The big FLASH-ARROW crossover event is over…and what a ride! We find Oliver Queen (and his team) in Central City to fight Roy Bivolo (a name that should be familiar) and Barry Allen (and Cisco and Caitlin) in Starling City to track down Digger Harkness (another VERY familiar name). There are some interesting developments for all the characters, even though there are a couple of nagging things that we’ll get to…but overall it was a great two-night event. WARNING: There will be a few spoilers…not a lot…but still…
Let’s start with…
FLASH Episode 108, “The Flash vs Arrow”
The main bad guy here is Roy G. Bivolo, referred to in this episode as “Prism” by Cisco and later as “Rainbow Raider” by Caitlin – that argument isn’t settled in the episode, but you can guess when name most Flash fans would prefer. The theme of this episode is “the feels”, and emotions are running high in almost every direction and in every way. Bivolo has gained the ability to cause uncontrollable rage in his victims, creating the havoc he needs to do things like rob a bank clean while everyone else is in utter mayhem.
Later, CT scans confirm that the parts of the brains of his victims that control executive function have been impacted by Bivolo’s powers. It makes sense from a cognitive science perspective (as long as you can believe in superpowers causing the impact, and of course that’s the point here). As Barry investigates, Oliver Queen and company have hit town…but not in search of Bivolo. They are looking for Digger Harkness (we’ll see more of him later on). Barry and Oliver team up – reluctantly on Oliver’s part.
Oliver tries to train Barry, showing him that speed isn’t necessarily enough…with a very sharp point to be made (pun intended). Barry has been using his speed to rush headlong into situations without checking them out first, and Oliver shows him just how dangerous that can be.
Speaking of dangerous, Eddie spends much of this episode trying to convince Singh that The Flash not only exists but is a menace to society. By episode’s end, he will succeed, setting up a lot of future conflicts for the series.
When Barry and Bivolo meet the first time, he “whammies” Barry. The effect is slower with Barry, but it turns him into basically a super-jerk, leading to a fateful meeting between himself and Eddie that Iris witnesses, changing their relationship significantly.
This leads into the one somewhat cheesy special effect I’ve seen in this series so far…a special lighting system hidden in a van that “cures” Barry of Bivolo’s effect. It looked a bit like a light fixture I had back in the 70’s that reacted to music with different colors.
Freed from Bivolo’s influence, Barry and Oliver agree to partner again to take him down…OKAY, SPOILER ALERT HERE
We jump cut to…not a fight scene, not another meeting with Bivolo…nope, we cut straight to S.T.A.R. Labs and Bivolo already in his cell. We don’t know how it happened, don’t see the final battle…not one second of it. That was a little unsettling, like maybe they had to make some last minute edits and they cut out the final battle.
SUMMARY SO FAR – It was still a good FLASH episode, with just a few exceptions. Placing the grim-dark Arrow and company into the hopeful bright world of Central City was a little unsettling (it works better in reverse, just stay tuned). And, the lack of a final battle with Bivolo left the episode a little incomplete. But, we still see some growth for Barry in his understanding of the need for training…and we see some heartbreak and plot development for his relationships. That leads us to the SECOND NIGHT of the event….
ARROW Episode 308 – “The Brave and the Bold”
As Oliver, Roy and John track down what they believe is Digger’s hideout, they find a booby trap…and ARGUS agents. An ARGUS agent was killed by Harkness…and there’s a lot more to this story. Harkness was a member of Task Force X…the Suicide Squad. After a botched mission the team was to be “sanitized” on Lyla’s orders, but the microbomb in Harkness’ neck failed. Of course, he is tracking her down in revenge. He gets into ARGUS and takes down a LOT of agents, fighting to a standstill with Oliver and Roy (who have come to the rescue), before Barry also arrives in Starling City to scare Harkness off.
Why is Barry there? Turns out that Cisco and Caitlin had come to Starling City to visit Felicity and the “Arrowcave” to see Oliver’s “toys”. They were there when the attack at ARGUS went down and called Barry in. The partnership is very reluctantly renewed, and Lyla is taken into Oliver’s protection.
The subject of much of this episode is Oliver’s humanity – what’s left of it, whether there is any spark of light left in him after all that he has been through. We see flashbacks of the first time Oliver was ordered to torture a suspect, showing us the consequences of that event and why he seems to have much less of a problem taking extreme measures today. Barry confronts Oliver over this, and their debates are critical to Oliver’s development in this episode.
Harkness basically plays Oliver and Barry through much of the episode, leading up to a confrontation in which Harkness has planted five bombs all around Starling City…bombs that are linked together. Barry has a solution – no, not by going “multiplex”, but a very inventive solution nonetheless.
We do see Oliver realizing that he hasn’t completely lost his humanity, and there are some great exchanges between a hopeful Barry and the normally very grim Oliver. We also see that reflected in the differences between Cisco/Caitlin and Felicity/John/Roy. In this episode, those differences work better than they did in the previous night on THE FLASH. It may be that it’s easier to add a little hope to a dark world than it is to see that darkness thrown into a more hopeful Central City – at least that’s how it looked by comparing the episodes.
We do get a real conclusion here in ARROW, with a full confrontation played out. And, we get an interesting ending with some gifts between our heroes and a friendly “battle” at the finale.
SUMMARY OF THE FULL EVENT: The two-night event was great overall, with all the drama and fun we could hope for from these excellent series. I actually liked the ARROW episode better, in part due to that maddening left-out final battle with Rainbow Raider at the end of the FLASH episode. And, it did seem more organic to infuse a little Flash-type hope into the grim world of Starling City, rather than the opposite approach with the grim Oliver Queen visiting Central City. Still, there were some great plot developments in both episodes, and there will be definite repercussions for both series coming out of these visits. We can only hope to see this happen again at some point in the future.