Last week the CW put together an impressive 2 night crossover event between The Flash, and Arrow. With elements crossing over between the shows before, it was only a matter of time before we had a full blown crossover special. Here are our impressions.
Edward Boxler – Writer
I love crossover episodes. It’s a breath of fresh air to see two characters I follow separately on a weekly basis team up, or in this case, face off against each other. The CW opened up a full door of opportunities when they established The Flash and Arrow in the same universe and it’s a shame that neither The Flash’s Flash vs Arrow or Arrow’s The Brave and the Bold episodes fully capitalized on having these two heroes in the same space, but it was nevertheless a fun time with some incredible action sequences and special effects.
The biggest disappointment for me was that the episodes were by and large self contained. The catalyst that brings Oliver Queen to Central City and then Barry Allen to Starling City is ex-Suicide Squad member Captain Boomerang, played by Nick Tarabay, the fourth Spartacus alumni to be cast in Arrow. Boomerang doesn’t appear in Flash vs. Arrow but Oliver and his team visit Central City to investigate a string of murders being committed by the villain. Barry asks Oliver for help to take down Prism, a bank robber with the uncanny ability to make people lose their control of their emotions. Oliver accepts Barry’s request, but also resorts to pointing out some of Barry’s weaknesses in regards to his ability to fight crime. This makes for some interesting tension, but results in a rather contrived story arc. It was obvious to me that Barry would attempt to fight Prism on his own, fall under Prism’s influence, and start attacking those nearest and dearest to him, leaving only Arrow to stop him.
Regardless of the set up, the fight between Barry and Oliver was amazing. Slow motion, public display of powers, hand to hand combat, and a tornado fire all comprised a tense and exciting action sequence. Both heroes make some great contact hits and their strategies make them evenly matched physically. Their mental states are a whole different matter. While there only could be one outcome, The Flash acknowledged that audiences would be speculating on who could win in a proper fight between The Flash and Arrow, and includes a scene with Cisco, Diggle, Caitlin, debating on who could beat who before Felicity breaks it up. One of the best things about both shows is the humour and this was very apparent in Flash vs. Arrow. This is Diggle’s first time ever seeing someone with an actual superpower and his reaction is hilarious.
Flash vs. Arrow wraps things up all too neatly, failing to provide a hook to the Arrow crossover episode. Had I not already known that Barry and his team would be guest starring on The Brave and the Bold, I feel I could have been forgiven for thinking that the crossover ended with this single episode. I don’t like to assume that everyone that watches The Flash watches Arrow or vice versa and a better tie in could have enticed more viewers of each show to tune in to the other. A good example would be the crossover episodes from Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 4 and Angel Season 1. Fans got to see Angel help Buffy while keeping his presence a secret from her. When she finds out at the end of the episode, the audience knows that she will confront Angel in his own show, encouraging Buffy fans to watch Angel, especially if they aren’t already doing so. Those that did tune in to the crossover Angel episode were rewarded with closure to one of the most heartbreaking romance story arcs of 90s TV.
The Brave and the Bold allows Barry and Oliver to team up to take Captain Boomerang. Providing much humour to this show is Barry’s team as they try to integrate into Oliver’s world. Cisco has some especially funny jabs at Arrow’s similarities to Batman, smirking at the “Arrow Cave” or the “Arrowmobile.” This episode also does a great job of establishing just how dangerous this villain is, particularly where Boomerang single-handedly takes out a squadron of ARGUS agents. This brings out Oliver’s darker side, which is further echoed in scenes where he resorts to torturing some of his captives. When Barry sees this, he confronts Oliver that heroes don’t act like this. Oliver uses his dark past as an excuse to fight crime with more crime, which Barry refutes.
This episode also served as a contrast not only between The Flash and Arrow, but their respective shows. While The Flash is a more light hearted, traditional superhero story with a hero who does not believe in killing or severely hurting the enemy to bring them to justice, Arrow presents a darker and grittier atmosphere. Unlike Barry, Oliver has no superpowers but he has a mass amount of wealth which has allowed him to become resourceful in his fighting technique and his choice of weapons. Oliver has also resorted to killing bad guys. If they weren’t aware of this contrast between the shows before, fans will certainly be aware of it after this episode.
This crossover wasn’t perfect but it was remarkably entertaining. The episodes provided me with an entertaining face off between the heroes and showcased that while The Flash and Arrow take place in the same universe, they are vastly different shows. Hopefully this entices audiences to become fans of both shows, and that we will see many more crossovers to come.
Jonathan Harrington – Writer
Arrow and The Flash are easily my two favorite shows on television at the moment, so needless to say, I had high expectations for these two episodes. Even with Arrow recently struggling to live up to season 2’s remarkable level of quality, I had a feeling they would nail it. And I was right, to an extent, except for the fact that they blew my expectations out of the water: these were, far and away, the two best episodes of television I’ve watched this season.
Of course, it has to be said the fact that the two stories weren’t intertwined more closely was something of a disappointment. Team Arrow showed up and helped Barry with his metahuman, and then the following episode Team Flash helps with Captain Boomerang. It could have been one story for both episodes – but it’s understandable why they didn’t go this route, and hopefully future crossovers take a different tactic.
So onto the good. On the one hand, it was just plain cool to see these heroes and teams interact like this. The chemistry was great, and the fights – both physical and philosophical – were a fantastic merging of worlds. Plus there was plenty of fun fan-service to go around.
But the best part about it all was that it lead to both these shows’ best episodes of their respective seasons in their own rights. We’ll start with The Flash. Thanks to Prism’s effects, we saw a very different Flash than usual, giving Gustin his first real chance to branch out of his comfort zone on the show – something he accomplished with aplomb. He was legitimately frightening. At the same time, the Iris/Eddie/Flash/Barry relationship just got a whole lot more interesting, and as a whole it was all simply an engaging story to watch play out. Team Arrow just put it over the top.
Arrow was improved significantly from its season thus far due to a few reasons. First was The Flash crew injecting some more humor into the proceedings, the lack of Laurel (sorry Laurel fans!), and more consistent characterization and writing. And then there was Captain Boomerang, possibly Arrow‘s best one-off villain save for the Clock King. He was incredibly imposing for such a silly concept and the actor pulled it off brilliantly. Hopefully we see that prison break open soon and we can see Deathstroke and Captain Boomerang team up for a Spartacus reunion.
But the action scenes. Oh, the action scenes. Arrow vs The Flash was the most flat-out fun action scenes I’ve seen all year, and that’s including the many big-time action movies that released over the past twelve months. And then it got one-upped the next day by Boomerang’s attack on ARGUS, which was also incredibly well choreographed with just as many awesome freak-out moments. Once again, the DC CW team shows why they are currently the masters of fight scenes on television.
All-in-all, the crossover was an absolute ball to watch. Excellently written, tons of fan service, compelling stories, and the possibly the best fight scenes either show has ever had. I now look forward with eagerness toward the next one, wondering if and how the movies hope to possibly top this.
(the discussion continues on page 2)
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