If you're like me, you've been waiting for this: Grodd returns, and in style, despite being desperate for scientists and serum. Meanwhile: Wells proves valuable in more than one way, and Cisco figures out the challenges of Dating While Vibing.
Finally, we get more Grodd. He'd practically vanished since escaping last season. When scientists mysteriously begin disappearing, and mind-enhancing drugs are the linking variable, the team figures out he’s still around–but not before he abducts Caitlin. This episode really worked for me; I love the fact that they brought Grodd back and elevated him; he's got personality, ideals, sensitivity.
The Wells focus of tonight’s episode was nicely developed. Wells is frustrated and wants to head back home, especially after the failure of his plan and Barry's medical hiatus. Caitlin drops her cold-science viewpoint on Wells and forces him to stay instead, making him realize the value of the team approach. It’s arguable only Caitlin has the ability to reach Wells right now–maybe because she’s the only character who consistently couches her arguments in logic. Cisco is a metahuman, Barry is moping, Joe is a fairly non-scientific cop... When Wells shows up in the Reverse-Flash costume, it brings chills to my skin, but only proves Caitlin’s point about how much Wells has to offer the team, not just in knowledge but ability and commitment. I wonder what Wells-2 thinks about the choices and motivations of Wells-1, and what those motivations mean about Wells-2. I was hoping this Wells would clear the name of Harrison Wells somewhat; so far this proves me right.
Is it just me or does Barry not come off well lately? First, he's moping despite his rapid healing. I thought he'd at least spend some time immobile, but it's been barely a week and he's almost walking again. It's nothing short of miraculous, as Caitlin points out, but instead of being grateful for his good fortune and trying to figure out a new approach to deal with Zoom, Barry's whining and worrying about what the people of the city are going to think. I understand it's all cover for his post-traumatic stress from the recent defeat, but with friend after friend trying to get him to look up and see the light, it seems inexcusable for Barry to spend so much time in the corner. Secondly, is the character unable to go a season without keeping significant secrets from a female he feels attracted to? I really didn’t like the constant ducking of Patty in this episode. I understand it’s necessary, but the whole awkward chicken soup thing would have just had me going “See you later, Allen.” I guess it was good Joe pointed out that the storyline Barry was running by Patty completely sucked. I just wish he’d added: TELL HER. Her impassioned pleas at the end basically get shrugged off and kissed away.
I also felt kind of confused by how they used Barry’s dad in this episode. Dr. Allen left because he was concerned he’d be holding Barry back. Here, he explains he was really finding himself, and returns because Barry needs extra-special support, and Iris feels Barry’s dad is the only one who can restore his confidence. It seems like a logical inconsistency. Or maybe Dr. Allen’s like the antibiotic you can only use sparingly lest you build up resistance. I could maybe dig that? Regardless, this plotline allowed us to have this incredible moment where Barry’s dad begins to share his self-analysis after leaving prison, the pain he went through, and use that sharing to help Barry. That moment was genuine and deep and resonated all around and was worth a little bit of logical inconsistency. Henry left at the end, and basically, it's like Henry's the one-off, and Grodd's the one with the enlarged role.
In the end this is a Grodd episode, and I don’t know why but I've come to love everything Grodd. I thought his introduction in the first season a) wasn't too impressive from a computer animation standpoint and b) was an unfortunate one-off implementation of the character. The animation was incredible tonight, and he's got much more depth and personality. He's a telepathic mind-controlling serum-stealing scientist-killing monkey man who's also lonely and cold and slowly understanding the few human relationships he's developed, with Caitlin and Wells and the Flash. I wasn't sure how I felt about the plan to trick Grodd; he came across to me as sentient or borderline so, and his tendency to murder seems learned, and may perhaps not be innate. Doesn't he deserve the opportunity to choose his own destiny, and maybe choose to be on the side of good? Nonetheless, I was happy he made it to Gorillaland. I predict he'll be back to invade Central City one day. And it'll be awesome.
Bits and Pieces
The Costume Ring makes a reappearance. I'm looking forward to seeing this implemented on the side of good!
Cisco training Wells to talk evil... and succeeding a little too well. Fantastic acting by everyone here.
This was our second show including visions of what looks like Hawkgirl, a Justice League character. I get the show wants to introduce Hawkgirl, and I love what the dating process says about Cisco, Princess Bride and everything else. I do not like that it seems already so transparently transient; Cisco's worthy of being more than a vehicle!
The writers also seem to be highlighting the Joe-and-his-own-son theme from earlier this episode, and that huge secret Iris has been keeping from her own father. Makes me wonder: what if Joe's son is written into Zoom somehow? Or controlled by Zoom?
I'm going to get tired of the whole motivational-speech-at-the-last-minute-on-the-radio approach, though, which we saw Henry pull off at the end. It's starting to seem repetitive.
Henry: Well, that was my reality. You know, I was gonna serve a life sentence for a crime I didn't commit, but worse than that, every time I looked at someone in the eye from that moment forward, they were gonna believe that I had killed the woman I loved in front of our son. So yeah, I do know what it's like being... destroyed.
Barry: How did you get past that?
Henry: I embraced it. Accepting it was the only way that I could move forward, but I knew that if I could survive that, and learn to believe in myself again, then I could survive anything. You know what lit that belief in me, Barry? You.
A great episode which was a ton of fun to watch. Four out of four Groddvilles, which I feel is generous because BARRY SUCKS AT KEEPING SECRETS.
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