It’s crossover time, folks! The first half of The CW’s superhero double-team pits Barry Allen (Grant Gustin) vs Oliver Queen (Stephen Amell).
Let’s bitch it out…
There’s conflict a brewin’ in the first half of the crossover courtesy of new metahuman Roy Bivola (Paul Anthony) aka Chroma. ‘Flash vs. Arrow’ does a nice job showcasing the best aspects of both shows: Oliver brings the darkness and the relationship doom and gloom, while Barry brings the heroism and the romantic pining. Despite existing in the same DC universe, the two shows have fairly distinguished tones and, as previewed in the EW.com interview from earlier this week, this episode is much more clearly in The Flash‘s wheelhouse (the comedy is the give-away – just check the Best Lines section!)
Ultimately Chroma is a minor disappointment (he’s so insignificant that his capture doesn’t even figure into the narrative. He simply ends up in the metahuman prison by episode’s end). That’s okay, though, because like many plot device characters, his presence exists to bring to the front lingering conflicts and tensions on The Flash (and to a lesser extent Arrow). As expected they’re very Barry-centric: his struggle to carve out an identity as a hero, his desire to maintain the approval of his two father figures Dr. Wells (Tom Cavanagh) and Detective West (Jesse L. Martin) and <groan> his obsession with Iris (Candice Patton).
The first conflict is brought out most clearly by the presence of The Arrow in Central City. As the teaser reminds us, Oliver and his team have had years to work out their system and may have included a string of homicides and a few terrorist attacks. Barry, on the other hand, is still figuring out how to work with Wells, Caitlin (Danielle Panabaker) and Cisco (Carlos Valdes) and while Barry’s desire to inspire is noble, it’s also naive and idealistic. In reality, Barry isn’t entirely altruistic about his powers, either. Sure he helps painters and makes coffees when the new barista is training, but he also flirts shamelessly with Iris while in costume, despite the fact that he knows she’s supposedly in love with Rick Cosnett’s Eddie (Side Note: if Iris’ comments about cheating with Oliver are an attempt to make her more human or endearing, I’m ready to declare that decision a spectacular failure).
The impetus for the episode – and the crossover – occurs after Barry gets Whammied. As Felicity (Emily Bett Rickards) notes in an especially obvious line of dialogue, Barry’s attempt to rein in his emotions is a liability and the moment that he goes off after Chroma half-cocked (against Oliver’s advice), it’s clear that he’ll end up in a rage against both Eddie and, eventually, Oliver. And you know what? I’m totally cool with that because we got to see more of Eddie getting beaten up and then an excellent tete-a-tete between superheroes (complete with inappropriate betting on the outcome between Cisco & David Ramsey’s Diggle).
The superhero blow-out is excellent fun, filled with great stuntwork and special effects. It also highlights the fighting styles of both men as Barry uses his ingenuity against Oliver by dragging him along the ground at super speed and Oliver uses his cacophony of different arrow heads. Ultimately science prevails (as we would expect on this show) as Wells uses coloured lights to de-Whammy Barry. All in all, a very fun and successful outing of The Flash with support from Team Arrow.
- Alas, Oliver and Barry’s training does not include any Rocky montages. There’s some fun to be had in watching Oliver shoot Barry in the back with two arrows, though.
- Who the hell says “tardiness”? Awful Eddie. And he spends the entire episode setting up a task force to catch the Flash? Gosh he’s awful.
- For these reasons, I fully support Eddie getting his ass kicked each and every week. But really: he got shot last week and nearly beaten to a pulp this week? Guy’s got some bad mojo working.
- I love how Oliver’s Arrow theme announces his presence in the teaser. I love that it is then overtaken by Barry’s The Flash theme. The musical cues not only reinforce the crossover, but subtly anticipates the forthcoming butting of heads.
- Oliver’s stoic speech about the need to protect his identity is dark, twisty and mildly threatening. Felicity then diplomatically smooths things over with a quick thank-you. These two are so lovely together.
- Naturally it only takes Oliver a few minutes with Wells to deduce that there’s something off about him. Further proof that Barry still needs a bit more training.
- While I didn’t really appreciate Oliver bringing his dark moodiness about dating into the mix, I totally agree with him that the Barry/Iris thing needs to go. So happy someone finally verbalized it.
- Can we talk about how Captain Singh (Patrick Sabongui) is casually outed as queer with a random comment about his boyfriend being health conscious? I guess it’s progress that it’s such a non-starter, but man that felt out of the blue.
- Finally, OLIVER BABY MAMA DRAMA. We all knew it was coming (and many of us hoped it wouldn’t), but still…AHHHHH!
- Barry (when Caitlin asks if he wants advice): “No matter what I say I’m going to get it, aren’t I?”
- Barry (upon seeing the boomerang): “Cool! I mean…awful”
- Felicity (after her shirt catches fire): “I’m glad I decided not to go braless.”
- Diggle (speculating on Barry’s speed): “Like how fast do you think he goes to the bathroom?”
- Iris (after meeting Oliver): “And his arms are like twice the size of yours!”
- Oliver (after Barry insists on the term metahuman): “I’m not calling him that, Barry”
- Barry (when Oliver suggests they’ll talk about his habit of naming villains later): “You mean like over coffee with Deathstroke and The Huntress?”
- Felicity (after a “what’s up, doc” joke): “Sorry, that was dumb. Remember I went to MIT.” Wells: “Yes, you’re very smart.”
Your turn: were you excited to see Team Arrow wolfing down Big Belly Burgers in Central City? Are you excited to see Team Flash reciprocate? Did you enjoy your brief taste of Chroma? Excited for Eddie and his damn task force? Flash-only viewers: are you wondering why the hell we care about Oliver’s illegitimate child?
Sound off below and come back tomorrow as the cross-over continues on a brand new Arrow at 8pm EST on The CW.