The Flash: Season 2, Episode 7 - "Gorilla Warfare"

Gregory L. Reece

"Gorilla Warfare" is all about a talking gorilla with telepathic powers, a woman with hawk wings, and a doorway that leads to alternative dimensions, that happens to also be a carefully crafted human drama.

The Flash

Airtime: Tuesdays, 8 pm
Cast: Grant Gustin, Danielle Panabaker, Ciara Renée, Tom Cavanagh, Carlos Valdes, Jesse L. Martin, John Wesley Shipp
Subtitle: Season 2, Episode 7 - "Gorilla Warfare"
Network: CW
Air date: 2015-11-18

The latest episode of CW's The Flash offers up a giant talking gorilla with telepathic powers in a story that is equal parts homage to King Kong and a throwback to the marvelously colorful early comic book days of Barry Allen's Flash. "Gorilla Warfare" is both of those things, and a whole lot more. Gorilla Grodd (David Sobolov) is back from last season, and this time he’s using his telepathic powers to force scientists to provide him with the materials that he needs to create more of his kind. This is all in a bid to overcome his loneliness, a loneliness poignantly expressed by the graffiti that he ‘s scrawled on the wall of his lair: Grodd Sad.

Like King Kong, Grodd kidnaps a woman to help ease his loneliness, but in this case Caitlin Snow (Danielle Panabaker) is no Fay Wray, no damsel in distress. Instead, Grodd seeks out Caitlin because of her brilliant mind and her kind heart in hopes that she will be able to help him find the companionship that he longs for and to solve the mystery of how to grant intelligence to another gorilla. Likewise, the problem of the giant gorilla run amuck in Central City is not solved by airplanes and machine guns, but by twists that come right out of the rich comic book history of the Flash character. Let's just say that the finale involves an alternative dimension and another Earth as well as a jungle city that seems to be the home of an entire population of companions for the super-ape, a city that comic book fans will recognize as Gorilla City.

Throw in a brief glimpse of the superhero known as Hawkgirl (Ciara Renée), and it is almost more than this old comic book fan could have hoped for. The Flash is so true to its comic book origins that I find myself wondering week after week how they are getting by with it. It’s not that I’m surprised that the larger culture that has mocked comic book storytelling for so long would accept all of these talking gorillas and alternative Earths and tune in week after week to watch them. That's not surprising because, as a fan of these stories, I’ve always known that they were more compelling and entertaining than their high-brow critics would ever allow; I’ve always believed that given a faithful treatment on television, they would find a receptive and appreciative audience. I'm just amazed that all these talking gorillas and winged women make it out of the Hollywood board rooms, make it past the executives in suits that, in the past, would have surely wanted to make them more accessible and more believable and, consequently, ruined them on the way to the small screen.

Of course, comic books themselves have come a long way over the years in terms of the sophistication of the stories that they tell. When Gorilla Grodd was first introduced in 1959, in a story by John Broom and Carmine Infantino, the story was clearly aimed at a younger audience, an audience that was more interested in plot points built around super-heroics and pulp science fiction than fully developed human characters. But comic books have come a long way since 1959; they now feature some of the very best storytelling in any medium. Despite its bad rap, this is as true of superhero comics as of other types of narrative genres. When comic book creators combine super-heroics and pulp science fiction with genuine human characterizations, it’s a wonder to behold.

In a lot of ways, DC's Flash comics have been leading the way with fun and slightly goofy but compelling storytelling marked by fully realized and realistic characterizations. I'm thinking especially of great runs on the character by the likes of Geoff Johns or Francis Manapul and Brian Buccellato. It’s that balance of goofy fun and interesting characterizations that make The Flash TV series so successful.

As a matter of fact, this episode is at heart an exploration of father/son relationships in this excellent cast of characters. Grodd's relationship with his creator, Harrison Wells (Tom Cavanagh), is a turning point in the plot. Likewise, a funny scene between the Earth 2 Wells and Cisco (Carlos Valdes) touches on a father/son relationship that ended in betrayal. And Barry's (Grant Gustin) dark and near deadly encounter with Zoom (Tony Todd) in the last episode has left the Flash with more than physical scars, scars that can only be mended by conversations with his adoptive father, Joe (Jesse L. Martin), and his real dad, Henry Allen (John Wesley Shipp).

Meanwhile, characters get pushed to their limits as Barry and Wells find themselves in reversed roles. For much of the episode, Barry is confined to Wells' wheelchair because of injuries sustained in his battle with Zoom. Wells, on the other hand, puts on a superhero suit and goes to confront Grodd with only his wits as a weapon against the monster.

Amazingly, the drama never gets in the way of the zaniness, and the zaniness only ups the ante on the drama. It’s a story not just for the younger crowd, but for the rest of us as well. It’s a story, perhaps, best appreciated by someone like me, someone who first loved these characters when I was a kid but who has seen them grow and mature with me through the years.

"Gorilla Warfare" is all about a talking gorilla with telepathic powers, a woman with hawk wings, and a doorway that leads to alternative dimensions. It is also a carefully crafted human drama.







The Redemption of Elton John's 'Blue Moves'

Once reviled as bloated and pretentious, Elton John's 1976 album Blue Moves, is one of his masterpieces, argues author Matthew Restall in the latest installment of the 33 1/3 series.


Whitney Take a Master Class on 'Candid'

Although covers albums are usually signs of trouble, Whitney's Candid is a surprisingly inspired release, with a song selection that's eclectic and often obscure.


King Buzzo Continues His Reign with 'Gift of Sacrifice'

King Buzzo's collaboration with Mr. Bungle/Fantômas bassist Trevor Dunn expands the sound of Buzz Osborne's solo oeuvre on Gift of Sacrifice.


Jim O'Rourke's Experimental 'Shutting Down Here' Is Big on Technique

Jim O'Rourke's Shutting Down Here is a fine piece of experimental music with a sure hand leading the way. But it's not pushing this music forward with the same propensity as Luc Ferrari or Derek Bailey.


Laraaji Returns to His First Instrument for 'Sun Piano'

The ability to help the listener achieve a certain elevation is something Laraaji can do, at least to some degree, no matter the instrument.


Kristin Hersh Discusses Her Gutsy New Throwing Muses Album

Kristin Hersh thinks influences are a crutch, and chops are a barrier between artists and their truest expressions. We talk about life, music, the pandemic, dissociation, and the energy that courses not from her but through her when she's at her best.


The 10 Best Fleetwood Mac Solo Albums

Fleetwood Mac are the rare group that feature both a fine discography and a successful series of solo LPs from their many members. Here are ten examples of the latter.


Jamila Woods' "SULA (Paperback)" and Creative Ancestry and Self-Love in the Age of "List" Activism

In Jamila Woods' latest single "SULA (Paperback)", Toni Morrison and her 1973 novel of the same name are not static literary phenomena. They are an artist and artwork as galvanizing and alive as Woods herself.


The Erotic Disruption of the Self in Paul Schrader's 'The Comfort of Strangers'

Paul Schrader's The Comfort of Strangers presents the discomfiting encounter with another —someone like you—and yet entirely unlike you, mysterious to you, unknown and unknowable.


'Can You Spell Urusei Yatsura' Is a Much Needed Burst of Hopefulness in a Desultory Summer

A new compilation online pulls together a generous helping of B-side action from a band deserving of remembrance, Scotland's Urusei Yatsura.


Jess Cornelius Creates Tautly Constructed Snapshots of Life

Former Teeth & Tongue singer-songwriter Jess Cornelius' Distance is an enrapturing collection of punchy garage-rock, delicate folk, and arty synthpop anthems which examine liminal spaces between us.


Sikoryak's 'Constitution Illustrated' Pays Homage to Comics and the Constitution

R. Sikoryak's satirical pairings of comics characters with famous and infamous American historical figures breathes new and sometimes uncomfortable life into the United States' most living document.


South African Folk Master Vusi Mahlasela Honors Home on 'Shebeen Queen'

South African folk master Vusi Mahlasela pays tribute to his home and family with township music on live album, Shebeen Queen.


Planningtorock Is Queering Sound, Challenging Binaries, and Making Infectious Dance Music

Planningtorock emphasizes "queering sound and vision". The music industry has its hierarchies of style, of equipment, of identities. For Jam Rostron, queering music means taking those conventions and deliberately manipulating and subverting them.


'History Gets Ahead of the Story' for Jazz's Cosgrove, Medeski, and Lederer

Jazz drummer Jeff Cosgrove leads brilliant organ player John Medeski and multi-reed master Jeff Lederer through a revelatory recording of songs by William Parker and some just-as-good originals.


A Fresh Look at Free Will and Determinism in Terry Gilliam's '12 Monkeys'

Susanne Kord gets to the heart of the philosophical issues in Terry Gilliam's 1995 time-travel dystopia, 12 Monkeys.


The Devonns' Debut Is a Love Letter to Chicago Soul

Chicago's the Devonns pay tribute the soul heritage of their city with enough personality to not sound just like a replica.


Jaye Jayle's 'Prisyn' Is a Dark Ride Into Electric Night

Jaye Jayle salvage the best materials from Iggy Pop and David Bowie's Berlin-era on Prisyn to construct a powerful and impressive engine all their own.

Collapse Expand Reviews

Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.