Wednesday, 18 November 2015

Review - 'The Flash', S02E07 - 'Gorilla Warfare'

Gorilla Grodd was one of the clear highlights of the previous season - and, not just because of the audience's surprise that he would even be included in the first place. Grodd was, perhaps, one of the clearest signs of the new show's willingness to fully embrace the sillier aspects of the comic-books, and to treat them seriously, that we were given. After all, if The Flash was willing to take on the task of bringing an intelligent gorilla with psychic abilities into a live-action series, then it was probably willing to give just about anything a try.

The true surprise, though, wasn't actually that he would appear - it was that he would be done so well on a television budget. Not only was each, and every appearance by Grodd in the previous season a resounding success - but, the CGI work that went into actually creating him was so impressive that it earned the show an Emmy nomination for best special effects.

With all of that in mind, it was practically inevitable that Grodd would return at some point, this season. Though, to be honest, I wasn't expecting it to happen so soon.

Of course, before we can get to Grodd, there is still the matter of the fall-out of Barry's confrontation with Zoom. While that dramatic moment at the end of the previous episode where Barry realised that he couldn't feel his legs proved to be a bit of an anti-climax (Barry was on his feet again before the episode even began), Barry was still far from recovered. His physical injuries may have healed quickly, but it's fairly obvious that the ease with which Zoom defeated him has taken a toll. Honestly, Barry's entire character arc for this episode feels like it is covering ground that has been covered before. He was overly confident about his ability to defeat Zoom, right up until the moment that his efforts to draw Zoom out succeeded. Zoom, naturally at this point in the season, defeated Barry rather convincingly (even going as far as taking the Flash on a quick tour around the city to show him off like a trophy). So, now, Barry doubts himself - and, that doubt his holding him back. Despite being fine, physically, there is some emotional block that is keeping him from being about to access his abilities.

It all feels very conventional - and, to be honest, it's a little dull. Maybe it's my imagination, but I could swear that Barry even went through something very similar after he was defeated by the Reverse Flash in their first encounter last season. Though, to be fair, this whole arc did, at least, provide the opportunity for some great moments between Barry and his father, Henry (John Wesley Shipp), who had made a brief return to Central City to support his injured son. And, there was definitely some interest to be found in the idea of a parallel between the Flash public defeat, and the affect it had on Barry, and Henry's public conviction for the murder of his wife. But, overall, Barry was probably the weakest element of this episode of The Flash - and, that is probably the first time I have ever had to say that.

Grodd, on the other hand, was as much of a highlight, here, as he ever was last season. If anything, the CGI that went into creating Grodd was actually more impressive in this episode than it was last season - and, it was put to good use in creating a character that actually felt ground and 'real'. His plan, this time, is to try to recreate the conditions that created him in order to create others like him. It's a plan that is obviously motivated by a sense of loneliness - something which earns him some sympathy from Caitlin, even after he kidnaps her. It is a little strange, admittedly, to realise that the psychic gorilla is actually a more well-rounded character than some of the human villains we have seen on this show - but, that seems to be exactly what has happened.

This was also a great episode for Earth-2's Harrison Wells, as he finally seemed to make some progress toward convincing 'Team Flash' that he is not actually the same person who caused them so much trouble last season. Tom Cavanagh has been already done a very impressive job of making Earth-2's Harrison Wells feel like a distinctly different character to the one he played previously - though, here, we get another interesting take on that difference was Earth-2's Wells is required to impersonate Earth-1's Wells/Eobard Thawne in a plan to trick Grodd. It was fascinating to see the more abrasive Earth-2 Harrison Wells struggling to imitate the calm and charismatic character we knew last season - and, it was very impressive to see how well Tom Cavanagh was able to get that point across to the audience.

There was also some progress made on various romantic sub-plots in this episode. In another fairly conventional development, Patty was able to figure out that Barry had been lying to her about being sick - and, Barry was able to cover things up with another quick lie. At this point, it feels fairly obvious that Patty being kept out of the loop is going to be the cause of their eventual break-up. It's a shame, because they are a lot of fun when they are together - but, that just seems to be where it is going. Cisco's date with Kendra Saunders (Ciara Renee). Not only did it include numerous mentions of The Princess Bride (something I approve of, wholeheartedly), it also gave us our first glimpse of Kendra as Hawkgirl, thanks to Cisco's 'vibe' ability - further laying the foundation for Legends of Tomorrow.

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