This post contains spoilers for The Flash.
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Wow, excuse you, super charming love story wrapped up in a monster fight episode? I was ready for Grodd vs Shark action! I wasn’t emotionally prepared for love! And I certainly wasn’t ready for all of the emotions that would accompany the return of Poppa West. “King Shark vs. Gorilla Grodd” ended up being sugary sweet in all of the best ways, and it didn’t skimp on the monster action, either!
Before we dive into the monster talk, we’re going to touch on Joe and Iris’ father/daughter arc from this week. While it was relegated to a b plot, it immediately reminds you of all the reasons that you missed Joe West while he was away. Adrenaline might have pushed Iris to get cheeky with Cicada, but now she’s struggling with the idea that their enemy knows who she is, and where to find her family. Who better to help her cope with those emotions than her cop father? “I bent, babygirl, but Cicada ain’t gonna break me. Ain’t gonna break you either,” is the perfect return declaration from Central City’s best dad.
When Team Flash discovers that the Meta cure is as done as it’s going to get, they go out looking for a subject. They knew Shay Lamden was ready to shed his fin, so they seek him out to get his consent to test the cure on him. Tanya, the wife of Earth 1’s Shay Lamden, and renowned scientist for Mercury Labs, was able to build a psychic crown to allow them to communicate. Even with that, the whole “consent” plan doesn’t last long. When King Shark grabs Vibe, The Flash administers the cure without his consent. As you can imagine, Cisco and Caitlin are both pretty annoyed by The Flash’s unilateral call.
Barry’s premature decision to administer the cure to Shay ultimately means that Tanya will spend the rest of her life in love with a man-shark. They get a brief time together as humans. It’s cute, and fluffy, and surprisingly effective for the short amount of screen time it’s given. All that is cute short, as it turns out that Grodd managed to kick off a plan to free himself when The Thinker’s Enlightenment took down the power grid at the ARGUS facility he was being contained in. Grodd waited patiently until Dr. Lamden’s tech was finished so that he could break out at the perfect moment to steal it. The psychic enhancements of the tech allow the gorilla to control a whole city rather than just one human at a time, and, since Cisco’s psychic dampeners do next to nothing against Grodd’s powers, The Flash and XS are both useless.
Because of how the cure works, and the nature of his cells, Shay’s decision to turn back into King Shark is a permanent one. He might have committed unspeakable acts as King Shark in the past, but The Flash and XS aren’t the ones to save Central City from Gorilla Grodd (though they do get to do a kick-ass tandem lightning bolt throw).
I had initially written that Gorilla Grodd and King Shark’s battle looked good for something entirely CGI on a television budget, but that’s not true. It didn’t look good for something with a TV budget, it just looked good. The team behind The Flash’s FX really brought it for this fight, and it wasn’t a short one, either. We got a few solid minutes of battle before Landen showed why there’s a “King” in his name. With their tussle settled, Grodd heads back to an ARGUS facility and is placed in a medically induced coma to stop his powers from progressing. King Shark and Tanya are off to live their life as different species because Barry Allen doesn’t understand that consent matters.
I know that seems harsh, and Tanya and Shay will be just fine, but I’m never here for anyone who plays fast and loose with something as important as consent. Team Flash is working with a powerful tool, with very dangerous repercussions. It hasn’t gone so far as to acknowledge just how extreme those repercussions could be, but it did have Barry eat crow before the credits roll.
Not only does Barry acknowledge his mistake, he decides that the next person they offer it to should be Cicada. If the trailer for next week’s episode is any indication, the decision to do so isn’t the smartest one. All the same, shows like The Flash and Supergirl matter because they try to take that road. You know what to do if you had thoughts on this week’s monster faceoff/undercover love story!