Arrow season 3 episode 8 review: The Brave And The Bold

The second part of the Flash/Arrow crossover hits Arrow, and it's still just as fun as it was on The Flash...

This review contains spoilers.

3.8 The Brave And The Bold

With a crossover this early in Arrow and The Flash’s seasons, it’s a bit odd to have the parent show come second to the fledgling spin-off and, after the fun of Flash vs. Arrow, everyone was curious how the darker, more serialised half of the mini-franchise would tackle having a host of outsiders invade the Arrow Cave. But The Brave And The Bold turned out to be just as great as its predecessor, albeit in completely different ways.

While The Flash lives and breathes for those joyous, fan-service moments that come with its more ‘comic-booky’ feel, Arrow has always been more about peering into its characters’ souls. We know exactly what makes Oliver tick, why he chose to don the hood in the first place, and why Barry’s comparatively easy existence in Central City would get on his nerves. It helps that Barry is at his most arrogant here – a character trait that has become more and more apparent.

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Take the salmon ladder moment, for example. I love that these shows have made Barry into something more than the nice guy, noble hero. He also sarcastic and egotistical a large portion of the time.

Oliver and Barry are both inherently flawed, but both look upon each other as the superior option for costumed heroism, which makes for a very interesting dynamic. Oliver wishes for the easy life that Barry appears to enjoy, but fails to consider that he too has been through his fair share of trauma, and Barry still looks up to Oliver as a hero to emulate, despite disregarding his archer skills in light of his own superpowers.

Oliver said it best – “you live in Central City, where it’s sunny all the time and your enemies get cute nicknames,” but the difference may be in their approach, rather than their individual experiences. Plus Cisco is a very different kind of sidekick to Diggle.

The agonising about torture/murder versus mercy isn’t anything new for the show, but just having a fresh perspective on it from another hero so different from Oliver (aka not The Huntress or Canary) gave it a slightly new spin. It’s the reason those Barry origin episodes in season two were such a joy, as Grant Gustin plays in this world so differently to the way Stephen Amell does with Oliver.

As with the first half of the crossover, the monster of the week really doesn’t register, but everything going on around it makes the decision seem like a smart one. If the shows had picked a big name from the rogues gallery just to bump up the excitement to another level, it would have all been too much.

On a related note, it’s telling that this episode found room for more Diggle than we’ve had all season, despite bringing in three extra characters and juggling the elements of two separate shows. If we can see him interact with Lilah, have an original thought and help save the day in The Brave And The Bold, then why not in a standard episode? It makes little sense, but I guess we should just be grateful for any Diggle at all at this point.

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The same goes for Roy, who got a smattering of little moments here. His interactions with Cisco in particular, though throwaway and so brief a lot of people probably missed them, were a highlight for me, and it was Roy more than anyone who aided the union between shows. In fact, let’s send Roy over to Central City from time to time – it’ll give him something to do.

But, hey, I also saved the big Oliver moment from The Flash for this review, so we need to talk about the reappearance of his secret child. There’s not a whole lot to say, of course, but the decision to introduce the ex and her obviously-Oliver’s-son child in a show that wasn’t Arrow may have been a stroke of genius. She obviously wasn’t going to be living in Starling City, or Oliver would have bumped into her before now, but she does exist in a knowable place in this universe.

I said all the nice things in the world about this crossover in my Flash review, but it bears repeating that this little experiment would have been nothing if it wasn’t for its sense of fun.

The ratings have spoken, also, meaning the utter success of both Flash vs. Arrow and The Brave And The Bold could spark a lot of future crossovers, maybe even with Supergirl thrown into the mix come next season. That’s brilliant news, as both of these shows are at the top of their game, and have done something really quite special here.

Read Caroline’s review of the previous episode, Draw Back Your Bow, here.

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