This year’s Arrow/Flash crossover found a way to be more true to the concept of a crossover than last year’s, which mostly just shared a few characters. We have a continuous antagonist, a cliffhanger ending, and a single story told in two parts.
While the crossover episodes might not serve as the best standalone installments of either Arrow or The Flash in that they don’t really progress the plot of either show (and really mostly serves to set up Legends of Tomorrow), it really allows the strengths of both shows to shine through in a way that doesn’t as much during their standalone episodes.
After Team Arrow and Team Flash join forces with Khufu (AKA Hawkman) and Kendra Saunders (AKA Hawkgirl, AKA Priestess Shiera) to take on Vandal Savage, Savage escapes and obtains the Staff of Horus, which gives him power beyond what Arrow and Flash can handle alone, which is where this week’s episode of Arrow picks up.
Taking up residence in a house in the country (with a complimentary Age of Ultron reference), Team Flarrow begins seeking a way to defeat Savage. It doesn’t take long for Malcom Merlyn to set up a meeting with Savage and requests Barry and Oliver’s presence.
On the way to said parlez, Flash sees his double, indicating time travel is in his future. Which is fortunate, because the next few minutes of the show turn out fairly disastrously.
Vandal Savage demands Team Flarrow turn over both Shiera and Khufu or he’ll lay waste to both Central and Star city, Oliver finds out he has a son, Felicity finds out Oliver is hiding a son from her and the perfect time to confront him over it is right before the biggest battle he’s ever seen, and everyone dies. Except Flash. Because he ghosts back in time to the meeting with Malcom and Vandal Savage.
The rules of time travel are supposed to dictate that one shouldn’t use time travel to affect the past or the future, because things usually don’t end so well, but as Oliver appropriately tells Barry, things apparently “already don’t end well.” Giving us take two.
This time around, there’s really only one big difference: Barry tells Oliver the results of the DNA test, so there’s no paper trail for Felicity. As a result, Oliver and Felicity don’t fight, and Oliver has all of Team Arrow (who had previously been excluded) go to the Vandal Savage showdown. Things go a little better this time, and Vandal Savage is apparently turned to dust.
However, in one of the most awkward closing scenes ever, we get Malcom Merlyn collecting Vandal’s’ ashes, saying “You owe me one, buddy.” Providing what is clearly a lead-in to Legends of Tomorrow, where Vandal Savage will again be the villain.
There are several ways to look at this episode. If you see each show as a standalone show, and don’t make a point to watch both Flash and Arrow (and don’t have plans to watch Legends of Tomorrow), then you may find this a confusing diversion that takes away from the Damien Darhk plot going on in Arrow before the crossover.
However, if you view both shows as a shared universe and also plan to watch Legends of Tomorrow, then you may wish there were more crossovers of this nature.
This episode does most things right. Both the Green Arrow and Flash characters seem to shine the most when contrasted against each other. Grant Gustin has some great moments of Flash humor that don’t always get the chance to shine in his own show, while Oliver gets a chance to actually be a team leader, instead of just having drama with the various members of his team.
The characters are also used phenomenally. The opportunity to mix and match isn’t missed out on, with Oliver getting screen time with Cisco, Barry with Felicity, and then the obviously awesome Oliver and Barry combo. Kaitlyn Snow was almost entirely absent, and Flash characters like Joe, Iris, and Patty didn’t even make an appearance, but this is an episode of Arrow, after all.
Another thing that was done right were the flashbacks. The Flashbacks are normally the worst part of Arrow, but this episode entirely ditches the Oliver story, and shows flashbacks of Shiera and Khufu in ancient Egypt. Although that’s not a story that they can’t continue to follow in coming episodes of Arrow, it is nice to see flashbacks properly tied into the main story in a way that contributes to the flow of the plot, instead of just breaking up the cadence.
All in all, it was a very fun episode to watch, and did a great job at also setting up the coming Legends of Tomorrow mini-series. If you only watched Arrow before, hopefully this is a great proof of concept to show that you should give CW’s entire DC lineup some more time out of your week.