‘The Flash’ 3.13 “Attack on Gorilla City” Review – Fear Me

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In a 23-episode season, it’s hard to keep up a continuously great pace throughout. There are bound to be a couple of duds. 3B of “The Flash” has been strong so far, but “Attack on Gorilla City” was its first major slip-up. Sure, it still tied in with the saving Iris storyline, but the entire episode–from the venture to Earth-2’s Africa (which isn’t a country, come on, guys), to Grodd, and even Barry’s fight with Solovar–was underwhelming, not very well-paced, and kind of lackluster. We barely got any real development and it got boring watching Team Flash sit around in cages for most of the episode.

Photo: Jack Rowand/The CW

Photo: Jack Rowand/The CW

In summary, Grodd kidnapped Earth-2 Wells to lure Team Flash to Gorilla City. Initially, it was thought to be because Solovar, king of the apes, who wanted to invade E1 and Grodd wanted to stop him. Barry ends up challenging Solovar to a battle in the arena where the rules are “kill or be killed.” Barry wins, but refuses to kill Solovar, of course. He pleads with Solovar and announces to Gorilla City that they come in peace. But, it was really Grodd who wanted to have Solovar defeated so that he could rule over Gorilla City and attack Earth-1 out of revenge of being thrown out of his home.

Ok, so this episode wasn’t a gem. At all. It was poorly paced and the boredom set in around ten-fifteen minutes into the episode and it was never able to turn itself around or become engaging in any way. The characters spending the majority of the episode locked up isn’t what anyone would call interesting. The writers could have used this to create more depth between the characters, but the entire conversation was about trying to find a way out. Even Earth-2 Wells was short-changed as he spent three-fourths of the episode being controlled by a telepathic gorilla. We learn that Julian really joined the trip to Earth-2 (if no one is in the crime lab, wouldn’t Singh notice?) to protect Caitlin from herself. She’s flattered, but basically tells Julian that he should stay away from her lest he gets hurt. So, naturally, he invites her to dinner afterward and she accepts. It was almost kind of cute if I didn’t think they were going to kill Julian later. 

When I first got my power, you were so lost not having yours. I thought maybe part of the reason why you liked me was because you were attracted to the speed and not me. But I saw you out there today. Being Kid Flash. You were complete, Wally. You were scary complete.

“Attack on Gorilla City” had some very major plot holes. Suddenly, and without explanation, Caitlin can control her powers to make Barry cold enough to appear dead. But she freaked out in the episode before this about using them. Barry then uses his powers to get them all out of the cages because their powers were halted, but only on one side of the cage? They trick Grodd (who is a telepathic gorilla, by the way) into thinking Barry’s dead. Isn’t Grodd smarter than that? After all, he went through a lot to get the team over to Earth-2, but he was fooled so easily. It’s this kind of writing that proves that sometimes “The Flash” is more concerned with doing anything to move the plot along, which includes undermining even the smartest of characters (this applies to Barry and everyone else, too). Not even the fight between Solovar and Barry was enough in a largely disappointing episode; it was anti-climactic and involved too much slow motion. The Grodd reveal was obvious, but could have been overlooked had the episode at least been somewhat entertaining. By the episode’s end, Grodd has gotten a hold of Gypsy to open the breaches. If he could get her from Earth-19, then what was the point of kidnapping everyone else? 

Photo: Katie Yu/The CW

Photo: Katie Yu/The CW

Caitlin’s powers still worked and so she absolutely could have used them to get everyone out (like freeze the bars and break them) instead of having Barry play dead, which was much more dangerous. Cisco also discussing his own death so easily and nonchalantly was terrible. How come no one was more angry about this? He was just going to sacrifice himself? I’ll chalk it up to lazy writing again, just like when Barry tried to sacrifice himself to aliens without thinking. Instead of just trying to talk Cisco out of having her kill him, this is where Caitlin should have suggested using her powers for something better. Cisco is her friend and she didn’t seem to have trouble using them later. The show enjoys flip-flopping too much between her fear of her powers and the random use of them whenever necessary and it’s beginning to get frustrating. This subplot has become terribly written and continues to open up the already glaring holes in its storyline. 

Elsewhere in the episode, Jesse finds out Wally has powers, but she’s not as enthusiastic about it as he thought she’d be. Really, it’s because she and Wally have kind of lost contact ever since he got them, and he says he’s been busy doing the whole hero thing. To be fair, inter-dimensional long distance relationships must be hard. But as much as Wally feels complete with his powers, he tells her that his life isn’t complete without her and asks her to stay on Earth-1. Honestly, while I think what Wally and Jesse have is cute, it’s far too soon for him to be asking that of her and for her to agree so quickly. Last season, she wanted to go back to Earth-2 because her friends and her life were there. And now to so quickly decide to stay behind for a relationship that has barely been developed felt a little out of place. I’d have liked a little more development before all of this happened because it’s far too soon. If this is the only way to keep Jesse around for awhile, I’m sure the writers could have come up with another reason besides just this one. 

“How do you do that? How do you stay positive in the face of overwhelming odds?” “Because I plan on living a long life with you, and nothing’s going to take that away from me.”

Barry has got his confidence back about saving Iris. He truly believes stopping Grodd from coming over to Earth-1 has altered the future in some way. She’s the reason behind why he was rushing in to fight a sentient gorilla. And in that last scene, I couldn’t help but feel positive along with him. His enthusiasm was pretty contagious, even though it’s clear their bubble of happiness about the future will be burst in the second episode of this two-parter. But for right now, it’s nice to know that no matter the episode, saving Iris is still at the forefront of his mind and the pair continue to be wonderful together. 

Photo: Jack Rowand/The CW

Photo: Jack Rowand/The CW

However, the writers continue missing opportunities to showcase Iris and Joe doing their jobs. Iris could have been shown investigating, for example, but instead we got a group of people locked in a cage, having very long conversations with gorillas. My nitpicking stems from the frustration with the episode and its utter lack of grace. I know “The Flash” can do better and with “Attack on Gorilla City,” it didn’t seem like they were trying very hard. Plot-wise, the episode was ultimately unnecessary and didn’t do much in the way to develop plot or characters in an organic way. I would count defeating Grodd as a development, but he’ll be back, so that’s off the table. The writers managed to make most of the episode uninteresting and dull; even Grodd and Solovar didn’t seem all that threatening and it was frustrating that the remaining Earth-1 characters didn’t have more to do. All in all, the episode was pretty boring, had too many plot holes, and was far too slow-going. There were a few good moments, but it was far too underwhelming to be one half of a two-parter.

Next week, even more Grodd….

Random Thoughts: 

  • Remember when we spent a lot of season two watching Barry be miserable (mostly 2A)? I’m so glad we don’t have to anymore! I guess being in a relationship with the love of your life does wonders!
  • Solovar looked cool, but was he supposed to be scary or intimidating? Because that’s not how I felt about him. But I’m looking forward to him becoming an ally to Barry.
  • Earth-2 Wells traveled all the way to the African continent because Grodd invited him there. This is after Wells helped throw him into the breach in the first place because he was dangerous. I shake my head.
  • I still think Jesse could have come along to Earth-2.
  • I know she was being mind-controlled, but I was happy to see Gypsy again!
  • I was robbed of more Earth-2 Wells.
  • Caitlin really, really needs to learn how to control her powers.
  • It didn’t take them long to make Tom Felton say something about Planet of the Apes. But his enthusiasm during that scene was pretty hilarious. He is growing on me.
  • Iris and Barry continue to be too precious for this world. The teasing, talking about Wally like he’s their child, the love declarations… *heart eyes*
  • “Lock it down,” Iris tells Wally. I laughed. Her and Joe kind of played matchmakers and it was cute.
  • “You don’t have to do this for me.” “Everything I do is for you.” This was too sweet. But for the rest of the night, the Bryan Adams song was stuck in my head. Thanks, Barry.
  • “You’re finally going to get some sleep tonight?” “Well that part is entirely up to you.” *waggles eyebrows*
  • “Please don’t do anything stupid.” “You mean like voluntarily going to a city of super apes?” Yes, exactly that.
  • Have I mentioned that I love that Barry Allen isn’t all “no, let’s kill Solovar.” It’s one of the reasons I love him and also why that whole Cisco dying bit was weird.
  • “Oh, he’s going to be so pissed.” H.R. has his moments. It’s interesting that all the Wells’ have some kind of great rapport with Cisco. Although I need more Earth-2 Wells, please.
  • “Best worst game ever.” It kind of was, wasn’t it?
  • I needed more of the Wests and less of H.R.
60%
60%
Underwhelming

All in all, "Attack on Gorilla City" was pretty boring, had too many plot holes, and was far too slow-going. There were a few good moments, but it was far too underwhelming to be one half of a two-parter.

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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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