The Flash 6×13 “Grodd Friended Me”
Director: Stefan Pleszcznski
Writers: Kristen Kim and Joshua V. Gilbert
Starring: Grant Gustin, Candice Patton, Danielle Panabaker, Jesse L. Martin, Victoria Park, Brandon McKnight, David Sobolov, Keith David, Efrat Dor, Kayla Compton
Reviewed by: Jason Larouche
Synopsis: Barry accidentally becomes trapped in Grodd’s mind, but finds his old enemy changed; Iris and Eva continue to find a way out of the Mirror World while Mirror-Iris crosses a line to get what she wants; Nash is still plagued by visions of previous doppelgangers.
Post-Crisis changes a-plenty this week and they hit Barry where it hurts.
Clever on the writers’ parts to get across to the viewer that it’s not just people that have been affected by the merged Earths. It’s common sense to deduce the increase in population and cities would cause a seismic shift in existing towns. The landscape has changed, and nothing hits home harder for Barry than discovering the cemetery where his parents are buried no longer exists. Beyond the re-vilified Pied Piper and 3 trillion other changes, this affects Barry on such a profound level. The revelation of a literally new Central City provides laughs where it should, and somber moments where needed. The lab time with Gideon was needed to remind the audience Barry was not just as forensic scientist, but an inventor as well. The mobile Gideon was the perfect vehicle to both rope in Chester to Team Flash and land Barry in Grodd’s mindscape. The bluish hues in the lab and Solovar sequences properly distinguish those scenes from reality. This is also the first episode in a long time where Grant gets more face time. The inclusion of Barry is essential in establishing an official new team member like Chester. More on him later.
Mirror-Iris and Eva show their true colors this week. I can’t remember the last time that Candice and Jesse had a heated argument since the first season. Candice begins to inject Mirror-Iris with manic tendencies when she is pushed, while the writers show the lengths she’s willing to go to get what she wants. This is necessary to establish her as the contradiction to the real deal, still trapped in the mirror like Eva McCulloch. Or so it seems. Efrat does a brilliant heel turn; she drops the despondent, injured act like it’s a hat and reveals a physical connection with Mirror Iris. The writers are borrowing from the New 52 version of Mirror Master for her character development. Sam Scudder was enhanced at Captain Cold’s insistence, and it blew up in his face. He could bring people and things into the mirror dimension, even create mirror constructs of himself, but couldn’t leave it. His power had become his prison. Apparently Mirror-Iris was made from her in that instant Iris was pulled in. The writers push that notion of Eva’s imprisonment further by having Eva demonstrate her inability to leave the hard way. I wasn’t expecting her ability to heal herself, though. It remains to be seen as to how much Eva actually knows about her ex-husband’s dirty dealings. Regardless, it looks as though we have a new Mirror Master – or Mistress – after all. Hell she’s even wearing the trademark green and brown.
Now on to Grodd. Brilliant idea to have Barry’s conversations with him conveyed through versions of Caitlin and Wells that he’s familiar with. The initial pretense of Barry unable to communicate with Caitlin because, to her, is a gorilla, is reminiscent of a Quantum Leap episode in which Sam Beckett leaps into the life of a lab monkey. As Grodd, Danielle, Tom, and even Jesse sound very ominous when the audio’s overlayed by David Sobolov’s voice. I guess it also saves on three additional minutes of CGI Grodd until the final battle. To date, Grodd is the first of Barry’s Rogues that has been fundamentally changed for the better by Crisis. While still savage in tone, Sobolov’s performance feels more somber this time. He’s able to convey a sense of humility and inspire sympathy in his claims to live in peace with his own kind. The kicker is him actually inspiring Barry to move forward from how things were before, and embrace how things are now. That train of thought was essential in the final resolution to the mindscape adventure. The writers are clever to disguise this face turn as another possible deception throughout the ordeal, and even go as far as remind the audience of Grodd’s crimes in the past through Barry. The moments when he’s actually facing Barry and the foreboding music track never fail in keeping the audience guessing what his next move is. The idea of Grodd imbued with the Speed Force was another New 52 story, and it actually worked. Right down to the red lightning bolt that appeared on his chest. It was both exciting- and a little funny – seeing Grodd move like The Flash in the fight against Solovar.
The incorporation of Chester into Team Flash seemed a natural fit. In a way, his geek outs were reminiscent of Cisco in season one. After his last appearance, this reviewer had hoped that this character would go beyond just a one-off as Camilla has. Brandon and the writers thankfully make him less of an annoying fanboy to Barry and inject him with pathos. Clever in making old demographics the source of his self-doubt, how an OG black teacher let him down in that sense. Further, having Chester track down Barry’s parents’ cemetery plots after he failed to do so was a great way in convincing Barry to keep him on the team. It’s also a testament to how far Frost has come as a life coach; the crew is succeeding in working around Danielle’s pregnancy and still keep Frost functioning in some capacity. Her ability to empathize with Chester on how every Team Flash member has jeopardized Barry’s life as he did cements her improved social skills.
The haunting of Nash Wells continues, as does his up-and-down relationship with his…what exactly is Allegra to him if not his daughter? The reappearance of Sherloque Wells apparently plays with the notion that the council of Wells has survived Crisis. The brief argument between Allegra and Nash over that photo – admittedly it did appear creepy minus the context that he neglected to disclose to her – is as important as the cliffhanger at the end. Sherloque demonstrating Reverse-Flash powers brings up a possibility. Could these “ghosts” of Wells have been Eobard Thawne all along? That he’s cloaked himself from others except for Nash? Time will tell, but any warning he delivers never fails to grab longtime fans’ attention.
There’s not many negative points this week, thankfully. The jury is still out, though, on making Hartley a metahuman with Black Canary-like sonic abilities.
I give The Flash 6×13 a 4 out of 5. Huge improvements in writing from the past two weeks and great spotlight on post-Crisis Central City. The deepening agenda of Eva McCulloch and Mirror-Iris stays relevant and the notion of Grodd as a possible ally to The Flash has possibilities. And again, any return of Barry’s mortal enemy is always a headline grabber. See you guys next week!