Arrow/The Flash Crossover Review
(Spoilers for Arrow and The Flash follow.)
Before I begin actually reviewing these two episodes, a misconception that surprised and confused a lot of fans must be cleared up: in this two-part crossover, the episode of The Flash “Flash vs. Arrow” and the episode of Arrow “The Brave and The Bold” were not two parts of a larger story spanning both shows. They were in fact two completely separate stories that happened to be crossovers with each other in the same week. I originally planned on reviewing both episodes in one article as one large story, but because the episodes are completely different, I am just going to review them as separate parts.
Now that the disclaimer is out of the way, we can get down to the fun stuff: The Arrow and The Flash punching each other. The CW and DC have been playing up the inevitable meeting of these two franchises for some time now, and much to the joy of fans everywhere, these two episodes more than delivered. Interestingly enough, however, in very different ways.
The first part of the crossover took place on The Flash. In “Flash vs. Arrow,” Team Arrow travels to Central City tracking down leads for a case involving the murder of a man by way of a boomerang to the back (more on that later). Team Flash is similarly busy, attempting to locate a metahuman that can make people fly into a fit of uncontrollable, violent rage. Oliver, already being in town, reluctantly agrees to help Barry track down the man responsible. Barry eventually gets “whammied” (as they call it), leading to the titular showdown between our two leading men.
This fight is what the entire episode led up to. Our villain is honestly only in this episode to serve as a somewhat plausible way to get our two heroes to fight (That’s not an exaggeration; they literally care about this man so little that we were not even shown his capture. One scene he’s on the loose, the next, he’s in a cell at STAR Labs.). And there is nothing wrong with that. People have been looking forward to this showdown for quite some time. Seeing Oliver’s strategy, cunning, and years of experience go against Barry’s superpowers was a sight to behold, even if Barry was out of his mind. These are the kinds of fantasy fights that fanboys dream about, and getting to see one play out was just as epic as I hoped it would be.
While the plot of the episode wasn’t exactly sunshine and rainbows, the tone was definitely more in line with a typical episode of The Flash than Arrow. Diggle’s baffled reaction to Barry’s superspeed and Cisco geeking out about the two superheroes are just two examples of the humor that contributed to the (slightly) lighter tone of the episode compared to a typical episode of Arrow. It was definitely a bit darker than a typical episode of The Flash, but still far lighter in tone than what Oliver and company are accustomed to. It must have felt like a vacation for them.
On the other side of that coin is the second half of our crossover, the Arrow episode “The Brave and the Bold.” This episode sees Team Arrow return to Starling City as Digger Harkness (AKA Captain Boomerang) attacks an ARGUS base looking for Lyla. He had been a member of the Suicide Squad, and when she attempted to have him terminated in the field, he survived due to a malfunction and returned to Starling to exact his revenge. During the attack, Team Flash shows up to help Ollie find and deal with Harkness.
“The Brave and the Bold” was very firmly an episode of Arrow. It returned to the series’ dark tone, despite dropping Team Flash into the mix. This simple fact, however, led to the episode being one of, if not the, best episode of season 3 of Arrow. Oliver and Barry’s opposing philosophical views, Cisco injecting just enough humor to still retain the tone of the show, a villain that wasn’t a terrible one-off… Everything in “The Brave and the Bold” contributed to being one of the best episodes of Arrow in recent memory.
I must give special attention to one scene in particular that really stood out for me in the episode. While so many parts of the episode were excellent, one of the quieter scenes spoke louder to me than any other: when Roy, Felicity, Cisco, and Caitlin are sitting in Verdant drinking while Lyla recovers in the hospital. Their conversation while sitting at that table basically acknowledging that The Flash is much lighter in tone than Arrow and why they could not do what Team Arrow does was extra special in a way that I can’t explain. It just felt so sincere, so genuine. It really stood out for me in an episode full of so many more great aspects.
It would be doing a disservice to “The Brave and the Bold” not to point out that Captain Boomerang, despite sounding like the absolute stupidest villain to ever appear on the show, may very well be the best baddie this season has given us. While not too much time was given to any character development for him, he proved in just a few scenes that not only is he one of the most badass villains Oliver has ever faced, but that he has the potential to be a really interesting character. I pray to the TV gods that this was not just a one-time appearance, and that Digger Harkness will be back with even more revenge on his mind.
While it feels like a huge opportunity was missed in not making a two part story arc with these episodes, the Flash/Arrow crossover succeeded in giving fans the clash between the two heroes that we’ve been waiting for. While both episodes were fun in their own unique ways, Arrow’s half of the event, “The Brave and the Bold,” easily takes the cake as the better of the two. While this will obviously not be the last time we see our heroes team up, quality episodes such as these will keep fans hungering for more crossovers in the future.