The Flash’s crossover episode has been hyped as, and even named, The Flash VS Arrow for reasons that were unclear to me until I finally sat down and watched it. Not only does the episode have plot points that put the two at odds, but the creators of both shows are actually spending the crossover clashing the themes that make up Arrow with the ones that make up the Flash. The result sees Oliver and his team through the vibrant and positive filter of the Flash, and it’s absolutely outstanding from start to finish.
Beyond the obvious geek love that I am clearly going to display, I’m still going to try to keep this in perspective. The best compliment that I can give this episode without crossing over in to hero worship (pun) is the use of plot devices that assert the characters that drive the story. Putting Oliver and Barry on the same screen for a long period of time (both in costume, and out) really accentuates their differences as characters. The scene involving Oliver questioning Barry’s methods is so important to the realization of these two and their different ways they do the same job. It’s made even better by Barry’s stubbornness and arrogance which in turn asserts his character, creating friction between the two that becomes all the more important later on. Oliver’s brutality and subterfuge in his training also asserts his technique, considering that it was how he was trained. It also reflects on his dependence on causing and receiving pain to both achieve the physicality and mindset required to lead the life he does, and also to “gather” information. I also have a real love for both Joe and Eddie’s stake in this episode. Joe’s questioning of the Arrow, and how he views the work that the Arrow does, along with Eddie’s mistrust of the Flash were both justified and characteristic; and it finally gave the character of Eddie a potentially meaty part to chew on. Everyone provided the best interpretations of their characters along with entertaining commentary on the events of the episode (David Ramsey’s Diggle’s reaction to Barry’s abilities was absolutely priceless).
The villain of the episode (along with his subsequent defeat) was a bit rushed, with a lot of that happening offscreen. It served to allow more Arrow and Flash interactions though, so despite Chroma being thrown to the dogs, it ended up opening the floor to even more strong character motivated moments between Barry and Oliver. Gustin turns out a decent performance as a darker version of Barry; though his feelings for Iris, coupled with his abilities, are starting to get a little bit creepy. It’s okay for the main character to get a *little* creepy, because the unrequited love angle can be construed as tragic and cause the audience to empathize with your character. Unfortunately with his desperation I actually found myself empathizing more with Iris (She’s got a boyfriend, Barry. It’s really not cool. …This is probably why so many storylines that involve these elements start with making the boyfriend out to be a jerk..). Still, the interactions of Team Arrow with the Central City team (namely the ones between Dig and Felicity and Caitlin and Cisco) end up being better than anyone could have hoped; though the reasons for the team showing up in Central City (while explained) is still flimsy. In fact there are a few logic problems within the plot that I just couldn’t shake no matter how hard I tried (Oliver Queen is a celebrity, yet only Iris seems to be taking note that he’s in Central City. Meanwhile, Joe who talks to his daughter ever day and clearly knows about the Arrow doesn’t realize that Oliver Queen is in town the same time as the Arrow. AND! Oliver Queen was very publicly accused of being the Arrow, which is just the kind of information that a cop would be knowledgeable about. Yeah these things really shook the episode’s foundation in my eyes).
So here’s where we’re at. The Flash VS Arrow is still absolutely fantastic. Yes it has a lot of problems (mainly logical) but you will be so distracted by seeing your favorite characters interact that you won’t have time to think about them. Strong performances from all of the actors dominate the episode, but what’s even more impressive is how perfectly consistent everyone portrays their role. Even though the Arrow characters find themselves out of their dark and gloomy element, they are still just as on the ball as they are in their show. And despite the presence of Starling City’s Citizen Brooder, the Flash manages to keep up it’s predominately positive and vibrant tone, while still using heavy elements of both science and math in practical application. HOWEVER, there are still plenty of comedic moments that depend enough on these opposing atmospheres and methods to create entertaining bits of banter that work perfectly within the context of both series. I also found Oliver’s brief bit of advice to Barry toward the end to be both profoundly sad, and incredibly wise, and it opened up a real connection between the two that’s emphasized just the right amount.
Though the villain ends up just being there for flavor, the big fight that everyone was anticipating definitely fills the void and even has a reasonable (though entirely expected) plot device behind it. The big surprise comes from the solidifying of Eddie’s part in future episodes. I’m hoping that this new direction for the character gets him more screen time. I’m reluctant to say that this is the *best* Flash episode yet, but it’s certainly has been the most consistently entertaining. Plus two HUGE reveals had the comic geek in me going crazy for their implementation in both series (well…one for sure, and the other is just a possibility). Arrow and Flash’s first team up is fun and memorable, but what’s even more important, it brought the two worlds together in perfect harmony, and what’s more, it did it without diluting either of them.