Wednesday, November 18, 2015

The Flash Season 2, Episode 7: Gorilla Warfare

Once again The Flash barrels forward as quickly as possible. Maybe a bit too quickly. Last week we got a shocking cliffhanger as Barry couldn't feel his legs, and then one episode later he's up and walking around. 

Barry's paralysis felt like way too big an event to brush aside so quickly. We definitely needed him to be benched for at least one entire episode, to help sell the magnitude of what Zoom did to him.

There were also a lot of returns this week, including the return of the Reverse Flash (sort of), the return of Kendra Saunders, and best of all, the return of Grodd. The biggest surprise though was the return of Barry's dad, Henry Allen, from wherever the hell he went a few months ago.


The Plot:
Barry's injuries have healed, but his psychological wounds (after Zoom handed his ass to him) remain. Harry wants to return to Earth-2 to save his daughter Jesse, as well as to defeat Zoom. Caitlin doesn't want him to leave and manages to talk him out of it. The two come up with a plan to defeat Zoom on Earth-1.

Their plans are interrupted though when Caitlin is kidnapped by Grodd. Why Caitlin? Because she was nice to him back when he was a lab animal, and because he wants her to create more intelligent gorillas like him. 

Cisco and Harry come up with a brilliant plan to rescue Caitlin. Harry will dress up in a spare Reverse Flash costume (!) and pretend to be Dr. Harrison Wells, who Grodd considers his "father." This will distract Grodd long enough for Cisco to save Caitlin. The plan works, but there's still the matter of a five hundred pound telepathic gorilla on the loose.

Barry's still moping, convinced he's a failure after the beat down Zoom administered to him. Iris contacts Henry Allen, and he shows up at STAR Labs to tell his son he BELIEVES IN HIM (oy gevalt!), which, amazingly enough, works.

Harry comes up with a plan to deal with Grodd— they'll lure him into one of the many breaches dotting Central City, which will transport him to a safe spot on Earth-2. There he'll be with others of his kind. Barry goads Grodd into chasing him to the breach. Cisco activates his "speed cannon," whatever that is, which forces Grodd into the vortex. He's a little too strong for it though, and begins clawing his way out. Barry gives him a super speed punch, and knocks him through the breach.

Henry congratulates Barry and then high-tails if off the show again. Joe wonders aloud to Iris what it would have been like to have a son. Iris, who knows he indeed does have a secret son, says nothing. Cisco goes on a date with Kendra Saunders and "vibes" that she either already is or will become Hawkgirl.

In the tag scene, Grodd exits the breach in the middle of an Earth-2 jungle. In the distance he sees Gorilla City and roars.

• Last week when Barry said he couldn't feel his legs, I said I was going to have to call bullsh*t if his "heightened metabolism" healed his broken spine. Welp, guess what? This week Barry's up and walking and his spine is as good as new! Son of a...

I can buy the fact that Barry's speed can make cuts and bruises heal faster, but it can't repair a broken spine. It's healing things that can normally be healed, just faster. It shouldn't be able to magically fix a spine.

So how far does this ability go? If his speed healing can repair a spine, could it regrow an eye or a limb?

There's a slim possibility that Barry's back might not actually been broken. In this episode Caitlin rattles off a mouthful of technobabble, saying, "The initial MRI I took a week ago showed a complete dislocation of the T12 to L1 innerspace of the thoracolumbar junction. But this is the MRI I took this morning. It's remarkable, but you're almost completely healed." 

I don't know what any of that means, but it's possible she was saying his back was just severely traumatized and not actually broken.

Gorilla Warfare was the name of a storyline in The Flash comics in the 1990s.

Funny story: when I was a kid I'd hear occasional news reports about guerrilla fighters in far off war-torn countriesy. Naturally since I was young and dumb, I thought the newscaster was talking about actual gorillas. I was very disappointed when my dad explained they were just men.

• At the beginning of the episode, Grodd uses his mind control on a Dr. Shore of Vaughn Pharmaceuticals. As near as I can tell neither of those names is from the comic.

Grodd forces Dr. Shore to provide him with Cortexin, a drug used to enhance intelligence. Cortexin is actually from DC Comics— it was used by Kamandi to give animals human intelligence in the Kamandi: Last Boy On Earth comic.

• I just realized something: Grodd was affected by the particle accelerator explosion, which would make him not a meta-human, but a meta-ape!

• We'll have to take the show's word for it that Caitlin treated Grodd kindly when he was a lab rat, as that's something we never saw. Grodd had already escaped from STAR Labs by the time the first episode aired.

• Grodd is apparently a fan of classic horror movies. First he kidnaps Caitlin (who wears a very Fay Wray-like white dress) and holds her in a bell tower, ala King Kong. Then he asks her to create more super intelligent telepathic apes like himself, which echoes The Bride Of Frankenstein.

• Poor Patty Spivot's still the only person in the cast who doesn't know Barry's secret. At this point there's no reason for her not to know, other than to complicate the plot.

I have a feeling that at some point this season Barry's going to tell her he's the Flash, and she'll say, "Derr! Who doesn't know that?" She is a detective after all.

• This was another "Stage Flash" episode, in which the entire cast stands motionless on a single set, as if they're acting in a play.

• Iris decides Barry needs a pep talk to regain his speed, so she contacts his father and invites him to STAR Labs. How the hell did Iris know where to find Henry? I guess she must be a good reporter after all!

A few episodes back I was very puzzled when Henry Allen hightailed it off the show as fast as humanly possible after being sprung from prison. Now I'm thinking maybe his absence isn't such a bad thing after all. If all he's going to do is utter trite homilies like "Believe in yourself!" to Barry, then good riddance to him.

Case in point: in this episode Henry actually says, "Sometimes you just have to slow down to get back to where you want to be.” Jesus, that line would make a greeting card writer roll their eyes!

I still think Henry, or his Earth-2 doppelganger, will turn out to be Zoom. I was watching Henry very closely all through this episode, looking for any clues that might be a tip off, but I didn't see anything.

One last thing about Henry. Just when Barry's feeling his lowest, Henry surprises him by barging into the STAR Labs control center. Um... didn't Cisco say he upped the security a few episodes back, so people couldn't just waltz in off the street like that anymore?

• Cisco has the brilliant idea to get Harry to impersonate Wells in order to distract Grodd. For some reason, he thinks this plan has a better chance of success if Harry dresses as the Reverse Flash.

Cisco says he found the spare Reverse Flash suit in the "Time Vault." Um... that's the secret room where Dr. Wells used to regularly converse with Gideon, his sentient, ultra smart super computer.

So does that mean Gideon still exists? She shouldn't have been wiped out of existence when Wells was erased, because he didn't build her— Barry did! Gideon told Barry so last season in The Trap.

If Gideon really is still sitting in the Time Vault, why aren't the STAR Labs Gang using her? Seems like an intelligent computer from the future might come in handy now and then.

The most ridiculous part about the whole Gideon thing, if she still exists, is that Barry supposedly invented her in 2024. That's only nine years from now. Does Barry know anything about computer programming or software engineering right now? Not that I can see. Yet somehow in less than a decade he'll create an advanced, self-aware artificial intelligence. C'mon! I find the fact that he can run a thousand miles an hour more plausible than that!

• Naturally Grodd hid out in a bell tower, because as everyone knows, giant apes love tall buildings.

• I hate to say it, but I thought Grodd looked noticeably more fake in this episode than in his first appearance last season. His face in particular looked very cartoonish. King Shark looked ten times better in his debut.

Grodd spent the majority of his first season appearance in a sewer. I'm guessing the darkened environment hid a lot of CGI sins. He spent most of this episode in bright light, so the seams were more evident.

• In this episode Cisco whips up several pairs of anti-mind control ear buds to protect the cast from Grodd's psychic attacks. Seriously? And just a couple weeks ago he couldn't seem to come up with a pair of special sunglasses to protect Barry from Doctor Light's power.

• It was a nice touch when Grodd saw through Harry's ruse because he asked him to let Caitlin go, instead of demanding it, as the real Wells would have done.

This brings up a point though. Grodd's telepathic, so instead of speaking he broadcasts his thoughts into the minds of those around him. Can he read minds as well? If so, why didn't he give Harry a quick brain scan and see he wasn't the real Dr. Wells? Or find out what he's planning to do to him?

• Harry dresses up in a spare Reverse Flash costume so that Grodd will think he's the Earth-1 Harrison Wells. Um... did Grodd ever see Wells as the Reverse Flash? Would he even recognize the costume? 

Grodd was kept in a cage in the STAR Labs basement before the particle accelerator explosion. Barry hadn't yet become the Flash back then, so Wells wouldn't have had any reason to wear the costume before any of that happened.

Did Wells periodically put on his Reverse Flash costume and parade back and forth in front of Grodd for an impromptu little fashion show?

Wouldn't it have made much more sense if Harry just approached Grodd in his street clothes and acted like Wells? Of course if they did that, then we wouldn't have had the scene of Barry and the others freaking out when they saw what appeared to be the Reverse Flash alive and well again.

• Harry acting like Harrison Wells was a pretty awesome moment. Kudos to Tom Cavanagh for being able to pull off acting like a character mimicking another character.

The ease in which he slipped into the Harrison Wells persona was a little disturbing though. He tells Grodd, "I made you a promise. I have bigger plans for you. Remember? One day, this city will be yours. I promised you. I intend to honor that promise."

What the hell did all that mean? Was Harry just improvising here, saying what he thought Grodd wanted to hear, or does he really have a secret plan for him? I honestly couldn't tell, but I'm leaning toward secret.

• Harry comes up with a plan to rid Central City of Grodd by sucking him through a breach and dumping him onto Earth-2, in a place "where there are more like him."

Grodd's lonely and wants to find more apes like himself, right? So why not just explain the plan to him? If he knew there was an ape sanctuary on Earth-2, wouldn't he want to get there as fast as possible? Why the elaborate scheme to trick him into being pulled into the breach? Other than to eat up some air time, of course.

• After Grodd's gone, Barry says they should destroy the spare Reverse Flash costume. But not before Cisco figures out how it fit into Well's ring. You know what that means! The Flash is finally going to get a suit that pops out of his ring! Woohoo!

• At the end of the episode, Grodd is plopped next to Gorilla City on Earth-2.

I was kind of expecting that Grodd's plan to have Caitlin create more apes like him would eventually lead to the founding of Gorilla City, but holy crap, it already exists over on Earth-2! This is a deviation from the comic of course, where the city was on Earth-1, but who cares? It's Gorilla Freakin' City on our TV screens!

In the comics Gorilla City was a large community of super intelligent apes in the jungles of Africa. The apes got their smarts after being exposed to the strange rays of a crashed spaceship. They eventually became more advanced than humans, creating technology years ahead of our own. The Flash regularly clashed with various residents of Gorilla City.

I have a feeling Grodd's going to take over the Earth-2 city and eventually lead an army of intelligent apes back to Earth-1 for revenge!

• So now we know that both Atlantis and Gorilla City exist on Earth-2. It's like the show's using this alternate world to store all the weirder aspects of the DC Universe, leaving Earth-1 a tiny bit more grounded.

• Earlier in the episode Cisco cut short his date with Kendra Saunders. At the end he returns and apologizes to her. I had to laugh at his Say Anything homage (although he used a picnic basket instead of a boombox). They even used the same Peter Gabriel song on the soundtrack!

I'm gonna go right ahead and say it— that Kendra Saunders is very pretty, but man, she has a mouthful of teeth, doesn't she? She looks good as Hawkgirl though, complete with giant wings. 

So is she Hawkgirl right now, or is that something that's going to happen later, once Legends Of Tomorrow starts up next year? If you're a fan of the Cisco/Kendra pairing, I wouldn't count on it lasting though, since she's going to be on a completely different show next year, AND she'll be partnered with Hawkman. Poor Cisco.

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