Oh my word what an exciting episode! As a fan of these characters, of superheroes in general really, who loves it when characters come together in organic but fun ways, tonight’s episode Flash vs. Arrow was more than satisfying. Part one of the two night crossover event, it impressed in character developments, its wonderful fight scene between the Flash and the Arrow and just how much it set up without distracting anyone who only keeps up with one of the two shows. As a fan, I was pleased, but maybe I would have been regardless because of being a fan and because of how long I’ve wanted to see a team up like this, but I’m nearly 100% certain that it was mainly due to how finely crafted and balanced the episode was, never allowing one show’s atmosphere to overpower, simply allowing Oliver and co. to join in at ease. It bridges the two worlds with very little fanfare, suggesting that either character could pop in and out of the other’s city without question and that, the wink at a promise of a return, is what makes the episode so good.
Here are some of my favorite bits of the night:
- Seeing all of the different character interactions. Caitlin and Felicity got to bond over science and Felicity is getting Caitlin’s help in scanning the DNA on the arrow that killed Sara. Harrison Wells gives both Felicity and more obviously, Oliver, weird vibes and it shows just how naïve Barry is that it took Oliver just one, seemingly harmless conversation, to tell what the audience has known. Cisco and Diggle are a dream team that no one could have guessed as the two bet whose best friend is going to win the fight and Grant Gustin and Stephen Amell have a nice, brotherly chemistry that made their moments some of the best.
- The tonality of the episode was wonderful, from the logo which crossed both shows opening, to the musical cues when Oliver arrived in his Arrow gear, and they merged together, to the humor undercut by some of Barry’s serious self-doubts coming to the surface. It’s still a light show, particularly in comparison to Arrow but its lead character for all his charm and boy next door affability has a darker side, built up by distrust. The tone’s mix was brought to a head in the well-executed choreography of the final showdown between Barry and Oliver as they both use their skills to the best of their ability with Barry trying to win and Oliver simply trying to disarm. There are some thrilling moments such as The Flash racing to the top of a tour to cut down the Arrow’s rope, or when the Arrow shoots him through the leg. This isn’t a painless fight.
- Diggle is hilarious in tonight’s episode because he reacts like any other human being would react to someone having super speed. He’s too flustered to be impressed and simply wants to know the basic logistics of Barry’s everyday life. It’s nice to see David Ramsay get the chance to be the funny one.
- Grant Gustin got to cut loose. His emotions are all scrambled due to the Rainbow Raider and his moments of spiteful energy directed at Oliver are some of the episode’s best moments and Gustin tears his way through his verbal shutdown of Oliver. He’s sick of being embarrassed, of people thinking less of him, of not trusting him or his decisions or thinking he’s weak and this all manifests itself towards Oliver. Great moment for both the character and actor.
I do think it’s worth noting a pretty noticeable elephant in the room however, something that I’ve kind of danced around in hopes that the writers would rectify it but this episode drives it home. A lot of Barry’s anger and frustration this episode whether or not it’s due to a meta-human or not, is based on his feelings for Iris and that’s a romantic pairing I’m having a hard time supporting. I like Iris, I like Iris and Eddie, I like Iris, Eddie and Barry all being friends, but I don’t like the idea of Barry and Iris being romantically involved because the way Iris is written show’s her treating Barry like a kid brother. Which, mind you, is perfectly reasonable considering they essentially grew up under the same house with Joe acting the parent not only to Iris but to Barry as well. If they’re going to at some point movie the pairing past unrequited (which is already a little weird) they’re going to need to justify it beyond simply “it happened in the comic books”. Also, what’s going to happen with Eddie now? I have my theories and I feel that there was some definite mild foreshadowing in the dialogue between him and Iris but we’ll have to wait and see.
A small nitpick in a very solid, immensely entertaining episode. Tomorrow night is the second of the two and while it’s obvious that it was an enormous amount of love and hard work from the cast and crew that made tonight’s episode as strong as it was, and I can’t wait to see what tomorrow’s brings.
(Also, what did we all make of Ronnie? And Oliver running into the mother of his child?)