The Flash: 1.21 Grodd Lives
After weeks of teasing, Grodd finally made his entrance while Iris and Barry had that 'talk' as all his secrets came spilling out. Surprisingly it was the latter that pushed the ongoing story forward and while Flash vs Grodd was a lot of fun it felt like the first round; a tease for more villainous Gorilla action in season two. In the words of Joe West this week, it was a distraction from the bigger war against Harrison Wells.
Beginning with a heavily armed assault on a gold reserve truck, we were soon reintroduced to General Wade Eiling, now under the mind control of Grodd. The scene where Barry, Caitlin and Cisco interrogated the general in the Star Labs cell was very well done. Eiling referring to Barry as 'bad' and Caitlin as 'good' soon led to the discovery that the general was being manipulated by a Star Labs / military experiment gone wrong.
Grodd was a great villain, utterly ridiculous in concept and yet so brilliantly done for the show. There was a great deal of menace and suspense as Cisco, Barry and Joe headed into the sewers to confront the gorilla. The first battle with Grodd was very atmospheric - the gorilla just at the edge of the shot - as the webcams went dead and Joe found himself a prisoner of the telepathic Grodd.
The villain's ability to subdue Barry with traumatic memories of his experimentation made him a mental threat as much as a physical one. Of course the fact that Grodd was a giant silverback was used to full effect. Barry's failed attempt to use the supersonic punch in the final battle led to him being flung about the sewer like a rag doll. It was certainly one of Barry's toughest fights yet, with the ridiculous-looking mind control blocking device serving little purpose as he was thrown onto a subway line and almost killed by an oncoming train.
Conveniently - as so often happens in these scenarios - it was the love of his life, newly discovering his secret - that was critical to his survival. Iris proved her worth in her first 'mission', using her voice to force Barry to break free of Grodd's mind control and fight back. She also got to use her investigative skills to good effect, using reports of a series of monster attacks in the sewers to help Barry and the team discover Grodd's lair in the first place.
I have said before that it is the strength of Candice Patton's performance that has stopped Iris from becoming an irritating, whining presence on the show. This week she was full of rage as she learned that not only Barry but her father had kept his identity secret from her. She might not be able to bring as much to that table as Cisco and Caitlin, but she was certainly justified in getting angry at everyone for trying to protect her to lie to her. If anything it was Barry's "you've been keeping secrets from me" in reference to her real feelings for him that came across as a little whiny.
The rest of the episode was taken up by Harrison Well's going into full villainy as he tormented his ancestor - the captured Eddie - in his new secret lair. The one thing I never got, except maybe from Iris, was the urgency in rescuing Eddie and confronting Wells. Everyone just assumed that Eddie would be alive (without knowing that he was related to Eobard Thawne) and they would rescue him in due course. I also didn't buy the idea Grodd was a distraction created by Wells. There was no mention from the chief villain of the gorilla or what was really happening at Star Labs. Grodd was more a coincidental threat rather than a planned one - as great as he was.
Still, there are two more episodes left and as a holding episode before the dramatic finale, it was certainly worthy. The last key character learned the Flash's identity, and Grodd was a joy to behold; hopefully we'll be seeing more from him next year. I loved the final King Kong homage, climbing the skyscraper and leaping at the camera. That alone makes me excited for what we might get in season two.