One of Flash’s enemies that can range from scary to silly depending on how he’s written is Gorilla Grodd. Some people can’t get past the idea of a “talking monkey” (yes, I know, he’s an ape, not a monkey). On the other hand, take a gorilla that’s stronger than human normally, make him stronger, tougher, and smarter than that, and add in various mental powers, telepathy at the least, along with animal savagery, and you have what can be a truly terrifying foe. That’s the version the writers on Flash have been going with, and definitely what we see in “Attack on Gorilla City.”
At the end of last episode, Jesse Quick returned from Earth 2 with the news that Grodd had her father, Harrison Wells. That’s not good news, and the team begins preparing a rescue operation. Wells was lured into Gorilla City by a message that sounds a lot like the one STAR Labs sent out to get Wells’ replacement when he left. Barry, being the smart young man he is, figures out that if Grodd worked that hard to lure in Wells, Wells is still alive because Grodd needs him for something. Because we can’t get away from it in the second half of the season, all this leads to talk about changing the future (Change the Future, Save the Reporter?). There’s an awkward moment when Jesse mistakes HR for her father, and another one when she finds out that Wally is a speedster now, too. She reacts oddly to that news, and is a bit off for most of the episode.
Barry goes to work to ask Julian to cover for him. Julian is bemused by the idea of parallel Earths. When Barry tells him about Grodd being involved, Julian gets hung up on the idea that Barry is going to the Planet of the Apes. Julian has a less amused reaction when he learns that Caitlin is going, too.
There’s an odd scene as the team prepares to go. Barry sounds a bit overly protective of Wally, who is standing right there and hears all this. The team going is going to be Barry, Cisco, Caitlin, and, oddly, Julian, who is dressed a bit like Indiana Jones and gets several comments about that. He’s pretty clearly going because of his beginning relationship with Caitlin, even though he makes a lame claim about “living for danger.” With the usual utter disregard for the secret identity concept, Barry goes through the rift in costume but unmasked, which just doesn’t sound like a good idea.
They end up in some very un-African looking forest, with their breath steaming. Cisco comments that global warming must not be a thing on Earth 2 if their Africa is cold. My theory is that, since they film around Vancouver, the woods are just plain cold and they didn’t want to make the actors suffer. The team gets hunted through the woods, hearing growls all around them, and then they all get hit with darts and pass out. I’ll grant they hit Barry first, but really, the Fastest Man Alive taken out by a dart gun? That seems a bit odd.
Back on Earth 1, Jesse continues to give Wally the brush off and generally act a bit weird. They get an alert about a bank robbery, so Kid Flash and Jesse Quick race off to deal with it. Kid Flash handles them easily while Jesse stands looking on, arms folded. Again, she won’t talk to Wally. She’s essentially doing a superpowered version of the stereotypical “I’m fine,” thing, two words that any man fears to hear.
Weirdly, Barry recovers last from the drugs on the darts. So much for the speedster metabolism. They are in cells, and both Barry and Cisco discover their powers aren’t working right, which is going to make it a lot harder to escape. Wells comes in, being used as Grodd’s puppet, which weirds out Julian a bit. Grodd tells them that Solovar is the King of Gorilla City, and he plans to rule the world, attacking the humans and conquering them. Grodd tells them that if Barry beats Solovar in combat, Grodd can take over and will live in Gorilla City in peace. He also tells them that trespassers are sent to the arena and have to fight to the death. Ever practical, Julian asks why there isn’t a sign warning about that. Grodd finally comes in, letting Wells fall. Grodd tells them that their Earth is home, too. If Barry beats Solovar, Central City will be safe. If he fails, their home will turn to ash. How either Solovar or Grodd intended to get to Earth 1 isn’t explained. I guess that’s why they wanted Wells.
After another painful scene of Jesse being kind of a bitch to Wally, we see more of the Gorilla City crew. Solovar comes in, and is not happy that Grodd has kept news of the prisoners from him. After Solovar beats on Grodd for a bit, he telepathically takes over Cisco and says that the intruders must die. A desperate Barry bargains that he’ll fight Solovar for the lives of his friends. Solovar accepts.
Moving to the arena, Flash and Solovar face off after Solovar taunts the speedster about his friends dying. Solovar does improbably well in the fight. He shield-bashes Flash several times, and uses some weird shockwave to disrupt Flash’s attempt to use the lightning throwing power he learned from Zoom when he was pretending to be Jay. Eventually, with Cisco’s help, Flash wins by using one of Reverse-Flash’s tricks. Flash does a big lecture about sparing Solovar’s life, and gets darted again. Fool me once, Barry…
Wells is with them, at first out cold and then suddenly, jerkily, getting to his feet. Grodd gloats that Barry’s deal with Solovar means nothing now. Since Flash beat Solovar, Grodd has managed to take over, and plans to invade Central City. Since seeing Solovar beaten by a human, the other gorillas now fear them, and will follow Grodd. Do they think all humans are like Flash? The prisoners are still alive because Grodd wants to use Cisco’s powers to get to Central City.
Wells finally wakes up after all the gorillas are gone, and there’s a reunion, and another joke about how Julian is dressed. They debate killing Cisco to thwart Grodd’s plan, which seems a bit extreme to me. Wells finds out about Caitlin’s powers, which brings up a big plot hole. If she has her powers, and Grodd isn’t blocking them, why doesn’t she just freeze the bars and get them out? A party full of scientists not figuring that out seems really foolish. Eventually, they escape by faking Barry’s death with help from Caitlin’s powers. Grodd comes back, pulls Barry out, checks him, and conveniently leaves him in the hall to recover and free the others.
Jesse gets some advice from HR while the team escapes Gorilla City. Barry, speed returned because I guess Grodd stopped blocking him, thinking him dead, speeds them out of the city. Cisco gets his powers back when they’re far enough out, and portals them all back home, much to Grodd’s annoyance.
Everyone gets home, and the two different versions of Wells meet, which is entertaining. Jesse finally comes clean with Wally and they make a decision. Caitlin warns Julian off being interested in her, and then they go on a date anyway. Barry and Iris get a nice romantic scene. And we see that Grodd has another nasty trick up his sleeve, not that he wears sleeves. Next episode is not going to be pretty.
What I liked: Grodd is a good villain, and they do him well here. I like Harrison Wells a good bit better than I like HR so it was nice to see him again. Julian actually did well as comic relief. I’m hoping we get to see more of Jesse and Wally together.
What I didn’t: Team Flash blithely accepting Grodd’s word about Gorilla City seemed foolish, since they know what he’s like. I don’t understand how Barry managed to get darted twice. They need an explanation as to why Caitlin didn’t use her powers to get them out of the cells. Jesse was being unpleasant to Wally and it was not good to watch, nor did her reasoning make a lot of sense. I get now how Grodd’s going to get to Central City, but I hope that gets explained later, too.
It was an enjoyable, if flawed, episode. I’ll give it a solid 3 out of 5. It could have been better without a few of those plot holes.