While some may still complain that computers have ruined today’s movies, there’s no doubt that they’ve brought a level of visual effects to television that would have been unheard of just a decade ago. Case in point: this week’s episode of The Flash, which sees the return of the super-intelligent telepathic ape Grodd to Central City.
It’s hard to believe Grodd first appeared on the show just a year ago, since the technology used to render and animate him seems to have leaped ahead several generations. Whereas his debut episode kept the giant simian largely in the shadows, here he’s mostly out in the open, fully lit and having entire conversations with Caitlin and Harry. The former finds herself captured and controlled by Grodd, who wants her to create other super-smart simians for him to play with, while the latter impersonates the Reverse-Flash in an attempt to rescue her. What’s most impressive is the range of emotions displayed on Grodd’s face — from anger upon discovering Harry’s ruse to sadness over his abandonment by Caitlin (the one person at STAR Labs who was nice to him when he was caged there). Forget the fact that the show’s verisimilitude is strong enough that the only laughs generated by the talking monkey are of pure delight, Grodd actually makes us feel for him this week. That is a feat that some of The Flash‘s human guest stars haven’t even achieved.
Barry is sidelined for most of this episode, in part due to the injuries he suffered in “Enter Zoom”. But the two folks who know him best — Joe and Iris — realize psychological damage has been done by the Earth-Two Big Bad, who haunts Barry in a series of waking nightmares. Iris smartly contacts Henry, who arrives at STAR Labs and tells his son how he survived the mental torture he underwent in prison from those who believed he’d murdered his wife in front of his son. Yes, the pep talk brings tears to actor Grant Gustin’s eyes. But since it’s been a full three weeks since he’s turned on the waterworks, it’s hard to complain too much.
As for Cisco, it turns out his Vibe power serves as a means of introducing Kendra Hall’s Hawkgirl persona to viewers, since he sees her winged alter ego when he takes her hand on their date. Her story will continue in two weeks, when it serves as the basis for this year’s holiday two-part Flash/Arrow crossover story.
While it’s great to see Barry get his powers back and super-speed-punch Grodd through a breach into Earth-Two (though, moving forward, I wouldn’t mind seeing more opportunities for Barry to use his brains as much as his superpowers), the best part of “Gorilla Warfare” for longtime fans is the introduction in the final shot of DC staple Gorilla City, introduced way back in April 1959’s Flash #106 (“Menace of the Super-Gorilla”, by writer John Broome and penciller Carmine Infantino). Its presence widens the scope of the DC TV Universe even more so than Earth-Two or Arrow‘s Nanda Parbat in terms of pure spectacle. Sure, the show’s CW budget may limit the amount of time we’re able to spend there in future episodes. But damn if my hopes aren’t higher than they’ve ever been that even DC’s most outrageous environments will soon come to life on screen.
- Cisco really know his Princess Bride. I hope Kendra doesn’t get too frisky on that roof. He might feel bad if she misses the movie a second time.
- While the Hulk still owns “Puny human”, it’s great to hear it from any giant superhuman comic-book character, regardless of which company he belongs to.
- “Caitlin always kind.” Aww… *sniff* She is always kind, isn’t she?
- It’s great that Henry gets an opportunity this week to remind everyone he was once a physician.
- I love that Cisco makes Harry practice speaking like Wells by giving him the words Wells spoke when he killed him. Barry’s not the only one confronting his demons this week.
- My eyes started to roll upon hearing “In Your Eyes”, until Cisco was shown holding Kendra’s gift basket over his head, mimicking John Cusack’s iconic Say Anything stance.
- “Grodd has to be in one of those three bell towers. The only reason we couldn’t find him on any cameras underneath the city before is because he upgraded from a bachelor pad to a penthouse like a baller.”
Next week: The Flash takes a well-earned week off, but it returns in two weeks with… Green Arrow! Hawkgirl! Hawkman! Oh hell yes, they’re the “Legends of Today”!
What did you think of this week’s episode? Let me know in the comments below or on Twitter (@JMaCabre).
Image Credits: The CW