While I come to these DC Comics shows for the characters that give me a reason for watching, that doesn’t mean that I can’t just appreciate a good ol’ fashioned comic book storyline that brings Flash lore to life.
We’re at the midpoint of The Flash’s third season, where the show has set up the main storyline (saving Iris) and is gearing up for its final arc. So the midpoint of the season is where a show can have some freedom with the plot. It doesn’t have to be bam, bam, bam about the overall arc. It can take a moment to have some fun with mythology.
This two-part “Gorilla City” event was perfectly timed because of the point of the season we’re in. While I do come and stay for the characters, I’m not going to lie and say that episodes like “Attack on Gorilla City” don’t get my comic book heart pumping with excitement. I love for moments like this where you can embrace the ridiculous, the mythology where it’s not at the expense of the story.
Following last season’s impressive and massive Earth-Two event, it doesn’t surprise me that The Flash is trying to replicate that success with this “Gorilla City” event. Why not? You know that you’ve got comic book fans watching. You know that your audience knows this is a superhero show. Why not use that plethora of material and have some fun before the drama envelops the series in the final arc of episodes?
While the first half of “Gorilla City” was definitely a sight to behold, it wasn’t exactly what “Welcome to Earth-Two” was. That’s just my personal opinion. I don’t know if that’ll change after watching the conclusion next week, but “Earth-Two” was unlike anything we’ve seen on The Flash.
While this wasn’t my favorite episode – because truthfully I live for those episodes that gut me emotionally – it was definitely an episode that I enjoyed as a fan. It was impressive in its scope and its delivery. It really captured the comic book essence that The Flash is built upon.
Let’s break this down:
Planet of the Apes
When it comes to The Flash, I can appreciate a good ol’ fashioned comic book storyline that brings impressive mythology to life. Thus was the case with “Attack on Gorilla City,” which ushered in the third appearance of Gorilla Grodd, one of The Flash’s most notorious rivals. The Flash has done a great job of always leaving the door open for Grodd’s return. And an episode like this – at the right time – was a great example of why.
Jesse Quick time jumped to Earth-One with a warning that her father was being held by Grodd, which immediately got the attention of Barry and co. given their history. Grodd, a telepathic and incredibly intelligent gorilla, was seeking a way to create a breech to Earth-One. So after Barry, Cisco, Caitlin, and Julian were captured, we were soon taken on one hell of a ride that found us – and Team Flash – paying a hard lesson.
Grodd is intelligent, that we know. And he continues to get even more intelligent as time goes on. So when Grodd spun a sob story about how Solovar, the leader of the gorillas, was trying to find a breech to Earth-One to unleash his army of gorillas on Central City, Barry and co. agreed to help defeat Solovar.
After challenging Solovar and defeating him, Barry and co., including Harry, found themselves kicking themselves after realizing that it wasn’t Solovar that wanted to attack Earth-One. It was Grodd. After an impressive plan of escape, which involved faking Barry’s death with Caitlin freezing him, our group was able to escape Grodd’s control and flee Earth-Two and Gorilla City and themselves safe back on Earth-One. Only we knew it was too easy. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.
A Leap of Faith
The Flash has hurt me countless times, including when it has taken away characters that I love and thrust them into Earth-2. Of all of the characters that have been sent away – and not killed – I’ve been most angry at the departures of Harry Wells and Jesse Quick. There was such a natural rapport and significance to their involvement that it shocked me when they left.
But perhaps they’re about to make their grand return.
“Attack on Gorilla City” sent Jesse Quick to Earth-1 to get the help of Team Flash to help save her father. While Barry, Cisco, Caitlin, and Julian went off to Gorilla City on Earth-2, Jesse remained behind with Wally to watch out for Central City. And what soon followed was a storyline that’s been a season in the making.
Wally West and Jesse Quick have an ease to their relationship. They’re both fun-loving, jovial, free-spirited, and stubborn as hell. But they also care a lot about each other. Most recently they’ve both become speedsters, which has added a new element to their relationship. And I’m not even speaking romantically.
But given how the two youngsters last left things, it was natural to believe that they’d pick up right where they left off. Only there was a hesitancy from Jesse. Sure, her father was missing. But that wasn’t it, and Wally picked up on that immediately. In fact, given Wally’s new speedster abilities Jesse was wondering if Wally still had feelings for her. She’d gotten this sense that he was in love with her speed and not her. But that couldn’t have been further from the truth, as Wally told her in a line that still has me swooning:
“I can have all the speed in the world, but I’m not complete without you.”
Not only was this line so damn beautiful, but it reminded us about why romance is so important in these superhero stories. Romance is almost a curse word in comics – for whatever reason – but without romance these heroes that we all love wouldn’t be the heroes they are today. Heroes are shaped by the people around them. The people they care for; the people they will die for; the people that inspire them to keep fighting even when all seems lost. That is why partners are so important in a hero’s journey.
Circling back to Jesse and Wally – HR served as substitute dad for Jesse while Harry was still in Gorilla City. He told her that you can’t let the fear of what will happen – and the possibility of heartbreak – stop you from living your life. If you don’t take chances, well, then nothing worthwhile will be worthwhile. Life is what it is because of the emotions it elicits from us. That which is terrifying – like taking a leap of faith with romance – is often the most satisfying. And Jesse took that leap of faith.
Jesse told Wally that she was going to stay on Earth-1 because she wanted to take that chance; because she wanted to be with him. It was a beautiful moment that inspired us to do the thing that scares us most. Because while the fear might seem overwhelming, you’ll never know the wonderful payoff that awaits if you stay on the sideline.
A Chilly Omen?
Caitlin Snow is an incredibly smart, caring, beautiful woman who has so much to offer the world. But there’s no denying that those that have been romantically involved with her have found themselves on the receiving end of a nasty end. At this point it feels more like a curse than a coincidence. I don’t believe in coincidence. I believe in fate.
So when Caitlin and Julian’s friendship teased a romantic future in the previous episode, I began to worry. Perhaps it wouldn’t be anything. But did this episode pretty much seal Julian’s fate?
There’s no denying that Caitlin and Julian both care for each other. They’ve found a part of themselves in each other. How they aspire to be better than the darkness that lurks inside of both of them. They’ve bonded over their shared experiences and emotions. It’s brought them closer together. So honestly it doesn’t surprise me that things have taken a romantic turn. It’s obvious they both care about each other. But given Caitlin’s romantic past – which you know damn well she’s thinking about – it didn’t surprise me when she attempted to push Julian away.
Caitlin has lost countless people in her life, both romantically and in general. She’s suffered an insurmountable amount of pain that would’ve broken most people. But she’s always managed to stay strong amidst the desire to curl up within herself. That’s what has always made her different than Killer Frost of Earth-2. That Caitlin Snow didn’t fight to maintain her sense of self. That Caitlin Snow gave into the vile emotions that led her to becoming Killer Frost. That’s exactly what our Caitlin doesn’t want to become.
But at this point it almost feels inevitable. We’ve seen how hard Team Flash has tried to fight to prevent the future from coming true. But they can’t seem to fully accomplish it, which begs the question: Is fate really set in stone? If Barry was able to rewrite the future once before, how can he do it again?
Regardless, Caitlin seems to sense that she’s one bad moment away from losing herself to Killer Frost. She also knows that bad things happen to those that get involved with her. She knows what will inevitably happen to Julian. So she warns him. She tells him to run away. She tells him to be afraid. Because he should be. History tells us that he should be.
But Julian isn’t the kind of person to run away scared. While we don’t know him as well as we do these other characters, one thing I’ve come to understand about him is that when he cares about something – about someone – that there’s nothing that’ll get in his way. So he takes that leap of faith. He’s putting himself in danger. He’s inevitably walking into his death.
Gorilla City Continues…
Oh, you didn’t think Grodd was so easily defeated, did you? Silly you. If we’ve learned anything after these now three encounters with Grodd – and we’ve learned a lot – it’s that Grodd only gets smarter with each passing appearance. More than that, we’ve learned never to underestimate him.
Just as easily as Grodd tricked us into believing that he was the victim in Gorilla City, Grodd easily fooled Team Flash into believing that they’d actually defeated them. They might’ve escaped relatively unharmed (emotionally you’re never the same), but Grodd has contingency plans as we soon learned.
Grodd might have needed Cisco or Harry to open a breech to Earth-1 Central City, but Cisco and Harry aren’t the only ones that know how to accomplish that feat. Remember Gypsy? Cisco’s flirtatious friend that in a way helped him hone his powers further? Well, turns out Grodd had Gypsy captured and brought to Gorilla City. And given that she’s a time traveler that can open breeches as easily as I can type on this keyboard, Gypsy could easily open a breech to Earth-1 Central City. Especially when she’s under the influence of Grodd.
This Gorilla City story isn’t over, folks. In fact, it’s only just begun. Grodd is taking the fight to Central City. And he might just be proving a headline true in this terrible future Team Flash is attempting to prevent.
- Julian’s “Planet of the Apes” reference was perfection. Don’t think it escaped my attention that Tom Felton appeared in Planet of the Apes. As a comic fan you know I’m all about the Easter Eggs.
- It’s about damn time Jesse and Wally got together! These two are so damn cute together, and there’s real potential to flesh out a relationship. They’re both two young kids who were thrust into this speedster life – while enjoyable – and they’re still trying to have fun when they can. Not to mention finally watching them lock lips was the satisfaction I’ve been waiting for with these two since last season.
- Sometimes it’s nice to enjoy the comic book elements of a show. While this wasn’t my favorite episode – as I prefer the deep character moments – it was so freaking cool to get to explore this well-known mythos a bit further. Plus, it’s always exciting when we get to explore other Earths!
- If Jesse is going to stay on Earth-1, can Harry stay, too? Harry has always been my favorite Harrison Wells. From his redemption arc to his relationship with his daughter to mentoring Barry to his dynamic relationship with Cisco, Harry is the Wells I never wanted to say goodbye to. Could this be a second chance?
- Did Caitlin just warn up of Julian’s (future/potential/untimely) death? Don’t think these foreshadowing moments – especially during a season where we know the future – went unnoticed. I can’t help but believe this was The Flash warning us to say goodbye to another character that has gotten close to Caitlin.
The Flash airs Tuesdays at 8/7c on The CW.