After being teased throughout the season, last night’s “Grodd Lives” finally put the 500 lb gorilla in the room front and center and those that feared that Gorilla Grodd would come off as corny found that they had nothing to fear at all. While the episode focused just as much on Iris as it did Grodd, there is no doubt who the audience came to see last night. Was it worth all of the anticipation? As has become the case with The Flash, of course the episode was worth the wait. As always, spoilers ahead.
Now that Iris has used her superior deductive skills to figure out that Barry is The Flash (just kidding – she simply recognized a static shock shared between her and Flash as well as she and Barry), audiences were presented with a character who feels that everyone in her life has betrayed her; a character who feels that she can’t even trust her best friend. On the one hand, it is easy to sympathize with someone who is in Iris’s position: Not only has everyone she loved been keeping a secret from her, which, to her, basically amounts to lying, but as an investigative journalist who has been obsessed with The Flash since he was just The Blur, she has completely failed. The fact that such a big piece of the puzzle has been sitting right in front of her has to be a bit of a blow to her (large) ego. On the other hand, this is a character who feels that everything should revolve around her and her wants/needs, so feeling any empathy for her is a tough task. Especially, once you consider that one of the standard rules of being a superhero is hiding a secret identity! Admittedly, Barry hasn’t been fantastic at hiding his identity and, really, Iris was one of the few people in the series at this point that didn’t know he was The Man in the Red Suit, however, how many people are actually angry at a superhero once their identity is revealed? Not many. Secret identities come with the territory and, hey, at least Barry isn’t a supervillain!
While Iris made her displeasure known and gave Barry some drama to deal with, a new villain has emerged who has a penchant for gold. The villain is a tough nut to crack, as he attacks with military precision and is so heavily armored that he is almost impenetrable. Even when the police manage to put a bullet in the villain, he just keeps coming. For a moment, it almost appeared that the villain may have something in common with DC baddie Deathstroke, considering the armor that he was wearing.
As it turns out, however, it was General Eiling, who was turned over to Grodd by Wells several episodes back. It is a bit disappointing that audiences didn’t get the General Eiling that comic book readers are more familiar with but it was still a nice return for the character and Clancy Brown, the man who plays Eiling, definitely didn’t want to go the comic book route, according to comments he made to Comicbook.com:
“To be honest with you, I never liked what happened to Eiling in the comic books. I liked his character before all that nonsense happened. It’s like Thunderbolt Ross — I don’t like that he necessarily turned into the Red Hulk but it was sort of the way the narrative had to go. The Red Hulk and Thunderbolt Ross exist perfectly well exclusive of each other and I think that Eiling turning into…what did he become in the comics? Some kind of Nazi-werewolf nonsense? I don’t think that’s relevant these days.”
The comparison between Ross and Eiling has been made more than once and The Flash’s showrunners were smart to depart from the comic book incarnation which, let’s be honest, would have likely been taken as an attempt to keep up with Marvel. Instead, the writers used Eiling as puppet for Grodd and the STAR Labs team’s first clue that the gorilla was still alive. As it turns out, Grodd was a gorilla that Eiling and Wells had been experimenting on, as we had seen in previous flashbacks. It was further revealed that Eiling had tortured/experimented on Grodd while trying to create soldiers with telepathic and telekinetic abilities – experiments that Wells was against and tried to put a stop to, as well as he could. Grodd was still a relatively normal gorilla, though much smarter than your normal zoo primate, and was still in his cage when the particle accelerator blew. Caitlin checked on Grodd after the explosion but it was just an empty cage that greeted her and she didn’t really think about it after that. Yet another example of one of the STAR Labs geniuses not using common sense but I digress.
During The Flash’s first fight with the armored Eiling, some sort of mind spear (for lack of a better term) was flung at both Flash and Eiling, completely incapacitating them and taking them to the ground, eventually leading to Eiling’s escape. As the team is cleaning Barry up over at STAR Labs, which apparently has absolutely NO security, Iris walks right through the front door and starts scolding Barry about keeping secrets. This, of course, leads to an exchange between Iris and Barry that ends with him asserting that him keeping his secret is no different from Iris lying about her feelings for him. Thankfully, the exchange was short and led right into a search for Grodd, which Iris is actually able to help with. Unfortunately, however, the search team (Joe, Barry, and Cisco) actually find Grodd in the sewers beneath Central City and were not prepared for what they would find. Grodd is not only much more telepathic and telekinetic than the team thought, he has also been growing to huge proportions, and is completely loyal to Wells, calling him “father”. Grodd easily takes out Flash with his mind spear then actually slams him against the sewer wall with his mind. As Flash is trying to recover, Grodd snatches Joe, effectively giving Wells not only Iris’s boyfriend, who was kidnapped last episode, but also her father.
Speaking of Eddie…
Eddie was incapacitated for the entire episode and was basically used as a device to give the audience some insight as to Wells’s dastardly plans. Not much insight, mind you, but enough to rehash some old information for newer viewers. Quite honestly, if you have been watching since the beginning of the season, Eddie’s part could have been completely removed from this episode and you wouldn’t have noticed. The only pieces of new information to come out of this pair were 1.) Eddie now knows that Iris marries Barry in the future and not him; and 2.) Wells finally has what he needs in order to get back to the future. Yes, these are two important pieces of info, but not necessarily pieces that needed to be discussed in this episode.
Back to Grodd.
Caitlin and Cisco develop a headband designed specifically to protect Barry from the mind spears (you know, that term is really growing on me!) but, more importantly, the task wound up proving to the team that they are just as strong, if not stronger, without Wells around. Armed with his new headband, Barry tracks down Grodd (thanks to a tracking device) and, in probably the coolest scene this season, decides to go for another sonic punch to take out Grodd, which Grodd easily stops by actually catching The Flash’s fist in mid punch and slams Barry through a wall. The headband works but after being slammed through that wall, it suffered a bit of damage, allowing Grodd to get inside Barry’s head while a subway train makes its way towards him. Barry is paralyzed with the mind spear and is helpless to move out-of-the-way of the oncoming train until Iris takes the mic to speak directly to him, somehow giving him the power to fight Grodd through his love for her. Grodd escapes, of course, but The Flash lives to fight another day. In retrospect, it was probably not the worst thing in the world that Grodd got away, considering the team probably wouldn’t be equipped to contain him in their underground metahuman prison.
Speaking of the prison…
One of the best scenes of the episode last night was actually deleted. The scene answers one of the internet’s biggest questions about the series: How do the captured metahumans eat?
As always, The Flash presented a very strong episode and Grodd was absolutely terrifying. The character was believable and realistic, which is no easy feat, considering the appearance of Grodd. What could have easily played as corny wound up being very dramatic in all the right ways and audiences could easily empathize with the creature. We are sure to see him appear in future episodes, as we can be sure that Grodd lives.
With only two episodes remaining in the season, things are sure to heat up. Take a look at next week’s episode, “Rogue Air”.
Were you satisfied with Gorilla Grodd in this episode? Are you happy with Eiling’s departure from his comic book counterpart or would you have rather seen the comic book version? Are you planning a Flash Finale Party?