Tuesday, February 28, 2017

"Attack On Central City" Is A Middling Assault On The Flash.

The Good: Moments of character, Decent performances
The Bad: Moments of character, Special effects, No big character moments
The Basics: The Flash attempts an "Attack On Central City" with a lot of delay and character distractions.

Despite having a generally serialized plotline, The Flash has surprisingly few two-part episodes. "Attack On Central City," however, is a second part of a rather overt two-parter. Gorilla Grodd is returning to Earth-1 and his "Attack On Central City" is not only his return, but a part of the larger serialized arc. Barry Allen witnessed a news article referencing the gorilla attack on Central City as part of his seeing Iris being killed by Savitar. As a result, "Attack On Central City" was somewhat more necessary than it was audacious and/or surprising.

"Attack On Gorilla City" (reviewed here!) preceded "Attack On Central City" and is a pretty necessary set-up episode to the new episode. "Attack On Central City" resolves the Gorilla Grodd attack that was initiated by Gypsy from the episode "Dead Or Alive" (reviewed here!) at the very end of "Attack On Gorilla City."

At six-thirty on Valentine's Day, Barry makes Iris a big breakfast, while at S.T.A.R. Labs, Harrison Wells (from Earth-2) and H.R. run into one another and Harry shows nothing but disdain for H.R. After H.R. attempts to celebrate Friend's Day with the S.T.A.R. Labs team, Jesse tells Harrison Wells that she is staying on Earth-1 with Wally. They are shocked when Harry is all right with the move. Gypsy suddenly appears from Earth-2 and incapacitates Cisco and Barry before Harry manages to stop her. When Gypsy is contained, she confesses that she was just on Earth-2 and the S.T.A.R. Labs team braces for an attack from Grodd.

Harry and Wally modify Cisco's gear to allow him to better vibe the future to try to prevent Grodd's attack. Arriving at the intersection Cisco sees, Grodd takes control of Joe West to distract The Flash. Grodd attacks a military officer and the S.T.A.R. Labs team, having figured out that Grodd's telepathic influence goes both ways, quickly adapts technology to allow Joe West to show the team who Grodd is currently going after. The General Grodd has under his sway goes to Fort Reynolds to get access to nuclear weapons. As the gorilla army advances on Central City, Cisco attempts to enlist Gypsy to save his city.

Tom Cavanaugh starts "Attack On Central City" by stealing the show by playing opposite himself. The interaction between Harry and H.R. is funny, uncomfortable, and truly impressive performance on the front of Tom Cavanaugh. Cavanaugh embodies a happy version of Wells surprisingly well and playing the opposite in the same scene is incredibly well executed. "Attack On Central City" does a good job of allowing Tom Cavanaugh to perform in such a way that even when the camera only focuses on his face, it is clear which of the two characters he is playing.

"Attack On Central City" returns Gypsy to The Flash and her role is fine, but it lacks some impact. Gypsy is a cool character, but she has not been established long enough for viewers to truly care about her and her arc with Cisco. Jessica Camacho plays Gypsy well, but the interactions between Gypsy and Cisco are played with a seriousness that is hard to take seriously given how little screentime Cisco has had.

Similarly odd is how everyone in "Attack On Central City" treats Harrison Wells (from Earth-2). Wells was not characterized in the second season as an overly angry person. Wells was frustrated and desperate throughout the second season, he was not angry in the way the characters in "Attack On Central City" allude to him; he wasn't constantly throwing things around or yelling at people.

"Attack On Central City" starts to push Barry Allen down a classic heroic dilemma as Barry contemplates killing Grodd. Barry Allen is talked into maintaining his values by Iris, which is refreshing and frustrating. The Flash in this television incarnation is a lawful good character, much like one expects of Superman. Iris and Harrison Wells give compelling reasons for Barry not killing, but Barry makes an excellent point as he realizes that only killing Grodd will keep him down.

"Attack On Central City" features an unfortunately obvious subplot in which Harrison attempts to manipulate Wally into keeping Jesse on his Earth. The effort to stop Grodd from launching nuclear missiles also is weakened by a plan that is unnecessarily complicated. The Flash is standing right next to the missile launchers that Grodd is preparing to use and he opts to try to pick a number to try to save Central City. The Flash has the power to phase through the missile launcher . . . or physically run up the launcher and pull out the exposed missiles(!). Simple problem, simple solution; "Attack On Central City" makes it complicated.

The S.T.A.R. Labs team is similarly stupid in that three Speedsters are sent against a telepathic gorilla and none of them are wearing an anti-psychic helmet . . . which Cisco developed after the first Grodd attack. Come to think of it, the gorillas are wearing armor; why don't Barry and Wally simply throw lightning at (at least) Grodd.

"Attack On Central City" features pretty middling special effects for the climactic battle, but the effects are par for the episode's course. "Attack On Central City" has a few moments, but is a very middle-of-the-road episode.

For other works with Gorilla Grodd, please be sure to visit my reviews of:
"Gorilla Warfare"
"Grodd Lives"
The Flash: Volume 3 - Gorilla Warfare By Francis Manapul

[Knowing that single episodes are an inefficient way to get episodes, it's worth looking into The Flash - The Complete Third Season on DVD or Blu-Ray, which is also a better economical choice than buying individual episodes. Read my review of the third season here!


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

© 2017 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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