THE FLASH “KING SHARK VS GORILLA GRODD” REVIEW
BY JUSTIN CARTER
With a connection that only really exists when you squint, “King Shark vs. Gorilla Grodd” feels like a suitable taste of what will become Godzilla vs. Kong next year. We’ve got ethical ambiguity, a cheesy love story, and silly CG monster on CG monster action to make for an entertaining hour of television.
The chaos begins with Team Flash finally having their metahuman cure completed, but in need of a consenting metahuman to test on. This brings us to the King Shark of Earth-2, held by ARGUS and communicating primarily with his dead Earth-1 counterpart’s wife, Tanya Lamden. King Shark goes on a rampage, though, forcing Barry to give him the cure before he can chow down on Cisco. No surprise, he’s a good looking man — of course he is, it’s the CW we’re talking about — and talking with his doppelganger’s wife for the last handful of years has left them enamored with one another. But he’s still under danger of transforming, and it turns out his earlier freakout was due to none other than Gorilla Grodd, having escaped during the Enlightenment and preparing to take over Central City using a crown that amplifies his mental powers.
As far as set ups go to get two CG monsters fight each other during the final act, this isn’t a bad one. Even with the knowledge that the two will have to face off beforehand, “Shark v Grodd” manages to make things interesting, in large part because Shark as a human is something not really seen before. The decision to put him in a “beauty/beast” love story isn’t original, but sympathy is garnered because it’s the first time in a very long time the show has opted to show a metahuman in such a way.
When it comes to the actual fight itself, it’s well done and good looking on a TV budget. The transformation from Lamden to Shark is appropriately horrifying, and there’s a real feeling of scale when watching them actually come to blows. What it lacks in creativity or style is made up for by its sheer lunacy; how many shows can say they’ve got a shark man knocking out a telepathic gorilla with a supercharged punch? (As dumb as it was, I also appreciated Barry’s “Long Live the King” getting followed up with Shark giving a triumphant roar into the rainy night sky.)
About those ethical concerns, though. Cisco and Caitlin have said time and again they want to make sure anyone who takes the cure consents to it, which makes Barry’s choice to cure Shark early in the episode dicey. But at the same time, like Barry said: if he didn’t, Cisco was going to be straight up eaten. This is one of those moments where Barry really isn’t in the wrong, and the show even weirdly comes to his side when they reveal Grodd was put into a medically induced coma at the end without his own consent.
The other noteworthy thing about this episode, aside from being good, is that we get the return of Joe, following Jesse L. Martin’s surgery. The show wrote around this by waving it off as him traveling with his daughter to heal up in Tibet and visit Wally, but it’s not an explanation that’s really needed. It’s just nice to see him on his feet again, and in “Dad Mode,” consulting Iris and helping her overcome her fear about Cicada showing up at her doorstep after the time loop episode. It’s a welcome return for Martin, and now the show feels more complete than it has since his absence.
- Lyla gets in a good jab about her daughter becoming her son thanks to Flashpoint and very easily rolls with Barry’s future kid just hanging around with them.
- After Shape of Water, I do not expect to be surprised by whatever comes of the Shark/Tanya romance this week.
- Nora: “The Flash Museum just straight up got a lot of stuff wrong.”
- “He’s my dead husband’s doppelganger from Earth-2.” Credit to Zibby Allen, because that line is ridiculous, even by the curve of Arrowverse writing.
- The sight of Barry and Nora jumping into the air and punching lightning at King Shark to give him a boost was so very cool.
- I know this isn’t the right place for it, but I just wanted to give my condolences to the family, friends, and coworkers of Riverdale star Luke Perry following his passing earlier this week.