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Wednesday, 1 March 2017

The Flash S2E14: Attack on Central City

The Flash
Series 2, Episode 14
Attack on Central City.

So it is that we hit the second of this series Budget Sink Two-Parter, which purports to have an invasion of Central City by gorillas but in fact barely has anything of the sort. It's an odd episode, this one, combining an inherently silly premise (intelligent gorillas from another dimension are attacking) with a weirdly somber and grim tone. I can understand the logic of having this be the episode where Barry struggles with whether he should kill someone, since Grodd isn't human and does himself exist in a society where kill-or-be-killed is often the order of the day, but it makes for some very jarring tonal shifts.

I'm sorry, writers, seriousness and giant gorillas just don't go together that well. Ask the people who keep trying to make gritty Planet of the Apes films, they'll tell you.

Anyway, this episode picks up pretty soon after last week's, as the team collectively pat themselves on the back over thwarting Grodd -- only to discover that they haven't, and that Grodd has used a brainwashed Gypsy to gain access to Earth-1. As Grodd enacts a series of plans designed to throw Barry off balance and wreak destruction, Barry must face down the possibility of having to kill Grodd to end his reign of terror.

And also be sad and punchy.

Like I predicted last week -- no prizes for me there, it was pretty obvious -- this episode has a lot of interaction between HR and Wells, making it clear that Wells absolutely despises HR. In fact, Wells' disdain for HR was so acute and so one-sided that I almost expected something to happen to prove him wrong. The show even provided set-up for it, with a moment where Wells' plan for Barry to stop a nuclear launch clearly isn't working, and he can't think of another one, which would have provided the perfect point for HR to step in and have an Ideas Man moment. Instead, HR remains silent, Wells' plan eventually works, and nobody learns anything.

I'm not necessarily complaining about that, but it is a little bit of an odd turn for this show, which often leans heavily on a particular formula that is driven very heavily by character development.

For the scenes with the two of them in, the show employs a laughably obvious gambit where they never appear in the same shot (unless it's from very far away), so the camera can just switch between looking at Tom Cavanagh as HR and looking at Tom Cavanagh as Wells. It is not even remotely subtle, but I doubt anyone minds.

I do really like Cisco's costume.

Our B-plot for this episode, meanwhile, involves Wally and Jesse telling Wells that Jesse is moving, only for him to reveal to Wally that he's dying. Again, this doesn't really go anywhere: Jesse finds out and immediately realises that it's just a ruse to keep her on Earth-2, and confronts him, and that's it. In a bizarre turn away from formula, the plot doesn't really get any kind of satisfactory conclusion, whether it be one where Wells learns from his mistake or one where it's revealed that he really is dying, it's just a one-and-done 'Wells lies, Jesse doesn't fall for it' thing

Which leaves us with the A-plot, which takes up most of this episode and is, to be honest, pretty underwhelming. It has some good moments: Jesse L. Martin playing Grodd speaking through Joe was a nice touch, and our glimpse of Earth-19 (rainy and blue tinged, contrasting with Earth-2's golden tinge), including a mysterious purple-lightninged speedster, were both fun touches.

'Sup, Accelerating Man.

For the most part, though, there's just not a lot there. The gorilla invasion is underwhelming at best, and the conclusion -- a fight between Solivar and Grodd, thus vindicating Barry's decision to spare Solivar last week -- is very cut-price Playstation 1 Planet of the Apes. This story just feels so very, very empty of anything that could make it remotely engaging to me as a viewer. 

We end with the gorilla invasion having been stopped and everything back to roughly the status quo it was at at the beginning of the episode, and the more we get these future-changing shenanigans, the more I start to question how viable this plot is. Does changing a bunch of unrelated things in the timeline really change the future? Changing Caitlin becoming Killer Frost really would change the future, but things like a gorilla invasion and a restaurant closing don't seem like they'll have much impact on it all.

The speed gang's all here.

Especially since next week will apparently see Savitar returning, via the medium of making Wally hallucinate. Why he hasn't done that prior to this point, I don't know, but there you go. With Savitar returning, we can probably assume the plot is going to kick into high gear from the next episode onwards. Which makes sense some: Episode fifteen was when we discovered Zoom was Jay last year, and when Barry traveled back in time by one day the year before.

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