With Grodd on the loose and Barry unsure of himself, it takes a few great father figures to bring him back to the fight.
All things considered, Barry is a lucky guy. Yes, his mother was killed by a time-traveling speedster descendant of a co-worker disguised as his mentor who framed Barry’s own father for the murder. But with Henry Allen on the outside, and Joe having taken of the mantle of father figure in the interim, the Flash has been blessed with two of the finest father figures on TV.
And though, as the title “Gorilla Warfare” suggests, Grodd returns in a major way, this episode is not one focused on a giant super-intelligent gorilla. It’s about father figures and the impact they can have on one’s life — even for lonely gorillas.
Before Henry reappears on the scene and Grodd kicks up some mayhem, however, there’s another major problem Barry faces. Although he’s recovered with astounding speed from an injury that would have permanently paralyzed a normal person, he hasn’t mentally recovered from his battle with Zoom. He doesn’t believe the city has faith in him any longer, after Zoom revealed him to be helpless in the face of this new threat, and in turn, Barry no longer believes in himself.
Barry isn’t the only one shaken by the encounter with Zoom. Knowing Jesse is in Zoom’s hands, Harry wants to head home, save her, and defeat Zoom. The only person who wants him to stick around is Caitlin, who believes they need him while Barry continues to recover in case Zoom returns.
Even Wells himself doesn’t think he should stick around, despite Caitlin’s attempts to convince him otherwise. He had a plan: to come to Earth-1 and use the Flash to help him save his daughter and stop Zoom. That plan failed, and so he needs a new one, which he thinks going home will facilitate.
He’s set on going until Caitlin mentions the breaches between their worlds. They know where all of them rest in Central City, so why not use that information to their advantage? Close all of the breaches except the one in S.T.A.R. Labs, then set a trap for Zoom to speed right into.
Those plans are put on hold, though, when Caitlin is kidnapped. Grodd has already manipulated two brain-enhancing serums out of nearby laboratories, but his motivations aren’t made clear without a missing piece of the puzzle: Caitlin. He uses mind control to lure her out of S.T.A.R. Labs and into a bell tower, where he asks her to figure out a way to make more Grodds. He remembers Caitlin from before the particle accelerator explosion, and so he finds her to be one of the few caring, trustworthy people left in the city. But he needs help (he’s just a lonely gorilla, after all), leaving Caitlin with few options.
(Grodd’s affinity for Caitlin mirrors another famous primate-human relationship in King Kong, and if there was any doubt in “Gorilla Warfare” clearly alluding to that dynamic, look no further than Caitlin’s all-white outfit. Not only is she not wearing lab whites, but the more billowy clothing and some of Caitlin’s mannerisms once in the bell tower clearly evoke Fay Wray’s Ann Darrow.)
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The rest of the team wastes little time in realizing Grodd’s threat level. (DNA at the crime scenes belonged to a gorilla, not a human, something that confused Patty but made complete sense to Joe, and then S.T.A.R. Labs security footage shows Grodd with Caitlin outside.)
Wells comes up with an algorithm to triangulate Grodd’s position, along with a plan that enrages Barry at first. Harrison shows up in S.T.A.R. Labs wearing the Reverse-Flash suit, sending Barry into an immediate attack (which at the very least indicates he’s regaining control of his powers). There’s a method to his momentary lapse in judgment, though. He wants to go to Grodd, pretending to be Earth-1’s Wells and distract the damn dirty ape long enough to rescue Caitlin.
Barry agrees to the plan but admits he won’t be of much help back at base. So Wells goes out into the field with Cisco, who trains Earth-2 Wells in the creepy-yet-loving ways of Earth-1 Wells. (Tom Cavanagh has excelled at making his latest iteration of Harrison feel fresh, but I certainly wouldn’t mind watching Earth-2 Wells pretending to be Earth-1 Wells, who was actually Eobard Thawne disguised as Wells. It’s enough false identities to deserve a Carrie Mathison-level conspiracy wall, and yet Cavanagh keeps it all straight and hilarious, especially when paired with Carlos Valdes as Cisco.)
He shows up to Grodd’s hideout but makes one fatal error — he asks Grodd to let Caitlin go, whereas asking for things was beneath the Wells Grodd knew. So the gorilla throws his fake father across the room.
NEXT: Like father, like son
Despite the setback, Wells attempts to fool Grodd. It’s another case of fatherhood defining the characters before us. Wells is acting as he is because he is a concerned father willing to take whatever risks are necessary to save his daughter. And Grodd behaves the way he does because he was conditioned by a man who, despite running abusive and cruel tests, was still a father of sorts.
Luckily, Cisco comes to the rescue with some mind control-stopping earbuds to save Caitlin as Wells injects Grodd with an overdose of his brain-enhancing serums. They all escape, Caitlin now safe, but there’s still the 800-pound super-intelligent gorilla alive in the city, and this time it will take the Flash’s help to stop him.
Of course, Barry is still quite unsure of himself by this point. Prior to the rescue mission, Barry suffers another setback in his recovery, flashing back to the Zoom fight while on the treadmill. He’s afraid to push himself, doubt plaguing him, and so Iris decides to call in the one person who might get through his emotional wall of uncertainty.
Henry makes a welcome return to the show thanks to a call from Iris. (His abrupt departure is one of the most false notes the series has had in its entire run, so even if he is leaving again by the episode’s end, it’s so great to have him back.) And with his return he wants to restore his son to the proud hero he knows him to be. At a time in Henry’s life when all seemed lost, Barry saved him. Henry had to spend years of his life with everyone he knew and loved believing he murdered the woman he held most dear. He expected to spend his life in jail for a crime he didn’t commit. But Barry believed in him, and that faith allowed Henry to work through the pain and struggle of having everyone he knew lose faith in him. So he’s here to return the favor to his son. He believes in Barry (so, of course, does Joe, Barry’s other father figure — but sometimes it takes a harrowing shared experience to connect) and knows his son can be the man the city needs to protect them.
So Barry heads into combat. He tricks Grodd into chasing him through the city to one of the breaches, where Wells and Cisco have set up a speed canon to send him to Earth-2. (ASIDE: There just so happens to be a place on Earth-2 where scientifically tested gorillas like Grodd can go to roam free, and this breach just so happens to open up there. Why do all of the breaches in Earth-1’s Central City open all around Earth-2’s globe? Aside from narrative convenience, we don’t quite know at this point, but it’s something even the characters question, so answers are likely coming. END ASIDE)
Barry brings Grodd to the spot, but the gorilla almost puts an end to the Flash until Caitlin shows up. She asks Grodd to trust her to bring him to safety, to give him peace. The plan works, and Grodd is sucked into the breach, finally going through after Barry learns to trust himself again and punch the darn gorilla through the interdimensional portal.
The Grodd conundrum solved, team Flash’s efforts are rewarded with a little family time. Seeing Henry and Barry together, however, makes Joe wonder what it would have been like to have a son who was truly his own, a sentiment to which Iris keeps her secret-filled mouth shut.
Barry also takes the quiet after the storm to apologize to Patty, who he’s been hiding from during his recovery process. She knows he’s been lying to her, and though he covers by saying he was worried about her reaction to his dad and his now-tossed murder conviction, the two seem to return to a good place in their relationship by the episode’s end. Of course, there’s still the matter of his Flash-hood being a mystery, and crossing that bridge is likely not too far off.
And, on the romance front, Cisco finally goes on that date with Kendra from CC Jitter…until he has a vibe while outside the movie theater. He sees a figure with giant wings, which he takes as his cue to leave the date and investigate. Leaving Kendra mid-date is a terrible way to start things off, though, and with little intel on a birdman, he finds her again at the episode’s end. A conciliatory basket of chocolates, flowers, and a movie projector in hand, he apologizes for his behavior, and the two get to their first kiss before the date’s even started.
That kiss leaves him with one more vibe of this birdman, though, in which he discovers it’s no man. It’s a woman, specifically Kendra. And it looks like there will be plenty of explaining to do in this relationship as well. Good thing a crossover looms in the not-too-distant future, huh?
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