Six Months Later
The Flash faces Captain Cold and Heat wave, runs by them, sweeps up and down a building, and knocks Heat Wave out. As Captain Cold prepares to shoot him, Firestorm blasts the villain and Flash takes apart Cold's gun. Firestorm apologizes for arriving late and flies back to S.T.A.R. Labs. Flash joins him and the other congratulates them. Eddie and Harrison are both there, and Harrison says that there's nothing else he can teach Flash as he gets up out of his wheelchair.
Barry looks around the empty lab and an alarm goes off. He dons his costume and speeds off across Central City. He arrives at the scene and removes his costume, and Joe greets him. They awkwardly greet each other and Joe explains that the victim is Al Rothstein, a welder at the nuclear plant. Barry figures hat Al was strangled by someone very large and very strong, and is sure it wasn't Grodd. As Barry goes, Joe reminds him of the ceremony for the Flash for saving Central City six months ago, and Barry insists that he doesn't deserve it. Meanwhile, a man takes a photo of Barry.
At the station, Singh asks for a report and Joe tells the captain that there was something weird about Al's death. Sing reminds him that he gave Joe a metahuman task force to investigate such things and asks where his scientific adviser is... just as Cisco arrives. Cisco has a cart of equipment and explains that he's creating a device to take down metahumans, the Boot. Once Singh leaves, Cisco admits that they're on their own now that Barry is fighting crime on his own, and he hasn't heard from Caitlin since she started work at Mercury Labs. Iris arrives and Joe says that he tried to convince Barry to go to the ceremony. Joe suggests that Iris convince Barry and Iris agrees. As she leaves, she sees Eddie's photo on the wall of fallen officers.
That night, Barry is repairing the Jitters coffee shop when Iris comes in. She says that she's going to write an article about the rebuilding and people want to see the Flash. Barry refuses to go to the rally, insisting that he's not the one who saved the city. Iris gives him a flyer and says that Central City believes in the Flash... and so does she.
The Singularity starts to pull the city apart. Flash races up into the vortex and runs inside of it at top speed. Martin and the others watch from S.T.A.R. Lab, and Martin realizes that the Flash has managed to contain the Singularity. He says that they have to merge the inner and outer even the horizons by Firestorm separating inside of it. Caitlin warns that it's too dangerous, but Ronnie says that they have to try. After kissing her, he merges with martin into Firestorm, and the nuclear man flies up into the vortex. Once there, they separate and the energy backlash destroys the Singularity. Flash grabs Martin and gets clear, but there's no sign of Ronnie. As the others arrive, Flash hugs a crying Caitlin.
The next day at the rally, Mayor Bellows goes to the podium as Cisco and Joe see Caitlin arrive. The mayor talks about how things in Central City have turned weird. The man who took photos of Barry is in the crowd, as are Martin and his wife Clarissa. Bellows mentions Flash and everyone applauds, and a man in a hoodie makes his way through the crowd. The mayor holds up the key to the city and everyone waits... and Flash runs up. As the crowd cheers, Flash waves to them and starts to take the key... and a food truck comes flying through the sky. The hero gets Bellows to safety and sees the man in the hoodie, who removes the hood to reveal a mask. When Flash tries to grab him, the man easily knocks him back. The police open fire but the man shrugs off the bullets.
Cisco has a vision of the man inside a building, but snaps out of it when Joe yells at him to get the Boot. He hands it to Joe, who shoots it at the villain's leg. He concentrates and grows to giant size, while Flash grabs two propane tanks and returns to Joe. He throws the tanks and Joe shots them, and the propane explodes. A piece of shrapnel hits Flash in the leg, while the villain loses his mask... revealing Al. Al restores his mask after a moment and runs off.
At the station, Cisco confirms that Al's body was in the morgue all night. He's an only child, and the night the accelerator exploded, Al was on his honeymoon in Hawaii. Joe wonders why Cisco looked so spooked. Before Cisco can answer, Iris comes in and says that the x-ray and CRT machines at the hospital next to the rally all failed at once. Cisco insists that he's sure he didn't do anything to cause it, and goes off to check. Iris talks to her father privately and says that Barry can't fight crime alone anymore. She suggests that they not let Barry push them away, and Joe agrees.
Cisco goes to see Caitlin at Mercury Labs and admires her new equipment. He says that he saw her at the rally and tries to get her interested in the case. Caitlin insists that she can't go back, but Cisco asks her to examine Al's radiation badge from the nuclear plant and see if it was tampered with. After a moment, Caitlin agrees.
Barry is reading an article about the rally attack when Greg Turk, a lawyer with Wethersby & Son, comes in. He reminds him that Harrison left S.T.A.R. Labs to Barry, and the property will go into receivership in a week. Greg has a video drive with a video from Harrison, and Harrison specified that Barry watch it.
Once the lawyer leaves, Barry gets an alert that someone is at S.T.A.R. Labs. He speeds there and finds Joe, Iris, Martin, and Cisco there. Martin and Cisco conclude that their new meta has been absorbing radiation to power himself. Barry says that he doesn't want any of them, but they tell him that he needs his friends. They also insist on protecting the city whether Barry wants them to or not. Cisco finds a three-block dead zone near a reclamation plant and Martin says that they can find their "Atom Smasher" there. Cisco hugs him and Barry tells them to go. Joe says that he has to let them figure out a way to stop Atom Smasher, but Barry runs off. They realize that Barry left his comm system behind and he's on his own.
Flash arrives at the reclamation plant and finds Atom Smasher absorbing radiation from a canister. The villain says that he's only there to hurt him, and that Flash wouldn't believe why he looks like Al.
Cisco hacks the plant's security cameras and they watch as Flash creates a vortex. Atom Smasher keeps going and then punches him when Flash tries to close in. The villain expands to giant size and Cisco warns that Joe can't get there in time. Martin tells Cisco to set off the alarm, while Atom Smasher beats Flash and says that "he" said that Flash was a hero, but Flash doesn't seem worthy of him or the city. The alarms go off and Flash slips away while his attacker is distracted.
Flash speeds back to S.T.A.R. Labs and collapses.
Joe serves a young Barry mac n' cheese, but the boy refuses to eat. His foster father says that he can be sad and his parents will understand, and that's why he's here. After a moment, Barry breaks into tears and hugs Joe.
Barry wakes up in a hospital bed at S.T.A.R. Labs. Joe says that Iris is right and he's not going to give him his space anymore. Barry says that his dying is better than his friends, and Joe says that it was his fault that Ronnie died... and everyone else's. Eddie and Ronnie chose to help Barry stop Harrison and the Singularity, and Joe tells his foster soon to stop hogging the blame. Barry wonders what he does now, and Joe knows about his rebuilding Central City at night. He tells him to start rebuilding the things that really matter.
Caitlin is in her lab when Barry comes in. He knows she was at the rally and says that he wasn't the hero six months ago because he failed to save Ronnie. Caitlin assures him that he did everything he could and she doesn't blame him for Ronnie's death: she blames herself. If she had left with Ronnie when he asked her, he would still be alive. She left S.T.A.R. Labs because it reminded her of what she chose instead of Ronnie. Barry drops the drive and explains that Harrison left it to him, and admits that he's been too afraid to watch it. Caitlin suggests that they watch it together.
On the video, Harrison figures that he's dead if Barry is watching the video. He says that he never thought of them as enemies and he's not the thing that Barry hates. Now he's going to give Barry the thing Barry wants, but he knows Barry won't be truly happy. He then leaves a confession to the police admitting that he murdered Nora Allen. Barry calls Joe and asks him to have everyone meet him at S.T.A.R. Labs.
When Barry and Caitlin return to S.T.A.R. Labs, he shows them the video. Joe calls the DA and she says that it looks good. Barry tells the others and then wonders how they're going to beat Atom Smasher. Caitlin suggests that they give him all the radiation he can stand... and more.
Atom Smasher is sitting in his apartment and realizes that it's time. He sees the Flash signal on the clouds and goes to fight the hero. Flash is waiting and runs off, and Atom Smasher follows him to a nuclear plant. Inside, Atom Smasher grows to giant size and advances on the hero. Flash steps into a chamber and tells Cisco to go ahead. Cisco activates the core and Flash speeds out of the chamber as the door slams down, trapping Atom Smasher inside. The chamber floods with radiation and Atom Smasher first shrinks and then collapses. Once they clear the radiation, Flash opens the door and finds the villain unconscious. The hero apologizes and asks why he wanted to kill him, and Atom Smasher says that "Zoom" promised he'd take Al home if Al killed Flash. With that, Al dies.
Barry goes to greet Henry as he gets out of Iron Heights. Father and son share a hug and they go to the West home where everyone is waiting. They celebrate and Martin finally offers a toast: "Forward." Barry suggests to Henry that the two of them look for apartment, and Iris has found out how Henry can get his medical license back. Henry hesitates and finally says that he has to leave so that Barry can become all that he is becoming. Barry tells his father that he's the only family that he has left, and Henry says that he has a family in the room. Right now Central City needs Barry to be Flash, not Henry's son, and promises that he'll be there when Barry needs him. Henry asks Barry to tell him that it's okay, and Barry nods as they hug.
Later, Barry returns to S.T.A.R. Labs after dropping off Henry at the train station. Joe is waiting and asks if he's good, and Barry figures that he's lost. His foster father gives him the key to the city and Barry admits that it's cool. The others are in the main lab, and Cisco says that he's upgraded the Flash suit with a new chest ornament. Caitlin and Cisco have increased the security at S.T.A.R. Labs, just as the man who was taking photos comes in. He says that they don't know him but he knows Barry. The man introduces himself as Jay Garrick and says that their world is in danger.
Written by Gadfly on Oct 7, 2015