As the initial season of ‘The Flash’ has gone on there haven;t been a lot of rough patches. There was the mystery of the man behind the yellow mask, the question of how shady was Harrison Wells (answer: very), an amazing mentor/father figure in Joe, capable mission control sidekicks to rival Team Arrow in Cisco and Caitlin, and glorious team-ups with ‘Arrow.’ There was just one little problem holding the show back from its full potential — the cliche handling of Iris as the one character too emotionally fragile to handle knowing that her best friend was The Flash.
In a continual theme for the series, I’ve commended the writers for not taking the easy way out and dragging out major subplots to stretch out for countless seasons. Since Iris knowing Barry’s identity was the last big secret left it seemed a given that the writers would keep milking that well for dull and uninspired romantic angst.
To the writers’ credit, they had Iris lay into Barry and Joe for their questionable logic in assuming they were somehow keeping her safe by not telling her Barry is The Flash. Her anger was warranted and it was cathartic having Iris be the audience surrogate levying the same complaints many fans had of the all too often botched handling of Iris storylines. Unlike ‘Gotham,’ which had to resort to drastic measures to handle its problem female, ‘The Flash’ is going to be a lot stronger with this welcome new direction with Iris.
A gold snatching robber is holding up armored trucks and Barry finally has a moment in between searching for Eddie to stop him. The robber uses a bazooka (is that just a theme this week?) and is about to grab the gold when Barry races over. Just as he’s about to put him down, The Flash gets attacked by a psychic blast that leaves him helpless. Team Flash can’t figure it out and are still running tests when Iris drops in. You’d think STAR Labs would have a lock, but also who is footing the bill to keep the lights, let alone locks, operational now that Wells has fled?
Iris’ conversations with Barry and Joe were handled well with each trying to explain, but admitting they handled it poorly — a smart move as keeping Iris in the dark for so long had been the dumbest aspect to the show. In a rematch with the armored heist man, Flash takes him down to reveal Gen. Eiling who we last saw being abducted by Wells following his fight with Flash and Firestorm.
Eiling is nearly comatose and barely responds as he’s placed in the particle cell prison. After Eiling says he’s Grodd, Caitlin and Cisco piece together that Eiling’s attempts to make a telepathic super-powered soldier started with Grodd and the particle accelerator explosion likely enhanced Grodd as well. And now Eiling is a puppet under Grodd’s control. Time for a trip to the sewers to track Grodd down. While Cisco and Caitlin easily could have Googled it, it was a nice gesture to have Iris using her reporter skills to help Barry.
Meanwhile in an undisclosed location, Wells is having a little family bonding time with Eddie. Figuring he’s safe from Wells killing him, Eddie is pretty mouthy about his descendants. Wells goes low saying Eddie is the only Thawne to be nearly forgotten by history as he accomplished little of substance in his life. And just like that we’ve got some fantastic storyline potential for Eddie next season. Wells goes even further by saying Eddie doesn’t event get the girl popping up the newspaper written by Iris West-Allen. With everyone on equal footing with Barry’s identity, now his romantic triangle has finally got interesting.
Armed with tranquilizers and bananas (oh Cisco), Joe, Barry and Cisco go looking for Grodd. Partly due to budget restrictions and also just because it looked cool to do an ‘Aliens‘ homage, Grodd picks them off one by one before taking Joe back to his lair. Barry is even more determined to stop Grodd, but all of Team Flash is stumped how to stop Grodd from screwing with Barry’s mind yet again. Iris rallies them and Cisco and Caitlin whip up a telepathic blocker for the rematch. Thankfully it doesn’t work perfectly (how could they test it to be sure?). I really liked the callback to the fight with Girder, which doesn’t work this time forcing Barry to get extra creative.
Yes, it’s a TV CGI Gorilla and won’t look like they spent millions on it, but for me, I was geeked out as The Flash was fighting Gorilla Grodd on my TV screen. After the blocker gets damaged, Barry is about to get railroaded by an oncoming train when Iris helps him snap out of Grodd’s sway. Thankfully the writers didn’t go hokey on us and have Iris profess her love for Barry at that moment. Barry still can’t beat Grodd, but tricks him into getting rocketed along by another train.
Back at STAR Labs, Barry releases Eiling, who tells Barry he already knew he was the Flash, but hopes they can work together in the future as they have a common enemy in Wells. But for now, ‘excuse me I have a gorilla to hunt.’ I love comic book TV shows.
Joe and Barry take turns apologizing to Iris. This was two very well acted scenes and it feels like now the secret identity thing is done, we can move on to some more complex stories for Iris. And just in case we weren’t sure, Grodd scales a building before leaping off ready to terrorize Central City at a date to be determined.
The show has fixed its one biggest weakness, which would have been cause enough for celebration, but the much-anticipated Grodd/Flash showdown delivered. ‘The Flash’ is on a nice hot streak right now as it builds to the major battle of The Reverse Flash taking on The Flash with a little help from his friends.