Team Flash has been through a lot of changes, and now they’re dealing with the world changing around them. Aftereffects from the Crisis are a recurring theme of this episode, as are changes in general. And, thanks to more secrets, the team doesn’t even know all the changes taking place. There’s a lot to try and get a handle on in “Grodd Friended Me.” Not only is the title a play on the show “God Friended Me,” but Violet Beane, formerly Jesse Quick here, stars on that show.
After a few wide shots of Central City, the episode starts with Barry. He’s taking flowers somewhere, and looking very confused at what he sees. Emergency alerts don’t just interrupt good times, as he gets a call and responds to another meta attack. The Pied Piper is back, now as a villain (again), and there are several other things that are new to Barry, confusing the Scarlet Speedster. The series of changes and lack of knowledge on Barry’s part make the battle go badly, and the bad guy gets away. Filling in on coms is the unlikely pair of Kamilla and Chester, another change which Barry isn’t thrilled about. I get Chester having some good scientific skills, but what exactly are Kamilla’s qualifications to be hero support? At any rate, Chester gives Barry a clue, and the attempt to run down the villain hits yet another snag in the post-Crisis world, although Barry does something fairly dumb here.
Not happy at all about how things are going, Barry returns to STAR and starts working on Gideon, the AI from the Time Vault. He asks her for a list of the changes in the new world, so I guess Gideon somehow knows about the Crisis changes and remembers both timelines? I’m not sure how that works. Chester and Kamilla join him in the lab just in time to hear Gideon’s staggeringly high number of recorded changes since Crisis, and for Barry’s secret ID to be a bit less secret. Here’s another bit I don’t get: Cisco left to catalog the new world, but Gideon seems to be able to do that on her own. Why’d he need to go? Upset by everything being so different, Barry doesn’t handle Chester’s hero worship very well. After Chester leaves, Kamilla gently points out he could have handled that a lot better. Another thing to wonder about: when exactly did Barry and Kamilla get this close? And, for that matter, if Barry is this upset, doesn’t he usually go running to either Iris or Joe?
Speaking of, the real Iris works with Eva as they try and find a way out of the Mirror Realm. Iris gives the stressed scientist a good pep talk as they attempt to escape. Somewhere else that I guess is the Citizen’s office (although why they are there, I have no idea), Nash sets up a new gadget and asks for Allegra’s help with it. Nash is haunted, not helping the situation any as he continues to act oddly towards Allegra. The machine doesn’t work right, Allegra makes a discovery and storms off, making me wonder if any version of Wells anywhere is/was any good at relationships. HR, maybe. Barry keeps working on his gadget, now that he’s chased Chester away, and has his own equipment failure. What happens next is a very confused Barry waking up in new surroundings, the people around him making references to things that make it sound like he’s in the past.
Imposter Iris goes to meet with Joe and ask a favor about her current investigation. For once, Joe doesn’t bend the rules for his daughter, and she reacts like a spoiled brat. Trying to make up for it, she invites him to lunch at the inevitable Big Belly Burger, favorite (and seemingly only) fast food of the Arrowverse. Frost and Chester talk about pinball, car accidents, and black holes before they get down to the lab and find Barry out cold. In case the title of the episode and the previews weren’t a clue, Barry finds out he’s been brain-napped by Grodd. The super-gorilla calls Barry and his team cruel, rehashing various things that had been done to him. In return, Barry rattles off Grodd’s various crimes. Grodd’s reaction to this is surprising, and so are a few goodwill gestures he makes. Barry isn’t really in the mood to listen, and takes his first chance to race away.
Whoever is in charge of the series’ continuity does well with the next scene. As Barry lies on the table, Frost, Kamilla, and Chester try and figure out what’s going on, and make a few different references to past adventures to cobble together some diagnostic equipment. Things aren’t working out too well when Nash pops up, demanding to talk to Frost, and Chester gets another big shock. He’s learning about a lot of things this episode. Frost and Nash have a heated if hushed discussion about his latest blunder, and Frost gives some pointed advice and reveals she’s figured out some of his secrets. In the mindscape he’s trapped in, Barry attempts to escape, and runs across the guardian of the way out he was warned about. Barry tries reasoning, and then force, and neither goes well.
Back in the real world, the newest incarnation of Team Flash tries to figure out a way to help Barry. Chester gets caught up in a self-generated guilt trip, and reveals some his past to Frost. The icy scientist has come a long way, and offers some supportive and sympathetic comments. While Imposter Iris plays on Joe’s trust, the real deal tries to escape from her exile and finds out things are more complicated than they have to be. Barry finds another illusion of a trusted ally and then has a longer talk with Grodd. The gorilla makes some surprising statements and tells Barry what he wants now. The speedster is suspicious, which is understandable. We also learn that for reasons not made clear, Grodd, too, knows about the Crisis.
While an unlikely alliance forms, the STAR crew manages to establish communications and share a few pieces of bad news. We as viewers have an idea why, but I do find it odd that Barry is in serious danger here and no one thinks to contact Iris. We get comparisons to a dead Legend, some desperate planning, and someone taking the risk of trying to help Barry and Grodd, who are working together very closely now. When the good guys eventually succeed, Chester makes a very odd exclamation that makes me wonder about his background, or at least his beliefs.
There’s a lot of talk about what’s going to happen next, and Frost leaves to check up on a few things, possibly driven off by Chester’s nonstop hero-geeking. Barry has a heart to heart with Chester and the rough patches from earlier get smoothed over. Chester surprises Barry with some research, and then they get the alert that Piper is back. The Flash takes off to stop the bad guy, with Chester living the dream as the voice in the cowl.
There are two end scenes that hint at problems to come, and neither of them look good. In the Mirror Realm, Iris helps Eva with some injuries, then gets sent on an errand. This is when we learn there’s something weird going on that Eva is definitely keeping from Iris. Nash has his own secrets going on as he gets visited by a new shade of the past, and then gets an ugly warning that he really needs to share with the class. Immediately.
What I liked: I’ve always liked Grodd. While I think he makes a great villain, they did a good job with him here. The various nods to the show’s past were well done. Chester is interesting, but I’m wondering how he’s going to contribute if/when Cisco comes back. They seem a bit redundant. I’m intrigued by the hints of things to come at the end of the show.
What I didn’t: A lot of this episode falls apart if you think about it. What Barry was looking for at the beginning Gideon could have easily helped him with. Why is Cisco off running around if Gideon knows about all the changes? HOW does Gideon (and Grodd) know about all the changes? They keep increasing the cast, and there’s only so much time, but Joe got minimal screen time, and there was no Ralph, Cisco, or Cecile. We got a reference to a changed history between Piper and Flash, and Chester even knows the new tale, but we never find out what it was. Why did no one tell Iris about Barry’s situation, or why didn’t Barry go to her when he was so upset? Why was Nash doing experiments at the Citizen of all places?
It was one of those shows that worked a lot better if you didn’t think about it much. I’ll give this a 3 out of 5.