avf3by Alicia Glass, contributing writer

Be ye warned: there be spoilers ahead!

This week, DC Comics and the CW Network graced us with a crossover of two beloved and geeky shows: the gritty drama-filled Arrow, and the superpower-enhanced Flash. In the first cross, Team Arrow trooped to Central City in pursuit of a bad-guy and thief who brings out killing rage in people. Cross number two found most of the Flash crew heading to Starling City for an unsanctioned vacation, whereupon Flash and Arrow team up again to fight a familiar returning bad guy! How do the Arrow Flash crossover episodes stack up?

The Flash crew has been coming down a bit harder on Barry Allen than normal, at least in the most recent impotence episode, where Barry had to face the potential loss of his powers. Everyone thinks they all need to be the Worlds Finest, the title of this first crossover episode. So it’s understandable that, when the denizens of the Arrow cave show up in Central City and the word begins to spread of the Arrow himself (whether you think he’s awesome or a menace), Barry would be more than a tad jealous. Even as “just” Oliver Queen, he’s on Iris’ Three List: you know, that list of guys she would cheat on her policeman boyfriend with, given half the chance. Iris gleefully mutters this to Barry like he was just another girlfriend. That sure doesn’t help.

Ollie insists on attempting to train Barry and impart some of his hard-earned wisdom about experience, discipline, and training, while Barry is pulling the newly-burgeoning-superhero-puffy-chest and having none of it. So, when a meta-human baddie with red eyes decides robbing a bank by setting the hapless customers on each other would be a good idea, Barry thinks he can handle tit on his own, and, of course, gets “whammied” in the process. Flash is of course so fast it takes a while for the whammy to hit him, and off he trips on a merry destructive path, letting his repressed emotions get the better of him in a super-sonic rage!

Fairly standard superhero fluff, already covered in Smallville many times over, yes. It’s clear that the Arrow crew really cares about team Flash; they wouldn’t go to all this trouble otherwise. The showdown fight between a red-mad Flash and a grimly determined Arrow just goes to show Barry that you need to fight with the right emotions in your heart, and repressing everything with no outlet whatsoever just results in explosions. Good lessons any superhero needs to learn. In the end, after many recriminations and heartfelt apologies, Barry and Ollie team up: look out, red-eyed guy!

Ollie can’t shake the unnerving impressions of Dr. Wells he’s left with, and indeed, the audience is all speculating as to how Wells knew who Oliver Queen was already. Wells leaves a lot of questions in play, and we ravening fans can at least speculate that this won’t be the last crossover episode! Foreshadowing and speculation is so much fun, even if you’re a die-hard canon-ist.

And holy crap, did anyone else swallow her heart when Ollie ran into Sandra at Jitters in Central City? For those of you who might not recall, Sandra was the young woman Ollie knocked up some years ago, where Ollie’s mom paid her off and made her disappear. It was obvious from her phone call that she had the kid, and her cameo on the show is yet more foreshadowing. Yay!

avf4And then, in the second crossover episode, welcome to Starling City! The streets are darker, death happens far more often, and the bad guys are more crazy even without meta-human powers. A city like this needs The Brave and the Bold, the title of this crossover episode. Team Arrow is all about experience and raw discipline, so the bright and shiny nerd presence of Cisco and Caitlin of S.T.A.R. Labs, and even Barry himself, like an eager puppy, suits the city about as well as fluorescent pinstripes at the police precinct.

Despite Arrow’s insistence that it not be referred to as the “Arrow cave,” you can almost see the cast of Team Arrow laugh as Cisco fanboys his way around the Lair, exclaiming at this, that, or the other thing, and of course, excitedly burbling about potential improvements to all the Arrow gear. So when Captain Boomerang (Cisco’s name for him of course) shows back up to give A.R.G.U.S. and Lyla in particular a hard time, it’s time to don the red and the green, no not for Christmas, but to go out and catch a bad guy!

It’s odd to see the Spartacus weasel-guy Nick Tarabay in a trenchcoat, wielding badass boomerangs, but somehow, the show makes it work. The Arrow goes about his standard methods of tracking down bad guys with a far-too-eager Flash in tow, first catching a minion and torturing (or interrogating: it depends on who you ask) him for information on Captain Boomerang. This doesn’t sit well with Barry at all, especially given his recent bout with rage issues, leading to a ringing declaration from the Arrow that he does what needs to be done, no matter the methods or cost. Seriously, that particularly amazing scene had an almost Batman-like fury to it, with Oliver’s Arrow voice coming from everywhere to lay shadows on the Flash’s light. Oliver grieves at his disappearing humanity, and it’s wonderfully ironic that a meta-human like Barry could give him back hope, but he sure tries.

Matter of fact, all of the Flash crew (except Dr. Wells, who already knows this) is getting hard lessons about the reality of their situation, and it comes across when they group with the backup of Team Arrow at Verdant for a drink. This whole one meta-human hero against a whole army of potentially overpowered villains business is starting to look daunting. However, when the final showdown comes and they have Captain Boomerang cornered, only to learn of the huge dramatic twist, Barry quickly realizes not a one of them is alone at a time like this, and uses that to his advantage in a red-gold flash!

avf2If there ever was a hero show that could use a little lightening-up-already, it’s Arrow. It was absolutely adorkable how well Felicity and Cisco and Caitlin played off each other and finished each other’s sentences. There is the small possibility that Fitz-Simmons did it better, or at least they used to, before brain damage. At any rate, Starling City is once again safe from villainy, S.T.A.R. labs has clues to process for Canary’s death, and it’s time for the still-bright-and-shiny to skedaddle back home. But not before a final good-natured fight between Ollie and Barry, to settle once and for all who would win, but that’s not the point is it? The show itself doesn’t seem to think so and fades out the victor by slamming the two shows’ title screens together: a clear indication that both Team Arrow and the Flash crew are the winners!

The Arrow episode titled The Brave and the Bold shot to the series’ highest rating ever at 3.9 million viewers and a 1.4 rating among adults 18-49. The episode is the series’ second-most-watched ever, after the Arrow premiere of course. What did you think of these two most epic crossover episodes? Sound off in the comments!