NOTE: Full spoilers for this episode of, “The Flash” are present in this review
The Flash really excelled with its big Earth-2 trip from last season, so a return to Earth-2 in Season Three is something that presents no shortage of excitement! Rather than hang out with the rest of the parallel Earth’s civilization this time though, “Attack on Gorilla City” takes Team Flash somewhere far different, and far more dangerous, while also revisiting a powerful old foe of Barry’s in the process.
Gorilla City should be a recognizable location to DC Comics fans, being an entire society of hyper-intelligent gorillas like Grodd in the DC Universe. While Gorilla City exists in the main universe in the case of the DC Comics Universe though, Gorilla City appears to be restricted to Earth-2 in the case of the DC Television Universe. It’s also even more dangerous and hostile than it is in the comics to boot, since there are no superheroes or government forces that appear to have made accords and forged political partnerships with this live-action take on Gorilla City, unlike in the printed panels.
Regardless, Barry and friends have to make a trip to the faraway African gorilla society where Grodd was banished after his previous attack last season. Harry, the Earth-2 rendition of Harrison Wells, has been taken captive there, and after a pleading Jesse rushes to Earth-1 to enlist the help of Barry’s crew, only they can bring him back. Thus, Barry, Cisco and Caitlin decide to travel to Earth-2, while Jesse and Wally stay behind to protect Central City on Earth-1. Julian also comes along to Earth-2, seemingly excited at the prospect of visiting the ‘Planet of the Apes’ (this appears to be a sly reference to Tom Felton having a starring role in 2011 franchise prequel/reboot movie, Rise of the Planet of the Apes), though viewers can likely put together his actual motive for coming along; Protecting and ensuring the safety of Caitlin.
Again, the trip to Earth-2 last season was a little more impressive, but by the standards of syndicated television, Gorilla City still looks quite cool. There’s a great sense of scale that’s captured in the harsh African jungle environment, and the live-action design of Gorilla City itself looks appropriately imposing and awesome. Most of the episode is spent in a cell, mind you, after Barry and co. are inevitably captured and imprisoned by the gorillas, and obviously, there are workarounds to alleviate the limited CG budget of the show, namely in having Grodd constantly talk through Barry’s human friends, and only sparingly appear in the flesh.
There is however a big centerpiece of visual excellence in the episode, again, by television standards, whereupon Barry has to try and save his friends by fighting Gorilla City leader, Solovar in the arena. This is a very visually ambitious moment that, while CG-heavy, is still very thrilling and creatively realized. Solovar proving to be a competent opponent was effectively intense, though one well-placed blow from Barry does end the fight, even if it’s a trick taken from the playbook of Reverse Flash!
Surprise though, Grodd was behind the whole incident. This is a bit of a predictable turnout, especially for DC fans, since Solovar is a kind and just leader in the DC Comics Universe, but this still forces Team Flash to come up with a clever solution to escape Grodd’s clutches. Caitlin freezing Barry to the point of mimicking death manages to do the trick, even if it once again courts the possibility of Caitlin’s Killer Frost side coming out in a bad way. One quick escape later, and Team Flash manages to return with Harry to Earth-1, seemingly preventing Grodd from invading Central City!… Until an epilogue shows that Grodd has somehow captured Gypsy, and will force her to open a breach to Earth-1 for an entire army of gorilla soldiers. Oh dear. Looks like Grodd will still be a big problem next week!
The episode was rounded off with a subplot between Wally and Jesse, though obviously, it can’t keep pace with the core conflict in Gorilla City. Jesse starts becoming cold to Wally in response to Wally now having his own speedster abilities and being Kid Flash, which makes Wally try harder to impress Jesse with his new heroic side. Even when the two are stopping bank robbers together though, Jesse just won’t seem to give Wally the time of day. When Wally presses the issue, Jesse eventually confesses that she’s disappointed about Wally never visiting her on Earth-2. This has Wally pressing Jesse to stay on Earth-1 instead, which only seems to make her feel worse.
This is potentially an interesting idea, but the clumsy way it’s handled constantly seems to trip up this storyline, even beyond this being the dull part of the episode in contrast to the Gorilla City material. Wally came off as selfish pretty quickly, especially since he didn’t once volunteer to move to Earth-2. Moreover, the ease with which Jesse can make breaches and move between the two parallel worlds, something that Wally could also likely learn to do with some training, makes the whole conflict feel very weak and forced. If the two can travel between Earth-1 and Earth-2 so easily, then who really cares where they live? They’re both speedsters, so it shouldn’t be that difficult for them to see each other, or their loved ones on either Earth. Even Jesse thinking that she’s going to stay on Earth-1 at the end of the episode feels a bit hollow, not just for these reasons, but because she might just as easily turn around after Grodd reaches Central City in next week’s episode, and say she has to go back to Earth-2.
Despite the less interesting subplot though, “Attack on Gorilla City” was another pretty good episode of The Flash, which really does seem to have found some more consistently better footing in 2017 at this point. Last season’s Earth-2 event may have ultimately turned out better in it first half, but this show’s first proper trip to Gorilla City was still pretty exciting overall. The fight with Solovar was pretty fun, and the way that both Barry and Grodd psychologically dueled with one another for the fates of both Central City and Gorilla City was very clever. It’s annoying that the forced Wally/Jesse drama falls pretty flat, but maybe it will go somewhere more interesting next week, if they’re not too busy fighting Grodd’s killer gorilla army anyway!
- Cool, imposing style to Gorilla City
- Thrilling fight between Barry and Solovar
- Grodd and Barry;s team matching wits
- Jesse's issues with Wally feel forced
- Grodd being behind everything in Gorilla City is predictable