THE FLASH Season 6 Episode 13 Review: Grodd Friended Me

It wouldn't be a season of The Flash without the annual Grodd episode. There's always been a healthy understanding between fans and the crew about the challenges behind bringing a giant gorilla to life on TV, and rather than becoming a point of contention, Grodd’s once a year appearance is now one of the series’ most beloved traditions. I've always particularly appreciated how, despite his presence being a rare treat, Grodd is never the sole selling point of his episodes. Each story tries to add some new twist to Grodd’s reappearance to change up the stakes, whether it be a Gorilla City gladiator match, a kaiju battle with King Shark, or, as with this episode, a team up with the Flash. 

While it was no doubt done for budgetary reasons, I enjoyed the build up to Grodd properly taking the stage by him psychically using a rotating cast of Barry’s loved ones to make his case for their team-up. From an in-universe perspective, Grodd was attempting to be persuasive, and it made sense he'd try to make his case more appealing to Barry by coming to him with a friendly face. And from the out-of-universe perspective, it was just neat that Barry and Grodd got to have a full on conversation for once, instead of having Grodd plotting offscreen to save up the special effects. And when push came to shove, the actual fight Barry and Grodd had against Solovar was very fun but rather brief. If that was all we got of Grodd, I for one would have been bummed. They may never reach the heights of their rivalry from the comics, but anything that can help Grodd become more than just another bad guy to Barry feels a little special, even if it involves a lot of talking. 

One element of their partnership that could have been a little smoother was having Barry's reluctance to trust Grodd be linked to his sudden struggle with the changes caused by Crisis. Cisco had a couple of stress-induced rants on timeline changes not too long ago, and Barry showed virtually no reaction at the time. It felt off to see him suddenly so unbalanced by something that happened months ago; Barry’s been operating for weeks as normal, and now we’re suddenly supposed to believe he can't make it through a straightforward heist without constantly being foiled by Earth-Prime changes. It felt like a half-baked story element thrown in to try and add more weight to his forgiveness of Grodd, but it ended up feeling like a distraction from their actual conflict. 

New Team Flash member Chester also did precious little during his first mission to separate himself from the socially awkward technogeek mold the Arrowverse, and indeed many other action shows, rely on for all the computer wizardry telling the hero in the field where to go. I certainly don't want to write him off as a character this early on, but he needs more of a motivation than just loving superheroes to be on the crew. Right now he feels dangerously close to reviving the cartoonish antics of lesser Wells like Sherloque or Herr Wells. 

Chester’s heart-to-heart with Frost about the pressures of being a black man in the STEM field was the only real standout moment of his from the episode. Despite having a fairly racially diverse cast, the series rarely acknowledges any character’s cultural background, and it notably avoids discussing any of the real world social issues its sister shows do. There have been tentative signs of change under new showrunner Eric Wallace (who notably is the show’s first black head writer), and I would love for conversations like Chester and Frost’s to not be one off moments. If handled right, there’s a real opportunity to show how much richer characters can become if their unique cultural experiences are celebrated instead of ignored. 

Back in the mirrorverse, we learned Eva’s inability to control her powers seems to have been a total ruse. I'm a little surprised at how quickly Eva got outed as a villain - I wouldn't have minded a little more of a slowburn approach to showing her true colors - but the series has a tendency to drag out reveals, so I will gladly take a quick turnaround over another seven episodes of nothing but teases, especially as there's still plenty of mystery about what her ultimate goals are and how symbiotic her connection with Mirror Iris is.

Written by Kaitlin Roberts, THE FLASH Beat Writer