[Review] The Flash (2014) – 1×08: “Flash vs. Arrow”

This week’s crossover episode was all the rage when it aired. Kevin and Bethany promise to get to the point quickly, because it’s time to take a look at CW’s The Flash.


KEVIN

Dark and broody, pitted against bright and cheerful. Vengeance, in comparison to hope.

No, I’m not talking about a particular movie I finally saw a few weeks ago, but the formula is the same.

  1. Take a couple of heroes
  2. Smash them together
  3. ???
  4. Profit

Felicity Smoak has been on The Flash before, and pre-lightning Barry was a not unimportant part of Arrow‘s Season Two plot development – and the Science Siblings for an episode, too – but this is the first time since that cryptic conversation in the pilot that Oliver Queen has shown up, and he brought his trademark angst with him.

This episode may be old, but spoiler warnings are still in effect after the cut.

People have noted that CW’s Arrow is kind of half Batman anyway, and that’s not an unreasonable judgment to make. Season Three in particular deals with Ra’s al Ghul and the monastery at Nanda Parbat – two characteristically Batman plot threads. Marrying al Ghul’s daughter, taking over as Head of the Demon, and cleansing the home city of corruption are all major parts of the season.

That said, Oliver Queen is still Barry Allen’s friend, and nothing says friendship like an arrow in the face.

Arrows are fuckin’ weird, mate.

Throughout the episode, Ollie tries to help Barry, while Barry protests that he doesn’t need or want Ollie’s help, but the differences between the two are very clear. They come up over and over: in the training sequence in the field, in the way the two fight each other, and especially in their own individual approaches to criminology and investigation.

The Arrow is precise, methodical, analytical – but he’s also brutal and dark and gloomy.

The Flash is a beacon of hope and light and justice – but he’s also brash and impulsive and inexperienced.

The two vigilantes come to grips with these differences and Ollie decides to train Barry in situational awareness. This is something that Barry definitely needs, but Ollie’s version of training is to shoot him in the back.

It hurts, and tensions are raised even higher with the Rainbow Raider’s magic rage vision. Barry starts acting like a massive dick to everyone, and it’s up to Ollie to take him down long enough to get him cured.

The fight is everything you would expect from the two. Ollie is the more experienced fighter, and Barry has the strength and speed, so they end up about evenly matched for the most part. The choreography is stellar, and much like in Dawn Of Justice, it’s the coolest fight between two superheroes we’ve seen thus far.

To be honest, I was going to do a separate review for the second half of the crossover (Arrow 3×08, “The Brave and the Bold”) but it’s really just more of the same. Barry and Ollie have theoretical differences, they clash – verbally, this time, instead of physically – they come to an understanding, and then they team up for great justice.

All in all, it’s a fairly solid crossover, and let’s face it. Seeing the Arrow and the Flash together was just really badass.

Scattered thoughts time!

  • We’ve both said before that Barry just absolutely finds the joy in being a superhero. The opening sequence really demonstrates this best, as the Flash goes about his day being helpful and adorable to the unwitting public.
  • Captain Singh just casually mentioning his boyfriend, without calling attention to it or even treating it as anything out of the ordinary, is phenomenal and I loved it.
  • Eddie Thawne continues to be one of the best characters in this show. He gets proof of a vigilante running around the city, and – remembering that it is actually illegal – tries to do something reasonable about it.
  • THE MUSIC. Say what you want about Arrow but the music is absolutely stellar. And I will never stop gushing about the score of The Flash either. Mix them together and you have two great tastes that taste great together.
  • Iron Oxide, Felicity? Are you saying you tracked Captain Boomerang there because Central City is the rustiest city in America?
    • Actually knowing basic chemistry does tend to pull me out of the immersion of certain things. Just like Dragon Age 2.
    • I KNOW WHAT SULFUR AND SALTPETER ARE, ANDERS. I KNOW WHAT YOU’RE MAKING ME AN UNWITTING ACCOMPLICE TO.
  • Evil Science Dad, using your evil future knowledge to gloat to Felicity is cheating.

BETHANY

One of the more interesting aspects of this episode was how much of a non-player Rainbow Raider/Prism/Roy G. Bivolo was. Most of the metahumans the Flash has featured have had a relatively decent amount of backstory. Heck, even the clock guy from the previous episode got a little bit of humanizing backstory (his sister was dying, he wasn’t allowed to see her, fuck all y’all).

Roy G. Bivalo is a non-entity. He is Sir Not-Appearing-In-This-Film.

Which, okay, I get. Because the Arrow showing up is the more interesting part of the episode. Bivolo is really just a method to get the Flash and the Arrow to fight, and it’s a pretty cool fight.

I kinda want to know more about this guy. There’re so many questions I want to ask. How did he discover he could use his eyes to punch a person straight in the amygdala? One assumes his powers were created, like all the metahumans so far, in the same event that created Barry’s powers, so again I ask: what has this guy been doing for the last several months? How much more on-the-nose can we name a villain than Roy G. Bivolo?

Did disco lights actually save the day?

Where’s all this atmospheric smoke coming from? What’s that smell?

Anyway, I’m more tired than usual so I’m gonna hit the rest of my points really fast in a bulleted list. (We all like lists, right?)

  • Barry – stop being, just, super and creepily eager for Iris and Eddie to break up. It’s not cool, dude.
  • Remember Fry being super happy when Lars ditched Leela and what a dick move that was? Fry realized he was being a dick and he’s dumber than toast.
  • (I have watched a lot of Futurama. A lot.)
  • I will spare you a number of glee-filled paragraphs with regards to Felicity Smoak (who still should be BFFs with both Iris and Cisco), but she gave S.T.A.R. Labs facial recognition software with a casual “Happy Hanukkah!” I adore her.
  • Digg being weirded out by Barry’s powers every time. It’s just…it’s just great.
  • Apropos of nothing, Stephen Amell resembles my younger brother just enough that watching him on screen as the Arrow is, occasionally, vaguely unsettling.
  • Party Dads in the party van

Kevin O’Shea is a writer and zero-time winner of the gold medal in archery. You can find him on Twitter (@osheamobile), Tumblr (osheamobile), or mapping the distance between Central and Starling Cities.

Bethany the Martian is an abuser of parentheses and works in the Pizza Mines. She can be found on Twitter (@martianbethany – the account is locked for safety, not privacy, most follow requests will be accepted) and on Tumblr (bethanythemartian).

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