Last week’s episode of ‘The Flash’ (yes, I’m running late in my recaps) featured some of the show’s most elaborate and presumably expensive visual effects sequences to date. It’s too bad most of them looked so cheesy.
Following up from the previous episode’s final teaser, Jesse Quick arrives from Earth-2 to ask Team Flash for help. Her father, Harrison Wells (whom everyone now calls “Harry” to distinguish him from H.R.), was kidnapped by Gorilla Grodd. Jesse explains that he was lured to Gorilla City by a message from Grodd asking for his help. However, upon their arrival in Africa, the rest of Harry’s team was murdered by gorillas. Harry himself has been missing for two weeks.
When H.R. enters the room, Jesse is confused momentarily and thinks he’s her father. She’s quite disappointed to realize that he’s not.
Barry connects these events to one of the news headlines he saw in his trip to the future, which involved Grodd invading Central City. Barry believes that if he can rescue Harry, he will prevent Grodd from coming to Earth-1 and will change that headline, thus also affecting the chain of events that will lead to Iris being murdered. As such, Barry, Cisco and Caitlin mount an expedition to Earth-2 to go get him. Julian insists on tagging along, dressed in his ridiculous Indiana Jones costume. Jesse will stay behind with Wally to keep Central City safe in the others’ absence.
Jesse is not particularly thrilled to learn that Wally is now a speedster. She treats him coldly in most of their interactions and stands back while he foils a bank robbery. Eventually, she admits that she’s worried he only ever liked her for her speed. Now that he has his own, she fears that he’ll lose interest in her. After getting some hippie-dippie advice from H.R. about how she should always go for love, Jesse gives in and kisses Wally.
Within moments of arriving in the Southern California forest that viewers are supposed to believe is an African jungle, Barry and company are quickly trapped and tranquilized. They wake up locked in cells in a Gorilla City dungeon. Neither Barry nor Cisco’s powers work. Something in the cages is damping them. Harry enters the room, but he’s fully under the control of Grodd’s psychic powers and Grodd speaks through him (which mostly amounts to Tom Cavanagh lowering his voice and grunting a lot).
Grodd says that he captured Wells specifically in order to lure Barry there, because he needs Barry’s help. Since being stranded on Earth-2, Grodd lives under the thumb of the native gorilla leader, Solovar (voiced by Keith David). Grodd claims that Solovar wants to start a war with humanity in order to rule both gorillas and humans. As a prisoner, Barry has the right to request trial by combat. If he fights and kills Solovar in the gladiatorial arena, Grodd will take over as leader of the gorillas. This is obviously in his own personal interest, but if Barry goes through with it, he vows to release all of them, de-escalate the war, and keep all the gorillas contained to Gorilla City. Barry resists at first because he does not believe in taking a life, but when Solovar comes in and takes over Cisco’s mind, Barry sees no other choice and accepts the challenge.
The start of the battle doesn’t go terribly well for Barry. Solovar deflects and foils his attempts at speed punches and lightning attacks. Fortunately, Barry finally gets the better of him with a phase punch that knocks the big gorilla out. However, Barry refuses to kill him. Instead, he makes a speech to the assembled thousands of gorillas that not all humans are killers. Immediately, he’s hit with a tranq dart and knocked out again.
Barry wakes up back in his cell and discovers that this was all a trick. With Solovar incapacitated, Grodd has taken over rulership of the gorilla kingdom and has no intention of releasing his prisoners. In fact, the war against humanity was really his idea, not Solovar’s. He plans to force Cisco to open a portal to Earth-1 that he can lead an army through.
Luckily, he gives them some time to think about that, and leaves them alone long enough to plan an escape. At first, Cisco asks Caitlin to use her freeze powers to kill him if that’s what it will take to stop Grodd and protect Earth-1. Barry has a better idea.
Caitlin freezes Barry so that he can play dead. Grodd falls for this ruse, opens the cage, and drags Barry’s body out, then conveniently dumps it on the floor nearby and walks away. Barry of course vibrates to thaw himself out (his powers work again?), then sets everyone else free. They all then run out to the woods, where Cisco opens a portal for them to escape through just before Grodd catches up but misses them.
Safely back in S.T.A.R. Labs, Harry is reunited with Jesse. He also meets H.R. and finds him pretty annoying. Jesse then announces that she wants to move to Earth-1 to be with Wally.
Julian has obviously been crushing pretty hard on Caitlin the past couple episodes. She warns him not to get too close to her because she still worries about turning into Killer Frost at any time. He invites her out to dinner anyway.
With Grodd trapped in Earth-2 again and the future headline changed, Barry feels pretty confident about his chances of defeating Savitar. Little does he realize that, back on Earth-2, Grodd has a contingency plan. He has somehow captured Gypsy, the Earth-19 bounty hunter with the same powers as Cisco, and will use her to open that portal to Earth-1 he needs.
This episode leaves me with a bunch of questions that I’m sure I’ll never get satisfactory answers to. Among them:
- How and/or why do all the Earth-2 gorillas have psychic powers? We know that Grodd is intelligent and has psychic powers because the Earth-1 government experimented on him, and we also know that Earth-2 has its own population of intelligent gorillas. However, it doesn’t necessarily follow that those Earth-2 gorillas are also coincidentally psychic, does it?
- How do the gorillas have anti-meta-human damping technology? Although intelligent, they don’t seem to be terribly advanced. Their culture appears to be at about an Ancient Rome level of development.
- Assuming that the gorillas do have anti-meta-human technology, why do Caitlin’s powers still work?
- How does Grodd even know that Gypsy exists, much less how did he find a way to lure her to him? What leverage can he possibly hold over her that will make her open a portal for him?
- Why is it that the self-proclaimed Fastest Man Alive can’t dodge a freakin’ blowdart? He gets hit with them twice!
I’m sure this article sounds pretty negative on the episode. Honestly, it’s actually pretty decent, and I can even brush off the excessively cartoony CGI (the gorilla mo-cap leaves a lot to be desired). Nevertheless, I really wish this show weren’t so damn sloppy and uneven.