The Flash recap: 'Attack on Gorilla City'
We’ve been waiting since the pilot for this episode: Tonight, The Flash FINALLY took us (and Team Flash) on a trip to Gorilla City. Although “Attack on Gorilla City” might not have been the most dramatic episode, since it was part one of a two-parter, it was still a very entertaining hour that benefited a lot from the change in scenery. To be fair, this shouldn’t surprise us. Gorilla Grodd almost always brings out the best in the show.
Picking up where the last episode left off, Jesse explains to the rest of Team Flash that her father set off on an expedition to Gorilla City, a kingdom populated by gorillas in Africa on Earth-2, after receiving a message from the gorillas. However, his entire team was murdered, except for him and he’s been gone for two weeks. Barry, Cisco, Caitlin, and casual Indian Jones cosplayer Julian, who tags along just because he wants to tour the multiverse, agree to travel to Earth-Two and save Harry. Barry also hopes that saving Harry from the gorillas will prevent the gorilla invasion of Central City, which was spoiled in a future headline, thereby saving Iris’ life.
Thankfully, the episode doesn’t waste any time having Team Flash jump through a breach to Earth-2. The trip to Earth-2 infuses The Flash with a level of suspense that’s been missing for awhile, and it’s clear from director Dermott Downs’ many sweeping shots of the completely CGI’d Gorilla City that he’s relishing the opportunity to transport viewers to this part of the DC Universe. However, we mustn’t forget that this is still a CW show. Budget constraints means most of the action, save for an exciting fight scene in an arena, takes place a relatively unremarkable location: the dungeons of Gorilla City (which resemble Zoom’s Earth-2 lair in last season). That’s where Team Flash finds itself after Gorilla Grodd knocked everyone out with tranquilizer darts as soon as they reached the perimeter of Gorilla City.
When Team Flash eventually wake up in their cages, they come to face to face with Harry; however, when Harry opens his mouth to speak, Grodd’s voice comes out because of the budget Grodd has taken over his mind. Grodd, speaking through Harry, explains that he lured The Flash because he needs him to defeat Gorilla City’s King Solivar, who is planning to invade Earth-1 out of fear that the humans want to attack Gorilla City. Once Barry defeats Solivar in an arena with the entire city watching, Grodd will take his place as ruler and make sure the gorillas won’t attack Central City, which he still considers his home.
Obviously, Barry is hesitant about going through with Grodd’s plan because he doesn’t want to kill anyone. Unfortunately, he doesn’t have a choice; Solivar says he must kill them all in the arena since his subjects know they’re in Gorilla City, and he needs to show them that his justice is swift and brutal. It’s basically a power play. Solivar’s concern with making these grand shows of power hints that his rule is very tenuous. Wishing to save his friends, Barry agrees to fight on behalf of his entire team, and if he wins, Solivar must agree to let them go. Solivar accepts the deal, and he and Barry head down to the arena to fight.
I think it’s best if we state this up front: The Flash’s battle against Solivar pushes the show’s special effects budget to the limits. That being said, it doesn’t make the fight any less entertaining. With Cisco coaching him in his ear, Barry first tries speed punches, but Solivar sends him flying. Then, Barry tries to throw lightning, but Solivar uses Earthquake Attack to trip him. Seeing no other option, Cisco tells him Barry to use Reverse Flash’s vibrating punch to knock him, which works (see below). Barry wins the fight but refuses to kill Solivar.
“I know you all fear humans,” Barry says, addressing the entire stadium. “You think we want war with gorilla kind. We don’t. We’re not all murderers and killers. We only want peace, which is why I’m sparing your leader. We call it mercy.” An annoyed Grodd, channeling his inner Chuck Bartowski, quickly shuts him up with another tranquilizer dart.
NEXT: Wally and Jesse decide to do something about their long-distance relationship (or lack thereof)
Barry wakes up back in the cage and Grodd-as-Harry reveals that he lied: Solivar doesn’t want to invade Earth-1. Grodd does, and now he can because the gorillas have accepted him as their ruler after watching a human defeat Solivar. Grodd, who is actually pissed about having been sent to Gorilla City, plans on forcing Cisco to open a portal to Earth-1, through which his new gorilla army can travel to kill all of the humans in Central City. Normally, I’d complain about revenge being a motivation, but this situation is a bit more nuanced than that. First, Grodd is motivated by the fact that he simply thinks (knows?) he’s smarter than humans and thus views them as insignificant, a notion that was fostered by Harrison Wells/Eobard Thawne’s great parenting. And secondly, and most importantly, it’s a bloody psychic gorilla! I’m not going to complain about the fact that this is actually happening on television. But, in all seriousness, this turn of events isn’t surprising since the last time we saw Grodd, he was trying to make Earth-1’s gorillas super intelligent, just like him.
The current state of their mission leaves everyone pretty disheartened, except for Barry, who is our bright beacon of hope in this dire situation. “Where there’s life, there’s hope,” says Barry, sounding like the Fantastic Four’s Reed Richards. I’m so glad the episode used this situation to remind us of how important hope is to the character of The Flash. Unfortunately, his words of inspiration have an unintended consequence, as Cisco decides he needs to die to stop Grodd from using his powers. He even suggests that Caitlin use her powers to kill him. And this where Julian reveals his true motives for coming: He wanted to protect Caitlin from using her powers and going full Killer Frost, which would happen if she killed Cisco. Thankfully, Cisco’s stupid plan gives Barry another idea.
Barry has Caitlin freeze him to the point of death. Then, they call Grodd in and tell them that Barry has died. Grodd examines the body, doesn’t detect a heartbeat, and drags Barry’s body out of the cage, tossing it onto a pile bones. As Grodd stomps out of the dungeon, Harry tells Barry it’s time to wake up. Cue those classic Flash strings! Barry warms himself up, frees his friends and super-speeds them far enough away from the city so that Cisco can open the portal. Grodd chases after them, but the breach closes before he can catch them.
While The Flash was on Earth-2 with the rest of the team’s veterans, Kid Flash and Jesse Quick stayed behind to protect Central City. Wally is very excited by the prospect of teaming up, and hanging out, with Jesse, but she’s less than enthused and is actually pretty cold. When they go out to stop some bank robbers, Jesse Quick stands on the sidelines while Kid Flash rushes in to stop them on his own and then laps up all of the praise from onlookers.
Jesse’s coldness isn’t lost on Wally, and he confronts her about it. She points out that Wally seems to have found himself since he got his powers, and it feels like he hasn’t had time for her anymore. Apparently, they haven’t spoken since he became fast. “I’m not complete without you,” Wally says in the night’s cheesiest — but in an endearing way — line. He asks her to move to Earth-1 with him, but at first she says no because she’s scared Wally is on his own journey. However, a pep talk from H.R. Wells, who warns her she might end up living her life with regrets, convinces her to take the plunge.
Team Flash safely returns to Earth-1 with Harry in tow, which makes Jesse quite happy. This ends up being one of episode’s funniest scenes because Harry finally learns that H.R. is actually a buffoon who has no scientific know-how but has somehow still become somewhat essential to the team. (From a storytelling perspective, H.R. Wells is only essential through the sheer force of will Tom Cavanagh is exerting through his performance). With the day saved, Caitlin and Julian head off on another date, despite Caitlin warning Julian to stay away because she’s scared of what her powers would do to him, and Iris and Barry enjoy some one-on-one time at home.
But, alas, Team Flash’s problems are just beginning: Back on Earth-2, Grodd moves forward with assembling his massive gorilla army to invade Earth-1 because he had a back-up plan: Gypsy.
Wall of Weird:
- “Are you going to Planet of the Apes?” — Julian to Barry
- “It’s all about the running away” — Cisco to Barry after speed punches don’t work on Solivar
After the success of Arrow, Barry Allen (a.k.a. the Flash) gets his own CW treatment in this comic-themed spin-off.