This week’s installment of The Flash showcased both the series’ strengths and weaknesses in equal measure.
On the one hand, we got a second helping of Gorilla Grodd and Earth-2’s Harry Wells as well as several character romance storylines moving forward. However, on the other hand, Grodd’s plot is very generic destroy-the-world stuff.
Greg Berlanti and company should be applauded for even daring to take on such an ambitious endeavor as an essentially two-part story that, at least in theory, involves lots of CG ape characters with the show’s limited budget. And I must say the apes look pretty great. But because we see so little of them, presumably because the show can’t quite afford to truly deliver on the spectacle, I’d rather they’d have come up with a more creative way to better make use of what they had. Still, I applaud the ambition.
There were two other complaints I had in this episode. Harry comes up with the idea to use Cisco’s vibing ability to peek into the near future to learn Grodd’s first move. So Team Flash shows up exactly where they know Grodd is going to be ready to surprise him, only we’re supposed to accept that Grodd somehow anticipated this and pulled a Minority Report on our heroes, creating a distraction while Grodd nabbed a military general Team Flash never would have known to be watching anyway. How could Grodd have known the full extent of Cisco’s abilities, that the team would think to use his abilities in this way, and then somehow fake his own future actions?
My other issue is more of a minor pet peeve. When Barry has to disarm a nuke by rapidly trying every possible combination in a 5-digit pass code before the countdown ends, he momentarily gives up because, despite being able to move so fast he was able to phase a train through solid matter a few weeks ago, he says he suddenly can’t perform this seemingly easier task in time. But then, through the power of just being told he can do this, he gets back to work on the code and is suddenly fast enough to do it. Just felt like false suspense to me.
There’s no development with Caitlin and Julian’s relationship this week because Julian’s said to be back in London for family reasons, but three other romance stories advanced this week.
First, Cisco and Gypsy. As teased last week, Gypsy has returned. After trying to kill everyone while under Grodd’s control, she resists Cisco’s charm and rebuffs his pleas for her help against the gorilla forces. Later, however, Cisco vibes to her on Earth-19 and finally persuades her to help him transport Grodd’s gorilla nemesis Solovar and a gorilla army loyal to him to Earth-1 to face off against Grodd. Cisco and Gypsy eventually share a kiss before she takes off again.
Then there’s Barry and Iris. As Barry considers killing Grodd, arguing that Oliver got to kill his villains all the time on sister show Arrow–yeah, what the hell, Ollie!–Iris recognizes this is really about his fears of losing her if they don’t sufficiently change future events. Serving as Barry’s conscience, Iris reminds him that killing is not his way and that her life isn’t worth the price of Barry losing his soul. And all the fitting that Solovar–whom Barry had shown mercy to last week–became the solution this week. And after Solovar defeats Grodd, Barry convinces him to spare Grodd and leave him behind here on Earth-1. Then, in what’s become the weekly penultimate scene at Iris’ and Barry’s apartment, Barry proposes to Iris.
Finally, there’s Wally and Jesse. They tell Jesse’s dad about her moving to Earth-1 to be with Wally, which Harry initially takes surprisingly well. Although struggling, he manages to get out a "your happiness is what matters to me," though he later "confides" in Wally that he’s very sick and doesn’t want Jesse to know. Later, when Wally suggests maybe Jesse should return with her father, it doesn’t take much for him to spill the beans, which sends Jesse off to confront her father about his obvious manipulative lie…which of course it was. In the end, Harry accepts Jesse’s decision and leaves for Earth-2 without her. In the coda scene, the couple takes a break from cozying up to each other while watching Casablanca. Jesse sends Wally off to pick up some burgers. En route, however, Savitar–no, not Solovar, but man, those names are too similar–suddenly appears and rushes towards Wally.
The episode was enjoyable but it was a very mixed bag. Grodd’s fun in small doses. The CG looks good. We finally got some interaction between the two Wellses, Harry and H.R., though I thought they played up Harry’s dickishness a bit too much. Given that H.R. has contributed and proven his worth several times now to earn his place on the team, it seems out of character for Harry to not at least trust Team Flash’s judgment and just bag on the guy all episode. And even when the writers allowed H.R. to figure something important out, they didn’t create enough of a moment out of it to pay off the abuse he’d gotten all episode from Harry.