It’s easy to say that Flash is leaning too heavily on old villains following the Crisis on Infinite Earths, but if they’re going to do it the way they’re doing it now, I think I might be okay with that. The show has been a mix of old and new villains, remixed and tweaked, and this week’s episode is meant to emphasize just how different the Crisis world is in ways both big and small. Spoilers follow for The Flash Season 6, Episode 13, “Grodd Friended Me.”
“Grodd Friended Me”
Imagine going to sleep and waking up to find everything in your room has been moved slightly. Items have been switched around, reorganized, or swapped out. At a glance, it looks like the same room, but the more you look, the stranger it feels.
When we pick up with Barry, he’s standing at a crosswalk under a bridge holding flowers. It’s pretty easy to infer that he’s going to put flowers at his parents’ graves. A meta attack interrupts him, but Barry is left wondering over the Team Flash comms where the graveyard that houses his parents’ headstones is located. And then, because he doesn’t know the geography of post-Crisis Central City, he stops on train tracks and phases through the train just in time.
Barry has a run-in with Hartley Rathaway, aka the Pied Piper. If you remember, Hartley was an early Flash villain who, following Flashpoint, became an ally. He’s once again a villain. Flash doesn’t remember what he and his team did to Hartley, though. Further, Hartley isn’t limited to channeling powers just through his gloves; he bursts through the ceiling and gets away. Do his powers give him a concussion-proof skull, too?
Barry’s distressed by all of this, so when he finds Kamila Hwang and Chester P. Runk on comms, he’s pretty rude to the newbies. Back at Star Labs, Barry gets to work updating on the AI earpiece that will eventually become the portable form of Gideon. He asks Gideon to calculate the number of changes following Crisis.
I’m not sure how Gideon knows about the pre-Crisis world, but the AI comes back with the number 3.725 trillion. The earbud he’s working on is supposed to be a high-tech piece of hardware, but I’m pretty sure it’s just a Shure SE215 earbud with the cord unplugged.
Elsewhere in Central City…
Chester P. Runk walks in and finds out that Barry is Flash and just about loses his mind, which confuses me a little. How is Chester able to freely walk around Star Labs and has enough information to be on comms when Flash is out doing hero stuff but doesn’t yet know the Scarlet Speedster’s identity? Either way, it’s clear that Chester P. Runk is set to be the new Guy Who Geeks Out About Superheroes with Cisco on hiatus.
Before jumping to the main story, we stop by the other two big ones: Iris is still trapped with Eva, who can manipulate mirrors with her metahuman powers, and Nash Wells is still trying to make nice with Allegra while he also hallucinates other Wellses. This time, he hallucinates Sherloque, which is new. Allegra finally finds the picture of her and him together, and instead of just explaining what the heck is going on, Harry does the annoying thing and doesn’t explain it.
I’m still just a Flash in a cage
Back at Star Labs, Barry puts his tweaked earbud in, and drops unconscious. He wakes up in a cage, being spoken to by a very condescending Caitlin Snow. As a reminder, we haven’t seen Snow in quite a while. And then, the original Harrison Wells–Eobard Thawne–walks in.
Barry is in a cage, but the cage is Grodd’s mind.
This is yet another reimagining of a Flash villain post-Crisis. After the team’s last encounter with Grodd, they put him in Argus custody in a comatose state. What else do you do with a giant gorilla who is supernaturally strong and can control even superhumans with his mind?
But the prison containing Grodd’s mind is breaking down, and he reaches out to communicate with Barry. In the time since, it seems that Grodd has had to think differently about his actions. His unique mind remembers the Crisis, and he had to consider what he’d done both with his intelligent mind and his primal one.
Barry doesn’t believe him, which is pretty reasonable when Barry lists out–with clips–all the crap Grodd has personally put him through. Flash tries to escape from Grodd’s mind on his own, but finds a mental gatekeeper stopping him. Eventually, he finds himself forced to consider Grodd’s words and the weight of them. The two team up and merge inside Grodd’s mind. The mighty ape is charged with lightning and a red lightning bold appears on his chest. And you know what? It’s awesome.
Grodd fights Salovar, the grey ape, and destroys him. With some outside help from Frost and Chester P. Runk, whose name I pledge to always say in full, the two escape Grodd’s mind prison intact. Grodd is still in his prison, but he’s awake and seemingly ready to atone for what he’s done.
Outside, Reverse-Iris tears into Joe when he won’t give her confidential police information and then tricks him into leaving his office so that she can access his files. Lock your computer, dude. You’re a police captain.
What fans have been theorizing for weeks comes true, too. Eva and The Iris Who Laughs are in cahoots. Presumably, the information she’s collecting will help her escape from the mirror world and strand Iris there so that she can get revenge or be evil or whatever.
Don’t tease me like this
Nash goes to talk to Allegra again. Outside her office, he paces back and forth a red and yellow-lit room. It’s easy to dismiss it as being a sunset look, but before he can go in, Sherloque slams him against a wall. His eyes turn red, and he begins to phase as he says “He is coming.” Is the collapse of the multiverse merging the Wellses and turning them into Reverse-Flash?
For Barry, this story is about understanding that the past he remembers doesn’t matter in this world. That he can’t run around assuming that other people remember what he does. He needs to stop trying to fix the world with the world from before in mind and instead move forward. Grodd, of all the characters, helps him do that.
I love the re-use of Mirror Master with newer, better special effects. I love the return and reframing of Grodd; he’s one of the best Flash villains in both concept and execution, and I’m glad to see him in this new light. And is Reverse-Flash coming back? We can only hope.