REVIEW: The Flash, S5E15 – King Shark vs. Gorilla Grodd

On The Flash this week, it’s that awkward moment where the emotional center of the episode revolved around Sherloque’s (Tom Cavanagh) inter-species marital counseling. And, no, I’m not referring to the relationship between King Shark and Gorilla Grodd, as that showdown surprisingly takes up very little space in the hour. Instead, Barry (Grant Gustin) jumped the gun by injecting King Shark with Cisco (Carlos Valdes) and Caitlin’s (Danielle Panabaker) metahuman cure, causing a shift in his relationship with his doppelganger’s wife. If that all seems too Shape of Water-y for you, though, there’s some heartwarming father-daughter bonding to cling to as Joe (Jesse L. Martin) returns from Tibet just in time to help Iris (Candice Patton) cope with her Cicada-related PTSD.

Did I mention Lyla was in the episode? Not relevant, but I love her.

Firstly, the hype surrounding “King Shark vs. Gorilla Grodd” was explicitly about the epic battle in question, but comic book fans and other metahuman aficionados did not get to see much of it in the end and the part they did see was shrouded in literal darkness – probably for budgetary purposes. That being said, if you were looking for insight into King Shark and his love life, then you were treated to a pretty sweet semi-reunion between him and the woman who set aside her life to improve his. The moments between the two of them alone, struggling both with being earth-crossed lovers and partially different species, proved The Flash writers have not forgotten how to write romance even if the criminal lack of Westallen this season suggests otherwise.

Unfortunately, those sweet scene were constantly interrupted by Sherloque’s unnecessary advice, as he repeatedly trying to equate Tanya’s denial over loving her dead husband’s doppelganger to his own purposeful recruit of every one of of his wife’s doppelgangers. It was uncomfortable to say the least, even as the show made Tanya receptive to and thankful for his interference. More than that, it felt like something tacked on specifically to give Cavanagh necessary screen time – screen time which could have been better spent on Cisco’s reaction to how the cure he plans to take affected another person, for example, or on King Shark’s painful decision to reverse the cure so that he can save all of Central City from Grodd’s psychic attack. The manimal deserved a medal for that one. Or, hey, it could have spent more than 4 minutes on Iris dealing with her recent trauma.

Beyoncé’s “Daddy Lessons” pays on a loop.

Speaking of said trauma, the minor plot between Iris and Joe wound up being the most touching part of “King Shark vs. Gorilla Grodd.” It was nice to see that Iris’ fears weren’t cast aside, and that her father took the time to understand what she was going through and help her through it. Furthermore, it was refreshing to see him talk about his own insecurities and thus provide a plausible explanation for Joe’s extended absence from the show. I would have preferred that Barry show an ounce of concern for his wife or even remember she exists, but it seems that’s something we only get every other episode nowadays. Besides, he had more pressing problems this week.

Problems such as injecting King Shark with an untested cure without getting prior consent, despite the fact that he and his team had specifically promised not to do that. He eventually got a well-deserved (if Grodd-inspired) blast to the face for it, but there still wasn’t much of an explanation for why he became so reckless and callous. It’s hard to buy his desperation to stop Cicada when the man hardly seems to pose a threat, not even to his loved ones the way Savitar did to Iris back in Season 3. Rather, Barry just comes up with more and more hare-brained schemes each week that are sure to fail and then gets angrier every time they do. At the end of “King Shark vs. Gorilla Grodd,” he decided that they would offer the cure to Cicada. Do we even need to guess how that will turn out?

Basically, if you can adjust your brightness really high, then The Flash is worth it this week just to see King Shark as a good guy who gives Grodd a beatdown in the name of love. If not, well, there’s still Reverse Flash waiting in the wings somewhere with his plan that will maybe, hopefully one day come into fruition.

The Flash airs Tuesdays at 8/7c on The CW.