The strength of this week’s episode of The Flash was that the episode had a nice self-contained beginning, middle and end and didn’t feel weighed down by how busy this season’s overall story is. Its biggest weakness was a complaint I’ve had for a long time: the lack of good character development for Barry Allen. The narrative seems to want to present him as a self-sacrificing underdog, despite the fact that all his actions are based in ego. Everything is about his wounded sense of pride rather than his determination to help people. If writing him this way is intentional, I hope the other characters start calling him out on it soon rather than existing to validate the idea that he’s a nice guy who, if anything, should think of himself even more.
The fun part of this episode was of course that the villain was a telepathic gorilla. The show managed to pull off a very earnest Gorilla Grodd story surprisingly effectively. This kind of silliness is the best argument for why The Flash should exist. They’re in their element most when they embrace how goofy comic book stories actually are, rather than letting Barry’s brooding take center stage.
I’ve been skeptical about Harrison Wells’s presence on the show, but in this episode the character stepped up in a nice way. He stepped up to save the day and bravely dealt with a scary gorilla, which was a side of him we haven’t seen before. Although he’ll always be snarky, it was nice seeing that he can function as part of the team.
This episode also continued the courtship of Cisco Ramon and Kendra Saunders. I love both of these characters but the show hasn’t sold me much on the romance. It’s very by the book. That said, the episode gave us our first look at Kendra as Hawkgirl, which was fantastic. She will be much more fun to watch as Kendra Saunders, superhero, than as Kendra Saunders, Cisco love interest.