‘The Flash’ 3.14 “Attack on Central City” Review – Love is in the Air

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Well, this episode took an unexpected (but not unsurprising) turn. After last week’s lackluster episode, “The Flash” was back in better shape this week with “Attack on Central City.” Before I get into the topics of discussion, I want to take a moment to say that this show found a way to stage a big gorilla attack on the small screen in a way that seemed threatening and didn’t cause excessive damage to the city or its people. In the superhero genre (I know that it’s really because of the smaller budget, but still), that’s really rare.

Photo: Bettina Strauss/The CW

Photo: Bettina Strauss/The CW

I’m not going to waste too much energy on the plot details because they’re fairly simple and there was too much going on in this episode character-wise to not spend my entire review breaking it down. Basically, Grodd hits up Earth-1 by using Gypsy to open a breach. Grodd wants to nuke the city, but is thwarted by The Flash. His backup plan is to simply attack Central City with his legion of gorillas. Team Flash has their own surprise, though and Cisco and Gypsy find Solovar, bring him back with them from Earth-2, and have him take down Grodd. Solovar spares Grodd’s life and heads back to Earth-2 while Grodd lands himself in the custody of A.R.G.U.S.

Now, let’s get to the good character stuff. This is what “Attack on Gorilla City” lacked and what “Attack on Central City” had in spades. This is what makes the show work. Barry is so ecstatic that they supposedly beat Grodd. But as soon as they’re alerted to his return, Barry begins thinking of another way he can save Iris and the city. He believes killing Grodd will finally end all of this. “Oliver has killed and he’s still considered a hero,” he tells Iris. She, on the other hand, is absolutely against this idea because it not only goes against everything that makes Barry Allen a hero (and really, using Oliver as the standard is a horrible idea), but she also doesn’t think her life is worth him giving up his humanity. It’s telling, that only in his desperation is Barry even flirting with the idea of taking a life. It could be argued that the idea makes sense, but it would absolutely negate what makes “The Flash, The Flash.”

“Your humanity, showing mercy. That is what separates you from everyone else. That’s the reason that everyone looks up to you. Don’t compromise who you are, ever. Losing what makes The Flash, The Flash… my life isn’t worth it if that’s the cause to save me.”

Photo: Bettina Strauss/The CW

Photo: Bettina Strauss/The CW

He spared Solovar’s life and has shown mercy time and time again. It makes me wonder how far he’ll go in his desperation to save Iris. Will he give up his humanity to save her? After all, Iris is part of what makes him The Flash and according to Barry, “there is no Flash without Iris West.” He also didn’t look too convinced that giving up his humanity would be such a bad thing if it meant her life would be saved. I believe he’ll do something to try and stop her death from happening and that it won’t be at the cost of others, but rather himself. The episode dropped several lines about old formulas not working and how they have to think of new ways in order to defeat Grodd. So, this season definitely looks to be coming full circle and perhaps in Barry finding another way to defeat Savitar, he’ll end up acting selflessly instead of selfishly like he did at the end of last season.

The show has only ever tested the waters of full-on darkness and this conversation raised some interesting ethical questions, but reiterated that The Flash is a different kind of hero. Barry, to my knowledge, hasn’t openly wanted to kill anyone on purpose before. He may have struggled with something close with Reverse-Flash, but he’s never openly discussed it the way he does here with Iris. He confides in her about what he’s thinking and Iris proves once again that she anchors Barry. And it’s just like Harry says later, once you make that decision to kill, it’ll become easier for it to happen again and again. I appreciate that “The Flash” is actually discussing these things (just like the discussion that was had in “Borrowing Problems from the Future” about letting the robber go if it meant saving Iris) and not sweeping them under a convenient rug. 

westallen the flashThe episode was a couple of weeks behind on the holiday, but Valentine’s Day never looked so good on “The Flash.” By “making the future our future,” Barry and Iris will be taking ownership of their future. They’re essentially saying that, although the threat is there, they’re not going to be scared of the future and they’re not going to stop living their lives. There’s no time like the present, after all, and if the future has taught them anything, it’s that they need to seize the day. Barry and Iris have known each other for nearly twenty years and this is just the icing on the cake of a long and deep history. The fake-out “friend” proposal is just a reminder that they’ve always been friends first and that their romantic relationship is built on that. The marriage proposal is one that took me by surprise. Not because I never expected Barry to propose (they’ve been dropping hints since the first season), but that it came midway through season three rather than at the end of it. The fact that he also told such a wonderful story about the history of the ring, which is something that’s been passed down in his family for three generations, was a nice touch and spoke volumes about what Iris means to Barry. The proposal wasn’t over-the-top and felt natural in its intimacy and beauty; it was just so fitting and timely in an episode that had an over-arching theme about making choices. Barry and Iris have chosen each other and it made the proposal that much more lovely.

I’ve been really busy, recently, with trying to avoid the future, and I forgot that there’s always another way…making the future. Our future. My great-grandfather gave this to my great-grandmother after WWII. He wanted to propose before he was shipped out, but he didn’t have the money and he bought this three years later when he was stationed in London. Fought his way across France, all the way to Berlin, with this ring around his neck with his dog tags. And when he got back she was waiting for him on the dock of the Brooklyn Navy Yard, he proposed on the spot. After my mom passed away, Joe held on to this for me. Until tonight. Iris West, will you marry me?

Photo: Katie Yu/The CW

Photo: Katie Yu/The CW

Elsewhere in the episode, love is also in the air for Cisco, as he spends the majority of his time trying to convince Gypsy to help them with Grodd. She doesn’t think it’s a priority and was in the middle of a mission before being brainwashed by the gorilla, but eventually Cisco, through the power of persuasion and swagger, convinces her to join the fight. I am really enjoying their interactions. Cisco’s constant banter and flirting is too much fun. He needs some love in his life. It’s been too long. Although it’s only been two episodes, I really hope Jessica Camacho sticks around as a recurring character. She’s a great and memorable addition to “The Flash” this season. Also, we need more women on the show. 

Wally and Jesse contend with telling Harry that she’ll be sticking around Earth-1 and not going back home. He lies to Wally and tells him that he’s dying in order to get Jesse to change her mind. Honestly, I felt bad at first. I thought, maybe this is how they’re getting rid of Harry on the show. But after it’s found out that he lied about not having much time to live, it was hard not to be annoyed. It was manipulation so that he could control the situation and I’m glad Jesse called him out on it. I still don’t think her decision to move to Earth-1 permanently is wise. Having not really gotten the chance to date, it feels far too rushed for something so big. Wally’s face after he finds out he and Jesse might have to find someplace to live (or was it that he had to find her someplace to live?) spoke volumes. They’re not ready for this type of commitment and their relationship needs more development before taking that next step. 

The gorilla attack wasn’t very large scale (probably due to budgetary constraints), but the threat was certainly felt throughout the episode even though Grodd and his followers didn’t make very many appearances. Bringing Solovar back was clever and the smackdown between him and Grodd was pretty fun to watch. Barry even convinced Solovar to show Grodd mercy, which he did. Not sure how long A.R.G.U.S. will hold him, though. H.R. has grown on me (so long as he doesn’t have way too much screen time) and the fact that Harry was extremely mean to him the entire time didn’t sit well. I like and have missed Harry, but there’s no need to constantly belittle someone to their face. It’s not a good look.

Photo: Katie Yu/The CW

Photo: Katie Yu/The CW

Ultimately, “Attack on Central City” was tame in its gorilla warfare, but claimed its audience with a more emotional attack. Grodd and Solovar were great here and the episode made good use of them for the small amount of time they were onscreen. “The Flash” thankfully got back to focusing on its characters and brought up some fascinating and thoughtful conversation regarding heroism, humanity, and how there’s always another way besides killing. It was light with touches of dark and this episode, more than anything, felt like a turning point, especially since we know Savitar will be wreaking havoc once more. The conclusion to the two-part Grodd arc proved to be a much stronger episode than last week’s underwhelming one. It brought many things into perspective and allowed the characters to interact in a way that provided more depth. It also opened up new possible theories for the way the season finale might end. Having the episode end with a proposal cliffhanger (but not really a cliffhanger, since we already know what the answer is) and Wally seeing Savitar only made the episode more interesting and pivotal.

Next week, Savitar returns!

Random Thoughts: 

  • “Don’t compromise who you are, ever.” I feel like I need to put this on a T-shirt or a mug. It’s a great quote.
  • “Where is your lady friend, I’d like to–” “You wouldn’t like to do anything.” Joe putting a stop to H.R.’s thirst for Cecile.
  • Caitlin and Julian are just friends? Was she trying to convince herself or Cisco?
  • “We’re all changing the future. One headline at a time.” This sounds like an ad for something.
  • “I don’t know what the future will bring, but I hope everyday is with you.” This show manages to make these kinds of lines work so damn well.
  • “Barry Allen, will you be my friend?” “Always.” His face during this scene. It sounded like she was going to propose! Also, Earth-19 has Friend’s Day instead of Valentine’s Day. Little random tidbits about H.R.’s earth that you probably didn’t think you’d ever know, but do.
  • Harry spit into H.R.’s coffee. He crossed a line. We all know how precious coffee is to H.R.
  • This show pointed a gun at Joe West’s head. How dare they?
  • Tom Cavanagh makes both Wells’ so distinguishable, it’s crazy.
  • You mean to tell me that Joe has been holding onto that engagement ring since Barry was eleven? Which means Barry had to go get it from him and Joe knew he was going to propose. I have a lot of feelings about this.
  • Jesse and Wally looked so scared of Harry at first. It was comical.
  • “Don’t front. I know you’re into me.” “Even if I was, you couldn’t handle me.” “I’m gonna marry that woman.”
  • That kiss between Cisco and Gypsy was hot. I approve of this potential relationship.
  • “Y’all want to put a bunch of magnets against my skull to look into the mind of psychotic, murderous ape?” “Yeah.” “Fine.” I love Joe. And his face as they were attaching the wires was hysterical.
  • That proposal left me pretty speechless. I thought it was just Barry being sweet and ready to wax poetic like he usually does on a normal day. I. Was. Wrong. He even got a new suit! Their theme music in the background! The setting! They are too precious.
  • Barry had plans this episode. How to defeat Grodd was one of them. Barry is a smart guy. The show forgets this sometimes.
  • Julian went to take care of family business in London. Really though, he went to make sure Lucius Malfoy wasn’t tinkering with the Dark Arts.
80%
80%
Great

The conclusion to the two-part Grodd arc proved to be a much stronger episode than last week's underwhelming one. It brought many things into perspective and allowed the characters to interact in a way that provided more depth.

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About Author

Mae is a Washington, DC-based film critic, entertainment journalist and Weekend Editor at Heroic Hollywood. A member of the Washington, DC Area Film Critics Association (WAFCA), she's a geek who loves discussing movies and TV. She is also a voting member of the Black Reel Awards. If she's not at the movies, she's catching up on her superhero TV-watching, usually with a glass of wine in hand.

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