When I was younger — much younger — there were these things called “crossovers”. Shows would share casts, and stories would flow from one show to the next in a way that, when you put them together, could almost be a made-for-TV movie. Magnum, P.I. crossed over with Simon & Simon. Magnum also crossed over with Murder, She Wrote. The Six Million Dollar Man and The Bionic Woman would cross paths. And you know what? It worked. It was easy enough to see Jessica Fletcher in Hawaii at a writers conference, or some something that put her in Thomas Magnum’s back yard.
Now, here we are in 2014, with the big crossover between The Flash and Arrow, and I know I’m probably going to take some flak for this, but it wasn’t all it was cracked up to be.
Don’t get me wrong. I thoroughly enjoyed both episodes. But it wasn’t exactly what was on the bill of goods. I’m old school. When I hear the word “crossover” between TV shows, I expect one story that’s too big for one show. That’s not what we got here.
Episode 108 “Flash vs. Arrow”
[Photos: Diyah Pera/The CW]
In this first half of the two-hour combo, we get the requisite “they must fight each other” trope played against a villain that actually could have been much more interesting than he was. The culprit: a metahuman named Roy G. Bivolo (ROYGBIV, for those who remember your art classes). And he’s yet another “functional” villain to get us from point A to point B.
So. The Rainbow Raider. Or Prism, as Cisco decides to call him, because Caitlin’s not very good at coming up with the cute code names. He’s a metahuman with the ability to induce a wide range of emotions — even though we don’t see any emotion other than rage. This is a missed opportunity, because there’s one particular scene that would have worked just as well if Bivolo had used yellow to induce fear in one of the police officers instead of the default red for rage.
Bivolo, like Girder a while back, only serves to get us to the point where the Flash is fighting Arrow, because reasons. And he also serves the function of introducing the emotional spectrum into the CW show universe. The conversation between Caitlin and Felicity, in which we get the emotion spectrum speculation that assigns color theory to psychology, is straight up Geoff Johns. Johns, for those who don’t know, introduced the color spectrum into the DC Universe when he brought back Hal Jordan as Green Lantern. Which means we’re setting up an appearance by a Green Lantern at some point. Calling it now.
Bivolo also serves to set up the obligatory hero fight in this hour, causing Barry to have a rage fit that’s fueled by his need to prove himself to Oliver.
Oliver, meantime, doesn’t really want to be in Central City, but Team Arrow is there so Felicity can ask for Caitlin’s help figuring out where the special boomerang comes from. And this gives us a series of fun little bits in the lab — Felicity’s shirt catching fire, the boomerang going wild and Cisco saying “That’s on me. My bad.” and his Yoda impersonation, and the debate over who would win between Barry and Oliver while they get close to killing each other — but ultimately the episode is make-work. Which is too bad, because there’s a lot of potential in Bivolo as a recurring villain. But we don’t even get to see his capture, as he’s being put into a holding cell as we come back from a commercial.
And Diggle’s the one who gets to freak out a little bit over Barry’s powers. Giving us a few light moments as Diggle wonders just what all he can do at super-speed. One thing we do get to see is Barry vibrate a tranquilizer out of his body. It’s only a matter of time before he’s phasing through walls. Missed opportunity this episode, as he could have done that to get into Bivolo’s apartment.
Ultimately, Bivolo is a means to an end. Barry gets to Hulk out, setting in motion Eddie’s push for an Anti-Flash Task Force and the whole “arch nemesis” relationship to come, while also damaging his relationship with Iris. But it could have been a little more. We only saw red, but we could have seen yellow. And we don’t know what he was doing to facilitate his metahuman ability. So his story is still not complete, and it feels shortchanged a bit.
And for the record, Captain Singh’s line about his boyfriend? Hand of the Writer +1000. I have never come across a line that was so blatantly shoehorned into a script for no story-connected reason at all. It was absolutely a pandering line.
Episode 308 “The Brave and the Bold”
[Photos: Cate Cameron/The CW]
And then we’re into the second hour, where Team Flash comes to Starling City to visit. Well, Caitlin and Cisco do. They only call Barry when it all hits the fan and they need the Flash to be at the right place at the right time.
This hour’s villain: Captain Boomerang, Digger Harkness. He’s got a thing for trick boomerangs, and he’s out to kill Lyla (not Diggle’s wife) because it turns out he was on the Suicide Squad at one point when the job went south. As the mission fell apart, Lyla was the one to make the call for the head bombs to go boom, only Harkness’ bomb didn’t go off. So now he’s back for revenge, cutting a path through the half-dozen rent-a-cops at A.R.G.U.S. to chop down Lyla.
Only our costumed heroes manage to foil the attack, and the rest of the episode is Oliver and Barry trying to out-clever Harkness. But Harkness was A.R.G.U.S., and he’s got skills. While most of the tag team is out trying to trace Captain Boomerang, he’s back-tracing a cell phone the team recovered from Harkness’ boomerang supplier. Which puts him right in the heart of the Arrowcave while the heroes are all gone. Felicity, Caitlin, and Lyla have to fend for themselves, and of course Lyla gets stabbed through the chest with a boomerang. Because she has to get hurt so Diggle will realize what he almost lost. Naturally, he asks her to re-marry him.
Now, this episode picks up the Boomerang thread from the last episode of Arrow, in which Harkness kills an A.R.G.U.S. agent, and Team Arrow takes the boomerang weapon to Central City because STAR Labs can probably analyze it better, and because Central City has the highest concentration of the base mineral used to make the boomerang. So that thread is there, but it’s incidental to the rest of the story, which is basically “Let’s team up now that we’ve fought” for the rest of the hour. And of course, we have a little bit of a “my turf, my way” attitude from Oliver.
The final confrontation between Harkness and our heroes comes complete with bombs in the city and Harkness holding a dead man’s switch, and it just so happens there are five bombs, all needing to be disarmed simultaneously. And it just so happens that between Team Arrow and Team Flash, there are five people who can be positioned at each bomb to disarm it. See how that works out? Good thing there weren’t six bombs, since Diggle was at the hospital with Lyla.
Also: the exploding boomerang? Yeah… FX needed a little work there.
Mostly, though, it’s a solid episode that gives us more opportunity for Felicity to deliver some meta lines like “Every Wednesday…” and see the two casts interact, as well as give us a pretty decent story. Although the security at A.R.G.U.S. is a joke. Really.
Plus, we get the conversation wherein
Batman Arrow tells Superman Flash that it’s not the same in this town. Superman Flash lives in Metropolis Central City, where it’s always sunny, and his villains get cute code names, while Gotham Starling City is darker and requires that Batman Arrow get his hands dirty.
Ultimately, this was a way to boost ratings (which it did) and tell a couple of cool stories (they did) about two heroes using very different methods and learning from each other. And not only did it expand the horizons of the capes, but it also opened Arrow to the potential for metahumans to start making an appearance on that show, and it grounded The Flash a little better by giving Barry a little more situational awareness.
By the by, the girl that showed up in CC Jitters at the end of The Flash? Yeah. Remember the pregnant girl Moira Queen paid to go away? … uh huh.