Last week’s Flash was nothing if not intense. Wells was exposed! Eddie was kidnapped! Iris finally figured out Barry was the Flash! And then there was the promise of something big this week, something we’ve been waiting a long time for…
The episode opens with Captain Singh wondering about Eddie’s whereabouts, and Joe and Barry offering up the lame-duck excuse of “he took some personal time,” which seems to be the go-to cop out on this show. After Singh leaves, Joe and Barry discuss a string of mysterious gold robberies as well as the fact that they can’t find Eddie in the myriad of abandoned warehouses and factories that pepper Central City. Seriously, Central City is like the Bridgeport, CT of the DC universe.
Iris shows up to tell Barry that she knows that the Reverse Flash took Eddie and that she thinks the cops should be involved. She then none-to-subtly tries to goad Barry into giving up his secret identity, but he somehow manages to dodge answering any of them in a pretty stunted piece of dialogue with lots of third-person name-dropping and winking answers. You know when a family sitcom has a “very special episode” about smoking cigarettes or condoms or something? You know how those always play out? Yeah, it felt just as awkward.
Mercifully, we cut to the Federal Reserve, where palettes of gold bars are being loaded up into a truck. Suddenly, a masked man dressed up like one of the dudes from Army of Two shows up and fires a rocket into the truck, which doesn’t explode the truck and send hundreds of gold bars careening through the air. Of course, I’m not sure how the hell this guy is going to run off with palettes full of gold bullion, but we’ll worry about that later.
Barry and Cisco hear about the Reserve attack and the Flash makes it to the scene. He tries to apprehend the goon, but he’s suddenly disabled by strange visions of surgery (did he mind-meld with Megan Fox?), allowing the would-be thief to escape.
Barry goes back to S.T.A.R. Labs, where they check out security camera footage from the Reserve. Strangely, it looks like the armored goon was stricken by the same mental “whammy” as The Flash. They don’t have much time to discuss the ramifications before Iris enters the lab, greeting Barry…”or should I say the Flash.”
Cisco and Caitlin clear out of the room so Barry and Iris can discuss the whole Flash thing. It becomes an amusing exchange, as you can watch Barry dig himself pretty much down to the bedrock in real time. He tells Iris that pretty much everybody knows that he’s the Flash except for her, which makes her leave in a huff.
We then see Eddie tied up in a warehouse when Wells enters, spouting off your expected villain diatribe. Eddie tells Wells that he’s full of crap and that the Flash is going to…
He doesn’t have time to finish his thought before Wells races over to him, eye to eye, and hisses “stop talking.”
Joe goes down to CCPN to talk to Iris about the while Barry thing, explaining that he kept her in the dark in order to keep her safe. He tells her that Reverse Flash probably killed Mason Bridge, and that she would have been in danger if she’d been in the loop. She fires back that had they kept her in the loop, Eddie wouldn’t have been kidnapped. I can’t fully relay the weird logic she uses, but I’ll be damned if it didn’t make sense. Wait, am I on Iris’ side? Shit…
The CCPD set up a sting to draw out the gold thief by filling an ice cream truck with SWAT team members and alleged gold bars. The thief tries to disable the truck with a land mine and a firefight erupts between the thief and the CCPD SWAT team. It’s all down to Joe and the thief when the Flash races in and disables the armored criminal. Barry pulls off the robber’s mask to reveal…General Eiling?
The team brings Eiling back to the accelerator prison, where he stands in a fugue state. Cisco tells the team that he called Diggle’s wife Lyla (crossover!) for more info on Eiling, and she told him that the General has been missing for the last three months. They interrogate Eiling, but he tells them “Eiling not here…Eiling bad.” They press further, when the possessed Eiling reveals “I am Grodd. Fear me.” Oh, Grodd’s channeling Ray Liotta!
The team theorizes that Grodd and Eiling must be psychically connected, and Joe believes that Wells is using Grodd as a diversion. They track Grodd to the sewers, where they find writing on the wall that proves that Grodd has evolved in his time in the sewers: simple scrawls of “Grodd” rapidly becoming mathematical equations. They become aware of something else in the sewers with them when Barry is suddenly crippled by the same visions that he had earlier. In the confusion, Grodd pops out of the ceiling and grabs Joe.
Joe comes to elsewhere in the sewers and hears Grodd snarling. He pulls his gun, but suddenly finds himself turning the gun toward his own head. Grodd enters and speaks to Joe telepathically, explaining that “Father hate gun.” Oh-kay.
We get another interlude with Eddie and Wells in the warehouse, where Wells explains that the Thawne bloodline is distinguished, and that Eddie is the failure. “You are the only Thawne to be all but forgotten by history,” he mocks, before showing Eddie that Iris marries Barry and not him. Jeez, Wells, now you’re just being a dick.
Cisco cobbles together a device to protect Barry from Grodd’s psychic attacks, and not a moment too soon: the tracker they tagged Grodd with comes online. Barry races towards Grodd’s location, where Cisco uses steam valves to try and position Grodd 5.3 miles away from Barry. Why 5.3 miles? That’s the distance it takes for Barry to build up momentum for a supersonic punch (just like that episode with the lame-ass villain Girder.)
Unfortunately, Barry’s punch is easily deflected by the prepared Grodd (damn psychic gorillas), who tosses him aside like a ragdoll before choking him and throwing him through a wall onto the subway tracks. I can’t help but point out that this is the first time I ever heard that Central City had a mass transit system. Seriously, is it weird that I kinda just thought everybody walked places or droves Priuses or something?
Grodd begins psychically attacking Barry again, which is never a good thing on subway tracks. He’s about to become a multi-shaded red stain when Iris steps in and talks him through it. Her voice is enough of a lifeline and Barry comes out of it just in time to lure Grodd into the path of an oncoming subway train. There’s a Mussolini joke in there, but I don’t feel that 1940’s Italian dictator humor fits all that well.
Wrapping things up, Barry brings Joe home, talks things over with Iris (she’s staying faithful to Eddie and committed to saving him), releases Eiling from the accelerator prison (he knows Barry’s the Flash, but he’s leaving him alone as they have a “common enemy” in Wells), and we end knowing that Grodd is still out there…
…OK, actually we end with Wells in the warehouse with Eddie, completing a strange cylinder. “Now I have the key,” he reveals.
“Key to what?” Eddie asks
Wells slots the cylinder into a console, revealing a massive tunnel.
“Time to go home.”
After months of Grodd teases, his final reveal was…underwhelming. I understand that budgetary restrictions on television make rendering a hulking CGI gorilla a fiscal challenge, but in that case you don’t use him. It sucked to have what is arguably one of the Flash’s greatest villains reduced to little more than the “freak of the week,” rather than the brains-and-brawns double-threat that we know he is. I can’t help but feel a similar twinge as I did way back during season 8 of Smallville with Doomsday. If you watched Smallville, you know what I’m talking about. If you didn’t…don’t judge me.
But this episode did the unthinkable: it made me like and respect Iris. After months and months of her being one of the least likeable love interests on television, she spent the episode reacting to situations in a way that made me appreciate the character more. She was written in a way that finally made sense, and I hope that they can continue this path through the rest of the season and beyond.
Catch new episodes of The Flash Tuesdays at 8/7c on The CW