Every week, Fangirlish writers will be discussing new episodes of The Flash and sharing their thoughts, feelings, and speculation about the hour’s hot topics in a little something we like to call Fangirlish Roundtables.
Today, we’re breaking down the seventh episode of The Flash season 2, titled “Gorilla Warfare,” where we discuss the importance of Barry and his two fathers, Barry struggling with believing in himself after his run-in with Zoom, and the return of Gorilla Grodd.
What were your thoughts on Gorilla Grodd’s return?
ALYSSA: The Flash has an abundance of villains in its Rogue’s Gallery, a ton of which we’ve yet to see, but it’s always nice when you see a big name like Gorilla Grodd make an appearance. I really liked the timing of Grodd’s reappearance, as we found Barry in a vulnerable situation that required the work of the entire team to find Grodd, who had taken Caitlin to help him, and ultimately send him to a place on Earth-2 that would suit him. Something that I really appreciated was the emotional exploration of Grodd’s character. While he is a gorilla, Grodd’s a genetically-modified, intelligent animal who was struggling with feelings of loneliness. It’s the reason why he took Caitlin because 1) she was always so kind to him, and 2) he needed her to help make more gorillas like him because he was feeling lonely in this world where he’s the only one of his kind. There wasn’t any ill intent on Grodd’s part. All he wanted was to find a way to have others like him because he couldn’t find his place in the world. So actually it was great in the end when Team Flash, with the help of The Flash who made his valiant return, sent Grodd to a place Harrison “Harry” Wells told them was a place where other genetically-modified gorillas were sent. So while Grodd was pissed off at Caitlin’s betrayal and his subsequent capture, in the end he got what he wanted: others like him, and he got a world where he could rule.
One of the things I’ve enjoyed about Grodd is that they aren’t going full-on ape (hehe) just yet with him as a villain. He’s made two appearances on this show, and it feels like they’re setting him up for something great down the line. That’s the thing, The Flash is a show that will likely go at the very least six seasons and could go as many as 10 seasons, which means there’s a lot of story left to tell. But luckily for The Flash, there is a lot of story to tell within that comic canon, as well as the writers putting their spin on the comic lore that fans are familiar with. So I’m glad that Grodd is currently confined to the Gorilla City of Earth-2 for the time being as he will continue to evolve into the formidable foe that Barry faces in the comics. So when Grodd eventually does become a Big Bad villain for The Flash down the line, it’ll make it even better with the history and how everything has led to this epic showdown. Sometimes it’s the tease of the potential of a storyline that’s as satisfying as the storyline itself.
LIZZIE: The Flash fans seem to be equally split between hating Grodd and loving Grodd. I don’t fall into either of these extreme positions. I don’t love Grodd, I mean, he’s not exactly loveable, but I don’t hate him either. Is the whole story-line cheesy? Well, yes, but this is The Flash, we knew what we were getting into. Do I want to see more of Grodd and feel sad when he’s not around? Not really, no. So, all in all, Grodd was just there and I was okay with him being there for an episode, but, meh …I could wait a season or two before seeing him again.
Also, please, for the love of God, never, ever take us to that Gorilla Land that we saw at the end. One gorilla I can deal with, but like a whole army of them? Please no.
LYRA: It was tying up lose ends. He was a creepy giant gorilla running around the city trying to make more of himself. They had to nip that in the butt before it got really bad! I do have to admit that I'm interested in how Gorilla Grodd exists from a production perspective. How much of it is a man in a suit? How much do they just have to make up on the fly with specific sets? And how did they throw that man across the empty lot and into the overpass? It was a gruesome scene! Technically Gorilla Grodd is very interesting. Story wise is he interesting? Not really. Maybe sending him to this new world will give him perspective. (How crazy would it be if he hated it? He won't be the smartest after all.)
After Barry’s encounter with Zoom last week, we saw how deep that failure has been affecting him this week. What did you think about Barry’s internal war with himself?
ALYSSA: Something that I love about Barry’s journey this season on The Flash is the emotional journey he’s going through as a hero and as a person. As we’ve already seen a few times this season, Barry is experiencing a lot of guilt and self-doubt this season. Whether it’s been placing the blame on himself for Eddie and Ronnie’s deaths or feeling guilty about being the kind of hero that Central City needs after Zoom made a mockery of him or even believing in himself that he is a hero; a hero that Central City deserves. Here’s the thing about superheroes, they’ve only as good as the personal issues that they face. Sure, they’ve got their struggles against the villains, but it’s those struggles that initiate these emotional internal issues; and it’s those internal issues that do more harm than any physical harm could do, to be honest.
Right now, Zoom has won. While he’s in hiding and trying to recover after Cisco hit him with that gun, Zoom has won because he got inside of Barry’s head and that doubt that Barry feels about his ability to be a hero is crippling him. This war with Zoom is just as much mental as it is physical, we saw as much with Reverse Flash last season. Zoom more than anyone that we’ve seen Barry encounter, next to only Reverse Flash, is someone who right now is effortlessly besting Barry in that department. Not only did Zoom get the best of Barry the week before, but he made it a focus to parade Barry around the city and show the city that its hero was easily defeat; that he’s no hero. That was something that stuck with Barry in this episode as he began to doubt whether he could be the hero this city deserved. But after talking with his two fathers and getting back out there and doing what he does best – saving people – Barry ultimately got his groove back, so to speak. While Barry is back in the right headspace right now, I have no doubt that this will be an ongoing battle for Barry this season; a battle that will be brought to the forefront when he battles Zoom again.
LIZZIE: Barry’s in a very different’ hero’s journey than Oliver Queen, but that doesn’t change the fact that Barry is on hero’s journey. Part of that journey is failing, picking yourself back up and trying again, and again and again. And sure, Barry has been “defeated” before, but Barry saw all of what happened in Season 1 through a personal lens. It wasn’t about being The Flash, it was about being Barry Allen. So he’s never really had to doubt his place as Central City’s hero, he’s never had to doubt that part of himself. Barry Allen has failed time and time again, but in his mind, The Flash never has.
Except this time, The Flash failed. The Flash was beaten. He survived thanks to luck and his friends, but Barry doesn’t feel worthy. He doesn’t feel like he can take on Zoom. He can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel, and that’s understandable. He’s never gone through this before. But this is all part of the journey. It’s on par for the course. Barry just has to find the hero that everyone can see in him. He hasn’t yet, and I don’t think it’ll be an easy journey, but that’s okay. Easy is boring. Easy is not how real heroes does it.
LYRA: It's justified. Barry has always been able to pull through and defeat his enemies, no matter what happened or what twists were thrown at him. All of a sudden there comes a man who is better and has defeated him. There's no ifs, ands, or buts that Barry lost this battle. So it's ok if he wants to take a step back and assess things. Doubting himself held him back for only the briefest of moments because he has family and friends that won't let him wallow for long. This won't be the last internal war, there will be plenty to come, but he'll get through it. Zoom isn't going to stop The Flash! He's the hero of this story!
In this episode we got to see the dynamic between Barry and his two fathers, Joe and Henry. What are your thoughts on Barry and his relationship with his two fathers and their relationship with each other?
ALYSSA: I feel like a broken record every time I say it, but it’s the truth. My favorite part about The Flash, about all of these superhero shows, are the personal relationships and connections between the characters. While the action and special effects are sensational, I’m someone who has always come for the hook and stayed for the characters. It’s the difference between me being a casual viewer and a loyal, borderline obsessive viewer. On The Flash, my favorite relationship from the beginning has always been Barry and Joe. Mainly because it’s a relationship that’s so organic in its existence, as well as the chemistry between Grant Gustin and Jesse Martin, but also because I can relate to it. More so, I can relate to the three-men dynamic that is Barry Allen, Joe West, and Henry Allen. Something we haven’t really gotten to see on television is how a dynamic like this is handled. Sure, we see instances where the adoptive parents essentially are the real parents, but there’s never been a coexistence between both; where both the adoptive and birth parent have always been supportive of their child. That’s the dynamic that makes Barry, Joe and Henry’s relationship so powerful. Henry never abandoned Barry by choice. He was convicted of a murder that he never committed and forced to serve a life sentence, until Harrison Wells helped free him. But in Henry’s absence, Joe stepped in not only as a foster father but as a real father to Barry. He’s been there through everything encouraging him, loving him, and protecting him. As far as I’m concerned, there’s no distinction between the term “parent.” You either are or you aren’t. And it all rests with your actions.
But I do want to talk about my favorite scene in this episode, which was a brief instance that occurred near episode’s end. As Barry was preparing to take Henry to the train station to return to his near residence following a time where Joe and Barry shared stories of Barry’s childhood – the childhood Henry missed – Henry pulled Joe aside and told him, “Joe, there are no words, man,” and embraced him. That’s the most I broke down. Those six words said everything you need to know about Joe and Henry’s relationship. There is no resentment there only love and appreciation. In those six words, Henry said everything he needed to say: Thank you for taking in my son, thank you for caring for him, thank you protecting him, thank you for inspiring him, thank you for loving him, thank you for helping make him the man he is today, and thank you for treating him like a real son. But let’s face it, Barry is Joe’s son, no matter what genetics say. I found this entire thing to be really powerful because like Barry I have two fathers. My birth father, while he moved to Michigan when I was younger, was always in touch and visiting me, and now I’m lucky that he lives in Florida near me where we can share more memories together. But I also have a stepfather who has been in my life since I was 8 years old. He’s watched me grow me, he’s helped raised me, and he’s helped me become the woman I am today, just like my birth father and of course my mother (who is my superhero). The thing is, I love both of my dads. They’ve been there for me my entire life and shaped the person I am today. They’ve protected me, encouraged me, cared for me, and most importantly loved me. So I really enjoyed getting to see that dynamic featured on television, especially on a show like The Flash.
LIZZIE: My love affair with the Flash begins and ends with Barry and his fathers. Well, maybe it doesn’t end, because this is a show that does characters really well and there’s no one who makes me cringe and/or turn my head when they’re on screen, but Barry and his fathers (particularly Joe) are the reason I tune in.
Family is many things. Family is the one you’re born into, and family is the people who love you, and who stay by your side even if they don’t have to. Barry Allen is lucky in that regard. He might not have his mother, but he has two fathers who’ve always (At least till Henry bailed on Central City for reasons that I can’t still understand) been there for him, who’ve always put him first.
Joe is Barry’s father. But Henry is also Barry’s father. They both love him, and the most important thing about this love is that neither of them begrudges the other their place in Barry’s life. Joe understands Barry’s love for Henry, and Henry feels nothing but gratitude for the man Joe helped Barry become. This makes for a very interesting dynamic between two many who suddenly find themselves family because of outside circumstances. They’re both Barry’s family, and as such, they are family now. Because Barry needs (has always needed) not only his connection with the past, with his mother, but the encouragement of the man who showed him how to be a good person. Barry is not Barry without these two men, and if nothing else, The Flash has proven with this dynamic that family comes in many different forms, and there’s not a good or right way to love each other. There’s just love.
(But, and this relates to the next question, DON’T LIE TO THE PEOPLE YOU CARE ABOUT)
LYRA:Let's start off with their relationship with each other. They respect each other. Henry knows that his son was raised by Joe. His son considers Joe another father figure and there's nothing he can change about that. And Joe understands that Henry is Barry's biological father. He spent part of his life living with his father and fought to get him out of jail. They both are important parts of who Barry is and how he developed into a man.
Now let's move onto Barry's relationship with his fathers. First up is Barry and Henry. Biologically he is the father and caretaker of our speedster till the age of eleven. He loved and nurtured his son the best he could, even if it was through bars or glass at Iron Heights. But I've got a problem with this man. Barry had been working, practically for a decade, on getting his father out of jail. When he did get out you would expect him to want to get to know his son, to bond with him after all the time apart. He does none of this. Instead he runs and leaves Barry because 'he has to get away' & 'it's too painful staying here and being reminded of everything that happened.' So it's too painful for him to really get to know the adult version of his kid? After all the fighting that Barry did for him he's just going to walk away without a care about the abandonment that Barry most certainly is feeling. *insert mega glare* It's selfish for him to put himself above his son. It's even ruder to walk away from the people who are important to him (Joe, Iris, Caitlin, Cisco).
This season we’re seeing how Barry and Joe are lying to Patty about The Flash stuff, which is similar to their actions last season with Iris. Have they not learned their lesson about lying? Do you agree with how Barry and Joe have handled this situation with Patty?
ALYSSA: It’s funny how the phrase “we learn from the past so we’re not doomed to repeat it” is so prevalent in this storyline this season. Following last season where Barry and Joe lied to Iris for the entire season about Barry being The Flash and putting her in danger without her knowing, my favorite father-son duo – God love them – are doing the same damn thing with Patty. The name of the game is trust with any relationship, whether it’s romantic or professional, which are relationships that Patty share with Barry and Joe. She’s Barry’s girlfriend and Joe’s partner, and yet they’re lying to her face about everything; and they’re not doing nearly as good of a job as they did last season with Iris.
Look, on the one hand I understand why Barry and Joe are lying to Patty. This is about protecting The Flash’s identity from the bad guys out there who will use Barry’s personal life against him, and truth be told, they don’t know Patty that well yet to be revealing that kind of secret. So my concern doesn’t rest so much as why they’re lying right now – I completely understand that – but on how long they’re going to lie to her, and when does it become the right time to tell, if at all? Patty seems like a trustworthy person, but you have to look at how long it took Barry to tell Iris his secret – which actually he never really told her at all; she discovered it on her own. But still consider the fact that he didn’t tell his best friend and the woman he loves that he’s The Flash for months and had no immediate plans to tell her. So why should we expect Barry to share this incredibly important secret with a woman he’s known for only a short time? It is about trust here, both on Patty’s side and Barry’s. On the one hand, Barry and Joe need to be honest with Patty if she’s to trust them, but also Barry needs to ensure that Patty is serious about him if he’s going to reveal a secret about himself that only a few people know about. But I can’t help but speculate that ultimately Patty will find out that Barry is The Flash the same way Iris did – by looking into it herself. Iris is an investigative reporter and Patty is a detective. There’s no way in hell that either of these ladies wouldn’t learn the truth in the end.
LIZZIE: This is one of those things that bother me about television, when shows expect me to forget that one or two particular characters are supposed to KNOW better. Because both Joe and Barry are supposed to know better than this. And the fact that this had been established and they’re still acting like this is just scary.
Because yes, they lied to Iris for one season, and when Iris found out, she was rightfully mad at them, but …I mean, that didn’t last long, right? Nothing happened to Iris physically. She’s fine, she’s not mad at them anymore, and everything is just …good. So, even though Barry and Joe might have proclaimed they have “learned” their lesson, this episode just cements that they really, really haven’t. And you know why not? BECAUSE THERE WERE NO CONSEQUENCES. Nothing happened. And so now they’re lying to Patty expecting the same result. She’ll be safe, and when/if she finds out, she’ll only be mad for a while, right?
Wrong. Oh, wrong. I can see bad things coming. I can see Patty ending up in the worst possible place at the worst possible time just because EVEYRONE is lying to her. And if she doesn’t join the list of Joe’s partners who don’t make it (Please don’t kill Patty, PLEASE DON’T KILL PATTY), then I hope she gets mad when she finally figures it out. REALLY mad. And yeah, I hope she just figures it out and then confronts them about it. They deserve it.
LYRA: You can't compare the Iris situation to the Patty one. She's new, fresh out the box, and we don't have a real and deep understanding for who she is. She doesn't deserve the truth just because she's dating Barry. Contrary to popular belief you don't have to tell your new loved one everything about yourself. You can have separate lives. Iris should have been told ages ago because she's family. It wasn't about romantic interests. It was about the fact that they grew up together, lived together, and were integral parts of each others lives. Not saying that dragging Patty along and dealing with her in the best way. He should of just told her that he was busy and needed some days away. Easy. She would've understood.
This episode was important for Harrison “Harry” Wells, where Team Flash had to rely on him to help take down Grodd while Barry was wheelchair bound. What’d you think about Wells stepping up?
ALYSSA: At first I wasn’t sure about this Earth-2 Harrison Wells – Harry my man! – but I have to admit that he’s slowly growing on me. While I still can’t help but associate his face with pain and death, I’m starting to differentiate the look from the person wearing the face, which rings true for Harry Wells. When we first met Harry he was an insensitive dick. I couldn’t stand him, and a part of me was actually missing our old Wells, pain and all. But these last couple of episodes have provided some important context for his character and how he fits into this world that’s not his own.
Harry actually proved to be the biggest advantage that Team Flash could’ve had, as they were minus a wheelchair-bound Flash and facing a monstrous, intelligent gorilla who had kidnapped Caitlin to do his bidding. As a sort of nod to the previous week, we saw Harry take on the persona of his deceased doppelganger, Harrison Wells. Harrison Wells who created Grodd; Harrison Wells who essentially is Grodd’s father. Harrison Wells who was the only one who could control Grodd. So Harry was able to channel that other version of him – a bit too well at one point that gave me serious creeps – and did enough so that they could Caitlin out of there, which set up the final showdown which included Flash vs. Grodd. Overall I’m enjoying where they appear to be taking the Harry character, which is exploring what drives him emotionally and showing us that while he may look like the man who killed Barry’s mother, killed Cisco at one point, killed Eddie, and terrorized them all, that Harry is not Harrison Wells of our world. That maybe there’s a chance for him.
LIZZIE: I tend to like sassy characters, so I was on board with this version of Harrison Wells from the start. In fact, this version of Harrison Wells was preferable to me than Not-Wells from Season 1. The team, of course, wasn’t in a position to appreciate his sense of humor, but as a viewer, he’d won me over already.
Of course, for the whole thing to work and make it believable for him to remain with the team till the end of the season (what happens after? Does he go back? Do I have to let go of Tom Cavanagh? If so, I’m going to need a warning. The process could take a while), he had to go from the guy wearing the face of the man who betrayed them all to someone who could actually be helpful, and that’s what this whole episode was about. Harry and the team don’t have to love each other, but they have to be able to work together. And by work together I mean there has to be a measure of trust there, or the whole thing is not going to work.
Do I think they got there? Nope. Do I think it’s a step in the right direction? Well, any step was a step in the right direction, so yes.
LYRA: *looks around before answering* I LOVED IT! He's been a jerk from the very first moment he met Team Flash. All of a sudden he twisted it about in this episode. He's a jerk who cares, realizes that he's messed up, and that these people need help. He's more than I expected and I can't wait to see more! Please say there's going to be more!
With the Arrow/Flash crossover event coming in early December, we got a huge tease about Kendra’s legendary destiny. What did you think of the tease?
ALYSSA: I mean seeing as the crossover is the next episode on deck there better have been a tease about Kendra as Hawkgirl, especially since the crossover – at least The Flash half – has a very Kendra-centric vibe. There are a million different ways they could’ve thrown in that Hawkgirl vision, whether it was something Kendra saw in a dream, a flash forward, you name it, but I like that they involved Cisco in Kendra’s story. It’s important that they have Kendra involved with one of these characters as a means to introduce her to the bigger story; she needs a way in. But I also liked that Cisco was getting vibes about her, especially when he didn’t even know it was her when he got that first vibe. But it was that kiss that made everything clear for Cisco: the person in his vision is Kendra, and you could tell by his face how shocked he was. Also, Cisco deserves some love, even if it won’t last due to Hawkgirl’s destined love, Hawkman, and her leaving Flash for Legends of Tomorrow. Plus it makes for some damn good comedic scenes, like the one where Barry, Iris, and Joe were messing with him before the big date.
I’m super excited to learn more about Kendra and her complicated past, as well as to further explore that on Legends of Tomorrow, and there’s so much potential with her character. At this point, we really don’t know anything about Kendra other than her name, where she works, that she likes The Princess Bride, that she moved to Central City for a fresh start, and that she’s dating Cisco. But I feel like this crossover will introduce us further to her character so that we find her in Legends of Tomorrow that she’s not a complete stranger.
LIZZIE: Earlier this year, when the Hawkgirl talk started, I was a bit meh. I mean, I was yay, another female superhero, but there wasn’t anything about her in particular that stood out. That changed a bit when they actually cast Ciara Renee, but I still wasn’t Kendra’s biggest fan. She was just …there. And then, then I met her.
If our first introduction did nothing to endear me to Kendra, this episode did. Especially the glimpse of her in full Hawgirl costume that Cisco vibed. That was badass. That was exactly what I’d been waiting for to go from, yeah, another body in an already crowded show to Oh, yeah, Hawkgirl. Worth noting is that I screamed when, in the Arrow/Flash crossover promo Oliver yells her name. And this time, I wasn’t even screaming for Oliver. (Which, all in all, is a pretty big statement).
LYRA: She's a BAMF. That is all. :p
Join us for another Fangirlish Roundtable with The Flash next Friday.
The Flash airs Tuesdays at 8/7c on The CW.