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Wednesday, 22 February 2017

The Flash S3E13: Attack on Gorilla City

The Flash
Series 3, Episode 13
Attack on Gorilla City

I don't much like Grodd episodes, and I think I've finally started to pin down a few reasons why. Firstly, I'm not very keen on talking animals in things which aren't about talking animals -- they add a layer of narm that is often difficult to shake. But secondly, The Flash does such a horrendously poor job of selling the fact that Grodd is actually a real, live character who's physically present in scenes with other characters.

He's CGI, naturally, but with these shows being both CGI-heavy and made on a fairly low budget, he is unconvincing, plasticky CGI, and the show keeps him either out of scene or in the shadows as much as humanly possible. Why, then, did they think it was a good idea to -- in a series that has Savitar, another CGI monstrosity, no less -- have an entire episode about going to an African gorilla city.

We'll start with the brief shots we get of non-Gorilla City Africa, or as it is more rightly known 'Vancouver with a yellow filter.' 

Watching Legends of Tomorrow today, I was struck by how poor a stand-in for the UK Vancouver is, as it has entirely different kinds of trees that can't be mistaken for one another, but you know, that's not a huge problem. We all know these shows are filmed in Vancouver, I don't think anybody should be worrying about how the trees are too tall and too thin.

You look ridiculous.

It's different when it's Africa, though, because Africa and Canada are a lot more different from each other than the UK and Canada. My suspension of disbelief can just about hold out when Canada is substituting for the UK, but it collapses entirely when Canada is substituting for Africa.

The episode swiftly takes us to Gorilla City, however, where the main action -- involving Grodd asking Barry to defeat Solivar, the leader of Gorilla City, and then revealing that he tricked them and wants to lead the gorillas to burn Central City to the ground -- takes place, and which consists entirely of one dungeon room, one sandy area, and lots of CGI. Lots of CGI. 

Sometimes this CGI takes the form of a sweeping view of the city from above that looks utterly unconvincing. Sometimes it takes the form of a crowd of cheering gorillas in some coliseum stands, also looking utterly unconvincing. The CGI is practically Playstation 1 esque in how bad it is, and it's everywhere, constantly, all the time.


This episode does have some good turns, though. Having Grodd possess Wells works really well, because Tom Cavanagh does a great job of selling the idea that he's a telepathic gorilla talking through a human. More Julian is always nice. Having the gang use teamwork to get out of a predicament without having the prerequisite ten minutes of angst was especially nice.

It's even a pretty interesting story. The idea of Grodd as a Machiavellian manipulator, like his comics counterpart, does a lot to help his character be compelling, and the idea that he's learned his ways from Thawne even moreso. For once, Grodd actually makes a halfway compelling villain -- which is good, since he's apparently the villain of the next episode, too.

(In truth, I'm a little baffled by the showrunners' preoccupation with Grodd.)

The episode also has a B-plot, involving Wally and Jesse's romance, but in all honesty, it's kind of incoherent. First Jesse is upset about Wally being a speedster, then there's guff about how Wally is complete and on his own journey, and none of it feels actually grounded in either reality or just how people actually act. At some point, the B-plot veers around to 'should Jesse stay on Earth-1' and naturally she decides that she well -- although whether that lasts past the next episode remains to be seen. She might get unceremoniously killed off just to keep the speedster count down.


We're also definitely getting a Julian/Caitlin romance, which is fine, I suppose. I have no strong feelings either way about the two of them as a romance, but I like both of them as characters, so that should be at least sort of interesting.

Next week, we have gorillas attacking Central City, because apparently Grodd had a back-up plan in the form of Gypsy all along, which raises the question of why she wasn't just his Plan A, especially as I'm sure she would have been able to beat Solivar on her own. Or shoved him through a breach. Either/or. It also seems likely that next week will have a lot of Wells and Wells interaction, which I am completely okay with.

Still, this was a fun enough episode, and it's nice to see where, like, the entire series' CGI budget has apparently gone. Next week looks like it's going to be all-out action, so that should be fun as well.

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