Allen family case. His review is interrupted when Eddie shows up to surprise Iris. Eddie covers it up by saying that he wanted to re-inspect the crime scene but he just wants to stop hiding his relationship from Joe. Meanwhile, Barry is attempting to get to know Caitlin better by asking about her deceased fiance. She talks for a little while about how her fiance, Ronnie, was her counterpoint and that they were like “fire and ice” (for those that don’t know, Ronnie and Caitlin are the alter-egos of Firestorm and Killer Frost in the comics). He died in the accelerator accident and Caitlin says that the only reason he was their was because of her. Their conversation is interrupted by Barry’s test results (that seems to happen a lot). They’re surprised to see that the results show strands of another person’s DNA in the victim’s lungs. They surmise that this meta-human can actually turn himself into gas, not just control it. Just as they figure it out, they get word that a woman has been gassed at the mall.
Despite Caitlin’s warnings, Barry flashes off to the crime scene. When he gets there the judge is already dead. He pursues the Mist and, in his best Batman voice, confronts him about killing the woman. He’s not able to make contact with the killer, who turns into a poison gas and enters his lungs. He sprints back to STAR Labs where they extract the gas from him. After Barry recovers, Cisco decides to officially start calling the new meta-human the “Mist”…so, that happens. Later, he talks to Joe who tells him that the woman was a judge who put away a criminal related to the Darbinian family. Barry says it doesn’t matter because he was too slow to save her. Joe then has a talk with him about the pressures and the guilt that are going to be associated with him trying to save lives. He tells him that those feelings are things he can’t run from and that he’ll just have to learn to live with them. They also talk about the fact that Barry could just break his dad out of jail, but Joe convinces him that doing that would just make his father a fugitive.
When the STAR scientists finish analyzing the gas,they realize that it’s the same chemical combination used to euthanize criminals in a gas chamber combined with the sedative that they’re supplied before the execution. That leads Barry to cross check criminals who were being executed the night of the accident. As he suspects, there was a man who was being executed that night, Kyle Nimbus, and it’s the same one that he faced in that hallway. He’s already taken out the people who snitched on him and the judge that sentenced him to death. The only person left to get revenge on is the officer who arrested him and that just happens to be Joe (what a small world). Joe is off visiting Barry’s father to apologize for not believing him and to tell him that he’s reopening the case. Henry tells him that it was enough that he believed in his son. Just as the two are getting along, Nimbus arrives on the scene. He poisons Joe but Barry arrives in time to save him with an antidote that the STAR scientists created. When Henry looks to see who’s saving Joe, Barry blurs his own face to make sure his dad doesn’t recognize him under the mask. Barry chases the Mist again but doesn’t really have a plan for how to beat him. Caitlin and Wells suggest the continue to avoid the Mist until he tires himself out by continually destabilizing his body. Amazingly, this strategy actually works and Nimbus becomes solid long enough for Barry to knock him out.
Later, Joe is recovering in the hospital. He’s being watched by Barry, who tells him that he decided not to break his dad out when he had the chance. Joe is then visited by Iris and Eddie. The two had previously decided to get serious about their relationship, which meant revealing it to him. Of course, being a detective and close to both of them, he already knew they were dating. Given the situation, he promises to try not to kill his partner. Back at STAR, the scientists are locking Nimbus away in a high powered containment unit which will hold him…because SCIENCE! (I swear that should be the subtitle of this show). As they contemplate the prospect of working over the top of a super villain prison, Caitlin and Cisco start to talk about the night of the accident.
The night of the accident has been the subject of flashbacks throughout the entire episode. That flashback series concludes at the end of the episode. During the episode we saw the moments when the accelerator was activated. Caitlin’s fiance Ronnie was there with everyone else and was the engineer who built the thing. Moments after being activated, the accelerator malfunctioned and Ronnie went into it in order to try to prevent it from exploding. He was able to change the direction of the explosion, but he was trapped in the accelerator when it went off. Cisco was the one who ultimately had to lock Ronnie in to save everyone and he died as Caitlin was on the radio with him. Caitlin didn’t want him to be a hero, but his sacrifice made her love him more and it’s one that will be remembered by the whole team. However, as the accelerator explodes upward into the sky, killing Ronnie, we see Wells back in his secret room. From there he watches Barry as the lightning bolt strikes him, granting him his powers. After seeing this, Wells says that he will see Barry soon.
- You’re definitely going to feel it
I do like that this show is delving into some of the side effects of Barry’s powers. Last week it was the increased metabolism and this week it’s the immunity to anesthesia. It’s some of these things that make the Flash an interesting super hero because, in some ways, his powers can really suck.
- You had somewhere to run
I don’t know that this scene was really necessary to the entire episode but it was still a nice scene between a father and son (and two Barry Allens).
While the new meta-human every week is fun, I am ready for the Flash to start to have to deal with a long term threat (or to at least make ground on the one he’s been looking for). I do like that this episode managed to have a “villain of the week” while still telling an origin story. Although they’ll clearly have a slightly different relationship, Ronnie and Caitlin are likely still going to become Firestorm and Killer Frost. Frost is actually an old arch-enemy of Firestorm, who is one of the more ridiculously powerful characters in the DC universe. As much as I cringe at the prospect of more fire and ice lines, I am interested in what the show could do with the prospect of super-exes. I wonder if they’re going to introduce Firestorm with his “split personality” or if he’ll just be Ronnie in this variation.
It’s clear that Wells is some kind of time traveler. That “I’ve been waiting” remark was a pretty clear nod to that. It’s also being strongly suggested that he’s a villain since he was willing to apparently stage the accelerator accident. It is possible that he’s one of those “the ends justify the means” kind of guys and that he felt all of this was necessary in order to create the Flash that the future needs. Still, I doubt anyone will see it that way. The real question is what does he need/want Barry for and how exactly is the time travel happening. There’s only a handful of characters in the DC universe that are immortals and/or time travelers. My first guess is that Wells is somehow tied to the “Speed Force”, which is the source of power for all super-speed characters in the DC Universe. Barry Allen also happens to be the source of the Speed Force, meaning that for any other speedsters to exist, Barry must become the Flash. That could make Wells one of the reverse Flashes or an alternate relative (like Bart Allen) from the future.
My second theory is that he’s a time traveling villain like Chronos or Metron. Metron would be a character who deals with the worlds of Apokolips and New Genesis, where the super villain and world destroyer, Darkseid comes from. Metron’s known for being associated with sitting in a chair, occasionally a wheelchair, which is where that idea comes from. That being said, bringing in someone associated with Apokolips seems exceptionally ambitious for a TV show since those are villains usually reserved for Superman and the Justice League. Chronos would be more realistic, he’s a villain usually associated with the Atom who is currently be portrayed by Brandon Routh on CW’s other DC show Arrow. Still, as fun as a cross-over villain would be, I’m pretty sure that Wells will turn out to be a Flash. It just seems like things would be easier that way.