The Flash: Grodd Friended Me

"Run, Grodd. Run!"

By nature I love brevity: Oh my Grodd. This one's not without its flaws, but man, is The Flash back.

It's like it was meant to be. This episode addressed most of the concerns I raised last week in my review of 'A Girl Named Sue'. The energy was there, and it was equal parts crazy fun and deep emotion. And a lot of the elements I wanted to see return are back again. So let's break it down, shall we?

Firstly, if ever there was any doubt that Eric Wallace is trying to return this show to its Season One roots, let that be dispelled. ‘Grodd Friended Me' opens with a shot flying through the clouds above Central City that is reminiscent of the very first shot of the entire series. We are then treated to, in quick succession, overhead shots of the city, shots of Barry running from one place to another, and a classic meta attack by our old foe-then-friend-then-now-foe-again Hartley Rathaway. Barry loses this fight because the city is so different now after Crisis, which sets us up for the theme of the week and Barry's latest character growth.

Now, it's important to note that this is now the fourth episode since Crisis on Infinite Earths. It's been over a month in real time since the Legends of Tomorrow episode that concluded the event. This significantly cheapens the idea that Barry is all of a sudden struggling with the changes to the universe. It almost makes me think this was supposed to be the first post-Crisis episode, and something made them have to shuffle things around. However, I found Barry's search for his parents' graves to be very poignant, and it really sold me on the concept even though the timing felt a little weird at first.

The plot here is split into a few different threads, but the main one is Barry trapped inside Grodd's mind. This is exactly the sort of quirky science concept that was a hallmark of Seasons One and Two, and although the technobabble here did start to bother me, I got the concept they were trying to convey in the end. I thought that Grodd's interactions with Barry worked well for the most part. It's pretty freaking hard to make a CGI gorilla emote, especially when said gorilla's lines are delivered telepathically. I think the use of our cast to deliver his lines was intended to get around that, but they weren't really able to emote either and so it made those scenes kind of clunky. Grodd's change of heart is an interesting turn of events, though, and it'll be interesting to see if that sticks.

Let's talk about Grodd for a second. I have really not enjoyed most of the Grodd episodes after Season Two. They started to rely far too much on armies of CGI gorillas, which never worked in large numbers and out in broad daylight. Even 'King Shark vs. Gorilla Grodd' failed to deliver as much goofy fun as promised, and I left feeling disappointed. This episode managed to salvage Grodd for me. I liked that we got a taste of his life at STAR Labs before the particle accelerator, which was always fascinating to me even though we never got much of it. The CGI on him was also quite good, which was surprising considering the massive decrease in this show's CGI due to the Crisis. And as far as the goofy fun goes... I had just about the biggest grin on my face the entire time he had Barry's powers. I don't care that it's dumb (which it is). I got to see Gorilla Grodd with the Flash's powers, and man, was the little kid in me squealing with glee. Or was that just me in general?

There's some other material here, but none of it takes up too much time on its own. The story following Iris and Eva in the mirror dimension was stalling its wheels quite a bit this time around, so those scenes were a bit of a drag. I feel like they could have been cut without too much trouble. Meanwhile, fake Iris is manipulating her Dad under Eva's orders. I thought those scenes were much more interesting, helped in part by Jesse L. Martin and Candice Patton's performances, as well as Stefan Pleszczynski's excellent and sure-handed direction.

The rest revolved mainly around our three newcomers: Allegra, Chester, and Kamilla. Though they are no substitute for Cisco, Caitlin, and Ralph just yet, I like all three of them and enjoyed their moments in this episode. Kamilla took a bit of a backseat, and Allegra was separated from the main story, so I want to focus on Chester. This episode made me like him more than I have in any of his previous appearances. I laughed at his antics more than once, and I liked his interactions with the rest of the team, particularly Frost. Side note: I didn't mind Frost at all this episode. The involvement of racial themes was not poorly handled, but it did come out of left field, and seemed a little out of place in the context of the larger episode. Admittedly, though, I don't experience those themes on a regular basis, so it may have hit differently for an audience with more first-hand experience. I would not mind at all if we kept Chester around, although I want it to be very clear that he is no replacement for any of our legacy characters. Neither are Allegra or Kamilla, like them though I may.

The last bit I want to touch on is Nash, Allegra, and creepy Sherloque. Never in a million years did I imagine that Sherloque Wells could be unsettling and downright eerie, but there you go. Turns out Nash is seeing more than one Wells, and they're not just visions. They're real, at least enough to push Nash around. The Reverse-Flash is coming, folks. Y'know, again. It's not like this is the fifth or so time he's returned on this show, not to mention his guest villain spot on Legends. I felt Tom Cavanagh really carried this portion of the episode, but Kayla Compton was a little outclassed. She did her best, but I found myself disbelieving her performance here, and I think it's the first time that's happened.

Running Plot Threads:

-Eva was revealed to be the brain behind fake Iris, and she is definitely manipulating real Iris for some purpose as well.

-Cisco is on his way back from cataloguing the new multiverse. We'll see how that plays out next week.

-Frost checked in on Bloodwork, who is now being held at ARGUS.

-Chester is now an official(ish) part of Team Flash. He even found out Barry's secret(ish) identity.

Pensees:

-So, again. Gorilla Grodd with super speed. Really freaking cool. Hey, how did Solovar almost beat a super speedy Gro- never mind, it's still awesome.

-More cast juggling issues. No sign of either Ralph or Cecile. Also Cisco, but he's a slightly different case.

-Jesse L. Martin looked a bit lost in his Grodd scenes. He very rarely looks lost on this show.

-We never did find out whether Grodd got out of his coma. Presumably he did.

-Chester drinking a beer from a straw was one of the funniest things I've seen on this show in a long time.

-Hartley Rathaway AKA Pied Piper has meta powers now, in addition to the gloves. He looked a lot less grunge here than he used to.

-STAR Labs has a janitor. That person had better be extremely trustworthy, extremely well paid, or extremely unobservant.

-When Barry faces Solovar the first time, his mask is off center. It bugged the heck out of me the entire scene.

Quotes:

Chester: "The jawline, though? Very distinctive."

Allegra: "There's the Nash Wells we all know and can barely stand."

Barry: "How does it feel?"
Grodd: "It feels... impossible."

Frost: "As my life coach, Ralph, would say, you can't let that stop you."
Nash: "Ralph is your life coach?"

5 out of 6 residual particle traces of things. Not perfect, but an excellent return to form.


CoramDeo has been scraping dope rhymes up off the kitchen floor just to survive.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

-We never did find out whether Grodd got out of his coma. Presumably he did.
-- I think there is a line that Lyla had ARGUS inject a subdural tracker to keep abreast of his whereabouts.

-Chester drinking a beer from a straw was one of the funniest things I've seen on this show in a long time.
-- I thought it was soda and a piece of licorice. When the camera pans to show the back of the counter, it looks like there is a jar of licorice sitting there.

CoramDeo said...

It's possible that I missed a line about Grodd. It wouldn't be the first time. I don't remember the licorice, but that may in fact have been there.

Katie Hart - Pinterest Manager said...

There is definitely the line about the tracker, and Frost is going to make sure that Argus is actually following through. Also, I don't know if it was beer or soda, but definitely a piece of licorice.