I can imagine that producing The Flash is a masterclass of juggling expectations. At the end of last week’s episode, Gorilla Grodd was poised to invade Earth-1 with an army of sentient gorillas who had a hankering for battle. The expectation was obvious, an hour long invasion story of Gorillas decimating Central City. Obviously that’s not remotely feasible on a TV budget but even so I’m happy to report that “Attack on Central City” was able to deliver the goods in term of solid action and drama.
Ok, so let’s get the negative out of the way, the show took far too long to get to the Gorilla War. Normally I wouldn’t complain about this except I had been so hyped from last week that I was at the edge of my seat waiting for a simian showdown. By the time the conflict had kicked in, I caught myself catching glimpses of the clock, lamenting the scant amount of time was left in the episode. Now with that said, the climactic battle felt impressive and was extremely rewarding.
One of the more interesting turns in “Attach on Central City” was Barry’s evolution as a tactician. After his battle last week with Solovar it’s become quite clear that Barry can’t go toe to tow with Grodd. Despite his super speed, it’s clear that charging headlong against the hyper intelligent ape is just a recipe for getting beat down. In fact, it’s becoming clear that Barry’s instinct to run headfirst into battle is almost always the wrong decision as he was even taken down by Gypsy (again) prior to the final showdown. That’s ok though as Barry finally started to use his brain and found a way to out think Grodd, recruit Solovar.
This was an interesting solution on two fronts. First, we were treated to an amazing Ape on Ape fight that delivered some amazing scenes of brutality. Second, it showcased that Barry is willing to put his pride to the side in order to maintain equilibrium. The Apes needed a leader and Solovar was able to claim his throne by defeating Grodd. It also created a bond between The Flash and the Sentient Apes, which I hope will come back in the future.
Speaking of equilibrium, that was a pretty important story element this week for our resident speedster. Barry’s conflict with Grodd began to break our hero and he was on the verge of taking a life and in some ways, it makes sense. Every time Barry gives Grodd a little bit of rope, the Ape takes full advantage of this “weakness”. Grodd’s hatred for Flash is so deep that he knows how to hurt Barry, which was put on display to powerful effect when Grodd almost killed Joe. That moment was so scary for Barry that it caused our hero to question his own motives.
Why won’t he kill? Why shouldn’t he just execute the tireless hoard of Rogues that plague his life? The answer was pretty simple and one of the keys to Flash, he’s the heart of team (and by proxy the DCW). If he killed like Ollie or even some of the Legends, he would lose that beacon of hope that shines the way and inspires us to be better than what we are. It was powerful stuff and will almost certainly be revisited as we close in on Savitar’s return.
Speaking of which, you’d think there would have been a dark cloud over this week’s episode as “Gorillas Attack Central City” came true bringing Team Flash closer to Iris’ death, but it didn’t happen. I think a big reason for this was thanks to the crazy dynamic of having two versions of Harrison Wells duke it out for screen time. Tom Cavanagh playing against himself was such a wonderful dynamic that I reiterate my desire for a Harrison Wells spin off show featuring an All-Wellsian cast. Between H.R.’s love of “Friend’s Day” to Harry’s flat out lie about being terminally-ill (props to Jessie for calling him out on it immediately), the Wells factor kept things light and fun.
It was also fun to see this Valentine’s day tinted episode circle the romantic wagons as Jessie decides to move to Earth-1 to be close to Wally. Over the last year, we’ve seen Wally and Jessie have multiple near miss encounters so it’s rewarding to see them finally land on the same page. Though I fear what that means for the end of the season now that we have a third Speedster and no seeming change in Iris’ future.
On the other side is the Cisco/Gypsy dynamic, which has been so much fun. Their weird blend of hero/villain swagger tied up with a real geeky undercurrent has just been so much fun. It was also cool to see Cisco finally take a lead role in the relationship as he started to teach Gypsy about being something more than a ruthless bounty hunter. I know it sounds silly but the use of Cisco’s vibe powers to reveal Gypsy’s feelings was just about perfect. “You look cool, but you want to be more…” is pretty much their dynamic in a nutshell and I’m glad it’s taking root.
Of course with so many things going right, that means that we’re about to hit the mother of all speed bumps. With a proposal hanging in the air between Iris and Barry, Savitar’s sudden appearance at the end of the episode and that May date closing fast, it’s clear that things are about to get rough for everyone on Team Flash.
Better buckle up guys, this one looks like it’s going to be a killer…