The Flash S03E13 “Attack On Gorilla City” REVIEW
Essential Plot Points:
- Jesse tells Team Flash that her dad has been captured and taken to Gorilla City on Earth-2.
- Aside from the fact that rescuing Wells would be the right thing to do no matter what other factors, Barry also justifies the mission by pointing out that they may be able to prevent another of those “headlines from the future” – the one that says, “City Still Recovering Following Gorilla Attack”.
- So Barry, Cisco, Caitlin and a rather overenthusiastic Julian – who gets his Indiana Jones cosplay out of mothballs for the occasion – travel to the famous rainforests of Canadian… erm, sorry, the African jungle in Earth-2 to rescue Wells.
- They leave Wally and Jesse behind to protect Central City. Luckily it seems to be a supervillain bank holiday, and they’re only bothered by a couple of hapless crooks who don’t seem to know that you need to be a metahuman to have any chance of a life of crime in Central City.
- They’re easily brought down, leaving Wally and Jesse enough time to have the least dramatic relationship crisis ever.
- But HR is in hand to act Cupid and Jesse ultimately decides to stay on Earth-1 with Wally. As if he’s not grinning like a loon enough already.
- On Earth-2 Team Flash is lured into a trap and taken to Gorilla City.
- Grodd tells Barry that he must face the leader of Gorilla City, Solivar, in an arena battle and defeat him, because otherwise Solivar is planning to invade Earth-1 by forcing Wells to open a portal. If Barry kills Solivar Grodd will become the new leader and prevent the invasion, because, you know, invading your own world just isn’t cricket, is it?
- Barry defeats Solivar in a quite awesome arena battle but refuses to kill him. He makes a plea for human/gorilla harmony, then is shot by a tranquilliser dart.
- When he wakes up, Grodd has assumed control of Gorilla City and the two-timing ape reveals that Solivar never had any invasion plans… but he does, using Cisco to open a portal.
- Through a ruse (Caitlin uses her powers to “freeze” Barry so it looks like he’s died, then he defrosts himself using superfast vibration) Team Flash escapes Gorilla City and portals home.
- But Grodd has a plan B – involving Gypsy!
- Caitlin and Julian go for another meal together but Caitlin warns Julian she’s not in a dating mood right now, what with that “might turn into a murderous supervillain” thing hanging over her.
- Barry and Iris get all soppy and he promises he’ll change the future for her. Again. Boy she takes a lot of re-assuring. Then again, impending death might do that to you.
The Flash knows how to do these “event” episodes. Basically it makes sure that the “event” the episode’s hanging off is worth the fuss. And so four-fifths of the reason to watch “Attack On Gorilla City” only takes up about three minutes of screen time – the speedster vs killer gorilla slap down.
But it’s three minutes that really deliver. Exciting, fun and visually unique. Let’s face it – we’ve never had an arena fight featuring a superhero and a sentient ape on TV before. Sure, the arena scenes in Thor: Ragnarok will no doubt make this look like a playground scrap, but The Flash got there first and it’s a blast. The fact that the Flash’s CG stunt double looks considerably less naff than normal proves how much care the FX team were putting into it.
So the rest of the episode is pretty much in service to that one scene, if you ignore the Wally/Jesse plotline. And let’s face it, it’s pretty easy to ignore the Wally/Jesse plotline. What happened again? We remember Wally grinning a lot and HR looking mischievous, but… erm, maybe it’ll come back to us next week when we realise Jesse’s still hanging around.
The build-up to the fight has some fun moments, especially from Julian who’s back in adorable dork mode rather than annoying geek mode. It suits him as snugly as his Indy Jones Fedora. He also brings the best out in Caitlin. We’re sure some Cisco fans will be disgruntled that he seems to be sacrificing some screen time to this English interloper – and, to be fair, they have a point – but we’re sure there’s some more meaty stuff in store for the loveable techy soon.
There are a few problems which we’ve detailed below, but they don’t really drag the episode down. Perhaps, structurally, the episode peaks too soon, because after the fight, the escape feels like an anticlimax. But then again, this is the first of a two-parter so the end of the episode isn’t technically the climax.
As for this ongoing belief that Team Flash needs to change every one of those future headlines, well, to be honest the logic behind that still seem deeply suspect to us. But hey, the show’s going for it to we’ll shut up and go along for the ride.
After all, that cliffhanger left us gagging for more gorilla warfare.
- The arena battle lives up to the hype. Okay, it’s not movie quality, but we rarely get FX scenes this ambitious, this much fun, this long and this well designed and choreographed on TV. And there’s considerably less evidence of bendy-toy CG Flash than usual.
- “I’m sorry I took the smile from your face.” This is the single most sensitive thing HR has ever said.
- “Where… where are you going? Are you going to planet of the apes?”
“No, it’s just a city of them, okay? Will you cover for me?”
“Are you going to planet of the apes?” Julian’s wide-eyed wonder is adorable throughout the episode and his Indiana Jones cosplay (and the reaction it gets from everybody else) is very amusing. Will someone please force Tom Felton to sign a deal locking him into the show?
- The Wally/Jesse plot wasn’t exactly bad, but neither was it particularly interesting. Only HR’s gleeful meddling stopped it being completely unmemorable. Not so much a B-plot as a Zzzzzzzz-plot.
- The ruse to get Barry out of the power dampening cell is a hokey piece of plotting in two main ways. First, how the hell could they know Grodd would drag the “dead” Barry out of cell? And secondly, how come Caitlin’s powers weren’t dampened as well?
- “Earth-2 doesn’t have global warming,” really, really, really does not excuse the reason why Africa on Earth-2 looks suspiciously like Canada on Earth-1.
- “All my days, this is quite the reversal of our fortune.”
“Reversal…” Cisco’s “penny drops” moment is CLUNKY AS HELL!!!
- No matter how you try to justify it in the script, having Grodd talk through human characters still looks suspiciously like a cost-cutting measure.
And The Random:
- Solovar, the leader of Gorilla City, was first introduced into the DC comics universe in The Flash Vol 1 #106 (1959). He was actually a good(ish) guy and an ally of the Flash for most of the time, while Grodd was his bitter enemy. In the Flashpoint comic event (2011) Grodd did indeed manage to overthrow Solovar and become the leader of Gorilla City.
- Julian tells the CCPD that he and Barry are at, “a morphology conference up in Bludhaven”. Bludhaven does exist in the DC comicverse. Introduced in Nightwing Vol 2 #1 (1996), it was Nightwing and Batgirl’s base of operations for a little while. During Infinite Crisis (2005-6) it was placed under quarantine after the Secret Society of Super-Villains dropped a quasi-sentient vat of deadly radioactive chemicals (known as “Chemo”) onto the city. Bet that didn’t do its morphology any good.
- Julian gets very excited about a possible visit to the “planet of the apes” – the actor who plays him, Tom Fenton, also appeared in Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes (2011).
- Cisco tells Grodd, “We already did your damned dirty work for you,” which is riffing off the famous line in the original Planet Of The Apes (1968), “Take your stinking paws off me, you damned dirty ape!”
- Cisco also says, “Welcome to the jungle, baby”, which must be a reference to the Guns’n’Roses track, “Welcome To The Jungle” (1987) which rather unfortunately contains the lyric, “You’re in the jungle, baby, you’re gonna die…”
- So Grodd lured Wells to Gorilla City by sending him an encrypted message that, when solved, was an invitation… that sounds very similar to the plan Wells came up with to find his own replacement as STAR Labs earlier in the season. Is this a deliberate parallel?
- Regular Arrowverse director Dermott Downs is credited as Dermott Daniel Downs on this episode for some reason.
- At one point in the episode Barry drags four people along with him (Wells, Cisco, Caitlin and Julian) at superspeed, all of them holding hands, by the looks of it – so how come Barry’s super speed doesn’t simply pull all their arms out of their sockets? We don’t think it’s ever been been mentioned on the show before, but Barry has a speed aura that he can extend around other people that also protects them from the forces of superspeed that could kill or injure them.
- What do you think HR was miming in Charades, then? Frozen? Or Shivers?
Review by Dave Golder