This Flash review contains spoilers.
The Flash Season 3 Episode 13
Hey! I’m Jim, your very special guest. I’m your regularly scheduled Legends of Tomorrow host, filling in for Mike on one of the most highly anticipated episodes of The Flash ever: the Flash team visits Earth 2’s Gorilla City and confronts Grodd, the evil telepathic gorilla from season 1. Just typing that sentence was a blast, so you’d think the episode would be amazing.
It was slightly better than fine, to be honest. But it coasted by on a delightful first act and some joyful acting by the cast, who had to work to overcome some pretty lazy writing. They lampshaded a good chunk of it, but they couldn’t paper over all of it, and the result was an episode I hoped would be better than it actually was.
We pick up where last episode left off, with Jessie Quick coming to Earth 1 for help saving her dad (Harry Wells) from the clutches of Grodd and the apes in Gorilla City. The team decides to act, thinking if they can save Wells from the clutches of Grodd, they can take away the only man on Earth 2 who knows how to open portals between worlds and prevent one of the headlines from the future from coming true. So a team of them – Cisco, Caitlin, Barry, and Julian in his best Indiana Jones cosplay – open a portal to Earth 2’s Gorilla City and head over to save Harry, while Wally and Jessie stay on Earth 1 to feel feelings.
That’s about the point where the episode goes from wonderful to “man, remember how wonderful that first part of the episode was?” Barry asks Julian to cover for him at work, and they banter back and forth about travelling the multiverse to visit the Planet of the Apes, and it was awesome. Iris tells Barry, “Don’t do anything stupid,” and Barry’s response is perfect – “like go to a city full of gorillas?” Even the setting is acknowledged by the cast as a little ridiculous: my first note on the episode was, “Man, central Africa looks a LOT like rural Vancouver,” and about 10 minutes later, there’s Caitlin making fun of the weather. But even here, if you think too hard about it, it starts to fall apart. Team Flash’s plan is faintly reminiscent of the legendarily terrible Uncanny X-Men story arc “The Draco,” where we find out Nightcrawler’s dad was a demon who teleported to Earth a bunch to impregnate women whose eventual offspring would open a portal that would let him teleport to Earth. Wells might be the only person on Earth 2 who can open portals, but there are at least an infinity people in the rest of the Multiverse Grodd could lure there and use (and as we see in the last scene of this week’s, he does).
The rest of the episode is just adequate, a charismatic cast doing the best they can to hold onto the energy and momentum of the opening scenes. Solovar is introduced as the leader of Gorilla City, and Grodd lured them there so Barry could defeat Solovar in “THE ARENA” in the most telegraphed failed political destabilization since CALEXIT. He does, but refuses to kill Solovar. Then they get double crossed by Grodd, but they’re clever enough to escape with Wells and they make it to Earth 1 just ahead of the gorilla army, now led by their new leader Grodd. The whole thing is rendered pointless by the appearance of Gypsy in the stinger, though, because Grodd could have just used her anyway…
The episode is really held together by Tom Felton’s performance. He’s just the right mix of dickish and awe-struck – sure, he’s been the thrall of the god of super speedsters, but this is the episode where things get weird for him. Felton keeps Julian’s standoffish essence through it, but he is also thrilled to be part of it. And he and Danielle Panabaker play off of each other really well – their relationship feels very real and organic.
As for the backup story about Jessie and Wally’s developing relationship, the best thing about it is that it ended quickly. The writers tried to make Jessie play like she was confused about her feelings for Wally, but it made no sense and was stupid and was resolved at the end of the episode by having them kiss and Jessie stay on Earth 1, so no long-term damage was done.
Overall, the most disappointing thing about this week’s Flash was how not-special it felt, despite being an episode where Flash fights Grodd in a city full of intelligent gorillas on a parallel Earth and where Kid Flash and Jessie Quick finally hook up.
-Julian gets his boss to let him join the Earth 2 expedition by telling him he and Barry are going to a “morphology conference in Bludhaven.” Bludhaven is where Nightwing, adult Dick Grayson’s alter-ego, eventually sets up shop. (It’s also eventually destroyed when Deathstroke detonated Chemo, a building-sized sentient bag of chemical waste, over it, allowing Command-D to set up shop there, giving Mokkari and Simyan a chance to set up the Evil Factory there and it’s the location of the final battle between Superman and Darkseid in Final Crisis which is super great you guys.)
-I know typecasting is unfair, but it is REALLY weird seeing Draco Malfoy pack heat.
-The only thing this Solovar has in common with his comics counterpart (so far) is the fact that he’s the leader of Gorilla City. Solovar was created by Carmine Infantino and John Broome, and in the comics he was the head of a technological utopia hidden from the world of Man. He’s also been on TV before – he was in a few episodes of Justice League/JLU.
-Turns out Harry Wells was lured to Gorilla City by a “mathematical cryptogram.” More evidence that HR Wells is secretly a bad hombre?
-Next week on Flash, Gorilla City invades!