Tuesday, February 25, 2020

The Flash 6x13 Review: "Grodd Friended Me" (Monkey Mind Meld) [Contributor: Deborah MacArthur]

“Grodd Friended Me”
Original Airdate: February 25, 2020

Grodd’s back! Even when the episodes themselves aren’t anything to write home about, I always love when the giant talking gorillas come out on The Flash. Nothing else more succinctly highlights how ridiculous these comic book shows’ source material was. Any time one of these DC programs gets too big for its britches and starts in on the angst and tough topics, I remember the talking gorillas and I am at peace.

In the case of “Grodd Friended Me” we have something of a mixed bag, quality-wise. Barry is back on his annoying high horse for most of this episode, which is frustrating but, hey — the hero doesn’t always have to be likable. In addition to this, the subplots involving Nash Wells with Allegra and Iris still trapped in the mirror feel too scattered, like they were mostly there because time needed to be filled. But then again, it’s a talking gorilla episode, so... you gotta weigh the good and the bad.


Barry is wandering the streets holding a bouquet of white flowers when he gets a metahuman alert. He speeds off, dropping the flowers and contacting STAR Labs, where Kamilla and Chester P. Runk are the only people manning the other side of Team Flash. Because he’s Mr. Grumpypants this week, Barry throws a minor hissyfit and says he’ll just handle everything without help from home base. The criminal activity taking place is a jewelry store robbery by Pied Piper, who has developed a (justified, if Chester’s reaction is anything to go by) grudge against the Flash and his team in this post-Crisis timeline. Also, Pied Piper can fly with sonar now.

The underlying story of this episode is Barry dealing with the changes Crisis made to the world: Pied Piper’s backstory and his ability to fly, train tracks where there were never train tracks, and he was carrying flowers at the start of the episode because he’s been searching all across the city for his parents’ graves. Tuning into the Team Flash comms and hearing the voices of people who are only kind of team-adjacent didn’t exactly help with Barry’s mood. The new changes to the world send Barry to Gideon, possibly the only computer in existence that could track differences in alternate realities, but his terrible mood makes him a real drag to be around. He even yells at poor Chester, who is a wonderfully endearing nerd who should never be yelled at.

Everyone leaves Barry to his sulking. He’s also fiddling with a device that could help organize the thousands of changes to the world that Gideon came up with — it’s a little earpiece, which Chester boosted a bit before Barry yelled at him. Barry puts the earpiece in and is suddenly zapped into unconsciousness.

When he wakes up, Barry is inside a cage. Caitlin is there, but not listening to anything he’s saying. Then Thawne-Wells appears, and it becomes clear that Barry is in the past... until it becomes clear that Barry is not in the past but instead, in a memory. A Gorilla Grodd memory.

Due to some fuzzy technobabble that, even by this show’s standards, is not anything close to adequately explained, Grodd pulled Barry’s consciousness through the earpiece that zapped him and into the gorilla’s mind. Grodd is currently being kept under sedation at ARGUS and wants to escape. He says he’s changed and learned from his experiences as an evil gorilla, but Barry’s aggressively not buying it. Like, seriously, even when Barry lists all the stuff that Gorilla Grodd has done to humanity he still comes off as self-righteous and unlikable in a way that screams “gonna learn a lesson by the end of the episode.” Kudos to The Flash for allowing your main hero to come off as an unforgiving jerk in the meantime, I guess. Most shows try to avoid that sort of thing.

Barry knocks Grodd out (in his own mind?) and makes a run for the “gate” that will take him back to consciousness. Unfortunately, that gate is guarded by Solovar, the way more powerful other talking gorilla on this show, and Barry can’t defeat him on his own. Hey, kids, it looks like we’re in for a moral lesson on learning to work together, even with people you don’t like!

There’s a lot of back and forth between Grodd and Barry but, of course, Barry eventually realizes that he has to give Grodd a chance or they’re both doomed. Considering Barry’s unforgiving jerk-ness this episode, I’m not entirely sure how much Barry trying to help Grodd is a genuine realization that, hey, maybe don’t write off a superintelligent gorilla for his past transgressions when you’re perfectly willing to forgive, say, Ramsay Rosso even though he actively sought out evil for his own gain and killed people — or how much of it is because Barry knows he can’t escape without Grodd’s help.

Regardless, though, their only option is to team up. Barry says some nice things to Grodd that may or may not be genuine (and he says some nice things to Chester, which I really hope are genuine because Chester P. Runk does not deserve your crabby mood swings, Barry Allen). Barry and Grodd merge consciousnesses, which in Grodd’s mindscape means they actually combine together, and square up against Solovar. We’re all treated to the perfectly ridiculous image of a CGI gorilla painted with the Flash’s emblem, sparkling with Speed Force lightning as it fights another CGI gorilla wearing golden armor.

Thanks to some fast working over on Team Flash, Barry and Grodd are able to cleanly separate from each other and return to their own bodies. Grodd is released from ARGUS on parole or something, Barry has learned a lesson, Chester appears to have been adopted as an official member of Team Flash, and oh, hey — Cisco is coming back next episode! Yay, I missed him.

Other Things:
  • Grodd’s not looking as good as he’s looked in previous episodes. Did the music budget take a bite out of the CGI budget this season?
  • Barry’s hilarious “This might as well happen” expression when Chester finds out Barry is the Flash is golden.
  • I guess Nash Wells’s Harrison Wells hallucinations has to do with Eobard Thawne coming back, though I have no idea why or how. He is the only Wells left without a multiverse, but Eobard Thawne wasn’t a Wells. Did the show forget he was just borrowing the real Harrison Wells’s face?
  • Everything Chester says makes me like him more. He’s so worried about Barry being mad at him! It’s adorable.
  • “Ralph is your life coach?” Yeah, Nash, and it seems like he’s been doing a pretty good job for Frost, surprisingly.
  • Everyone on Team Flash has endangered Barry, “Even the janitor. Put too much wax on the floor.” That does sound pretty dangerous for a speedster.
  • Oh, yeah — Iris’s mirror subplot. Eva’s evil. She’s physically connected to Mirror Iris. Surprise!
  • Minor gripe: Eva’s story about how science only cares about hard evidence should’ve clued Iris into the whole thing being a sob story to garner sympathy. Science accepts theories, even seemingly crazy ones. What do you think, say, theoretical physics is all about?
  • The subtitle of this review calls Grodd a monkey. I know he’s not. I just like alliteration.


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