Arrow: The Brave and the Bold

Captain Boomerang: "You know what I like about boomerangs, Lyla? They're proof that things can come back to haunt you."

Like a lot of Arrow episodes, this one used parallel themes to work through character issues. Specifically the theme of 'What is a Hero' combined with a moral question about torture. Even though it also had a pretty standard villain revenge plot, the result was probably one of the best episodes of the series so far.

What makes Oliver a hero? What drives him to keep going, even though he has been chipping away at his humanity for the better part of a decade? Is Barry right about Oliver's inner strength? I think so, because there isn't any way Oliver could still be the man he is if there wasn't something greater inside of him. A light that refuses to be snuffed out, no matter what happens. It's what makes Oliver special.

Barry's inner light is a bit more obvious, and it glows a bit brighter. But that doesn't mean it is actually stronger than Oliver's. Oliver made a point about how different their lives and cities are. It basically described the differences in tone for each series. That exchange got to the heart of each hero, and was probably the best scene in the episode. I loved how Oliver threw out all the crap that's happened, and Barry countered with the fact that his mother was murdered, too.

Then there is the writing, and how well each character has been painted with a distinct brush. Barry thought of people first, and cleared off the train platform of innocents. It was a flashy moment that showcased his power. But it also says a lot about who Barry is. It was also telling how Barry took each member of the team to a bomb so they could defuse it together. By taking them all there, it meant the whole team was risking their lives to save the city. It was very much in character for the Flash, because someone like Superman would've just gathered all the bombs together and flown them into the sky.

That level of inclusion was the focus of the entire episode. This wasn't just the Arrow and Flash crossover, this was also about Team Arrow and Team Flash joining forces. Everyone had a moment to shine, and the chemistry between the teams was just fabulous to watch. The scene where both Scooby gangs had a drink together was very informative. Caitlin and Cisco admitted that for them this has been a game. That the way they have been acting was very superficial. Suddenly, with the reality of real people using real weapons instead of super-powers, they have to face the blood on the ground.

What that means going forward gives me a lot of hope -- perhaps for both shows. Arrow can be unrelentingly dark, and The Flash can be very goofy. They both have moments of humor and seriousness respectfully, but I think both shows could use a bit more counter. If Arrow had just a touch more levity, the darkness would feel a bit more heroic. If The Flash had more emotional depth then the superhero antics would feel more grounded.

Flashback:

The flashback was once again used to highlight a character moment in the present. This time it was about torture, and why Oliver uses it so casually. There was a man named Katsu Chang, a bomber that Oliver couldn't torture for information. That cost the lives of dozens, and in that moment Oliver realized that Waller was right, that he had use extreme measures to fight those who are extremely violent. Except in the present, that method backfired. Which calls into question everything that Oliver has come to believe is his only path.

I wonder why they are building up China White so heavily? We've seen her quite a bit in previous seasons, but she's never been a main villain. What are they doing now?

Comic Book Bits:

Captain Boomerang didn't totally work for me. I thought the actor did a decent job, and the outfit was okay (if a little dull). Also the character itself worked, because his motivation for revenge was believable (although why he didn't just disappear is beyond me). Boomerang is a reoccurring Flash villain in the comics. He teamed up with a group of villains called the Rogues who banded together to take down the Flash. He was also a member of the Suicide Squad, but not a very effective one.

Which brings me to why I didn't think Boomerang worked that well. Despite the fact that this episode was more about our heroes and their allies, the villain didn't feel worthy for this kind of team up. His weapon of choice felt inherently silly, and his use of them was wildly inconsistent throughout the episode. Plus, how did he take out an entire A.R.G.U.S. branch without any real resistance? I guess they just aren't a very effective secret government agency.

Bits:

The exchange between Lyla and Oliver was interesting because not only did it show that they shared a similar world view, they quoted Waller almost verbatim. Waller's kill or be killed, torture is justified as a means to an end, has really taken hold of Oliver and Lyla, and neither realized it.

Just like on The Flash, the Arrow logo changed. Behind the title was the Flash's signature lightning bolt symbol.

Oliver finally got a new suit, and honestly I can't tell the difference. Probably because the hood is the same for sentimental reasons.

Diggle's marriage proposal at the end was very sweet. I loved how she told him to shut up so she could say yes.

Roy and Lyla reacting to the Flash was done almost as well as Diggle's reaction when he witnessed the Flash in action for the first time.

The starting scene was specifically written to show how team Arrow prepares and cases a place before going in, and also what the potential consequences for just running in are.

The male sidekicks all got a scene together, and it was very well done. They got to talk about the world and how Barry changes things, but not really. Cisco had some good points.

The Quentin scene was fun, but why is he drinking coffee? Doesn't he have a heart issue? Maybe it's decaf or chamomile. He gets Barry's name wrong. Bart is not only a well known member of the Flash family, Bart is also the name of a bus system. Which is only relevant because in the next sentence Quentin mentions buses.

There were several moments where we got a really nice blending of the two hero musical themes.

What struck me was how well Team Flash worked in together with Team Arrow. I couldn't figure out what was different at first, but then I realized it was because Wells wasn't there. I wonder if perhaps The Flash might be better off without him.

Thea's two scenes were almost an afterthought. The same with Laurel, but at least no one was missing from the episode this time.

Quotes:

Oliver: "Then tell her to stop letting people get killed in my city."
Diggle: "You really don't care about my marriage, do you?"
Oliver: "Well, I would, if you and Lyla were still married."

Cisco: "We wanna see the Arrow cave."
Felicity: "We don't call it that… ever!"
Cisco: "I wanna see the toys, I need to see the toys. Do you guys have an Arrow mobile?"

Oliver: (to Cisco) "Don't touch that, or that! It's a jettisoning arrow, uses compressed…"
Cisco: "Compressed CO2 to jettison high tensile strength polymer cables."
Oliver: "Yup."
Roy: "Since when did we start selling admission to the Arrow cave?"
Oliver: "It's…" (pointing at Felicity) "Do you see what you've done?"

Caitlin: (pointing at the salmon ladder) "What's that for?"
Felicity: (sigh) "Distracting me from work."

Lyla: "You only call me sweetie when you want something."

Barry: "He told her about me." (Diggle shakes his head) "You didn't?"
Diggle: "I keep secrets for a living, man."
Barry: "Ah, my bad."
Lyla: "You're, you're...?"
Barry: "The Flash. Sushi?"

Quinten: "They can only move so fast."

Barry: "I had eight seconds to kill."

Captain Boomerang: "What goes around, comes around."

Diggle: "I remember a world where people didn't kill each other with boomerangs…"
Cisco: "Or walk on water."
Roy: "Barry can walk on water?"

Roy: "What's your point?"
Cisco: "Well, maybe meta-humans and superpowers were given to us to deal with the crazy."
Diggle: "You mean by God?"
Cisco: "No. By a dark matter wave released from a failed particle accelerator reaction."

Caitlin: "We haven't been taking this seriously. It's all been a game, we give the bad guys code names."
Cisco: "I think the fact that we go up against meta-humans made it all kinda clean. Like the fact that they all have these powers makes what they're doing less…"
Caitlin: "Real."

Barry: "We've got a pipeline, he's got a gorgeous tropical island."
Felicity: (Smiling) "With the landmines."
Everyone: "Huh, what?"
Felicity: "It's a long story."

For the most part I thought this was a wonderful follow up to The Flash episode "Flash vs. Arrow" (link here).

4 out of 4 Costumed heroes, except for Diggle who still doesn't have one.

J.D. Balthazar is a confirmed nerd who loves most things sci-fi or fantasy-related. He reviews Arrow and Farscape and cool new movies that strike his fancy.

7 comments:

Billie Doux said...

Really loved this episode for all the reasons you mentioned, J.D. As a writer, I particularly liked the discussions the characters had about why the two shows had a different tone. It proved to me that the writers thought seriously about how to differentiate the two shows, and why they did it.

Patrick said...

The 2nd part of this crossover was every bit as awesome as the first part. They definitely need to do this again, as often as the storytelling reasonably allows for. Even when they don't have full-blown team-ups like this, the shows should take full advantage of the good chemistry the teams share.

I really loved how these episodes, and especially this one, helped each team get some perspective from seeing how the other team works. I don't want either show to lose their basic tone, but they should also evolve and let their characters grow.

I liked Captain Boomerang, mostly due to the strength of the actor playing him. There wasn't much to his costume, which is fine since he wasn't really trying to make that kind of statement. Plus, Digger's costume in the comics is kind of goofy. :) One thing, Lyla mentioned Digger was former ASIS. I assume that means he's an Aussie just like in the comics. Arrow's version of Deathstroke was also an Aussie, I wonder if they knew each other. And now they're in the same prison. That can't end well. One weird thing about the scene when Digger attacked the ARGUS building, though. Why the heck would ARGUS flag the dead guy's ID so that it sent up an alert, but still let it open secured doors? That just seems stupid.

Speaking of Lyla, it was great seeing her get more involved, and not just in scenes with Diggle. That scene with Oliver was a nice reminder of their shared connection to Waller. I wonder if she knows about Oliver's history with her, or already knew before Team Arrow & ARGUS first worked together. And now she & Diggle are engaged. I'm assuming Oliver will get asked to be the Best Man, and that the wedding episode will have lots of Olicity feels. :)

JD, I'm not sure the new suit Cisco made for Oliver was meant to be a significant change to his look, it was more about better materials and improved contstruction. From what I could see in that last scene with Oliver & Barry, it's a little bit more streamlined in the arms & torso, but that's about it. I actually like the design of Arsenal's outfit better. :)

Patrick said...

Oh, and anyone who hasn't yet, go onto Youtube and watch the full one-minute previews for the next episode of each show, I believe they're being billed as the Fall Finales. They both look to be big episodes, and the one for Arrow looks EPIC. :)

Josie Kafka said...

Definitely loved this one, too. I think it's the only time I've giggled from pure joy at the end of an Arrow episode.

May said...

I agree with what has already been said - these episodes of The Flash and Arrow were great. I loved the way they managed to incorporate the characters without compromising either the tone of the show or the characters themselves - both ways round. I can't recall a crossover that has felt so natural (probably Buffy/Angel but I have to confess to not having watched them...) which surprised me given how different the shows feel.

I loved that there was character development both ways - the Flash team weren't just there to bring the Arrow team on and vice versa. I hope the balance that was brought continues but I don't want the shows to lose their distinctiveness... if possible!

CH said...

I loved both episodes so much! I giggled with joy at multiple points :) It was so clear how much care both writing teams put into the episodes. It also felt like they cared about their fans, too. I love when writing teams do that (Supernatural also seems to do that well).

Everything was just done so well. I am tempted to name some of my favorite scenes, but there are too many! I have no complaints. I hope they do more of this again.

By the way, I recommend that everyone like Stephen Amell on Facebook, if you are on Facebook. He has wonderful posts and he interacts so well with his fans.

JRS said...

Agreeing with CH about Stephen Amell interacting well with fans. He's just coming across as cute, honest and direct.

Great review JD! I think the Arrow alone is tough to analyze - when you add in the Flash as a second/third layer the details just get ridiculous!

I can't wait for the wedding. I really would like this show to have some Diggle-centric or Lyla-centric episodes and shake things up a bit. Diggle is like the most underused awesome character ever.