Danielle Panabaker and friend/The CW

Father figures are everywhere on this season of The Flash. A few episodes back, Captain Cold confronted his daddy issues. Somewhere in the not-too-distant future, Joe is destined to learn he has a son he never knew about. And tonight, two father figures largely absent since last season return: one real (Barry’s biological father Henry) and one impostor (Wells-2 donning the Reverse-Flash suit to pose as Grodd’s paternal human). Whether this is coincidental or part of some larger thematic plan for the season remains to be seen, but it works well enough in “Gorilla Warfare,” an episode that takes its cue from its hero’s current somber, contemplative state of being.

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Having been waved around like a rag doll by Zoom and proven to be a fallible hero in front of all Central City, Barry is understandably low as the episode begins. There’s also the matter of the spinal injury that would have paralyzed anyone else, but in Barry’s case, the lingering wound is psychological. Iris figures he needs a pep talk from pops—not Joe this time, but Henry, who she is able to summon back to Central City. It’s good to see that John Wesley Shipp hasn’t been permanently exiled, even if his role in the bigger picture hasn’t changed much since Henry got out of prison. His main function is to give Barry a boost with convincing “I believe in you, son” speeches, and while the writing here couldn’t be more on-the-nose (“Conquer your fears and believe in yourself!”), Shipp’s solid presence keeps things just on the right side of corny.

As father figure substitutes go, Wells-2 is still feeling out his place in the STAR Labs crew. At first he feels he has no place, planning instead to return to Earth-Two and battle Zoom from there. Caitlin convinces him to stay—or partially convinces him, anyway (Harry doesn’t truly buy in until he hits upon the plan of sealing off all the breaches save the one in STAR Labs). Incrementally gaining trust and a gruff sort of rapport with the group (particularly Cisco), Wells-2 does set Barry off the first time he appears in the yellow Reverse-Flash suit. It’s all part of a plan to rescue Caitlin from Grodd, who is using mind control to acquire chemicals to enhance his super-intelligence and that of other gorillas (shades of Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes). It’s a great plan, mainly because it affords us the spectacle of Tom Cavanagh doing Wells-2 attempting to do Wells-1, at first badly and then scarily well.

Considering that she’s acting with a digital effect, Danielle Panabaker has some good moments playing Fay Wray to Grodd’s King Kong. (As for Grodd, he struck me as being a little goofier-looking than the first time around, although the security camera shot of Grodd in broad daylight was surprisingly effective.) Once Henry is able to talk Barry out of his stupor, we finally get some speedster action as the Flash leads Grodd to a speed cannon set up to zap him through a breach and into an Earth-2 location where, Harry assures us, he will find some like-minded furry friends. (Cue thousands of Flash fans sitting straight up on the couch in anticipation of seeing Gorilla City.) It’s a fun little sequence, with Grodd nearly fighting his way free of the breach, only to be sucked in when Barry comes through with a supersonic punch.

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The week’s other storylines involved speed bumps on the road to romance. Having to conceal his temporary paralysis from Patty, Barry comes up with a story about being sick that proves especially unconvincing after some contrived chicken soup banter goes awry. It feels like we’re heading down the same road as last season, with Barry continuing to hide his secret from Patty just as he did with Iris. It’s hard to know who hasn’t learned their lesson here: Barry or the writing staff? Surely if he can let Linda Park in on Team Flash, he can do the same for Patty, but I fear we’re heading into familiar and unwelcome territory.

As for Cisco, he may be right that The Princess Bride is a great date movie, but his panic at getting a vibe of a winged metahuman from Kendra Saunders was a bit much. Kendra gives him another chance, however, which in turn gives him the chance to vibe that it’s her wings he’s seen flapping. This is more set-up for Legends Of Tomorrow, but fortunately we’re almost done with these spinoff obligations. Almost, but not quite: expect a concentrated dose in the upcoming two-part crossover with Arrow.

Stray observations

  • Oh, that tantalizing glimpse of Gorilla City in the distance! I can’t imagine the show will have the budget to do a full-fledged city of apes episode anytime soon, but I can dream, can’t I?
  • Caitlin punching Cisco was not unentertaining.
  • No surprise: Barry’s interested in the ring that held Wells’ miniaturized Reverse-Flash suit.
  • The Flash is taking Thanksgiving week off. Come back in two weeks for the big crossover event.

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