The Flash: 6.13 Grodd Friended Me
Last week’s instalment was arguably the best of this season so far, introducing two contagious new characters, one of which is likely to be the main villain for the remainder of this season, although it still remains to be seen. The second, a hilarious, kick-ass female who along with Ralph brought a new energy back to the show. It felt like The Flash was moving forward; it certainly created good ground work to build upon. Why then, the decision was made to practically side-line it all for a Gorilla Grodd centric episode is a mystery.
It was inevitable that the universal changes made by the events of Crisis on Infinite Earths would, at some point affect the psyche of those in the know, but making that the focal point of this episode with Barry struggling with so many differences, at this stage felt a little too late to be bringing up in a big way. This episode was also used to bring back Chester (the guy who accidentally created a black hole in the opening episode) who frankly I had completely forgotten about. It’s clear he is supposed to fill the comedic hole left by Cisco, but it fell flat in terms of narrative.
The big problem with episodes including Grodd is the effects, which in this instance were clunky and unfinished. Understandably the budget was spent on the crossover event, but it just begs the question of why not capitalise on the success of A Girl Named Sue more. On a positive note the interaction between Grodd and Barry was still entertaining to watch, especially the last sequence which sees the two merge in order to fight Solovar. The story was equally engaging if a little simple; let’s face it, a villain wanting to reform and change their ways is hardly ground breaking, yet how it was written to follow the events of Crisis was a nice touch.
While addressing the issues of Crisis now, seems a tad odd, there was something almost heart breaking about the idea that Barry couldn’t find his parents graves, and his desire to hang onto a world he no longer has. It was almost symbolic that Barry struggled with the idea that Grodd just wants to live a peaceful life on Gorilla Island while facing his own demons, giving him something physically and metaphorically huge to take his anger out on, making this episode just as much about Grodd’s emotions as well as Barry’s. It was certainly bizarre, but the writing was at least thoughtful.
Aside from Barry’s Crisis driven PTSD and a small scene involving Eva and the real Iris (more on that shortly), the remainder of the episode was taken over by forcing Kamilla and Chester into situations that give them purpose and replace busier, less used and more desirable team members. Their characters are fine, and the performances were adequate, but is there space at this stage for anybody new, or should the writers focus on the more important people i.e. Sue Dearbon and Eva McCulloch. Nash Wells’ arc too, continues to bore; it’s being dragged out with no sign of an end, or meaning. Is the Reverse Flash returning…at this point does it matter?
Thankfully, the one thing Grodd Friended Me did well, was keeping the mirror dimension story going, however brief it might have been. It was a triumph in terms of reveal, and how it managed to show so much with so little while simultaneously keeping anything unanswered mysterious, without the usual irritation that follows. The character development with Eva was fantastic. Seriously, she was willing to scold her skin so she could continue to manipulate the real Iris, what is this woman capable of? I can’t wait to see this story develop.
As disheartening as this episode was, the more important question is did it at least work, and was it enjoyable…yes. It was satisfactory in terms of entertainment value. While the special effects were below par, the short-lived fight sequences were engaging and fun and Barry’s battle with the every growing change to his world added some nice heart-warming tension. With any luck next time will get the back end of this season well and truly on track and deliver more on the excitement that was there last week.