Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Betray The Ape: "Gorilla Warfare" Comes To The Flash!

The Good: Special effects, Performances, Plot progression
The Bad: Character development is sacrificed for plot expediency
The Basics: Barry Allen has two dads when Central City's heroes are engaged in "Gorilla Warfare!"

Last seasons fans of The Flash were pretty thrilled when Gorilla Grodd made an appearance on the show. After a pretty mediocre episode last week, Grodd pops back up in "Gorilla Warfare." When Grodd was last seen at the end of "Grodd Lives" (reviewed here!), the telepathic gorilla was seen leaping up and off a building in Central City. "Gorilla Warfare" occurs about eight months after Grodd was last seen.

"Gorilla Warfare" follows "Enter Zoom" (reviewed here!) by, appropriately enough, a week and it is absolutely impossible to discuss "Gorilla Warfare" without discussing where "Enter Zoom" ended. In order to understand the character journey Barry Allen makes in "Gorilla Warfare," one needs to know that he lost his speed (some of it) from a vicious attack by Zoom and his back was broken. In fact, the kind of brutality that came in the climax of "Enter Zoom" is more familiar to fans of Batman than The Flash. "Gorilla Warfare" starts a week after Barry Allen was nearly paralyzed and could no longer feel his feet.

Barry Allen is relearning to walk after his back is mostly-healed when Wells returns and demands to use the speed cannon to return to Earth-2. Dr. Snow refuses to let him go, insisting he help stop Zoom on our Earth before he returns home. As Cisco goes off for a date with Kendra Saunders, Patty Spivot calls Barry and he lies to her about his current physical state. Cisco's date with Saunders is cut short when he gets a vibe of her as Hawkgirl and does not understand what it means. The next morning, Spivot and West investigate the death of a pharmaceutical scientist, who was killed the night before by the massive telepathic gorilla, Grodd, who wanted material from the medical company at which the doctor worked.

While Barry struggles with how Zoom undermined his heroic status in front of everyone in Central City, Dr. Snow is kidnapped by Grodd and taken to his bell tower. There, Grodd tries to get Snow to make more psychic, super-intelligent apes. To help Barry regain his confidence, Iris calls Henry back to Central City and together, the team works to save Dr. Snow and defeat Grodd.

The unfortunate aspect of "Gorilla Warfare" is how the characters are once again nowhere near as smart as they ought to be. First, for characters who still do not seem to trust Harrison Wells all that much, it seems utterly ridiculous that none of the characters bother to ask Wells where he is sending Grodd until after the fact. But, more than that, the characters get Grodd to a place where he trusts Dr. Snow and rather than explain to him where they are sending him, the completely betray that trust.

Plus, for a group of super-smart scientists, none of the S.T.A.R. Labs team is particularly bright in their dealings with Grodd in "Gorilla Warfare." I'm not talking about the fact that during their ultimate showdown with Grodd, none of the team is seen using their telepathy-cancelling earbuds, but rather how short-sighted the group is. Wells pitches to Dr. Snow that they close all of the breaches, but the one under S.T.A.R. Labs and then lure Zoom into a trap. The details of the trap are not yet developed, but it seems like the best possible ally against a psychotic speedster would be a massive telepathic gorilla who could get the speedster to stop in place the moment he appeared. If the S.T.A.R. Labs team tried to enlist Grodd's help in stopping Zoom, they would have had a powerful ally. Instead, they create a ridiculously powerful and angry enemy.

That said, "Gorilla Warfare" is not devoid of positive character moments. Joe West wrestles with seeing Barry with Henry, which leads to a significant look that will no doubt lead to Iris tracking down her (at least half) brother Wally. Jesse L. Martin plays the scenes with a wonderful sad, contemplative quality that never seems melodramatic.

At the other end of the spectrum, Grant Gustin is given a wide performance range in "Gorilla Warfare." When The Flash sees Wells in the Reverse Flash outfit, Gustin plays anger incredibly well. Gustin plays uncertainty well in "Gorilla Warfare" and he manages to play it with a different quality from last year's "the Flash loses his powers" episode. While John Wesley Shipp is given the most compelling dialogue in the episode as Henry explaining his sense of loss to Barry, Gustin's reactions as Barry land the moments and make them seem like something other than an actor delivering a monologue to another - it's a wonderful embodiment of a son understanding the wisdom his father is imparting.

The special effects in "Gorilla Warfare" are fantastic. In fact, the CG for Grodd is so impressive that it seems like the producers completely missed an opportunity in that there is no battle between Grodd and King Shark in the series. And while Grodd's effects are awesome, they are almost overshadowed by how incredible Caitlin Snow's hair is throughout the episode! The only issue that comes up with the special effects in "Gorilla Warfare" are that they undermine Cisco. When Cisco vibes with Kendra Saunders, the lens flares make it so that all that can truly be seen are her ass and breasts. Why, then, Cisco starts wondering about a Hawk-man is utterly incomprehensible.

Even so, "Gorilla Warfare" is solidly entertaining and it moves at a lightning pace, making it very easy to enjoy, even if it is not the most stellar hour in retrospect.

For the other works with David Sobolov, check out my reviews of:
"Fallout" - The Flash
Lego Marvel Super Heroes
Star Trek Into Darkness
"In A Mirror, Darkly, Part II" - Star Trek: Enterprise


For other television season and episode reviews, please visit my Television Review Index Page for an organized listing!

© 2015 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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