The Flash: 5.15 King Shark vs. Gorilla Grodd
Taking another step back from the season’s overall story, with little development on the Cicada and Reverse Flash scenario, this episode still managed to excite and entertain with mindless, cheesy CGI action, while also tackling serious moral issues like consent. Despite being somewhat of a filler episode, it managed to fit in as part of the ongoing metacure arc. It was pleasant to see King Shark and Gorilla Grodd on screen again without it feeling forced or unnecessary.
On the subject of consent, the idea of somebody being forced to take the cure, had moments that were well written and thought provoking, but also felt unnecessarily rushed with muddled character logic. Barry’s on the spot decision to administer the cure to Killer Shark, to save Cisco from being squished, was an understandably forced situation. Yet it doesn’t take a genius to realise the other, less lethal, counterattacks Barry could have executed instead. The argument between Barry, Caitlin and Cisco over the intentional use of the cure was an intriguing discussion that fizzled away far too quickly.
Barry’s final decision to offer the cure to Cicada was laughable. Given the prior discussions of consent it was understandable but, seriously, a killer meta who’s made it abundantly clear he wants all other Meta’s dead, and hasn’t exactly been talkative, is hardly going to say, “okay, sure, why not, I’ll stop my crusade for you”. With such a powerful debate about who gets to decide what constitutes good or evil, and who gets to keep their powers, it didn’t receive the attention is should have. Hopefully this is something that’ll be better tackled in future episodes.
Despite any gripes, the big sell of two giant monstrous beasts going head to head paid off tenfold. Because we already had prior knowledge of Grodd and Killer Shark, with their introductions being in past seasons, this episode wasn’t bogged down at all with explanation or character development. Though it nicely touched on the human side of Killer Shark, bringing an element of sympathy to a past villain. However, the romance between Shay and Tanya was a bit much, the heartache component didn’t land, nor did I care, given that it’s likely to never be mentioned again.
The final battle sequence was electrifying, perfectly executed, and to top it all, there were pleasant nostalgic elements with Barry performing old tricks like the supersonic punch and lighting throw. Frankly it was all super cheesy, but I loved it. The visual effects, certainly for the budget level, were outstanding and the action sequences between Grodd and Killer Shark were fluent as they blended with the background very well. On the subject of fluency, both antagonists’ inclusion into this episode were great, well thought out, with explanations of how Grodd escaped ARGUS, and the same for Killer Shark. It all worked well in both tone and pace.
This episode welcomed back Jesse L. Martin’s Joe West, after his recovery from recent injuries, and it felt as though he never left, stepping back into the role of mentor and father with ease. Though the feed into Iris’ arc that was underdeveloped and short. The idea that she is suffering some kind of PTSD, after her run in with Cicada, is yet another avenue that The Flash has rarely looked into – the aftermath of scary and dangerous encounters – but much like the consent arc, it’s thought provoking and develops an interesting conversation, despite not lasting long enough.
King Shark vs. Gorilla Grodd continues The Flash’s run of entertaining and well-paced, if somewhat problematic episodes. The main attraction however, makes those flaws seem meaningless by comparison; proving that all the while the main plot is explosive, the B and C arcs won’t affect the overall enjoyment. To the writer’s credit, even the elements that could be considered lacklustre, the consent and Iris’ arc, were well written, just not tackled in as much depth as perhaps they could have been.