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The Flash season 3 episode 14 recap: Grodd is back in the season’s best episode

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A return to basics

CW

We're in the second part of the CGI Gorilla Monster story that began last week, with Grodd taking over control of an entire Gorilla City. This isn't the best plan for world domination though, on account of the CW having a limited CGI budget. Still, Team Flash finds themselves up against a super Planet of the Apes-style attack, and with a minimum of group hugs or proselytizing, they rise to the occasion.

The show has not clicked this well the entire season, and boy, does it feel good to just be able to sit back and enjoy again. Huzzah.

After defeating Solovar last week, Team Flash is back on Earth Prime but doubting whether or not they've diverted the apocalypse. And rightfully so, on account of the ape army headed through a dimensional rift to conquer them. The unfortunately named, but incredibly well-cast Gypsy shows up to attack Team Flash, and gets neutralized by Earth 2's Harrison Wells with one of his genius guns. H.R. is rightfully impressed and so begins the passive aggressive battle between two Wellii that makes me happier than entire seasons of this show.

Meanwhile, the inevitable death of Iris takes a backseat. It's the first reminder since the threat of Iris' death that she’s an important character worth worrying about losing. Meanwhile, Joe gets tricked into almost committing suicide, and for the first time in a while, this show has terrifying stakes again.

It's good to be back.

Jesse and Wally continue to build on their relationship, and Harrison lies to Wally to convince him that Jesse should come back to Earth 2. Simultaneously, the question of whether Barry should finally kill Grodd is put to the test. And it's the right question at the right time: An animal clearly in pain, that could not be banished to a farm upstate in an alternate dimension, still finds no peace and crosses time and space to lash out against the planet. It's probably worth it to make some changes, and even Barry is starting to wonder if the Batman routine is really worth it.

This brings us to the high point of the season: Earth 2's Harrison Wells explaining to Barry why he absolutely cannot start doing murders right now. That there is a goodness in Barry that transcends the Nice Guy schtick that actual serves as a shining light across dimensions, and that all of Wells' bad decisions only lay the groundwork for further terrible decisions.

It's a moment that makes humanity out of a stupid lie only minutes earlier, but also serves as a show-long highlight of why we watch The Flash and why gorilla monsters and shark men are all important and worth exploring within a comic book world that offers few of the usual trappings. There's a spirit and a promise adjacent from even the universe it shares with other shows, and in periods of darkness, maybe Barry is exactly who we need.

It's well done and please, please, please let the rest of the season be held to this standard.

Grodd meanwhile takes over the mind of a military dude and tries to launch some nukes. Thankfully, the combined forces of the entire extended Team Flash family results in Grodd's defeat, and Barry begs for life to be granted at the end, ensuring that Grodd will remain on our Earth and provide us all with some spooky, unnerving adventures in the seasons to come.

This episode was willing to risk a departure from the structure of a season that has already been defined to the letter, and was all the better for it. Every character arc felt earned and interesting while the villain stuff created worthwhile stakes in even the smallest moments. We even finally have a true continuous romance for Cisco in the Gypsy story, even if their love is forbidden on her world so that's definitely going to play out. This was a return to form and a reminder of all the good Flash can do, not just as a character, but as a show.

Bravo. Keep it up.