Wednesday, November 18, 2015

The Flash 2x07 "Gorilla Warfare" (Angry Apes and Isolation) [Contributor: Deborah MacArthur]

"Gorilla Warfare"
Original Airdate: November 17, 2015

Confession: I was disappointed in this week's episode. They went and got my hopes up with the title "Gorilla Warfare" and then there weren't even any gorillas waging war. It was just one lonely gorilla who wanted someone to science him up some companionship, like the monster in the Frankenstein novel. Look, it was a fine episode –– mostly carried by Cisco's consistent awesomeness and Grant Gustin's ability to look puppy-like while sadly spinning around in a wheelchair –– but all I'm saying is, you guys totally blew your "Gorilla Warfare" title, Flash writers. You should have saved it for Grodd returning and going all Planet of the Apes on Central City, with his army of Earth-2 gorillas in tow.

Before we begin, I just want to say that I think it's charming how The Flash writers looked at the weird period of time where gorillas were all over comic books and, rather than ignoring it as the embarrassing inked legacy they didn't want their cool CW show associated with, they were like, "Yeah sure, let's bring Grodd all up in here. Also, we're going to make him fairly sympathetic and give him an emotional connection with Caitlin Snow. Side note: Gorilla City."


Grodd is a forlorn psychic/genius gorilla. He hates humans too much to befriend them. He's too smart to find companionship with regular gorillas instead. As the only one of his kind, Grodd wants more than anything to have a hyper-intelligent gorilla friend with whom he could plot the destruction of the human world. In order to achieve this goal, he's been using his mind control powers to steal scientific materials that could be used to mimic the effects of the particle accelerator explosion and create another really smart gorilla for him to hang out with –– but who could he get to actually put his plan into motion? Why, the only person who has ever been nice to him, of course! Dr. Caitlin Snow.

Grodd kidnaps Caitlin with mind control and asks her to "Repeat Grodd," which –– yeah, Grodd, I think that's actually a one-time deal? Sorry. Still, he is a huge, really strong, angry gorilla so Caitlin's going to try her best to humor him until she can get out of the situation with the help of the rest of the team.

With Barry unable to run and zip Caitlin out of Grodd's clutches, Team Flash decides on a really dumb plan where ParaWells pretends to be Thawne-Wells, who created Grodd in the first place. It lasts about five seconds before Grodd figures out that ParaWells isn't being evil enough to actually be his "father" and even though Caitlin manages to escape from the gorilla's lair, they still can't have a sentient gorilla running around town. They decide to shove Grodd into Earth-2, because who gives a crap about Earth-2's potential victims of Gorilla Rage, amiright?

Aaaand, here's where the common sense of the characters falls apart for no apparent reason other than the likelihood that the writers just wanted themselves a high-stakes, action-packed finale. Caitlin knows that Grodd wants to be with gorillas who are smart, like he is. Team Flash knows that there is a whole sanctuary of smart gorillas on Earth-2. The team devises a plan where they suck Grodd into Earth-2 and then close off the portal between the two worlds, but they decide they have to trick Grodd in order to do it. Instead of just telling him that the companionship he seeks –– literally his only goal at that moment –– is on the other side of the portal.

All right, I will allow that maybe Grodd wouldn't believe them, that he would fight the portal and they'd have to trick him into it anyway, but the point is that they don't even try to tell him what's on the other side. He trusts Caitlin more than any other human, but the most she gives him is some vague "it's for your own good" non-explanation as to why he's suddenly being sucked into a parallel world.


Barry's trying his best to deal with losing the use of his legs (and, when those are mostly healed, the use of his speed) after Zoom's attack. More than the physical damage, however, Zoom caused critical damage to how Barry perceives himself as a hero and how he feels about his ability to keep Central City safe from metahumans, especially Zoom. Barry –– The Flash –– was supposed to be able to defeat this enemy and he failed in a big, public way. Barry is probably worried about his ability to stop someone as strong as Zoom, but more than that, he's worried bout how his defeat changes the way his city sees him. He wonders if he can still be Central City's hero now that everyone has witnessed his failure.

Iris calls in Barry's dad to help him work through his problems and get back on his feet (pun intended?) and it's a pretty good plan –– because if anyone understands the pressure of public opinion, it's the guy who got jailed for murdering his wife in front of their kid. Henry tries to explain to Barry how, regardless of the pain that comes from being "destroyed" in the eyes of everyone around him, he needs to accept what happened, survive it, and move forward. It's a pretty good pep talk and kicks Barry out of his funk in time to help out with the Grodd situation. At first, he's just using his intelligence to figure out a strategy, but later actually manages to suit up and help out with super speed.

And Barry's not the only one who has to deal with how Zoom managed to defeat The Flash. ParaWells also feels dejected because of it, since Barry was really his only hope for saving his daughter and the only metahuman that stood any chance against Zoom. Now that ParaWells knows Zoom is stronger than Barry –– like, way stronger –– he's getting desperate and he wants to return to Earth-2 in order to face Zoom himself.

Like the Grodd plot line, I've got some logic issues with this one, mostly concerning Wells's motivations and Caitlin's sudden desire to keep him around. It's really frustrating when it feels like characters on a show are just following a script: ParaWells wants to go home because... the script says so. Caitlin wants him to say because... the script says so. No one can actually tell Grodd about Gorilla City because... the script says so. I've started to expect more from The Flash than this kind of thing, which is a big reason (other than the lack of GORILLA WARFARE!) why I found this episode rather disappointing.

When I was trying to figure out the reason for Caitlin's sudden need to keep ParaWells on the team, I decided that Caitlin might be acting as a kind of bridge between the Grodd plot and the Post-Zoom plot. As well as the tenuous connection between Barry and Grodd's feelings of isolation, writers are linking the A-Plot and the B-Plot (especially the ParaWells aspect of the B-Plot) through Caitlin's kindness. No one but Caitlin wants to be kind to the huge, psychic, hyper-intelligent gorilla and no one but Caitlin wants to be kind to the universe-hopping scientist wearing the face of the dude who killed a bunch of people. It's a creative way to pull the two ideas together, but I'm not completely convinced on how well it works. Neither Barry's connection to Grodd's separation from society nor the ties made through Caitlin's kindness did much to explain why these stories happened in this episode. Why was Grodd brought back now?

Oh, you know, besides providing an opportunity to introduce Gorilla City at the end. After said introduction, I expect an army of gorillas in the future, The Flash! And the future episode with the gorilla army better be titled "Gorilla Warfare 2: We're Sorry We Used Our Gorilla Warfare Pun Too Early, Deb."



Other Things:

  • "If Harry wants to go... bye!"
  • The two romance subplots –– Barry and Patty and Cisco and Kendra –– were nicely handled but mostly unimportant to the rest of the episode. Other than Cisco finding out Kendra is Hawkgirl, that is.
  • "Try to stay off your feet." INSERT THE SOUND OF IRONY TUBAS HERE.
  • I thought Zoom was able to open the breaches between Earth-1 and Earth-2 himself, but apparently he just… knew where they were? Okay, fine.
  • Another 'Okay, fine' moment: Cisco can see the future when he vibes stuff now?
  • Convenient that both the "Barry is sick, totally" conversations around Patty involved canned soup vs. homemade soup so that she could figure out he was lying about being sick.
  • Grodd makes Caitlin punch Cisco in the face, even though she could have just walked around him. Grodd is a petty, petty gorilla.
  • Barry spinning around in his wheelchair, though.
  • I forgot that Henry was meant to be a doctor of some kind. When was that actually mentioned?
  • "Grodd has to be in one of these 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." How do the other cast members around Carlos Valdes feel about him stealing every scene and owning every line?
  • So Barry's instinct is to just punch anyone wearing the Reverse Flash suit? I suppose that's understandable.
  • "Look, I just made these anti-mind control ear buds!" Such a weird line, delivered with such dedication.
  • Cisco making ParaWells say the creepy "you're like a son to me" line Wells said in season one was marvelous.
  • I like the visual reference to King Kong, with Caitlin wearing white when she's kidnapped by Grodd.
  • Joe mentioning having a son! Worried Iris! Uh-oh!
  • This episode made me realize that a lot of people on my Twitter timeline have very strong feelings about "In Your Eyes" by Peter Gabriel.

1 comment:

  1. Harry wanted to go back to his world because the only hope he had to save his daughter, who was Barry, failed, he said himself, when he get in his world, he would find a way to defeat Zoom, even if it costs his own life, the important thing for him is to save his daughter. One plan failed, he goes to next one. That’s simple.
    And without Jay, the only person who knows more about Zoom is ParaWells after the last episode makes sense That Caitlin want him to stay, she saw Barry being beaten in front of her, and no one there could stop Zoom, she realized that the team needs ParaWells, the team needs a mentor.