“YO. GRODD.” yelled Joe West breathlessly, after he ran into STAR Lans to let Barry Allen and out other heroes know that the giant evil telepathic gorilla that menaced them last season had returned. It was all he needed to say. Really, it’s all I need to say for this recap: Yo. Grodd.
Yes, everyone’s favorite Flash villain is back and his existence on my TV—in live-action, during primetime—is still a miracle and a delight. Honestly, the rest of this episode could have consisted of Cisco make fart noises and I would have been happy, but thankfully it wasn’t.
When the obviously but awesomely named “Gorilla Warfare” begins, Barry is already walking again after having his back broken by Zoom last episode. That’s the good news. The bad news is that he can’t run, but more importantly, his confidence has taken a hit, which is understandable after Zoom paraded his broken body through Central City in front of basically everyone he respects. He feels like an utter failure, mainly because he fought Zoom and failed utterly.
It doesn’t help that Earth-2 Wells is getting ready to go home. He had hoped to get the Flash’s help to defeat Zoom; the Flash couldn’t help, so he’s going to go back to Earth-2 to think up a new plan and try to rescue his daughter. It’s not that unreasonable, but Caitlin is not having it. She wants Wells to stay and work with them, which isn’t unreasonable except that his daughter is in an insane amount of danger now that Zoom knows he’s working with another Flash.
Which means it’s obviously a perfect time for Grodd to resurface. Everyone’s favorite Giant Evil Telepathic Gorilla is using his mind-control powers to make lab techs bring him various chemicals and drugs, and then he kidnaps Caitlin because 1) she was always nice to him when he was a regular experimental gorilla in STAR Labs, 2) she can hopefully use the drugs he’s stolen to create more super-intelligent gorillas, so he’s not so alone, and 3) King Kong (Caitlin is even wearing Fay Wray white when Grodd first grabs her).
With Barry out of commission, it’s up to the rest of the SuperSTARS to figure out a way to rescue Caitlin. Surprisingly, it’s Harry who comes to the rescue—he puts on the Earth-1 Reverse-Flash costume, and once they locate Grodd pretends to be Wells— Grodd’s “father”—while Cisco spirits Caitlin out of harm’s way. Harry is able to channel his Earth-1 counterpart well enough that he’s also able to drug Grodd long enough to get away.
So Caitlin is rescued, but it’s not a long-term solution for Grodd. However, Harry has an idea—knock him through one of the breaches to a place on Earth-2 where he’ll be “at home,” whatever that means. Harry and Wells can set up a speed cannon, but someone has to lure the giant gorilla to the breach and not get killed—and that someone is the Flash.
So it’s a good thing that almost immediately once Barry started moping and muttering about how much he sucks, Iris called in his dad, Henry Allen. Yes, John Wesley Shipp returns to deliver yet another “believe in yourself, son!” speeches that he manages to make work every single time, except this one has some extra oomph because Barry has never been this unsure of himself, because he’s never lost like this. I also think this one was better than most because Barry reveals he doesn’t just doubt himself, he’s ashamed, to have his failure broadcast to all of Central City. As his father reminds him, Henry knows a little something about having one’s reputation tarnished in front of friends and family, seeing as he was, you know, convicted of murdering his wife in front of his 10-year-old son. I don’t know of Henry’s advice to “embrace” others’ doubt of him is really that useful, but at the very least Barry realizes his dad went through way worse and survived, so maybe the Flash’s life isn’t over either.
It still takes a few Henry Allen Signature Pep Talks™ to get Flash back on his feet, including one to get Barry off his feet after a big gorilla smack. Also, Caitlin has to distract Grodd by telling him she wants to help him, which she feels super-bad about because she does actually want to help him; Grodd didn’t ask to be experimented on and effectively raised by a supervillian. Unfortunately for both Grodd and Caitlin, this buys Harry enough time to finish his final pep talk, and the Flash lands a top-speed punch to knock Grodd off his big feet through the portal. Grodd is gone, the day is saved, and the Flash is back to top speed.
Honestly, the worst part of “Gorilla Warfare” is the return of Henry Allen, because it confirms (or very much seems to confirm) that Henry’s bizarre decision to leave town and his son the day he gets out of jail after being falsely imprisoned for 15 years for killing his wife is just that: an incredibly bizarre decision, more on the makers of The Flash than anything else. I had hoped there was some hidden reason for it that would be revealed, that Henry had been forced to abandon his son, because it just wasn’t believable to me—even a show about giant evil telepathic gorillas—that a caring father like Henry would abandon his son immediately after being reunited. But if Henry can come back at Iris’s phone call, there’s clearly nothing keeping him away except the showmakers’ desire to keep Barry and his dad apart, I guess so Barry is forced to rely on Joe as his father figure.
However, a giant evil telepathic gorilla makes up for a lot, as it turns out. I have a hard time imagining an episode of The Flash where Gorilla Grodd shows up which I don’t completely adore—which is why I’m already losing my mind about Grodd’s next appearance. Because, as the episode’s epilogue reveals, the place where Grodd has been sent is actually an Earth-2 refuge for gorillas who have been experimented on, because apparently there are quite a few of them. As the camera pans across the refuge, I swear to god the DC/CW/TV-verse reveals what I’m 99% sure is its equivalent of Gorilla City.
Yes, I am pretty sure the next time the Flash encounters Grodd, he is going to be in charge of an entire city full of intelligent apes. In fact, a good hyperintelligent ape may have to come to Earth-1 to ask The Flash for help because someone dumped a superpowered, megalomaniacal asshole gorilla in their home, and has taken over. I CAN BARELY STAND IT. And as long as The Flash keeps proving there is literally no comic book idea so crazy, so goofy, so Silver Age-y that it won’t put it on primetime television, I can definitely forgive them a Henry Allen or two.
• Cisco goes on his date with Kendra, and vibes some sort of “man” with hawk wings. When he resumes his date with Kendra later, he gets a second vibe, where he sees the hawk-person’s boob-armor and lipstick, which feels a little icky, but since Cisco is more impressed than turned on, I’ll allow it.
• Hey, Wells and Cisco? Putting Harry in the Reverse-Flash costume is a great idea, but you should probably warn people before he puts it on, not after he makes an entrance into a room full of people he’s wronged and/or murdered.
• On the note, I loved the scene with Cisco demanding Harry keep practicing his Wells impression, until Harry does it too accurately and freaks Cisco out.
• Did anyone think that Harry’s weirdly detailed knowledge of Earth-1’s Wells’ plans for Grodd was going to mean something significant? Since neither Cisco not Caitlin asked him about it, I suppose this means it was all part of the background Cisco gave to Harry off-screen, but still, it really seemed like Harry knew more than he should, right?
• Even after both Caitlin and Dr. Dad tell Barry he’s completely fine, and after he’s shown to both walk and run without incident, Barry still scoots around of Earth-1 Well’s old wheelchair for a bit. Why? I mean, I know he’s having self-doubts, but he knows he can walk.
• None of the SuperSTARS even ask Harry where Grodd is being sent on Earth-2 until after it’s over. It would have been hilarious for Harry to say: “Oh, the portal opened over an active volcano. Problem solved!”
• Barry gives Cisco Earth-1 Well’s Flash ring—the one he could store his suit inside—saying it could be “useful.” OH GOD FLASH RING FLASH RING GIVE FLASH THE FLASH RING AND HAVE HIS COSTUME BURST OUT OF THE RING EVER EPISODE AAAAAAAAAAA
• The Princess Bride is the best date movie of all time. Not an opinion, just a statement of fact.
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