Season One, Episode Twenty-One — “Grodd Lives”
By Jarrod Jones. You know that things are heading in the right direction when an episode of The Flash kicks off with Iris West telling some truth. Now that Det. Joe’s favorite daughter knows the true identity of the Flash, it’s time for some serious facetime with shoulda-been boyfriend Barry Allen. But that emotional minefield will have to be navigated with haste, because Gorilla Grodd has made his return, and he’s brought General Wade Eiling with him. We’re two episodes away from the finale, and from what I can see, it’s going to be a real humdinger. (Yeah, I said “humdinger”.)
WHAT WORKED: We’ve finally come to a reckoning between Iris West (Candice Patton), Barry Allen (Grant Gustin) and Det. Joe West (Jesse L. Martin), and it’s about as harrowing and cathartic as anything The Flash has tossed our way yet. That’s the best part of this show; each character has the capacity to tug at the ol’ heartstrings when the need arises, and bridging the gap between Det. Joe, his daughter, and his son was a prime example of that.
Having Iris in the know means one pretty awesome thing: team-up! That’s right, Iris West is in S.T.A.R. Labs, staring pensively at computer screens alongside Caitlin Snow (Danielle Panabaker) and Cisco Ramon (Carlos Valdes).
Grodd has been a tease on The Flash since day one, and to finally see the Primary Primate in all his fuzzy glory was exactly the shot in the arm this series needed. It’s totally fine that Grodd was only a pawn in Eobard Thawne’s (Tom Cavanagh) heinous schemes this go-around. We know that he’s evolving into the hyper-genius (and completely pissed off) DC Comics supervillain. And nestled in the reverent cradle that is The Flash, we know that his return will be one to absolutely dread.
WHAT DIDN’T: I have never had any doubt that Candice Patton has the chops to be the best part of The Flash, but ever since the mid-season finale, the show has been scrambling to find something for her to do. That’s a frustrating thing, especially when you consider that 1) she is an intrepid reporter operating in a city filling to the brim with metahumans, and 2) Iris West has always been at the epicenter of Barry Allen’s heart. This one should be a no-brainer. There’s no reason why it should have taken twenty-one episodes to get Patton to a position with passion, strength, and above all else, agency, but — especially after watching Erin Richard’s Barbara Kean deteriorate into a disgusting mockery over a whole season of Gotham — “better late than never” is not good enough.
It’s bad enough keeping Iris and Caitlin safe and sound at S.T.A.R. while the men go off to encounter Grodd, but having them lament over their superhero would-be boyfriends (Gustin and Firestorm’s Stephen Amell) when there’s a gorilla on the rampage only adds insult to injury.
Eddie Thawne (Rick Cosnett) has a heart-to-heart with his great^10 grandson, Eobard, but really it’s a downbeat to what’s happening in Iris’ world. Paradoxically, with Iris stepping up her role, and Joe at the mercy of Gorilla Grodd, the Reverse-Flash somehow became the least interesting part of the show. I know that’s not going to last, but when I’m taking notes like “this needs to hurry up” when Tom Cavanagh is on the screen, there’s a problem.
“Did you ever stop to think that looping me in would keep me safe? That if I knew what was going on out there, I could prepare for it? Maybe I could have helped you and Barry put the bad guys away instead of being in the way.” – Iris West, truth telling.
“Oooh. Grodd is a gorilla.” – Barry.
“Grodd… HATE… banana.” – Grodd.
BEST MOMENT: Grodd vs. The Flash. Call me a Silver Age sentimentalist, but watching the Scarlet Speedster take on his mind-controlling nemesis in a live-action format is this fanboy’s dream come true. Barry may have outwitted the ape this go-around, but the next time is going to be a completely different story. For the uninitiated, Grodd is absolutely the villain you don’t want to see popping up in Barry’s world. The damage he’ll be capable of one day is going to be paramount.
EPISODE’S MVP: Iris Allen. Candice Patton is far more than a dazzling smile, and this episode clinched it. Whether she’s taking Barry and her father to task for keeping the biggest secret of all from her, or she’s sliding in comfortably into the emotional void left behind by the long-gone Dr. Wells, Patton was what kept this episode aloft. I only hope the show keeps it this way.
– Iris might be hip to the truth, but someone needs to tell her we’re calling the Man in Yellow the Reverse-Flash.
– Eling in that suit had a real Deathstroke thing going on.
– Thawne sports a Flash ring, which is infinitely cool.
– Cisco got to talk to Diggle’s wife, Lyla (offscreen, of course), to get some serious A.R.G.U.S. intel on General Wade Eiling (Clancy Brown). It’s nice to see the cohesion of the DC Television Universe working so well.
– “You and your movies.” – Joe to Cisco, like he didn’t just drop a Goldfinger reference two minutes ago.