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Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

The Flash: “Grodd Lives”

Rick Cosnett, Tom Cavanagh/The CW
Rick Cosnett, Tom Cavanagh/The CW
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This is the episode we’ve been waiting for ever since that throwaway shot of a trashed cage labeled GRODD way back in the pilot. We’ve caught a few glimpses of the super-intelligent telepathic gorilla since then, but it’s taken this long for Grodd to take center stage. Was it worth the wait? Assuming you kept expectations in check (given the changes to Grodd’s origin and the limitations of CW special effects, I doubt anyone thought we were going to see a full-fledged Gorilla City anytime soon), “Grodd Lives” is about as much fun as we could have hoped. It’s no surprise that Grodd is largely confined to the sewers, cloaked in darkness and steam, all the better to conceal CGI work that has always been better than we’ve had any right to expect from this show anyway. (Take it from someone who grew up on wrestlers in baggy fur suits playing Sasquatch, Grodd looked pretty damn good most of the time.) The episode does a fine job of making Grodd a presence throughout, even though his actual screen time is limited.

Before he shows up, however, there’s a little business from last week to clear up, namely Iris finally figuring out that Barry is the Flash. Because no one ever locks the doors at STAR Labs, Iris shows up to confront Barry about what she’s learned and finds out not only that she was the last to know but that her father was the main motivator in keeping the secret from her. She’s righteously pissed off about the whole thing, pointing out (as we’ve been doing for weeks) that she’s a person with her own agency and doesn’t need to be kept in the dark but overprotective men in her life. However annoying Iris has been at times throughout the season, it’s hard not to enjoy her finally setting Barry and Joe straight about all of this. (And yes, Barry does have a point that she hasn’t been completely honest with him either, but her confusion about her own feelings is hardly in balance with him concealing a huge portion of his life from her.)

It’s a relief to have all of this out in the open and Iris more or less installed as Wells’ replacement on Team Flash. Speaking of Wells, he’s in a bit of a holding pattern this week, as the entire Grodd plot is set in motion as a stalling tactic. The masked criminal robbing gold trucks around Central City turns out to be General Eiling under the psychic control of Grodd. Cailtin and Cisco remember Grodd from the super-soldier experiments years earlier and figure out that the accelerator explosion has turned their old furry friend into a meta-gorilla.

Barry, Joe, and Cisco head down to the sewers to find Grodd (and no, I don’t really know why anyone thought it was a good idea for Joe and Cisco to go down there), and the fun begins. Joe is captured and gets a scary face full of Grodd. Barry attempts to stop the gorilla with a supersonic punch, but Grodd grabs his fist and flings hm away. Grodd pounds Barry with psychic imagery of his own traumatic memories of the super-soldier program, and Barry can only fight back when he hears Iris’ voice. (Corny, yes, but admittedly timely.) Grodd makes a slo-mo leap at Barry and is pancaked by an oncoming train.

Again, there’s no real point to any of this other than to delay the Flash/Reverse-Flash showdown for the final two episodes, but who cares? We wanted the Flash to fight a giant psychic gorilla and we finally got it. The necessary effects work may have limited the scope of the battle a bit, but it was still well-executed and featured several memorable images. More importantly, though, the decks have finally been cleared of all the Iris baggage (or most of it anyway; there’s still the minor matter of the love triangle between Barry, Iris, and the absent Eddie). With that unpleasantness out of the way, the stage is set for an epic showdown over the season’s final two episodes, and it ought to be a blast.

Stray observations:

  • When Grodd speaks through General Eiling, it’s not the first time Clancy Brown has given voice to the character. He also voiced Grodd in a Robot Chicken DC Comics Special.
  • “What’s that blue light labeled Grodd?” “That’s Grodd.” (Not actual dialogue, but it might as well have been.)
  • Even though he didn’t have much to do this week other than taunt Eddie (“you don’t even get the girl”), Tom Cavanagh is really sinking his teeth into the full-on evil Harrison Wells/Eobard Thawne. Will the show find a way to keep him around after this season? Part of me thinks Eddie will end up sacrificing himself to save Iris and ensure the future Thawne is never born, but only time will tell.
  • “Grodd hate banana.” Noted.
  • I don’t usually mind Cisco’s movie references, but this episode really overdid it.
  • Looks like next week’s episode, loaded with guest stars, will function as a sort of back-door pilot for the upcoming spinoff series.