The Flash: Flash vs. Arrow review

The Flash and Arrow crossover kicks off in style, with plenty of villains to go around for our heroes. Here's our review...

This Flash review contains spoilers.

For the first time since Batman and Robin fought The Green Hornet and Kato back in 1967, we have two costumed superheroes duking it out on the small screen. “Flash vs. Arrow” may not have the budget or the star power of something like Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, but it knew exactly what it was doing, it did it well, and most impressively, it got it done in one episode.

Really, of all the fun that was to be had in this episode, I do think the biggest, most pleasant surprise came from the fact that this was less the first part of a two-part story, and more of a (relatively) self-contained episode of The Flash. The tone of “Flash vs. Arrow” was totally consistent with what has been established from week to week on this show. It was fun having the Arrow crew around, but they were here to play in Flash‘s sandbox, not the other way around. I look forward to seeing how that dynamic is flipped tomorrow night.

With that in mind, the way that the supporting cast reacts to the presence of the Arrow is amusing. When you hear Oliver’s actions (and the major events of Arrow season one and two) just laid out matter-of-factly by Joe West and Harrison Wells, well…they kind of have a point, don’t they? Again, just a fun way to illustrate the differences between these shows.

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There are threads to be followed. The Captain Boomerang tease we got at the end of the last episode of Arrow was the thread that brought Oliver and friends to Central City this week, and there are now plenty of excuses for both of these teams to interact in the future. Now that we’ve gotten the obligatory superhero trope of “before we team up we must fight” out of the way (I do hope that we don’t need to see this in every live-action superhero team-up for the foreseeable future, by the way), we can see them operating more like the nascent Justice League we know this to be.

So, this week’s villain, Roy G. Bivolo (awful pun) is known to comics fans as the Rainbow Raider, a name introduced and dismissed by Caitlin and Cisco. Not the best baddie in Flash’s rogues’ gallery, he’s at least given a few cool visual tics here. Otherwise, though, he’s really just a device to let Oliver and Barry have their fun together. Not that I’m complaining. File this under “things I never expected to see done at all, let alone done reasonably well.” 

I have a few issues, though. I’m not sure I totally bought Eddie’s sudden desire to see Flash brought to justice early in the episode. Although I suppose he did admit that he has some jealousy issues to Barry a few episodes back. It just seemed a little abrupt here. I am glad they brought up Captain Singh’s sexuality, though, and dealt with it (as they should) like it’s no big deal. You know what my problem is, though? I don’t believe a career cop would know how to use the term “fan fiction” properly in a sentence.

As for Flash and Eddie, though…remember a few weeks ago when I mentioned how terrifying Flash would be if he did the whole mystery man schtick but not in a friendly way? We sure saw that this week, didn’t we?

The main event, of course, is the Flash and Arrow throwdown. It’s full of great special effects, for starters. The fact that it’s already been established over and over again that Barry is, quite simply, an awful fighter helped make the fact that he didn’t just pulp Ollie immediately a lot easier to swallow. There are shades of Dark Knight Returns (and thus, Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice) in this scene of a non-powered hero taking on a superpowered one in an alley, and I can honestly only hope that next year’s big movie handles things half as well as this episode just did. That finish with the van and the flashing lights may have been a little hokey, but it was straight out of DC’s Silver or Bronze Age, and perfectly in keeping with the spirit of the proceedings.

I just hope that the next time we have a big crossover like this, they let Ray Palmer join in the fun, too. I really want to see him let loose in STAR Labs.

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Who the hell is Harrison Wells?

I found it interesting that even the man from the future didn’t initially know that Oliver Queen is Green Arrow. Surely he went and asked his computer about it after Felicity told him to get lost, but the fact he had to look into it kind of tells me that Ollie’s secret identity NEVER becomes public knowledge.


You know how some of us have occasionally suspected that Wells is hiding some kind of mental ability? Maybe he was just testing Felicity, seeing how loyal she is to her friends (because Barry is also her friend), and he just read her mind there. Because if he DOES have powers, he could have just influenced her to tell him, right? I’m starting to subscribe less to the “Harrison Wells has mental powers” theory, though.

But he does also kind of test Oliver. We have another scene at the end where, once again, he “approves” of one of Barry’s compatriots. You can bet that if he at all thought that the Arrow was dangerous to the continued well-being of the Flash, he’d do something about it.

Flash Facts!

We were remarkably light on easter eggs this week, weren’t we? There were a few goodies, though…

– Although Bivolo’s lair is full of awful paintings, which is a bit of a throwback to his comic book origin. Nice touch.

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– Barry’s lateness coming back into play is a nice callback to early Barry Allen comics and also original Flash Jay Garrick’s tardiness issues. Did you really think I would let a week go by without mentioning Jay Garrick’s name in one of these reviews? Don’t be silly!

– This one is my favorite. During Flash’s chat with Iris at Jitters, she asks about a proper name for him and Flash responds with “you mean like Ralph.” This is a reference to the first Lois Lane/Superman interview in Superman: The Movie. where Christopher Reeve offhandedly says “you mean like Ralph or something?” in response to a similar query from Margot Kidder. It’s my favorite movie. Did anyone think I wouldn’t catch that?

– Hey, it’s Berlin from Defiance as the mother of Oliver’s child! Any chance that kid is named Connor?

– Hi there, Firestorm!

If I missed any, you know what to do. Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you all tomorrow for the next chapter!

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4 out of 5