Barry’s lost his powers before, but he’s never lost his self-control. After a couple of rocky episodes, the Flash is back – with a vengeance.
Everyone’s been eagerly awaiting this crossover event with Arrow, and the writers and directors of The Flash have pulled no punches in setting up a terrific episode which explores more deeply the characters of both shows – and just plain rocks us through the ride.
The opening shows us Barry's two smiles. His first–when he drops by Iris and watches her serve coffee for a second–convinces me the whole romance thing might work. It's the first time I've seen real heat and passion in his eyes this season. But the second smile is pure bro-mance. We know Barry’s a lonely guy. The wideness of his grin when he sees Oliver is insane–you can see him thinking FUN TIME! Oliver’s in town chasing a boomerang-using criminal, but simultaneously Barry’s city is under attack by a meta-human who emanates light from his eyes which causes people to go insane and begin attacking each other. Clearly the Flash can use friends; the teams are still working on learning to trust each other, and Felicity and Barry get somewhat caught in the middle. This leads to some amazing interaction between Felicity and Dr. Wells; Cavanagh’s creepiness is just coming out all over.
Meanwhile Eddie is starting to get jealous of his competition–and Barry's delighted, though he tries to cover it up. Eddie attacks the Flash, trying to convince his boss to go after him as a dangerous criminal. Iris is infuriated.
But all this fun back and forth – which is starting to remind me of Buffy/Angel in some ways – shouldn’t mask the truly terrifying criminal who’s apparently going to be known as Prism (or the Rainbow Raider?) I was very creeped out by the scene in the bank where the customers started losing control, and I felt for the girl with the gun who almost shot someone. Well-done special effects continue when Barry goes out training with Oliver and gets his leather-clad buttocks kicked.
I began reviewing The Flash because of my love for the Arrow, and a lot of the things I have critiqued about the Flash – the overt innocence of Barry, the occasional silliness – are also made fun of by the Arrow team in this episode. I love the ‘cute names’ moment–and how Barry comes right back at Oliver with “Oh yeah? What about Deathstroke?” And while some have mocked Cisco’s geekiness, it’s done very well here with the ringside banter he shares with Diggle. Eventually, they get to the core of their true differences: Barry is an innocent hero, while Oliver is a more experienced vigilante. I think those are words and perceptions though, not necessarily truths. Barry has made mistakes and been through terrible things, and Oliver has inspired people like Roy to fight and people like the Canary to change.
I also like the fact that Oliver notices the tension and issues surrounding Barry and Iris. I screamed NO when he told Barry "Guys like us don't get the girl:" really, Oliver? Pass on your issues, much?
And at this point Barry gets infected... which leads to his attacking Joe, Eddie Thawne and, eventually, Oliver. The titular fight is extremely well done. Power versus precision, certainly! I was wondering how they’d handle the special-effects fighting of the Flash with the more stunt-based shooting style of the Arrow, but it came together like a fantastic dance.
I disagree with people who say it’s a draw; the Arrow achieved his purpose and managed to hold off the Flash long enough for the Genius Team to drive up and FAO Schwarz Barry back into normality. I loathe the metahuman of the week thing, but Roy G. Biv(olo) worked very well here as a mechanism for pushing Barry past his natural innocence… and set up several storylines for the rest of the series. Will Iris ever forgive Barry? How about Eddie? What about the police force? And isn’t it ironic that it’s the hero who winds up on the wrong side of the police force, not the vigilante?
Spoilers: FIRESTORM IS HERE! But he doesn’t seem to be totally sane… or totally good.
Bits and pieces
The "training fight" between Barry and Oliver. And Oliver shooting him in the back. Awesome.
Too many great quotes - the writers went all out in this episode.
Iris: He’s one of my three.
Barry: Three what?
Iris: My three. You know. The three men I will cheat on Eddie with.
(Who wants to bet Barry’s hoping he’s one of the other two?)
Oliver: Barry, I have been living this life for almost eight years, encountering things that you can't even fathom, and I am still alive. Not because super-speed kept me out of the ground. It was because I realized that I needed to keep learning, keep training, keep getting smarter, and until you get that, despite your good intentions, you will do more harm than good.
Barry: I finally see it. You're a little bit jealous of me, aren't you?
Iris: What has happened to you?
Flash: I feel fine.
Iris: You are not fine.
Flash: How would you know? Because you write about me? You don't know me! You don't know who I am. You never did.
(This is a crossover episode. Our review of the second part that aired on Arrow, "The Brave and the Bold" is here – go read for more yummy goodness.)