NOTE: Full spoilers for this episode of, “The Flash” are present in this review
After a pretty good, if not fantastic start to the two-part, “Gorilla City” event last week, The Flash culminated the event with the stronger of the two halves this week. “Attack on Central City” provided a pretty clever and thrilling conclusion to the return of Gorilla Grodd, even if the actual fight against Grodd and his army is pretty short-lived. Perhaps that’s inevitable, considering The Flash’s limited CG budget, but at least the episode still manages to balance some strong character drama with a truly memorable threat to Central City.
When things begin, Team Flash is confident that they’ve beaten the threat of Grodd, after escaping Gorilla City on Earth-2, and this has Barry enthusiastically pampering Iris, while H.R. prepares to observe ‘Friend Day’, a platonic-themed Earth-19 equivalent to Valentine’s Day. H.R. and Harry also get a chance to interact with each other, offering some pretty entertaining Tom Cavanagh-squared scenes, as Cavanagh pulls double duty to play two very different Wells portrayals at the same time.
The Wells contrast primarily comes into play with Jesse coming to the decision to move to Earth-1. Again, this has me wondering if the show is going to position her as a Caitlin replacement at S.T.A.R. Labs, should Caitlin ever go full Killer Frost for an extended period of time, but for now, this has Wally and Jesse finally fully getting behind their romantic affection for one another. Surprisingly, Harry is seemingly alright with Jesse’s plans to move to Earth-1 too, despite soon after telling Wally that he’s dying, which angers Jesse. This was probably the only point of the episode that felt weird and non-sensical, honestly. Wally’s not stupid, and with Harry constantly drawing attention to his being a genius in this episode especially, he had to have known that he would inevitably be found out after such a flimsy, childish lie. Thus, why even try it in the first place?
Beyond that though, getting a full speedster team-up between Barry, Jesse and Wally all at once was pretty great, even if, again, there wasn’t that much time dedicated to actually fighting Grodd’s army. Instead, Grodd psychologically toys with Barry from a distance in a pretty cool way, even going as far as to use his telepathy to possess an army general, in order to fire a barrage of nuclear missiles at Central City and Keystone City! Once again, the DC Television Universe doesn’t seem to have a perfect understanding of how nukes are supposed to work, but at least this is a bit more plausible than Arrow’s ridiculous ‘hack the nukes away’ solution from last season’s finale. Hell, Cisco even completely outs that Felicity wizardry as total bullshit, when he says (correctly) that nukes are not digital devices, so they can’t be hacked.
Barry manages to stop the nukes, after furiously entering thousands of different combinations, and it’s here that we get one of the most bold and compelling hero conflicts for Barry in quite a while. As Barry notes that Grodd is evolving, and always seems to come back more powerful and dangerous with every encounter, Barry wonders if he should just kill Grodd and be done with it, something that both Iris and Harry are strongly against. Considering that Grodd is technically an animal, not a human, this gives Barry an interesting loophole with his usual refusal to use lethal force on criminal and metahuman threats. It was also smart to bring up Oliver Queen’s own killer issues here, especially considering Arrow’s direction this season especially, and compare that to Barry never having taken a life, and also not having to live with that grief and hardship every day, as Oliver does over in Star City. Barry having to be reminded of what makes him a hero in his own right is something that worked very well, and forced him to rely on ingenuity over brutality, even as Grodd has become more dangerous than ever.
After all of this, the episode finally gives viewers what they want, and has Grodd and his Gorilla City army properly marching on Central City. We get a bit of Barry, Wally and Jesse fighting back the gorillas, but this is only to buy time so that Cisco can get Gypsy back (and give us a very cool cameo for DC Comics’ Earth-19 hero, Accelerated Man!), after Grodd controlled her and forced her to open a breach to Earth-1, following Gypsy chasing a breacher to Earth-2 that just so happened to wander near Gorilla City. I guess that’s a lucky break for Grodd. Anyway, when Cisco finally convinces Gypsy to help, they go to Gorilla City and summon Solovar to Central City, resulting in a pretty cool, if slightly short battle between Grodd and Solovar, one that inevitably has Solovar emerging as the victor.
With Solovar and his Gorilla City forces being returned to Earth-2 afterward, Harry makes his own trip back, finally giving Jesse his blessing to stay on Earth-1 with Wally. Grodd being forced to remain on Earth-1 as punishment for his abuse of Gorilla City’s army feels like a pretty transparent excuse to have Grodd inevitably become a threat again next season, but I suppose that’s fine, especially when Cisco cutely teases the potential for a King Shark/Grodd battle in the future. I would also pay to see that battle! You have to wonder how exactly A.R.G.U.S. is containing Grodd, considering that he’s not exactly easy to keep locked up and neutralized, but I guess that’s a worry that The Flash isn’t going to address at this point.
Finally, things end with Wally rushing to get some Big Belly Burger for Jesse, only to see Savitar charging straight for him as soon as he stops! Obviously, we knew that Savitar was coming back eventually, and it looks more and more like he could be connected to Wally in a very dangerous way. I guess we find out more next week. For now though, “Attack on Central City” made for a very entertaining way to conclude Grodd’s return, even if it did pretty transparently set up another Grodd battle next season. Nonetheless, Barry finding a way to save Central City without bloodshed was satisfying, and contrasted well with sister series, Arrow and its own ongoing killer-themed storyline this season to boot. With Savitar finally primed to return, Team Flash is better and stronger than they’ve been in a while, hopefully meaning that they’re finally ready to face the so-called ‘God of Speed’!
- Grodd's psychological warfare with Barry
- Barry debating and overcoming the impulse to kill Grodd
- Jesse and Wally fully embracing their budding relationship
- Did Harry seriously think he was going to get away with that dumb lie?