Wednesday, December 3, 2014

The Flash Season 1, Episode 8: Flash Vs. Arrow

A little late for November Sweeps, this week the Flash teams up with his pal Arrow!

This was an awesome episode, full of lots of humor, action and most of all, fun. I guarantee that next year when the dreary Batman V Superman film premieres, it's not going to be even 1/100th as much fun as this episode was. DC's film division needs to take a long, hard look at what the boys in the TV Department are doing these days.

When I first heard there was going to be a crossover, I was a little concerned with how the two heroes would mesh. Arrow's a cold and ruthless vigilante who operates in a dark and gritty urban jungle full of violent crime. Meanwhile the Flash is an upbeat young nerd who revels in his powers and lives in a bright and shining metropolis. They're polar opposites.

Luckily they, and their supporting casts, blended together very well. Arrow fit right in and didn't seem out of place in Barry's world at all.

I assumed that this episode would be the first half of an epic two part adventure that would conclude in Arrow. Instead, we got a standalone story, which is puzzling. Seems like a two part crossover between the series would have been a no-brainer (not to mention a ratings boost for both). I guess that's why I'm not a network executive.

CROSSOVER SPOILERS AHEAD!

The Plot:
A metahuman named Prism, who has the ability to affect people's emotions, goes on a crime spree in Central City. When the police corner Prism in his warehouse hideout, he uses his power to cause one of them to fire at his fellow cops. The Flash arrives and saves them, including Det. West. Just as the Flash is about to be attacked by Prism, he's rescued by the timely arrival of Arrow.

Arrow tells the Flash there's a new villain in Starling City who uses razor sharp boomerangs. Arrow and his partners Digg and Felicity have tracked the villain to Central City. The two superheroes agree to team up in order to quickly catch both villains.

Arrow tells Barry he's too reckless and attempts to train him to be more aware of his surroundings, which drives a wedge between the two. Barry ignores Arrow's advice, goes after Prism by himself, and gets blasted by the villain's mind-altering power. 

Out of his mind with rage, Barry attacks Eddie Thawne, who's initiated a special task force to hunt down the Flash. Arrow saves Eddie, and is attacked by the Flash. The two heroes then engage in an epic battle. Arrow shoots Barry in the leg, which slows him down just long enough for Dr. Wells to arrive. He flashes a series of strobe lights in Barry's face, which frees him from Prism's mind control.

Prism's placed in Dr. Wells' unconstitutional private super jail, Det. West softens his stance toward Arrow, and Iris turns against the Flash after seeing him attack Eddie.

Thoughts:
• At the beginning of the episode, Prism robs the Central City Bank at Cunningham & St. Pere. The show loves to name streets and buildings after comic creators and such, but I don't recognize either of these names. Do they have any kind of significance? Or is a cigar sometimes just a cigar?

• It's a comic book tradition that whenever two superheroes meet there has to be some sort of misunderstanding or something that causes them to fight one another. And that's exactly what happened here, but it was so much fun to see it onscreen that it didn't matter that it wasn't exactly fresh.

• One downside to the team-up— it included several pretty big Arrow spoilers for people who haven't been keeping up with that show (like me).


• Prism is probably better known by his Silver Age name of Rainbow Raider. I guess that name wasn't "grounded" enough for today's super serious audience. Plus "rainbow" carries its own particular baggage these days.

There's already a Prism in the DC Comics universe though, who's totally unrelated to this one.

In the comics the Rainbow Raider had quite an arsenal of powers. He wore a pair of goggles that could emit beams of light that could become solid objects. He could also use the goggles to make himself invisible, blind others, or affect people's emotions.


Caitlin implies that TV Prism can use color to affect emotions, but all we ever see him do is make people angry by flashing his "red eyes" at them. It would have been nice to see him affect some other emotions, like fear or jealously. I guess the episode was already pretty full and they didn't have time for that.

Prism's real name is Roy G. Bivalo. This is of course a reference to Roy G. Biv, a mnemonic for the colors of the rainbow (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet). 

I'll say this for The Flash, they're not shying away from their super villains' sillier names. Unlike Fox and their upcoming Fantastic 4 train wreck, which seems greatly ashamed by the source material and has renamed Victor Von Doom as Von Domashev. 

• Arrow says that Barry needs to learn restraint, because he tends to run headlong into battle without scoping out the situation first. I can't argue with him there. To that end, he decides to train Barry.

He does so by shooting an arrow straight at Barry, who easily catches it in his hand with super speed. What Barry didn't realize though was that Arrow had rigged a couple of remote control bows to shoot arrows into his back. Ouch.

How did Arrow know exactly where Barry would be standing? An inch or two in either direction and the arrows could have pierced a major organ. Sure, he heals faster than normal, but I don't think even super speed would help an arrow through the heart. 

• There was a ton of welcome humor in this episode, and best of all it was actually funny!

Barry picks up Felicity and carries her to STAR Labs. When they get there, she looks down and sees that her blouse is smoldering, due to the friction of moving through the air at super speed. She rips off her smoking top, delighting the male demographic as she expresses relief that she happened to be wearing a bra. Caitlin and Cisco walk in as Barry's trying to put out Felicity's chest. Haw!

In the comic book, Barry's surrounded by a force field that protects him, his clothing and presumably anything he's carrying from friction when he runs. Apparently TV Flash doesn't have this auxiliary power?

I also enjoyed Digg's astonished reaction to witnessing Barry's super speed. He's used to witnessing heroes and villains who shoot arrows at one another.

Cisco had quite a few good lines too.

• So Capt. Singh of the Central City Police has a boyfriend. Just an observation.

• Captain Singh doesn't think the Flash exists, saying it's like believing in Santa Claus. When Singh asks Det. West what he thinks about the Flash, he says he stopped believing in Santa when he was 8. 

Hey now! I bet there's a lot of kids watching this show. The writers need to be more careful and not shatter kids' illusions like that.

• Caitlin seems to finally be warming up. In the early episodes she seemed very cold and wooden. I'm glad they're taking steps to change her.


• Arrow visits Central City to get info on Captain Boomerang, who's been menacing Starling City. This is odd, as Boomerang is a prominent member of the Flash's Rogue's Gallery in the comic. I wonder why they're making him an Arrow foe? Because his "power" is cheap to film?

It looks like they're doing what they can to make Boomerang and his choice of weaponry a bit more formidable and high tech. That's definitely a good thing. It used to baffle me that the comic book Flash could run at the speed of light, but he could be taken out by a guy who throws boomerangs.

If you watched the Arrow half of the crossover you actually got to see Captain Boomerang in action. As in the comic, here his name is Digger Harkness. I was disappointed that he didn't have an Australian accent though. C'mon! The guy's name is Digger, he uses boomerangs as weapons and his name is even Captain Boomerang. He couldn't be more Australian if he tried. So why no accent?

• Creepy Dr. Wells asks Felicity to tell him Arrow's secret identity. When she politely tells him to bugger off, he says he'll figure it out himself. Later in the episode, he rightly states that Arrow is really Oliver Queen.

I'm guessing that he used his fancy computer Gideon to take a look into the future to find out Arrow's true identity. That would imply though that Wells isn't really from the future as I've been thinking all season, or he'd have already known all about Arrow. I guess he's just getting brief peeks into what's to come. Interesting.


• By the way, when Creepy Dr. Wells is pumping Felicity for info, a screen behind him indicates that STAR Labs has at least 600 levels. Jesus, how far down under the city does it go? 

The Burj Khalifa in Dubai is the tallest building in the world at 2,717 feet, and it only has 163 floors. Using it as a guide and doing some basic math, 600 levels would mean STAR Labs is at least 1.8 miles deep. Impressive. 

• Man, I thought Barry was bad at keeping his identity a secret, but I think Oliver Queen is even worse at it. In this episode alone at least three people learned he's the Arrow.

• I really liked the use of Barry's powers this week. He used his hands to vibrate a locked door open, he vibrated his entire body to expel a dose of tranquilizer, and he beat Arrow to a pulp with a volley of "speed punches."

• The Flash and Arrow apparently captured Prism during the commercial, while we weren't looking. They lock him up without a trial in Dr. Wells' super jail. They're going to have to address this at some point.

• Det. West holds a deep grudge against the Arrow, and can barely keep himself from arresting him on the spot. He says he's a dangerous vigilante who's murdered dozens and should be locked up.

By the end of the episode though he's had a complete change of heart about him. You can practically hear the tires squeal as his mind makes a U-turn. I suppose it's due to the fact that Arrow saved Eddie, but it still seemed a tad unrealistic. 

If you're going to bring up Arrow's murderous past, then you have to deal with it in depth. You can't just sweep it under the rug because the episode's over.

• I haven't been watching Arrow, so I had no idea who the mystery woman was at the end. 

Apparently she's a woman Oliver knocked up some time ago, and his mother paid her to leave town and never speak to him again. So I guess there's a Lil' Arrow running around out there somewhere. I wonder if this is going to become a major plot point some day on Arrow? If so, it's odd that they'd introduce it here on The Flash.

• In the tag scene, the producers finally get to introduce the character they've been setting up all season. A couple of thugs threaten a shaking, homeless man. Just as they're about to attack him, he stands up and bursts into flame. It's Firestorm!

It may be too early to tell, but it looks like they've made some major changes to his powers. Here he appears to be a Human Torch clone, while in the comic he had the power to rearrange molecules and transmute matter. I guess we'll find out for sure in the inevitable Flash Vs. Firestorm episode.

4 comments:

  1. I haven't watched the Flash, though I've enjoyed your summaries very much. It seems to me that Prism is more an update of the Psycho Pirate than Rainbow Raider.

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    Replies
    1. Yes! I try not to read anything about the episodes before I watch them, because I like to be surprised by what villain they're using that week. So when Prism first appeared they didn't name him right off, and I was trying to guess who he might be. I also guessed Psycho Pirate. I guess I didn't know that Rainbow Raider could affect emotions.

      Glad you enjoy the reviews. You should watch the Flash, it's pretty darned good. I think you can watch the episodes on the CW site.

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    2. Right now I am 9 (!) episodes behind on the 12th Doctor. Maybe I'll tackle the Flash next, after I get caught up. Though it will be a while! I simply don't have much time for TV these days.

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  2. I hear that. It probably seems like I watch a lot of TV, what with all the reviews, but I really don't. I watch Doctor Who, The Walking Dead, The Flash and Agents Of SHIELD. That's pretty much it. Doctor Who & Walking Dead are very sporadic shows with huge gaps between seasons, so they don't take up a lot of my time.

    Getting rid of cable years ago freed up a lot of my time.

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