I am not a fan of Gorilla Grodd.
If you are a fan, you might want to take this moment to simply stop reading this article and jump over to BirthMoviesDeath’s deep dive into Grodd’s comic book history or io9’s gushing recap written by someone who clearly adores Grodd and all of his Silver Age goofiness.
As I’ve explained in prior reviews, I’m generally down for all the comic book insanity that The Flash throws at us, but I draw the line at giant telepathic gorilla. It stretches the reality of the show just a little too far for me, and it’s also not something I think they can actually pull off visually. This is the show which improbably rivals some big budget movies with its special effects, but when Grodd is around it looks like a TV show version of a CGI supervillain (better than expected, but not quite movie quality). The stroke of genius on their part has to been to have him communicate telepathically rather than actually opening his mouth and talking, as he does in the comics. That’s both more menacing and makes him a lot easier to take.
But when I look around at other reactions to “Gorilla Warfare,” Grodd’s big showcase episode of the show’s second season, I see that, wow, I am in the extreme minority. Everyone seems to absolutely adore Grodd and has nothing but praise for the quality of the CGI. And, honestly, he looked pretty good in this episode, and he’s sympathetic enough to make for some fun storytelling.
However, as a whole, “Gorilla Warfare” really was the expected hour of “Barry needs a pep talk after Zoom crushed him,” and if you’re in desperate need of something that will make you feel like a superhero again there’s no substitute for getting to punch a giant gorilla really hard and pushing him through a portal to a parallel universe. Apparently. It wasn’t a bad episode nor would I say it was a particularly great episode. It was more a very expected episode, although I was really surprised to see Harry put on The Reverse Flash costume and try to fool Grodd. That was…pretty cool.
Here are 8 other stray reactions to the rest of “Gorilla Warfare”:
1. Did Patty forgive Barry just a little too easily?
Welcome to the land of lies, Patty Spivot. Former occupants: Linda Park and Iris West. Your duty, which you are pretty much stuck with, is to be the loving girlfriend/friend who is aware that her boyfriend’s/friend’s excuses just aren’t adding up, yet you don’t instantly jump to “Oh, obviously he’s The Flash” because we have a full season of television to fill here, people.
That being said, I enjoy that given her inquisitive nature as a detective Patty is not falling for Barry or Joe’s lies. Her new boyfriend is obviously faking sick and avoiding her for some reason in “Gorilla Warfare,” and her new partner isn’t being completely honest with her about the cases they investigate, giving her lots of, “Just trust me on this, Patty.” Barry couldn’t very well let Patty know that he was temporarily incapable of walking. The dude was temporarily blind last week. This week he can’t walk…after Zoom displayed Flash’s beat up, unconscious body to the police precinct. Surely she’d put two and two together if Barry showed up to their next date in a wheelchair.
So, I get the need to lie to her, and I like that when Barry finally came clean he at least told her a partial truth, which is that his ex-convict father was in town and that’s a touchy subject for him. However, there was something about his make-up scene with Patty which sort of felt like, “Oh, I can’t stay mad at you, Barry. You’re just so damn cute.” Was it a little too easy? Maybe, but, ah, I can’t stay mad at you, Flash. You’re just so damn cute.
2. Will we ever tire of Barry’s heart-to-hearts with his various father figures?
Really, this could be a general reaction to just about any Flash episode. In fact, I’m pretty sure I made this some comment in a review of a season 1 episode. However, in “Gorilla Warfare” we got the doubly whammy: heart-to-hearts between Barry and Joe and between Barry and Henry, his surrogate dad AND his actual dad. It was the rare case where Joe couldn’t get through to him and needed back-up. If they’re still doing this kind of thing in season 8 it will have long since moved into drinking game territory. For now, though, it’s one of the things this show does best.
3. Are you among those who are still mad at the show for writing Henry out so abruptly at the start of the season?
Oddly, I’m not. I get why some are. Henry left the show so abruptly after being freed from prison that one would assume he was leaving for Legends of Tomorrow, just like Sara Lance and Firestorm. Discovering in “Gorilla Warfare” that Henry’s just been camping and fishing this whole time probably made it even worse, as that doesn’t seem like pressing, “abandon my son” business. However, Barry already has Joe around, and the “Free Henry Allen” storyline felt like a season 1 thing. At this point, Henry feels better utilized as the emergency back-up for when Barry, for whatever reason, really needs his own father. Plus, his absence might be strategic, feeding into fan theories that maybe Zoom is actually Earth-2’s version of Henry.
4. How fun was it seeing the old STAR Labs crew back together working like a solid unit?
Granted, everyone calls this version of Harrison Wells “Harry” and he calls Cisco by his last name, “Ramon,” but it felt good seeing the crew back together, not fighting or arguing but instead opting to work together on a plan to defeat Zoom.
5. Is it weird that Cisco appeared to be turned on by the vibe he got previewing what Kendra will look like as Hawkgirl?
Wow. Cisco. You lucked out with this Kendra Saunders girl. Not only does she give you a second chance after turning down your initial date offer, she also gives you a second chance after you literally ran away from her at the beginning of your first date, offering up the weakest of weak excuses. That being said, when you touch a girl’s hand/arm and get a vision of a Birdman it’s understandable to freak. When she kisses you and you get a vision of her dressed up as a Birdwoman and your reaction is to bite down on your fist while she’s not looking so as to muffle your scream of excitement … actually, I don’t know what to think of that. I’m overthinking. Cisco just realized his new girlfriend is going to become a superhero, and that’s exactly how he’d react.
6. Can we please have more of Barry and Iris messing with Cisco after he makes super obvious romantic boasts?
When Cisco joked about looking forward to buying breakfast for Kendra after their first date, obviously implying that he intends to sleep with her right away (if she’s willing), it was immensely enjoyable watching how flustered he got when Barry and Iris feigned ignorance and asked him to explain why exactly he’d be buying breakfast when their date was going to happen at night. If this show wants to do plenty more of that kind of buddy-buddy teasing, I’m cool with that.
7. Am I the only one who thought Grodd’s sentence which began with “I am…” would finish with “Groot!” instead of “Grodd!”?
Surely I can’t be the only one. I know that he’s said “I am Grodd!” before, and that’s one of his big things from the comics. Maybe I’ve simply re-watched Guardians of the Galaxy one too many times while it’s been on STARZ this month.
8. Did you feel kind of bad for Grodd at the end?
In Justice League/Justice League Unlimited, the giant simpleton Solomon Grundy and Hawkgirl had to work together in one episode, a classic forced pairing of a villain and a hero. It was adorable watching them become friends, especially the way he called her “Birdnose,” and you were generally sad to see it end in tragedy. Then the writers took things to a very, very dark place in a later episode in which Grundy was resurrected as a mindless killing machine, and Hawkgirl was the only one who could stop him. Each time the episodes packed way more of an emotional punch than you would have expected from a Saturday morning cartoon.
That’s what I was reminded of watching Caitlin and Grodd in “Gorilla Warfare,” and I felt bad for both of them at the end. She tricked him, but she did it for the right reason. However, he’s never going to be able to understand that. From his point of view, the only person who’s ever been nice to him just betrayed him. Poor gorilla. Hopefully you don’t become the king of your own Gorilla City and lead them to take over Earth-1 like your comic book counterpart. Wait. That’s totally where this is heading, right?
What did you think of “Gorilla Warfare”? Let me know in the comments.