‘The Flash’ 1.21 Recap: “It’s Your Monkey”

For as many things as ‘The Flash’ does right, the Iris situation has been a major drag on the show this entire season. This week’s episode finally takes big strides toward righting that wrong. It also gives us a super-intelligent psychic gorilla, so that’s pretty cool.

When Iris had a suspicion about Barry being The Flash at the end of last week’s episode, I frankly expected nothing to come of it. I figured, as badly written a character as she is, she’d find some reason to doubt herself, and then Barry and Joe would do something to avert her suspicions and we’d be right back to the status quo. Fortunately, that’s not how it plays out at all. Iris is done being kept in the dark. That’s over now, thank heavens.

In fact, Iris only plays dumb with Barry for a short time. Then, fed up with that, she storms into S.T.A.R. Labs and catches him wearing the Flash suit. (Great security they have there, huh?) “I can’t believe I didn’t figure it out sooner,” she exclaims – to which the show’s entire collective audience responds, “We can’t believe that either, ya nitwit!”

Not only does Iris now know Barry’s secret, she’s pissed that everyone kept it a secret from her, as she has every right to be. Finally developing some brains and backbone, Iris tells off Barry, her father, Cisco and Caitlin for lying to her for so long. She tells them how stupid that was, and how it actually put her in a lot more danger that way, when their alleged goal was to protect her. She speaks a lot of truth in this episode about the futility of her storyline that fans have wanted the show’s writers to address for quite a long time. It feels like those writers are straight-up acknowledging how badly they screwed up this part of the show. By the end of the episode, all the characters admit that they were wrong, Iris gets fully caught up to speed with Barry’s story, and she even proves herself useful to the team.

I hope this means that the character has turned a corner. I really do.

Ironically, the clue that finally exposed the ruse – that Iris felt a static electricity shock when touching The Flash which kind of reminded her of something that happened a long time ago with Barry – is an incredibly flimsy connection. Whatever… I’m just glad we can finally move on.

What Is a Grodd?

Gorilla Grodd is one of The Flash’s most significant foes in the comic books. The TV show has teased him, and even shown a couple brief glimpses of him over the course of the season, but the concept is very tricky to pull off in live action without looking incredibly cheesy. Now that we finally get a full-blown look at him, I’m relieved to say that the series pulls it off pretty well.

The episode starts with news that a string of gold stores have been robbed, but Barry’s attention is distracted by searching for Dr. Wells and Eddie. Later, a man wearing full body armor attacks the Central City Gold Reserve with a rocket launcher and guns. Barry is forced to contend with that, so he races to the scene expecting to make quick work of the perp. However, when he gets in too close a proximity, Barry is overcome with disorienting, scary visions that have something to do with surgery. From the security footage, it appears that the robber is dazed as well and retreats.

The next day, the Reserve needs to transport $300 million worth of gold bars in an armored car disguised as an ice cream truck. Knowing that this will be a prime target, Joe rides with a contingent of cops inside while Caitlin and Cisco monitor the situation from the lab. Sure enough, the robber strikes again, disabling the truck with a small landmine and staging a big shootout heist just like something from ‘Heat’. This time, however, Barry gets the jump on him and knocks the man out. He and Joe pull off the helmet and face mask to reveal… General Eiling (Clancy Brown). What’s that about?

They lock Eiling in the Pipeline at S.T.A.R. Labs. He’s completely out of it, as if in a catatonic trance. Finally, he speaks, in a deep, growly, pretty scary voice. In simple, halting words, he grunts that knows who Cisco and Caitlin are, and knows that Barry is The Flash. He announces with gravelly portent, “I AM GRODD… FEAR ME!” I’ve gotta say, Clancy Brown really sells it. He’s creepy as hell.

Barry has no idea what this means, but Caitlin and Cisco do. They fill him in on the story. Grodd was the name of a gorilla that Gen. Eiling experimented upon while trying to create a super-soldier with hyper intelligence and psychic powers. When Dr. Wells found out about this, he rescued the poor animal and kept him at S.T.A.R. Labs, where Caitlin took care of him. However, after the reactor explosion, he went missing.

Cisco speculates that Grodd must have been affected by the dark matter the same way that many humans were. Instead of a meta-human, it created a meta-gorilla who clearly has managed to psychically control Gen. Eiling.

Iris helps by sorting through news reports of large animal sightings in the city. Several seem related to reports of missing persons, and suggest that a loose animal is living in the city’s sewers.

Barry, Joe and Cisco head down to the sewers to investigate. They find drawings on the walls which suggest that Grodd has been evolving and getting smarter. Before they realize what’s happening, Barry is knocked out by a psychic force of some kind and Joe gets grabbed, while Cisco can only helplessly stand by.

Joe wakes up a few minutes later. He pulls a gun, but suddenly loses control of his hand and points the pistol at himself. The gorilla appears. The visual effect is CGI, obviously – probably motion capture. He looks pretty good. I’m impressed. He speaks telepathically, another smart decision.

Barry and Cisco regroup back at S.T.A.R. Labs. Cisco gets to work on an anti-telepathy helmet for Barry, but laments that he won’t have Dr. Wells to help him anymore. Nonetheless, he cobbles something together in about 15 seconds, as usual.

He and Barry concoct a plan. Cisco hacks into the Department of Public Works and causes bursts of steam to erupt all through the sewers. (It seems dubious to me that something like this is possible, but whatever.) He manipulates them to draw Grodd to a specific location so that Barry can get a 5.3 mile straight running shot and knock the big monkey out with a super-sonic punch, as worked for him earlier in the season.

Barry gives it a try, but for all his speed and momentum, Grodd just flings him away. Barry tries to fight back to no effect. Grodd knocks the helmet off him and attacks him again psychically. Barry gets stuck on some subway tracks, unable to move as a service train barrels towards him. Iris talks to him on the comms and gets Barry to clear his mind enough to get off the tracks and trick Grodd into lunging at him and getting hit by the train instead.

Barry rescues Joe, who has some fractured ribs but is otherwise OK. Joe apologizes to Iris and promises to always tell her the truth from now on.

Gen. Eiling comes out of his trance and, because he’s not a meta-human, Barry releases him. Eiling says that he’s known for a while that Barry is The Flash but doesn’t care. They have a common enemy now in Dr. Wells. Barry speculates that Wells is behind Grodd’s crime wave, and manipulated the gorilla to create a distraction that would keep Barry and the gang busy.

The episode ends with Grodd scaling a building to let us know that he survived.

The Man in Yellow

While everyone else is dealing with Grodd, Dr. Wells holds Eddie prisoner in an underground bunker of some sort. Eddie talks some smack about how The Flash will save him, but Wells laughs in his face. Eddie tries to pry some information about their family connection, believing that he must be important if Wells is keeping him alive. Wells describes him as “the forgotten Thawne,” a rare failure in an otherwise distinguished family tree. He taunts Eddie for being an undistinguished civil servant who won’t even get the girl, then shows him a newspaper article from the future with the “Iris West-Allen” byline.

Later, Wells unveils what he describes as a “key,” and announces that it’s “Time to go home.” Wells climbs a ladder to exit the bunker, and we discover that they’ve been hiding beneath the super collider at S.T.A.R. Labs the whole time.

As I said, I think this episode at least tries to fix a lot of the damage that the Iris storyline has caused during the season. How successful that will be over time remains to be seen. Already, I’ve read a bunch of fan complaints that Iris comes across as especially bitchy and unlikeable in this episode. Frankly, I’m surprised by that. This is the first time I have liked her character in the show. I guess you can’t please everyone.

The Grodd stuff is pretty great, and the show is paving the way for what should be an exciting confrontation between Barry and Wells in the last two episodes of the season.

1 comment

  1. Shawn Smith

    Anyone else experience a wonderful bout of nostalgia listening to Clancy Brown tap into the ‘Kurgen’ again? I had visions of swinging swords and awesome Queen tunes running through my head until the next commercial break. Well done Flash!

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