The Flash crossover recap: 'Flash vs Arrow'
As someone who grew up loving the Batman: The Animated Series/Superman: The Animated Series crossover episode “World’s Finest,” where Superman and Batman meet for the first time in the DC Animated Universe, I had high expectations going into tonight’s episode. And I can gladly say I was not disappointed. “Flash vs. Arrow” delivers on both the action front—The Flash and the Arrow’s fight is impeccably staged and rendered—and on the character front. And while the Team Flash interacting with Team Arrow stuff is so much fun to watch, the episode never forgets that this is an episode of The Flash and that everything that happens needs to push this show’s stories forward. Yes, tonight’s metahuman never amounts to anything more than a plot device, but it’s fine because he makes for an effective plot device that gives us the epic fight scene promised by the episode’s title. (Also, David Ramsey, who plays Diggle, definitely steals the show in this episode).
METAHUMAN OF THE WEEK: Ray Bivolo, a.k.a The Rainbow Raider
We kick off tonight’s episode with another one of Barry’s opening monologues. As The Flash is speeding around town like an omnipresent Hitch, Barry is talking about what it’s like to a catch a major case of the feels. Actually, I liked his opening speech so much that I’ll quote it here instead of ruining through a reductive summary:
Everyone on this planet, at some point in their lives, has had a major case of the feelz; Those days when your heart is just too small to hold the big things you’re feeling. Today is one of those days. We think of our emotions like they’re these unique, personal phenomena—that no one has ever felt what we have felt. There is a basis in science for every emotion we feel… As a scientist, I know there’s nothing magical about what makes us feel something for someone else, and then I see her smile [At this point, he’s standing outside of Jitters watching Iris]… Man, that cannot be science.
Maybe it’s because of how excited I am about the prospect of this episode, but I found that last bit about Iris super charming, in spite of the seemingly lack of chemistry between the two characters.
(ASIDE: It makes sense that an episode about feels features the master of feeling all the feels, Oliver Queen. END ASIDE)
Anyway, the episode’s romantic side soon gives way to some hostility when a metahuman enters a bank and turns everyone inside into raging lunatics by just flashing his glowing red eyes. In the midst of the chaos, the metahuman casually strolls into the bank’s vault and walks out with a lot of money. When The Flash finally arrives on the scene, all hell has broken lose as everyone is trying to kill one another. He gets there just in time to stop one female patron from shooting another.
Don’t you hate it when a superhero comes in between you and your significant other? Eddie Thawne definitely does. His relationship with Iris hits a rough patch tonight when he starts pitching the creation of an anti-Flash task force to Captain Singh. Unlike Iris, who just convinced him of The Flash’s existence, Eddie doesn’t believe The Flash is only a force for good and he’s worried about his actual motives.
Now full from stealing Captain Singh’s Big Belly Burger lunch, Barry heads over to S.T.A.R. Labs to brief his team on the new metahuman. A metahuman who can engender irrational feelings of anger in those unlucky enough to cross his path can cause a lot of damage. The meeting is cut short, however, when Iris sends The Flash a message asking to meet—and Caitlin is quick to make her objection known: “Don’t get involved as The Flash or yourself. You don’t want to be the one to blame for their break up.” The cockiness Wells journaled about Flash exhibiting last week is back again this week. Unfortunately, Barry’s actions in tonight’s episode will have the opposite effect.
Nothing important really happens in tonight’s first Superman/Lois Lane scene between The Flash and Iris. They flirt, Iris tries to get him to open up, Barry dodges her questions, their conversation is cut short by Cisco with important news, and Barry says something smooth before speeding away. I want more for Iris, and I can’t wait until the show gives it.
NEXT: Joe and Wells aren’t happy
The CCPD tracks Bivolo down to a storage facility. However, he uses his powers and turns one of the SWAT team members on the rest of the team. He fires off a shotgun round, but The Flash arrives in time to save Joe and other cops. The cop is about to to shoot them when the Arrow emerges from the shadows and subdues him with two arrows. The Arrow says “Nice mask” to the Flash and then makes a smooth-as-hell exit, which leaves Barry smiling from ear to ear while Joe has a worried look on his face.
With the Arrow comes Diggle and Felicity as well as a lot more shadows and Starling City’s rainy weather. The episode does take on some of Arrow‘s visual aesthetic, but it never stops feeling like an episode of The Flash. For example, Diggle’s reaction to witnessing Barry’s speed for the first time is hands down the best thing about this episode: As it to be expected, his mind is blow and the only thing he can say is “You’re fast…” The fun doesn’t stop there. When Oliver makes it to the abandoned farmhouse, he’s smiling and telling jokes, something you almost never see on Arrow.
Barry: Thanks for showing up back there, but I had that.
Barry: What? I was getting ready to make my move.
Oliver: [chuckling] What move? The one to the morgue?
Turns out, Oliver & Company aren’t in town to see Barry, but to investigate a murder committed with a boomerang. To protect his identity, Oliver turns down Barry’s offer to team-up on this metahuman. Felicity, however, is all game and accompanies Barry back to S.T.A.R. Labs.
Once Felicity’s wardrobe malfunction is handled, Wells and Joe sit Barry down for a stern talking to. To no one’s surprise, neither Joe nor Wells is happy about the Arrow’s presence in Central City and think he’s a bad influence on Barry. Their apprehension is mostly due to the Arrow’s murder spree in his first year. It’s funny how they view the Arrow as a vigilante, but don’t consider The Flash one.
What’s interesting about the conversation between Wells and Joe is how it highlights the differences between the shows and the cities in which they are set. Starling City is a crime-ridden city where there’s nothing but shadows; a brutal and vengeful entity like the Arrow could only exist there. Whereas Central City lacks Starling’s high crime rate, and light shines into every corner here. So it’s understandable that the Arrow’s appearance in Central City makes Joe and Wells worry that something there requires the Arrow’s form of brutal and vengeful justice. By the end of their conversation, Joe makes one thing clear: He wants the Arrow out of his city tonight.
Meanwhile, Oliver uses his own special set of skills to find out the metahuman’s name, while Diggle, over the earpiece, ponders the important questions like how soon after eating does Barry go to the bathroom. He gets the metahuman’s name by putting an arrow through the storage facility manager’s leg, which gives Eddie a bit more fuel to argue for an anti-vigilante task force.
After some prodding from Felicity, Oliver agrees to help Barry with his metahuman, but under the condition that he doesn’t have to call him a “metahuman.” Later on, they meet at the abandoned farm for some training. Having checked out Barry’s fights, Oliver can tell Barry rushes into fights without assessing the situation and his environment and coming up with a clear strategy. This is definitely a fair assessment. In a scene we saw in the promo last week, Barry cockily thinks he can beat Oliver with his powers alone, and is surprised when Oliver manages to put two arrows in his back using an arrow shooting machine hidden in the grass.
NEXT: It’s getting hot in here.
Back at S.T.A.R. Labs, Caitlin and Felicity—each enjoying having another woman to talk to—theorize that Bivolo’s powers depend on the color spectrum of emotions. Wells takes Felicity aside and asks her to reveal the Arrow’s secret identity. Ever the control freak, Wells doesn’t like “unknown quantities” because they’re toxic and dangerous and he can’t trust someone he doesn’t know. However, Felicity refuses to tell him and Wells just resigns to figure it out himself—which he does, although it’s not clear if he uses his brain or his supercomputer. Either way, it looks smug as hell when he reveals to Diggle and Felicity that he knows who the Arrow is.
Using facial recognition software that Felicity installed on their system, the joint gang is able to track Bivolo down to a townhouse. Too anxious to wait for Oliver to accompany him, Barry goes after Bivolo on his own, but loses him when he does his eye thing. Initially, Barry seems immune to the Bivolo’s powers, but it becomes evident this isn’t the case. This is when The Flash goes into Smallville/red kryptonite territory as Barry starts going off on those closest to him and ignoring his impulse control. Like red kryptonite, Bivolo’s powers don’t change Barry. Instead, they bring every negative emotion he’s been suppressing to the surface: First, he tells the somewhat over-protective Caitlin that he’s not Ronnie before storming off. Then, he pays Oliver a visit and accuses him of being jealous after Oliver rightly points out that Barry still has much to learn. Later, he yells at Singh for always being on his case and at Joe for always doubting him and taking his time on his mother’s case.
Naturally, the shit doesn’t really hit the fan until Barry sees Iris and Eddie leave the precinct together and gets even more pissed off. What ensues is pretty much the chorus of Cee-Lo Green’s “F— You” come to life, except instead of yelling expletives when he sees Eddie and Iris driving in her car, he runs beside it and yanks Eddie out of the car and throws him on the ground.
Meanwhile at S.T.A.R. Labs, Cisco is working with Team Arrow to find Barry and points out how a cold gun could really come in handy right now.
The Arrow eventually shows up to stop Barry from doing something to Eddie he’ll regret. However, The Flash is in full rage mode right now, and we (I) finally get the epic fight we’ve been waiting for since the episode’s title was announced. And, boy, it’s such a joy to watch as it mixes the Arrow‘s well-choreographed action sequences with The Flash‘s mastery of special effects. The Flash‘s adoption of Arrow‘s visual aesthetic is most pronounced here as most of the fight scene is shrouded in shadow, with the only light coming from Barry’s super-speed. Almost everything Oliver tries fails and Barry just starts super-speed punching him. As they’re fighting, Diggle, Cisco, and Caitlin are arguing about who would win in a fight. New to the superhero game, Cisco and Caitlin believe Barry’s powers give him the upper-hand, while Diggle says Oliver’s experience will ensure his victory. Felicity, who realizes what’s important, shuts the argument down.
Eventually, Oliver manages to put an arrow through Flash’s leg, which slows him down long enough so that Oliver can put him in a choke hold. That’s when Wells and Joe show up and flash some colored lights in Barry’s eyes to reverse the effects of Bivolo’s red eyes.
It works, and Barry and Oliver head off to capture Bivolo. Thing is, we don’t actually see them take him down because we don’t need to. Bivolo never amounts to anything more than a plot device used to create a reason for Barry and Oliver to fight. I mean, by the end of the episode, we don’t know anything about him, but that’s fine because the episode already had too much going on. What’s great about the fight sequence and the episode is that the show never forgets this is The Flash and, thus, never loses its sense of fun. Yes, there’s a lot of drama in Barry and Oliver’s fight, but it never takes away from the “How cool is this?!” feeling of the entire episode.
Barry meets up with Felicity and Oliver at Jitters, and Oliver gives Barry some more advice: Because of the life he’s chosen to lead, he and Iris will never work out and that Barry needs to let her go for both of their sakes. Honestly, I’m not sure if I completely buy Oliver’s whole “Guys, like us don’t get the girl” mantra, but it works in tonight’s episode because by the end of the episode, Barry and the Flash are both farther from Iris than they wanted. Following his actions with Eddie, Iris has lost faith in The Flash and tells him to stay away from her. To make matters worse for The Flash, Captain Singh has approved Eddie’s task force.
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Hopefully, Iris distancing herself from The Flash will allow her to grown into a multi-dimensional character. But to be fair, the best way to do this would be for Iris to find out about Barry’s secret identity.
And now for the two episode ending bombshells:
First, as Oliver and Felicity are leaving Jitters, Oliver runs into none other than the girl Moira, his mother, paid off after Oliver got her pregnant. Moira told the girl to tell Ollie she lost the baby and to leave town, and obviously she did. Oliver apologizes for not having spoken in so long. After Oliver leaves with Felicity, the woman calls her son to let him know she’ll be home soon with his hot chocolate. Personally, I didn’t think this needed to be included in tonight’s episode because it’s clear that the writers aren’t in any rush for Oliver to find out about his son. (As to the woman’s identity, well the obvious answer is Sandra Hawke. In the comics, Sandra Hawke gives birth to her and Oliver’s son, Connor, who took over the Green Arrow mantle after Oliver’s death.)
The second bombshell: We got our first glimpse of Ronnie Raymond as Firestorm. In the episode ending tag, two thugs accost a shivering homeless man. However, they get more than they bargained for when the man’s entire body becomes engulfed in flames. One thing’s clear: Things have not been going well for Ronnie since the explosion and he’s a long way away from becoming a hero. More importantly, his eventual reunion with Caitlin probably won’t go well.
Wall of Weird:
—We find out that Oliver Queen is on Iris’ list of three guys she can cheat on Eddie with.
— Felicity asked Caitlin to help her break down the DNA from Canary’s murder.
— Tonight’s episode had so many great quotes. Here’s a sampling:
Oliver: “We can talk about you giving your enemies silly code names later.”
Barry: “You mean like over coffee with Deathstroke and The Huntress?”
“Once super thieves showed up, I went mattress,” said Cisco about on where he keeps money now.
“I thought those were the secret ingredients,” Felicity said when Diggle points out that Big Belly Burger just tastes like salt and grease.
“I had a cousin who was struck by lightning once. He just developed a stutter,” said a mind-blown Diggle.
“Jealousy’s probably a new emotion for you,” said Barry to Oliver during the early stages of his rage rampage.
“There’s something off about that guy,” said Oliver of Dr. Wells after Wells said he met Robert Queen once and that he thinks Robert would be proud of the man Oliver has become.
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