The CW and Syfy networks nearly converge this week as The Flash delivers a cheesy monster smackdown not far removed from something The Asylum might produce. I assume the resemblance is deliberate.
The episode title King Shark vs. Gorilla Grodd kind of says it all. The episode opens in media res as the two meta-monsters charge at one another, with a paralyzed Barry and Nora lying helpless on the ground between them. Then, having teased us with that amazing spectacle, it of course flashes back to show us what led to these crazy events.
Cisco’s meta-human cure is finally ready, but hasn’t yet been tested on an actual meta-human. Because Cisco and Caitlin insist that the cure can’t be forced on anyone who doesn’t want it, they need a willing volunteer. Barry suggests that King Shark, who’s currently in custody at an A.R.G.U.S. research facility, might be amenable. The beast is being cared for by Dr. Tanya Lamden (last seen in episode 2.15 but now played by a different actress), who has a rather complicated history with him. In his original human form on Earth-2, King Shark was the doppelganger of Tanya’s late husband, Shay Lamden. She believes that there’s still some good in him, and it doesn’t take much to notice that she’s clearly in love with him.
Dr. Lamden has built a special telepathic crown to communicate with King Shark. However, when she tries to talk to him about the meta cure, he trashes the crown and runs off, escaping A.R.G.U.S. security. Lamden doesn’t know what happened. Cisco works with her to boost the crown’s power so they can try again.
Barry, Cisco and Caitlin eventually catch up with King Shark at a wharf. When he threatens Cisco’s life, Barry acts quickly and injects him with the cure, which instantly transforms him back to human form. Rather than feel grateful for the assist, Cisco is pissed at Barry for using the cure on someone against his will.
Now human (and hunky!) again, Shay says that transforming into King Shark caused the animal side of his brain to override the rational side and pumped him full of aggression. He seems fine now, and even believes he should be held accountable for all the bad stuff he did as a monster. Unfortunately, when his arm briefly reverts back to fish mode, Caitlin drops the bad news that he still has some dark matter in his brain and will need another dose to be fully cured.
Before that can happen, Cisco punches Barry from out of the blue, and Caitlin tries to attack him as well. They’re both under the control of Gorilla Grodd, who also escaped from captivity and used his psychic powers on them. This would also explain why King Shark freaked out earlier. Grodd steals the telepathic crown with a plan to control all of Central City.
Wearing mind control dampener tiaras, Barry and Nora confront Grodd in the city, but the dampeners fail and leave them both frozen immobile on the ground. Back at S.T.A.R. Labs, Shay volunteers to be turned back into King Shark so he can fight Grodd, even knowing that the cure won’t work on him again if he does and he’ll be stuck as the shark permanently. Tanya respects his sacrifice, but is deeply saddened by it.
As Grodd’s control starts to affect the populace of the city, King Shark swoops in to fight him. A big CGI punch-fest ensues, with the two monsters jumping all over the place. Grodd seems to win at first, but Barry and Nora break free from their paralysis and help Shark give a beatdown to the big gorilla.
Grodd is taken back into A.R.G.U.S. custody and put into a medically-induced coma so he can’t escape again. Sherloque encourages Tanya not to give up on her fishy romance. Barry apologizes to Cisco and Caitlin for forcing the cure on King Shark, but suggests that their next step should be to offer it directly to Cicada. For some reason, he believes the villain may actually want the cure.
After a long absence this season, Joe finally returns from his sojourn in Tibet. Most of his time this week is spent trying to help Iris overcome her fear of returning to the office where Cicada kidnapped her. She finally gets over it after he gives her boxing lessons. None of this is interesting in the slightest.
The monster fight this week is pretty fun, so long as you aren’t bothered watching a bunch of CGI crap punch other CGI crap back and forth. (If you’re a fan of this show, you should be used to that sort of thing by now.) However, I don’t think I like the idea of King Shark being rehabilitated. He should stay a villain.
As nice as it is to see Jesse L. Martin again (the actor needed a leave of absence this year due to a back injury), the Iris and Joe storyline is a total drag and a waste of time.
Honestly, it’s pretty obvious that the only reason this episode exists at all is to pad out the season. Nothing that happens in it has any bearing on the greater story arc. As far as that goes, it’s entertaining enough, but I’d enjoy this series a lot more if it didn’t have so much filler.