This The Flash review contains spoilers.
The Flash Season 3 Episode 14
This is one of those weeks where delivering an objective review becomes something of a struggle. For one thing, I’ve had a couple of weeks off from reviewing The Flash, so it’s nice to come back with fresh eyes and typing fingers. Thanks to Jim Dandy for filling for me with “Attack on Gorilla City” last week. I have to say, I generally agree with his sentiments about that one. But I’ll say this, “Attack on Central City” is even better.
The beauty of how The Flash has utilized Grodd over the last two seasons is in how they’ve used him sparingly. You don’t just jump right in with a Gorilla City story, and I loved Barry’s realization that Grodd is evolving, just as the show’s ability to deal with the challenges of a character like this are. It’s been nice having Grodd around sporadically over the last year, but I feel like these two episodes finally nailed the spirit of the character in a big way.
Like the best Flash Rogues (most of whom have been pretty absent this year), Grodd shouldn’t be a character you just trot out every now and then, there needs to be a relationship with Barry, and a particular reason they keep coming into conflict. You don’t necessarily think “telepathic gorilla” when designing enemies for a guy who moves at super speed to take on, but Grodd is one of the greats, and it’s all about establishing their particular dynamic. Now that this is established, Barry’s relationship with Solovar is next. Their big finish was the perfect way to set that up, and it’s important for Solovar and Barry to develop a level of trust. I can’t believe that a live action TV series is actually doing this and taking the time to do it right.
As a bonus, the simian special effects looked better than they ever have this week, and in general, these CGI gorillas tend to look better at night. Anyone want to back me up that Grodd kidnapping the general was the best he’s ever looked on this show?
But again, like almost every Grodd episode, Grodd wasn’t even the biggest story tonight. The Flash has an uncanny ability to keep our attention firmly on the supporting cast, even when something like, I dunno, a gorilla invasion is unfolding. So with that in mind we get the welcome return of Gypsy, things getting taken to another level with Wally and Jesse, a big development with Barry and Iris, and the absolute joy that is having two Tom Cavanaghs on screen at the same time.
In fact, I didn’t think that Cavanagh could be any more delightful, yet here we are. Tom Cavanagh has long been this show’s not-so-secret weapon, and while I wasn’t quite sure whether I was on board with HR or not early on, I’ve been completely won over as the season progresses. Having the perpetually cranky Earth-2 version playing off HR in the early scenes was a nice touch. I could watch a whole episode of this.
I guess the pseudoscience was stronger than usual this week, but when we’re talking about (in Joe’s words) “a giant gorilla who is probably leading an army of giant gorillas” I can give things a little more leeway. And, c’mon, three speedsters coming to the party? Four if we count the mystery one on Gypsy’s world? I can’t complain. To quote Joe West again, “OK.”
But the real core of this episode is something we’ve seen other heroes wrestle with, but not Barry. When is it okay to take your enemy’s life? I’m glad that Barry went down the road he did tonight, and it’s certainly in line with how he’s supposed to be. His weak comparison to Oliver was nicely ripped to shreds by Iris, and he did indeed find another way. There’s no guarantee that will be permanent, though, and as Barry continues to hold himself to this code, it’s going to make it all the more difficult if he ever decides he has to break it.
As for that ending? Well, we knew Wally was having too good a time, and would eventually have to pay the piper with Savitar. Keiynan Lonsdale and Violett Beane seem to have some legit on screen chemistry, though, and I hope the show doesn’t take this pairing away from us just as I’m starting to enjoy them. I can’t imagine there are any more Barry/Iris doubters out there, and I think they’ve properly earned this engagement over the last three years. More on that in a minute, though…
And for real, how can you possibly not be rooting for Cisco and Gypsy at this point? Give them an entire episode to themselves, too, please!
– I was kind of hoping that the tune playing was actually PM Dawn’s “Set Adrift on Memory Bliss” but I’m pretty sure it was the original Spandau Ballet “True.” Both are killer, though.
– The “Alfred Yankovic” bit was wonderful.
– Of course all the best screen simian villains lose by falling off a building, why should Grodd be any different?
– Barry and Iris are officially engaged now. The seeds of my favorite Flash story ever continue to be sown by this show (some spoilers in this link). I think I know how season 4 ends and season 5 begins. Hit me on Twitter and maybe we’ll talk spoilers. Maybe. They’re major spoilers, though.
– So, that mystery speedster that Gypsy is talking to? That appears to be The Accelerated Man, from Earth-19, which is kind of like DC’s Victorian superhero world. As far as I know, this character has only appeared as a reference in Grant Morrison’s guide to the DC Multiverse, Multiversity, and only as an entry in The Multiversity Guidebook. But Earth-19 is where the excellent Gotham By Gaslight by Brian Augustyn and Mike Mignola takes place, and it’s where Batman takes on Jack the Ripper. Totally worth your time, even though there’s no appearance by the Accelerated Man in it.
– Did…did Gypsy say “Luke Starkiller” to Cisco? Because if she did, I love the idea that an earlier version of George Lucas’ Star Wars vision is what got made on her world.
The first Flash comic Mike Cecchini ever bought featured Grodd on the cover. Ask him nicely on Twitter and he might even tell you which one.