The Flash – Season 1 Episode 7
Grodd returns to The Flash at the worst possible time. With Barry incapacitated it is up to Team Flash to use their collective genius to stop Grodd without the benefit of Barry’s speed.
I mentioned last season that the visual effects for Grodd were excellent and this episode proves that it wasn’t a fluke. Grodd is on screen a lot more than he was in his full appearance last season -or at least it felt like he was- and the CGI remains consistently convincing throughout. I continue to be impressed by this show pushing itself into taking bigger risks like featuring a fully CGI character on a network TV budget.
Grodd has continued to evolve since his last appearance. His telepathic speech is far more articulate and he is becoming more independent as well as intelligent. He doesn’t fall for Harry posing as his Earth-1 counterpart and has a clear agenda. The big motivator for him in this episode is simple loneliness. He is the only member of his kind and wants to change that so that he can live a full life among others of his species. As far as motivations go it’s simple yet effective and very difficult to disagree with. Having him feel isolated because humanity fears him makes a lot of sense for him.
The way he goes about achieving it isn’t ideal but it’s more of a response to how he feels that humanity perceive him. Grodd knows that he will be attacked so he uses force to go after what he needs. This is consistent with the whole idea of evolution in a way as well. I’ll illustrate using a quote from the Jurassic Park character Dr. Ian Malcolm “If there is one thing the history of evolution has taught us it’s that life will not be contained. Life breaks free, it expands to new territories and crashes through barriers, painfully, maybe even dangerously…”. What can I say, I just can’t resist quoting Jeff Goldblum and I’m glad that I have the opportunity to this week.
Unsurprisingly, Grodd’s plan is to capture Caitlin so that she can use her intelligence to figure out a way to create more intelligent Gorillas. This is naturally something that Caitlin is reluctant to do but there’s a notable barrier when she initially has no idea how she could actually do that. Grodd becoming the way he is was an accident that won’t be easy to replicate.
It is established that Caitlin was always kind to Grodd when he was being experimented on prior to his transformation. This is consistent with Caitlin’s character as she is nice to everyone and it’s interesting that this would leave a lasting impression on him to the point that he trusts her in some way. Of course he has his ability to control minds to fall back on but in terms of getting the work done he will have to leave Caitlin in charge of her own brain.
Caitlin clearly feels sympathy for him which seems to overpower how terrified she is. All she seems to see is a lonely creature that needs help and that makes her want to help him in some way. It creates an interesting conflict between her desire to help Grodd and the fact that she can’t be responsible for creating an entire species of intelligent Gorillas. Danielle Panabaker puts across that conflict well and does a good job acting against a digital effect. The most obvious comparison to the way they interact is King Kong and Ann Darrow from King Kong -imagine that!- but it could also be compared to Beauty and the Beast or any number of stories. The idea of a supposedly savage beast being soothed by the acceptance of a beautiful woman is a very old idea but fiction keeps returning to it because it is a simple emotional connection that works really well.
Thankfully there’s a solution to the situation that benefits everyone. Harry tells Team Flash about a home that Grodd can go to on Earth-2 which turns out to be Gorilla City. Between the mention of Atlantis earlier in the season and the inclusion of Gorilla City it seems that The Flash is going to use Earth-2 as a home for the wackier concepts that can’t yet believably exist on Earth-1. One day I imagine it will be possible but for now Earth-1 still remains grounded enough that it might not work. Having them in Earth-2 shows that the potential exists on Earth-1 and that’s enough for me right now.
Sending Grodd through the breach to a place that he can call home is very much an act of mercy and removes the problem for a little while. I imagine he will be back at some point but I can’t see how Gorilla City will be fully realised on a show like this. They continue to surprise me so I’d love to see them try to do it.
While Grodd is on the loose, Barry is still recovering from his defeat by Zoom. His condition has gotten a lot better since his inability to feel his legs last week. It sort of cheapens his injury when he is seen walking right away but the effect is supposed to be more psychological than physical. It has been well established that Barry heals really quickly and the early part of the episode points out that he’s most of the way there after a week of recovery. The fact that it has taken this long shows how bad his beating from Zoom was.
Barry is unable to put his defeat behind him as he feels that he has let down Central City. The people that he is supposed to protect have seen him suffer a very public and humiliating defeat so Barry feels that people will have lost faith in him. I would say it’s more that he has lost faith in himself as he has never been beaten as badly before. Reverse Flash defeated him but was more toying with him than actually trying to destroy him. That makes sense as Reverse Flash needed him to accomplish his plan of returning to his own time whereas Zoom has a very different agenda. Barry’s initial defeat at the hands of Reverse Flash only motivated him to get better where Zoom has broken his spirit.
I can see what the episode is going for but it translates to Barry doing a lot of sulking instead of actually working through his issues in an organic way. His stubbornness when people try to help him doesn’t really work at being a legitimate barrier to getting back out there and helping. The reappearance of Grodd should at least have motivated him to try and sort out his issues.
Iris smartly reaches out to Barry’s biological father to come and help get him back on his feet. As with any John Wesley Shipp appearance there are a lot of speeches about believing in yourself and conquering fears that run the risk of coming off as too corny. John Wesley Shipp manages to inject enough sincerity into them to make them work but the dialogue is incredibly on the nose. As always Grant Gustin and John Wesley Shipp work really well together with a father/son relationship that is a joy to watch.
I still have an issue with the fact that Henry left as soon as he was freed from prison and this extends to the fact that he leaves as soon as Barry is back on his feet. I wonder if he is hiding some reason that he can’t stick around for more than a few hours. It might be due to the availability of John Wesley Shipp but it’s a significant story problem to have him leave so suddenly.
Harry seems to be coming round to the idea of working with Team Flash. He was all set to return to Earth-2 and face Zoom alone but is eventually partially convinced to stay by Caitlin. I say partially because the real deciding factor is when he comes up with the plan to close all of the breaches except the one in S.T.A.R. Labs in order to set a trap for him. There are also discussions around working together to save his daughter that he seems to be on board with.
The plan to confuse Grodd by dressing Harry up in the Reverse Flash suit manages to be quite a fun idea. Seeing Tom Cavenagh playing Earth-2 Wells pretending to be Earth-1 Wells is excellent. Cavenagh manages to put across the fact that it is difficult for Harry to act like his morally questionable counterpart perfectly. Seeing the calm line delivery in the style of Earth-1 Wells is very chilling.
I enjoyed the mention of adapting the ring to store Barry’s suit but saying that it will be more convenient than carrying a bag around all the time is rich. He hasn’t carried the Flash suit in a bag since the second episode as it always sits on the mannequin in S.T.A.R. Labs. This show continues to move closer to the comics and I always find that exciting.
Barry’s relationship with Patty continues to bubble along in the background but the fact that she feels self conscious about his lies is ground that this show has already been over to a frustrating degree. Hopefully this won’t become the norm as I’m not interested in seeing this played out again as it suggests that Barry hasn’t learned anything from the way he treated Iris last season.
Cisco almost gets to go on his date with Kendra but it is interrupted by his Vibe abilities as he sees her in costume as Hawkgirl. He is confused at first as he thinks it’s some kind of winged metahuman but a later Vibe gives him more detail. It’s unclear if Kendra is already Hawkgirl or if reincarnation will be a part of her character. If so then it’s reasonable to assume that she doesn’t know the truth about herself yet. It’s another example of spending time on this show to establish characters for the spinoff but it happens enough in the background that it doesn’t feel offensive.
There will be no The Flash or Arrow next week but the in two weeks the much anticipated crossover episodes will happen. I for one am very excited to see them.
An impressive return for the technically impressive Gorilla Grodd at the worst possible time while Barry is still recovering from his defeat by Zoom.
Grodd has continued to evolve since his last appearance. His telepathic speech is more articulate and he appears a lot more intelligent. He doesn’t fall for Harry posing as his Earth-1 counterpart and has a clear agenda. I like the fact that his motivation is simple loneliness and that he kidnaps Caitlin because he remembers that she was kind to him when he was being experimented on. Since he will need her to be in control of her own brain to do the work he needs then trust will be an important factor.
Caitlin is torn between her desire to help Grodd and the fact that she can’t be responsible for creating an entire species of intelligent Gorillas. Danielle Panabaker portrays the conflict well and does a good job acting against a purely digital effect. Luckily the solution of sending Grodd through the breach to Earth-2 Gorilla City is an outcome that benefits everyone and gives Grodd something of a happy ending.
Barry’s condition has gotten a lot better but he is unable to put his defeat by Zoom behind him. It’s a good contrast to his initial defeat by Reverse Flash as that motivated him to get better where Zoom has completely broken his spirit. Barry’s psychological issues didn’t work as well as the episode needed it to as it translates as Barry sitting around sulking rather than organically work through his issues.
Bringing his biological father in to help give him the kick he needs is a good move. The dialogue is pretty corny but John Wesley Shipp manages to sell it well enough and his interaction with Grant Gustin is as solid as ever. I still have issues with his abrupt departure and this is further reinforced here when he leaves at the end of the episode.
Harry is coming around to the idea of working with Team Flash. In the early part of the episode he was all set to return to Earth-2 to face Zoom alone but is halfway convinced to stay by Caitlin. The other half comes from his plan to set a trap for Zoom but he generally seems more willing to accept help from the others to save his daughter.
Tom Cavenagh does a great acting job in this episode as he is given the difficult task of playing Earth-2 Wells pretending to be Earth-1 Wells and pulls it off flawlessly. It takes him a while to get to the same delivery but when he does it’s chilling to watch.
Barry’s relationship with Patty seems to be going the same way as it did with Iris in season 1 as she is frustrated at him lying to her. I hope that this doesn’t persist for too long because it’s well worn ground to an irritating degree.
Cisco almost gets to go on his date with Kendra but misinterprets his Vibe when he sees her as Hawkgirl. He assumes that it’s a winged metahuman but later gets more details. It’s another example of setting up the spinoff but t sits in the background and is a lot less offensive than it has been. The crossover happens in two weeks so colour me excited.