It’s difficult to fathom that one of the greatest arch enemies for a super speedster is a highly intelligent gorilla, yet Gorilla Grodd has been one of the best foils for The Flash and not even a subpar appearance can ruin him.
In “Gorilla Warfare,” Barry has been sidelined after last week’s battle with Zoom until his rapid healing can work its magic (well, science, but isn’t science indistinguishable from magic?). While recuperating, Gorilla Grodd, on his own since the Earth-One Harrison Wells was killed, has attempted to recreate the Accelerator and create more intelligent species like him.
Like a reverse Planet of the Apes, Grodd is simply alone. And he’s just gained sentience, still incapable of full speech but a master of mind control. In his first appearance last season, he almost compelled Joe West — otherwise strong, fearless, and immovable — to shoot himself, which nearly broke the veteran police detective.
In “Gorilla Warfare,” there was an uncommon fear in Joe’s eyes when he realized Grodd had returned.
But is there anything to truly fear? While watching The Flash, I was reminded of an unlikely movie: Frankenstein.
Like Frankenstein’s monster, Grodd is just a beast trying to understand his world. When Grodd took Caitlin hostage to use her to build the Accelerator, it was a drastic riff on the classic scene from Frankenstein when the little girl befriended Boris Karloff’s Monster.
Grodd was merciful to Caitlin because of her kindness while he was still a regular, big ol’ ape. He took her hostage, yes, but he just needed her help and lacked the ability to fully communicate that.
That’s not the Grodd we’ve known before, however. In the comic books and the Justice League animated series, Grodd is a highly intelligent beast who has clashed with the likes of Lex Luthor and Superman. Unlike in The Flash, Grodd is a cunning villain with humor and sarcasm.
But The Flash opted to take its Grodd in a different and bold new direction. It’s refreshing, certainly, but I missed the wit of the older incarnation of Grodd.
On its terms, I’m afraid Flash and the rest of S.T.A.R. Labs have ruined him, establishing Grodd as a formidable enemy for years to come. To solve Grodd’s problem, Earth-Two Harrison Wells sets up a trap that teleports Grodd to where he can “be free,” on Earth-Two. That ended up being a strange, lush Planet of the Apes-esque sanctuary where other intelligent apes roam free. He’s with his own kind now — but he is no less angry nor less powerful. He’s a master telepathist, and sending him to a whole island full of other intelligent beasts is, frankly, a dumb move by supposed geniuses.
When Central City gets overrun by those damn dirty apes, remember who warned you first.