In response to something I recently wrote about the state of the Flarrowverse, a reader explained why and when she gave up on Flash:
“I’ve stopped watching The Flash because its’ 1950s use of women purely as props in their men’s story and the constant need for everyone to tell 12-year-old Barry how wonderful he is lost me for good. When he repeatedly lied to Patty that he’s the Flash when there was no need not to tell her was my last straw.”
I didn’t really feel that back during the now-forgotten Patty Spivot-era of Barry’s love life, but I’m starting to now, particularly the “constant need for everyone to tell 12-year-old Barry how wonderful he is” part. It jumped out at me during “Attack on Gorilla City Part 2,” the much-hyped conclusion to this season’s Gorilla Grodd arc.
There really wasn’t as much to the episode as you might have expected. Grodd tried to psychically manipulate a General into launching nuclear missiles (a far too frequent threat in the Flarrowverse), but Barry got to the launcher in time and super sped his way through trying out every numerical combination possible before arriving at the abort code. Crisis averted.
Grodd, no doubt sympathizing with Mr. “I’ll Do It Myself” Thanos, then led his army through a portal into downtown Central City, where they received a severe ass-whooping from Barry, Jesse and Wally with an assist from Solivar (who was retrieved from Earth-2 by Gypsy). Barry handed Grodd over to ARGUS. Solivar took his reclaimed army and headed back to Earth-2 for good.
Bada bing, bada boom. End of conflict. Just enough time left over for Barry to propose to Iris, and newly coupled Jesse and Wally to watch Casablanca together. Fun fact: On her Earth, there was no WWII, but there was something called the “War of Americas.”
This was the best they could do as a CW-budgeted superhero show. There was never going to be an Andy Serkis-caliber motion capture Grodd nor War of the Planet of the Apes-level special effects. Instead, there was what one EW recapper accurately called “a video game cutscene-esque CGI battle of gorillas.” And it was, um, perfectly fine.
However, the predominant tension wasn’t whether or not Barry would defeat CGI Grodd but how far he would go to do it. Would Barry kill Grodd if necessary? As Barry reasoned, that strategy seems to work for Oliver, and none of this would be happening if he had done what was necessary with Grodd in the past. Grodd even kept mocking Barry’s unwillingess to kill. Grodd – what a jerk.
This is superhero storytelling 101, i.e., the establishment and reinforcement of the hero’s moral code. Are you Batman or Punisher? What is the line you refuse to cross? Will you kill if you have to, or will you forever endeavor to find another way? The answer usually determines whether or not you are considered a hero or anti-hero, and Barry Allen, as positioned as the moral center of the Flarrowverse, is most definitely a hero. He needed Iris to remind him of that this week, with her words of encouragement yet again highlighting just how crucial she is to making him the best possible version of himself. As a reward, he proposed to her because why bother fucking around anymore when fate might have tragedy in store for her in the future. Life’s too short. Let’s get married.
Actually, he didn’t say any of that, but he did offer her a ginormous ring. He went to Jared (one assumes).
But I’m about damn tired of the show’s “constant need for everyone to tell 12-year-old Barry how wonderful he is.” Wasn’t Iris just propping Barry up like this a couple of episodes ago? Barry has quarreled with his own moral flexibility or lack thereof before, and he probably will again. Just look at how often it comes up on Arrow. However, the show’s consistent need to anoint Barry to sainthood and have those around him prop him whenever he wobbles is starting to wear thin.
- Re: Where’s Julian. I love how on every Berlanti-verse superhero show whenever there’s a flimsy ass excuse for why a character isn’t around one week we automatically know the real answer is “CW budgets have limits, you know!”
- Spin-off Pitch: Modern day remake of My Two Dads with Harry, H.R. and Jesse. Frankly, their various interactions were the clear highlight of this episode, especially when Jesse simply wasn’t having it upon figuring out Harry made up a story about having a terminal disease to keep her from moving away.
- Here’s hoping Cisco and Gypsy make a go of it at some kind of long-distance relationship.
- Did I miss the explanation for why Valentine’s Day was being celebrated two weeks too late?
- How long do you give it before Jesse and Wally break up after realizing they moved in together way, way, way too soon?
What did you think of “Attack on Gorilla City 2”? Would it just not be The Flash without someone taking Barry aside and more or less saying, “You know who’s great? You. Seriously, man, you’re the best”?