Review: The Flash: ‘Flash vs Arrow’/Arrow: ‘The Brave and the Bold’

Well, DC. You finally beat me. I’m gonna start watching Arrow now.

For those who were wondering where this week’s Flash writeup went, I decided to hold off on learning the Arrow crossover ran both ways. So this is going to be looking at the overall crossover.

In starting I just want to say in the event any reps from DC’s film side are reading this – meet up with your guys in the television department and exchange notes, cause this is how you want to go about building up a collective shared universe in a filmed medium.

Flash vs Arrow

This crossover was all but guaranteed by the fact that, from its pilot, The Flash was established as part of the Arrow continuity. With that a foregone conclusion, there was a lot riding on how the show would handle the big event when it finally came around and they haven’t disappointed.

One of the things I have to commend the writers of these episodes on is how they work well together while each is able to stand on its own. Made even more interesting by the fact that each show ultimately explores the same idea from opposite angles: that being the tonal differences between Barry and Oliver and their respective series.

Taken first on the Flash side of things – the first of the two chronologically – we get a sense of just how different the situation in Central City is compared to Starling City. Arriving to investigate materials used by one Digger Harkness (Nick Tarabay), Oliver and his team pool in to help STAR Labs deal with a metahuman (Paul Anthony) who has the ability to incite strong emotions in people. With that power in mind, and the episode’s title, you can guess what the enemy’s main gambit will be here.

"...But really, just cause my eyes glow evilly red doesn't mean I'm that bad a guy, does it?"

“…But really, just cause my eyes glow evilly red doesn’t mean I’m that bad a guy, does it?”

This is one area where I will admit to feeling a bit mixed from a comics perspective. It’s not a dealbreaker, but I do find it weird that this week’s metahuman was a character invented wholecloth, when there’s already a DC villain whose abilities fit what he can do perfectly.

Though maybe that’s not wanting to try and tie in Psycho Pirate to the overall setting just now. It’s a minor issue really, and frankly I’m more irked at the fact he’s caught and dispatched offscreen. The fight between Barry and Oliver is a great display of each hero’s abilities, but it then makes the enemy into an afterthought as a result.

"Seriously, think about it. We can sell twice as many issues with a crossover event!"

“Seriously, think about it. We can sell twice as many issues with a crossover event!”

That said, there is one other bonus to come from that main hero-on-hero throwdown. After the last few weeks of back and forth on the Iris storyline, this week threw a decent wrench into things as a consequence of Barry’s manipulated sense of anger. Where previously we saw him on great terms with Iris and Eddie, his unleashed anger as the Flash has led the former to keep her distance and the latter to view him as a menace.

In the second half of this duology, the shoe is put on the other foot. The STAR Labs team come out to visit Oliver’s team out in Starling City. From the perspective as a Flash viewer, this really helps throw a stark contrast to just how different it is from the show that helped bring it into the continuity. It’s even commented on in-episode by Cisco when he reflects on how the metahuman aspect of their work at times made it seem almost unreal in how clean cut much of their work was. Compared to the likes of people like Digger Harkness, things have been overall fairly upbeat in Central City to this point.

Further driving that point is Barry’s own shock towards Oliver’s methods. Just as much as their stories and settings are different, so are the two heroes. Barry’s idealism gets a blunt shock from how pragmatic-cum-ruthless Oliver’s way of dealing with crime is – especially after the first of the two episodes included him defending Oliver’s tactics to Central City’s PD.

Pictured - one of the only times where someone will look back on their decision not to torture and say "I've made a huge mistake."

Pictured – one of the only times where someone will look back on their decision not to torture and say “I’ve made a huge mistake.”

This storyline is further accented by flashbacks to Oliver’s own past where he first learns his acceptance of torture as a necessary evil. It’s presented through a well-worn storyline – the idea that by pulling punches, other lives will instead be lost – but if there’s one thing DC’s television department has been doing well with so far it’s taking familiar material and making it work through good execution. Here it helps underscore why Oliver isn’t simply the bad guy to Barry’s idealism nicely.

As someone who is, by his own admission, new to Arrow, I don’t know if I have as many grievances with this particular episode as I did compared to the Flash episode before it. Not that the first part is bad, mind you – I just feel the crossover factor edged out the other storyline to its detriment in places. By comparison, the second half feels a little more rounded. About the worst I can say for it is that both support teams are really limited in what they get to do – spending large chunks of the episode just talking in their workshop.

"Look, it's just for the episode. Besides, they're support crew, you're support crew. Who knows, you might have a lot in common!"

“Look, it’s just for the episode. Besides, they’re support crew, you’re support crew. Who knows, you might have a lot in common!”

That said, the crossover overall feels like it succeeds at its two goals. First, it does a great job of helping establish both series as part of an overall larger world. It was nice to see a lot of the familiar DC faces here, and I’m especially looking forward to the follow-up to the Flash’s epilogue, which confirmed that, yes, Ronnie Raymond is alive, and he very likely will be Firestorm on this series.

Second, the crossover does a great job of sparking interest between the two audiences. As someone new to Arrow on this crossover, I’m genuinely looking forward to checking out the backlog now and getting caught up.

You’re off to a great start on something larger here DC, and the fact a third series has been announced for this continuity has me excited for what’s to come.

"See? Total ratings gold!"

“See? Total ratings gold!”

Nicely offsets my increasing disappointment with your film universe, but that’s a matter for another day.

I’ll be back on schedule next Wednesday with the Flash’s mid-season finale The Man in Yellow.

Till then.

Pros:

-Great compare and contrast between the two leads and shows

-Good interactions between the casts

Cons:

-Flash’s antagonist ultimately sidelined for the crossover and dealt with off-screen.

-The STAR Labs team feels out of place in Starling City, though they’re trying at least.

Rating: 4/5

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This is what happens when a man takes a degree in English and the excessive analytic skills therein and chooses to use them for... ...is this evil? I'm not sure. But there are monsters and potentially robots, so there's potential for evil. ...we'll get back to you on that.

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