Last night’s The Flash featured some darker hues for the typically sunny world of Central City thanks to the timely arrival of the Emerald Archer and his cohorts. Tonight’s Arrow meanwhile, aimed to return the favor as the Fastest Man Alive and two of his associates come to Starling City to offer some light and humor to the typically demur world and gritty realism of its Wednesday night cousin. “The Brave and the Bold” closed out the two-night event that social media has taken to calling #Flarrow, an epic team-up of two heroes who, as Cisco observes, are in a league of their own. Of course that’s not a reference to the Geena Davis movie. It’s a reference to a team that may never be mounted in full on TV, but the super-bro get-together of Stephen Amell and Grant Gustin sure makes you wish they’d try.
Picking up on the previous episode of Arrow, and last night’s episode of The Flash, Oliver, Roy and Diggle track their boomerang bearing murderer to a house in Starling City. How do they know it’s his hideout? It’s rigged to explode. Boomerangs and bombs make for a lethal combination, so it should come as no surprise that the boomerang man was a former A.R.G.U.S. recruit for Task Force X, AKA: The Suicide Squad. The man in question, Digger Harkness, was on a mission that went sideways, which forced the A.R.G.U.S. officer in charge, Lyla to *ahem* pull the plug on the operatives. And for the record, that is the same Lyla that’s the former/future Mrs. John Diggle. (Or the Diggle Baby Mama, if you like.)
It’s interesting that in the highly vaunted Flash/Arrow crossover that Diggle and his portrayer David Ramsey gets something to chew on. Obviously you have to assume the Diggle/Lyla domestic partnership is complicated enough without mixing Arrow business with A.R.G.U.S., but its nice to get insight into the Diggle household and how the couple have to navigate those complications. It’s also nice to see that there’s time enough for a little flirting even in life threatening situations, what a perfectly modern couple. Ramsey and Audrey Marie Anderson have good chemistry, and are good at making the most of what moments they get to show it, and it might be nice if Arrow took the time more often.
In fact, you know how they could make more time? Getting rid of the flashbacks! Not to sound like a broken record, but come on! What insight into Oliver’s punished psyche did we gleam from Waller’s backhanded pep talk to make Oliver a torturer in the finest Jack Bauerian tradition that wasn’t covered in his conversations with his superfast partner in the present? I think anyone watching this show understands it’s partially about how Oliver was broken down during his time away and how he’s now trying to build himself back up to something resembling human, but Barry’s own horror about his superhero mentor’s extreme tactics said more than another entry in pointless flashback theater.
Speaking of the Flash, Gustin seems very at home in the Arrow-Cave. As the brooding Amell gave The Flash permission to explore its hero’s dark side, the charming Gustin let Arrow open up its hero to seeing how scary he can be even while he’s trying to live up to the term “hero” in earnest. The Arrow on last night’s Flash came to Central City with something to prove to Barry, that powers and a mask are no substitute for knowledge and experience. In tonight’s Arrow, The Flash came to Starling to help a friend, and gently nudged Oliver to accept the idea that his drive to survive is more a sign of his humanity forcing him to press on, than a sign that he’s losing that which makes him human.
As inferred above, Cisco also came long to Starling, he and Caitlin. It’s one of those contrived things that comes along with crossovers: “Hey, I know we just saw you but now we’re here where you live.” Granted, Caitlin promised to help Team Arrow get DNA from the arrows that killed Sara, but her and Cisco didn’t have to make a house call. Having the dynamic duo tag along seemed pointless until Lyla, being near fatally injured by Harkness, gives them a cold dose of reality. Cisco observes that dealing with super-powers and giving them silly code names keeps the violence, and its consequences, at an arm’s length. Life in Starling City, as Oliver repeatedly points out, is much bloodier than it is in Central City.
More practically though, the expanded roster in the Arrow-Cave allowed for just enough people to be on hand to help The Flash defuse five bombs at once, Harkness’ deadly trap meant to secure his getaway. Nick Tarabay and Arrow‘s fight choreographer and costume department made Harkness a fair bit more menacing and deadly than his comic book counterpart’s paper hat and boomerang-patterned smock, and unlike Chroma on last night’s Flash the machinations of Harkness very much played a part in the overall story. Cisco, since he was in town, gets the privilege of giving Harkness his nom du plume: Captain Boomerang.
If Arrow left the Flash with an appreciation for doing the proverbial leg work, then the Flash left Arrow with a feeling that one’s humanity can be more a strength than a weakness. To wit, the final scene where Barry and Oliver get together for another round of training was not another chance for Oliver to be a jerk and fire arrows at Barry under the guise of giving some kind of life lesson, but it was about comrades-in-arms testing each other in a playful and engaging way, seeing each other as equals on the front-lines of the never-ending battle. It’s progress for both characters, and a silly nod to the comic book confrontation that must be answered: who would win in a fight?
On the flipside though, Arrow must come back down to Earth next week for its midseason finale in which Ra’s al Ghul becomes omnipresent again and the mystery of who killed Sara takes center stage once more. Adventures with the Flash was a fun diversion, but two lines from Thea and a pity me appearance by Quentin and Laurel Lance was a reminder that the various balls that Arrow has up in the air have been kind of left hanging, as opposed to last night’s Flash where the ongoing story lines didn’t feel like they were swept aside for Arrow and friends for the week. Hopefully, there’s not a heavy crash next week as we get back to business as usual on Arrow.
Overall though, I think “Flash Vs Arrow” and “The Brave and the Bold” did exactly what they set out to achieve, and that was be a fun, exciting and Easter egg filled adventure between two heroes and two cities; they may be uniquely different in skill and experience, but their united in their quest for truth and justice. The shame of it is that this league is still a duet, and perhaps even a greater shame that Warner Bros. doesn’t see the value in promoting Amell and Gustin to the big screen Justice League if and when that comes to pass. By the way, does Cisco using the expressions “Arrow-Cave” and “Arrow-Mobile” mean that there’s no chance of Batman ever coming into this world? That’s kind of sad to think about, but hey, maybe this time next year Arrow and Flash will get a little girl power back-up? Time will tell.