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The Flash - Attack on Gorilla City & Attack on Central City - Double Review: "Don't do episodes you can't afford"

2 Mar 2017

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One thing I always critique genre shows is when they do stuff they obviously don’t have the budget for. One example would be Supernatural trying to do dragons and then kitsunes in seasons 6 and 7 respectively, which was a disaster in my eyes, something they obviously had no budget for and ended up being incredibly disappointing. The Flash is not as disappointing, but it’s underwhelming as these 2 episodes obviously can’t live up to the promise of their trailers and teasers.

Attack on Gorilla City and Attack on Central City simply don’t live up to their promises. They are not awful episodes, but they feel like missed opportunities. There is nothing new going with the Iris is going to die storyline, so these episodes feel as filler up until the last moment of Attack on Central City when Savitar suddenly appears. If we sum it up: Barry feels hopeful that they are changing the future, then not, then yes (which has been done already in this back half of the season), Iris’ role is incredibly reduced here and her only worth moment is when she tells Barry to find a better way. Harry and Jessie come back, and while I love to see them around, they don’t add incredible character moments as Harry is contained to the relationship with Jessie, which we have seen to death in this show, and Jessie and Wally… eh.

If these episodes were light on the gorilla action and heavy on the the character dynamics, then I’d be all on it for it. But instead, I felt I was watching the same beats as the show has thrown with the occasional high budget escene, but short lived, light action that wasn’t exciting, and character moments that weren’t resonating most of the times. All of this lead me to approach the episode with an “eh” attitude. I felt like checking my phone more often than not and sometimes I had to rewind and I realized I didn’t miss anything.

Seriously, these episodes felt like a big build up to the fight on Central City and… it lasted for like what? 2 minutes? And those 2 minutes weren’t even exciting. Look, I get it, CGI gorillas are expensive, but that’s why I say don’t do stuff you don’t have the budget to. The show clearly did not have the budget to make it exciting and fell flat while delivering it. The Solovar vs Grodd moment was cool, I guess, but that’d be it. Most of the time I sighed at the missed opportunities. I would have slashed the other gorillas and made a bigger more epic confrontation between the two.

Now, I have been overly negative with these two episodes thus far, but that doesn’t mean it is all bad: as I said before, Jessie and Harry are always welcome. I think The Flash has some of the best characters on TV, but the show doesn’t really know how to exploit them, or at least not all the time. Harry and Jessie being back got me excited because I like them, I wish they had more to do, but I was happy to see them and especially during “Attack on Central City” it was a pleasure to see Harry react to HR on his jerky way as HR just looked delightful: those were moments I truly enjoyed.

One of the new things this show brought to the table was the notion of Barry considering killing (even if it is a sentient gorilla). I was surprised when Barry brought up Oliver and marvelled with Iris’ reply of him having to endure that weight forever: it was the best response she could have given, not undermining what Oliver did, but rather explaining the consequences of his decisions. He’s still a hero, but one who has to live with what he has done. I think that’s not just a nod to the best side of Arrow (which I miss dearly), but also the perfect contrast to what The Flash is and what Barry is.

Barry has made a lot of mistakes and only recently he is showing to have grown a brain again, so it is interesting to see that, now that he has learnt on so many errors he has made, that he is struggling with this moral dilemma, and that is triggered by fear and despair. I think the show hit an important landmark there and it was the highest point of both episodes, both when it was discussed with Iris and with Harry. In fact, Harry’s line about how every time he does it it becomes easier to do it the next time was quite powerful.

The Flash is usually light in tone: Barry is not going to directly kill anyone (he indirectly killed Zoom, but we can assume he didn’t see that through as the end result), he wants to stand up to his ideals of heroism and there is something very noble in that, but it’s nice to see the struggle that it causes.

Speaking of nice things, can we have Gypsy as a series regular? Please! I know I have already asked for Julian and so far we have got a lot of him (though he is not in the second part of this 2 episode event, which is weird), but Gypsy is one of those characters that bring the fun factor to the show and really adds so much to it. I have a lot of enjoyment seeing her interactions with Cisco and I just hope they keep going. She also adds some kind of anti-hero vibe to the show that makes it a whole more interesting. She is on grey area as opposed to most of the cast who are pretty much on the light side, and I like that Cisco is the one that can bring the best in her, while Gypsy can inspire Cisco to be stronger. It's simply an incredibly well executed dynamic

It was also sweet that Julian is worried about Caitlin and wants to help her: this is obviously going to relationship territory so I ask the show to end the Caitlin curse here: no more deaths, no more betrayal, the gal had enough. How many more extreme failures of romantic relationships does she has to endure? I’m just saying, I can see the Killer Frost plot coming with something happening to Julian, so show, please no. They make a good couple, they have good chemistry on screen and they make sense. Let them be. Please. I’m not asking as a shipper, I’m asking to stop regurgitating the same beats with Caitlin.

The episode was light on Joe, and sadly he gets one of the most eye rolling scenes when Grodd is controlling him. We have 3 speedsters and none of them thought of taking the gun away while he was rising it or when he was talking? Seriously? No one? It was frustrating to watch because it is an obvious plot convenience point that doesn’t work at all. And Joe himself didn’t get much to do on the episode anyway.

Lastly, Wally and Jessie. Good for them, but I’m not feeling it. Maybe it’s because I don’t like the actor or the character of Wally West, but I find it hard to connect with his storylines and not even Jessie can make me excited about it. I was hoping that there was more to it than just Jessie saying “I thought you liked me for my speed”, and go more in depth about some more real couples issues, like Wally feeling she was going too strong when she said “our place” or the reluctance of opening up to love and leave your life behind, but instead everything is just, apparently, perfectly happy for these two. I think the fact that they work too well is just too fantastical for my taste and I’d like to see a good couple with real issues. I think Barry and Iris have got the right pace there.

Overall, I’m pretty disappointed: some character moments save this 2 part event from being a bore fest. I think The Flash should take this as a lesson not to aim for stuff they can’t afford. Or at the very least, ask WB for that sweet money they make out of the DC shows and add a couple of millions more to throw a real event. It worked for “Invasion!”, but it clearly didn’t work here. But I do applaud the attempt and I think the show should be ambitious, but it also has to be realistic about what they can and cannot do. Here’s hoping the next one is either better executed or bigger on scope.

The Flash can do much better, both on epic scope and in relationship dynamics. I hope next week's episode gets me excited again, because the last 3 episodes have been quite disappointing for me on an otherwise solid season.

Grade: C

*You may have noticed a lack of Gorillas on the pictures. Part of it is due to the structure of the review I wrote before adding the pictures, but it is also telling on just how little they seemed to care on episodes dedicated to them. Many were just background players and Grodd and Solovar also didn't get as much screen time. I'm still pretty disappointed by how these episodes turned out.