Flash/Arrow Crossover 2 review

Last year Alice and I had a roundtable (is it still round with just 2?) discussion about the Flash/Arrow crossover, so why not continue tradition?

Flash

(2.08) Legends of Today

Nate Winchester: So last time Flash/Arrow did a crossover I found The Flash’s episode stronger, but I’ll admit that this time I think Arrow won the contest.
Alice Jester:  I do concur, the second hour during Arrow was the stronger hour, but I really loved this crossover overall.  So much more than last year’s and I loved last year’s.  The transition between the two episodes was fluid.  It actually felt like a 2 hour episode and not a crossover.  I couldn’t tell what was The Flash and what was Arrow.
NW: That’s very true. I had to keep consulting the TV Tropes recaps to make sure I kept straight what was in which part.  The blend & writing was seamless.
AJ: I don’t suppose you could explain to comic book morons like myself what this whole Hawkman/Hawkgirl legend is all about?
NW: *deep breath* For those who don’t know, Hawkman (and hawkgirl) has THE most convoluted backstory of probably any superhero and most of it was because of editorial mishaps.  Seriously, it’s almost a comic book drama in and of itself.  In very broad strokes, there’s 2 versions of hawkman.  There’s the alien style hawkman & girl where they are using super advanced alien tech that looks like our primitive earth weapons to do superhero stuff.  The other is that the hawks were in ancient Egypt and have spent a lot of time going through the reincarnation dance.  Those who watched the Justice League/JLU cartoon show will know that it went with the alien origin and used only hawkgirl (though they did have 1 episode looking at & referencing the ancient egypt stuff).  So to me it is somewhat poetic that the 2nd outing of the hawks onto TV involves the reincarnation plot this time.
The OTHER thing really changed for TV is Vandal Savage.  AFAIK his connection to the hawks was tenuous at best, mostly just fighting them once in awhile.  It was actually a different villain trying to use their reincarnation cycle to live forever. Originally Vandal becomes immortal thanks to mystery meteor rocks (yes, really) so I laughed that we got some nods to both versions of the hawks & Vandal with the meteor shower at the end there.
AJ:  Oh, you comic geeks.  I just watch both these shows because I love it.  I have no effin clue what was done in the comics, so I’ll just go off what I was given here.  The choice of using the Egypt legend worked better for me, even if the whole story was pretty flimsy not to mention lame.  I think the alien thing would have really been too much, especially on a show about time travel.
NW: That’s true, we are dealing with a season having that and multiple earths.  We’ll leave all the aliens on Supergirl though I’m still going to need time to warm up to the full on addition of magic to these shows.  Science-fiction, sure!  But magic?  Though I’ll admit to laughing at them flat out admitting: “Sci-fi goes on Flash, fantasy goes on Arrow.”  You ever look back and think of how far it’s all come since Arrow’s first, really grounded, season?
AJ:  The wheels pretty much feel off the “grounded” wagon for Arrow last season when they killed Oliver in the midseason finale!  I mean, sword right through his chest right where missing important organs was not happening.  Then he was kicked off a mountain and fell a few hundred feet down into the ice and cold to die.  But no, he lived and was back slinging arrows a couple episodes later.  There was no mystical or magical explanation for his resurrection whatsoever, and there was even a pit that brought people back from the dead nearby!  Nope, he just lived because he’s Oliver.  I’m all for fantasy, but most fantasies have a shred of plausibility.  So yeah, having gone through all that, the Damien Darhk magic/mysticism thing is pretty damned believable.  So is metahumans and multiple earths.   I’m soaking it all in.
NW: No kidding, I still haven’t gotten over that point myself.  There are so many ways Ollie should have been dead…
Anyway, I can’t decide on the acting yet.  Vandal is… ok.  But I will admit that it would be very challenging for any actor to pull off an immortal villain who’s “seen it all” and is literally the best at anything because he’s had far more time to practice than anybody could.  To tell the truth I liked Arrow’s villain a lot more, especially as I’m a bit of a fan of Neal McDonough and like his turns as smarmy villains.  After all, Arrow has had 3 years of melodramatic villains so a guy who’s just enjoying his job is fun to watch – even if for a scene.  I’m starting to look forward to my “Season 4 catch up” when Arrow goes to Netflix.
AJ: Vandal Savage was an alright villain, which is definitely a problem since he’s supposed to be the main foe for the new DC Legends of Tomorrow spinoff.  I hope they managed to beef up his performance skills for that installment.  An immortal with a big bad staff doesn’t exactly have me quaking in my boots.  Like you Nate, I was more impressed with the few minutes we got with Damien Darkh (great to see he finally got to meet The Flash) than the new evil dude.  Now that guy is evil!
NW: Oh right.  Now I am a bit nervous about him being able to carry LoT which is strange because they usually pick out such talented actors for these things.  They should have gotten Terrance Stamp (general Zod from Superman 2) to do it, HIM I could buy as Vandal.  But maybe this new guy will demonstrate more ability when he’s in a less stuffed 2-parter.
Speaking of, I’ve heard some say this was a backdoor pilot for LoT.  Do you think so?  I’m not sure since I noticed that unlike other BDPs, this one still had some segments & focus on the source shows which is usually lacking.  But let’s say it is, how well do you think it worked as a pilot?
AJ:  All of The Flash season two has been the backdoor pilot, as well as Arrow season four.  Every week a hero emerges, and, well, they have been left hanging.  A few weeks ago Ray Palmer was miniaturized, believed to be dead, rescued by Team Arrow, restored to normal size, and…nothing.  No announcing to the world he’s alive or anything of the sort?   Taking back his company?  I guess he needs his rest before taking on the new show.  Sara Lance, the soon to be White Canary, was brought back to life after being dead a year, John Constantine was brought in to restore her soul and she decided to go traveling after all that.  What?  So she’s getting some R&R before she’s needed.  Then in the most recent episode of The Flash, Captain Cold was busted out of jail and he just walked away.  I think they’re all vacationing in the Bahamas if you ask me.
NW: Oh right, Captain Cold did go missing…
So part of me is wondering: has anybody tried investing in a simple padlock for their place?  Everybody just walks in and out of everywhere this episode.  Malcolm is somewhat understandable – even funny – but then the Detective just waltzes into STAR labs without even setting off an alarm.
AJ:  I noticed that they were going for the whole Comic Book feel with Malcolm.  I thought it was hilarious that as this whole drama unfolds he and his entourage just pop out of the shadows in the corner and never leave there.  Scenes later a conversation ensues and he’s there again!  Barry even called him out on it the second time.  I’m sure John Barrowman was cracking up behind the scenes over that.
NW: If the internet does not start up memes of “nothing can keep John Barrowman out of your room” I will be very disappointed in it.  So fill me in, is the first time you’ve seen Malcolm since the end of season 3 or has he been doing stuff like this all season?
AJ:  He’s only been in a couple of episodes and they have been lame!  You really ought to read my episode 4.03 review to see how ridiculous he was in that.  This is actually the most plot Malcolm has gotten in a long while.
NW: Ouch!  That’s disappointing.  But at least the Harrison Wells stuff was pretty good and made me a bit sad we’re not seeing more with him & Jay’s story, even if this is all leading up to Legends of Tomorrow.
AJ: I demand that we get Harrison Wells and Jay Garrick working together from now on.  You know that Garrick is going to start Jonesing for that speed formula.  You know he’s going to put aside his differences with Wells for the common good.  It’ll be the bromance of the century.  Or better yet, Harrison Wells and Malcolm Merlyn should get their own spinoff!  At least you know it’ll have some great actors.
NW: The possibility of a drug storyline with Jay or Barry and that formula could be… interesting.  Now if if they were to go back to earth 2 and Jay Garrick is like Barry… would that make Harrison Wells like the team’s Cisco?  lol It would be interesting.  There’s still obviously something about E2!Wells that we don’t know fully so there’s no telling if there’s something in the past making a bromance impossible between the two.
 
AJ: Maybe, maybe not, but can Jay at least score with Caitlin?  Girlfriend needs a man.
NW: I volunteer!  lol To be fair, I haven’t hated her & Jay as much as I thought I might at first.  Comic fans have been waiting for Caitlin to go evil for a while and I’ve heard behind-the-scenes rumors that it should happen this season so maybe her & Jay’s relationship is what pushes her off the deep end. (Though I’m hoping they’ll use her to examine the tragic route of villainy than the traditional ones).
AJ: Hmm, come to think of it, Patty needs a man more.  Barry needs to start putting out.  A bit edgy much in her confrontation of Dr. Wells?  Way to put a bullet in a man’s heart at close range for no good reason.  She still hasn’t impressed me a lot this season.  Her story needs to get moving fast.  She is dating The Flash after all.
NW: They still have not fully answered the question of how sex with Flash might work out (though I’m sure his vibration abilities will be a hit).  As for Patty… I’m liking her (more than Iris truth be told) but something seems… off and I’m waiting for the other shoe to drop.  Unless we’re just so jaded from these shows that we can’t trust anybody being that genuinely happy and cheery.  Either that or she’ll turn out to be Zoom.  If not, yeah, have a stable relationship with Barry for like… at least a month already.
AJ: Stability?  In comic book shows?  Oh, you crack me up.
Arrow

(4.08) Legends of Yesterday

NW: Am I the only one who is starting to wonder why Flash & Vibe don’t just make it a habit that if the former travels through time, he immediately grabs the latter’s hand to update him on what’s going on?
AJ:  Carlos Valdes is really staring to shine as Cisco/Vibe and I applaud the writers for knowing what they have there.  I love that he had a major part in this story and he handled the whole screwed up situation with Kendra perfectly.  He’s so damned adorkable.  I just don’t think any woman will be good enough for his awesomeness.
NW: Him & Cold’s sister are kind of cute together in that Batman/Catwoman sort of way.  Though between her and now Kendra, Cisco is almost becoming a running gag with having bad luck with women.  But now that you mention it… I guess there is one person genuinely happy and cheery that we totally trust.  Well him & Felicity.
AJ:  I think Cold’s sister has been the best for Cisco.  He doesn’t need a nice girl.  He definitely needs naughty.
NW: After having watched Arrow S3, I’m wanting Ollie to install some metal shutters on that apartment’s windows – preferably operated by remote so it would be like, “Someone’s swinging in!” *Click* *Drop* *Thud*
AJ:  No kidding.  You know have many times a villain has smashed through those windows in just the two seasons they’ve been around?
NW: I’m now imagining a sign on the balcony: “Dear Villains, the windows are unlocked, please come in peacefully for our fight as we’re getting tired of replacing the windows and can’t afford renters insurance any more.”
AJ: Maybe The Flash can travel in time and get some transparent aluminum (a la Star Trek) to install there instead.  BTW, I really don’t like that apartment for Oliver and Felicity.  It was better when it was just Thea’s.
NW: I’ve forgotten, what happened to Queen manor?  Did they establish that or is it just… sitting out there?
AJ:  That is a good question.  If you think about it, all of the Queen assets were taken over when Ray Palmer bought Queen Consolidated, so he probably owns the house now, and he’s supposedly dead and left all riches to Felicity.  I’m sure the place is vacant so why aren’t Oliver and Felicity living there?  Window smashing wouldn’t be as common an occurrence.  The place was a fortress.  Problem solved.
NW: I’m somewhat disappointed that in an episode where we get Ollie struggling with the revelation of fatherhood, there isn’t something addressing the offspring of the hawks.  Have they never had children? Always denied, always killed before they could? With Vandal dead, could this be the first time they have a family? Children? What would that mean to them? Why is like… the only person we see show a lot of concern towards their children (future or actual) is Malcolm?  How is Diggle’s kid? (do I want to know?)  Though yes I laughed at Arrow Jr being more of a fan of Flash than his daddy.
AJ:  Actually, that whole finding out he was a Dad was actually the believable part of the episode!  I love the way it played out, mostly because Stephen Amell just kills the emotional stories on this show.  I don’t like him lying to Felicity but it wouldn’t be a CW hero drama without some anvilicious forced tension.  I was impressed his ex-girlfriend left and didn’t tell him because she saw how screwed up the Queens were instead of taking Moira’s money.  Smart girl.
NW: True he did play it well, but he only lied in the first timeline where the other girl forced him to.  I… wasn’t entirely sure why she did. (unless she believed that he was Green Arrow? what’s the status of that in this season?)  Of course now that the Queens have improved and Moira’s dead, maybe that girl can cash the check so Ollie Jr can go to college!
AJ:  As for the rest of the episode, the whole “ancient” Egypt beginning that had me calling foul.  How cheesy was that?   They had mattresses in ancient Egypt?  Pristine clothing without a stain of dust on them?  The chemistry between to two doomed lovers was not there, and honestly after that exchange of bad acting I would have taken them out the way that Vandal Savage did.  The costumes reminded me of the Steve Martin “King Tut” performance on Saturday Night Live all those years ago.  Bad, bad, as in Disney teen show bad.
NW: Well now it did have to be done on CW budgets!  If I was going to be fair, I’d say it could be explained as Kendra’s modern tastes coloring a bit of her memory of that time, but you’re right, one definitely had to shut off the brain for those sections.  And thanks for confirming that it wasn’t my imagination, the acting by the hawks was pretty weak. Given some of the pros we know that are going to be on LoT, one hopes they step up their game and don’t get overshadowed.
AJ:  The best part of the episode was the hideout with everyone there.  That opening scene of everyone arriving, the rapid fire dialogue and quick movement through the whole bottom floor of the house was amazing!  I love the way that whole thing was shot.  I also started listing in my head the number of “Supernatural” episodes that were filmed at that farm and house  (“Definitely the “Born Again Identity”).  You can always tell what shows are shot in Vancouver.
NW: This sounds like a setup to post the excellent video essay about Vancouver.
 
Final Grades?
The Flash – NW: I’ll have to give it… a B.  Above average, but weak new villain & actors hold it back. AJ: A-.
Arrow – NW: Without knowing much about season 4, but going by previous seasons, I’m giving it an A.  AJ: A

 

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