This review contains spoilers.
2.7 Gorilla Warfare
At this point in our collective Flash-watching adventure, we’re all kind of over the fact that there’s a giant, telepathic, talking Gorilla in Central City. The ridiculous factor has passed, and we can just enjoy Grodd the same way we enjoy any other meta-human threat. But when you add Grodd to an episode where Henry Allen is also hanging around passing out platitudes, the cheese factor edges very close to the line.
Which, when looking at the big picture, was probably a good thing. Though we’re quickly informed that Barry’s injuries from his run-in with Zoom aren’t actually going to keep him out of commission for too long, he’s still confined to the lab for much of the episode, his ego significantly bruised from the public humiliation he suffered. A little lightness, then, was required, and by the end of the episode Barry was thankfully back to his optimistic norm.
But credit to the show for using the big showdown to illustrate more of the psychological wounds for Barry, which have been cropping up more and more over the season. The gut-punch of a season finale hasn’t been forgotten, and once again The Flash is choosing to add layers to its heroes without descending into Arrow-levels of self-inspection.
Barry is subdued, prickly and on edge for much of the episode, as we see in his reaction to seeing Wells back in the Reverse Flash suit or when he snaps at Iris, but the audience knows he’ll come out of his funk eventually.
Some of that is due to Henry, and some to do with Patty. As said, Henry pops in and out with little explanation (he’s been fishing, apparently), drops some sound bites on Team Flash, and then heads off into the sunset again. He might not quite be the neglectful, absentee father I painted him as in episode one, but he’s certainly not the good guy we all thought. That said, that doesn’t appear to be the opinion the show itself is going with.
On the flip side of this, it was nice to see the show hammer home that Patty isn’t a complete idiot, figuring out that Barry is lying about being sick pretty quickly. But she’s not a nag, either, and has so far steered clear of the usual traps the wives and girlfriends on superhero shows fall into.
There’s also Cisco and Kendra, setting up Hawkgirl for Legends Of Tomorrow without being obtrusive. Cisco vibes her (what’s the verb of this?) and sees her future as a badass superhero. Suffice to say, this makes him like her even more than he did when he thought she was just a barista.
I like the work this episode did to solidify a bond between Harry and Caitlin, who appears to have the least hang-ups about having someone around wearing Wells’ face. Maybe that’s because Thawne did the least harm to her directly, or maybe it’s because Caitlin’s a sweetheart. Either way, it’s a good way of keeping him around as well as humanizing him further. Yes, he has selfish motives, but they’re less sinister than they were last time around.
With help from the rest of the team, it’s Wells and Caitlin that take down Grodd, who is now residing in a ‘paradise’ that appears from the pre-credits sting to be deserted. The execution of Grodd in general was excellent in this episode, with the impressive graphics shining through even more than in his first appearance, and the opportunity for audience sympathy also dialled up a notch.
So yeah, Gorilla Warfare was cheesy, but that was balanced out with some good work with Barry following last week’s blockbuster episode. I’m liking Wells more and more this season, adding a completely new dynamic to the team while keeping the exact same cast. That’s hard to pull off, but The Flash is doing an admirable job of keeping itself fresh and interesting despite its success.
Read Caroline’s review of the previous episode, Enter Zoom, here.