Synopsis of 3×08: As Oliver, Arsenal, and Diggle pursue a killer named Digger Harkness, they encounter an ARGUS team; Oliver and the Flash team up to try and stop Harkness.
Aside from the fact that the last week allowed us to have both The Flash and Arrow twice, neither of the two episodes were overly interlinked. The stories, tone, and lesson was different. The beauty of the, lovingly nicknamed, “Flarrow” week wasn’t in either of the episodes themselves, though both were great, but what they meant for two shows that share the same universe.
Created and written by the same team, the two shows have had similarities but have always kept the tone of their stories different. Barry Allen’s story is charged with metahumans, set in the sunny Central City with a hero that is younger and lighter than Arrow‘s. Oliver Queen’s story is drenched in moral greys, set in a city that has undergone multiple tragedies in less than five years with a hero that has not only been pulled through the ringer but must rely on his experience to defend his city.
It is clear that Barry and Oliver hold a strong parallel to Superman and Batman, from the set to the protagonist, the differences allow for a lot of great storytelling and character development. As The Flash‘s “Flash vs. Arrow” allowed Barry to reflect on the darker part of himself and mature, so does Arrow‘s “The Brave and The Bold” allow Ollie to see the light within himself, that he is still a good man.
Team Flash find themselves in Starling City, in what seems like an unexpected field trip rather than with any true purpose, and are thrown immediately into the conflict with the villain-of-the-week, Digger Harkness aka Captain Boomerang. Having Cisco, Caitlin, and Barry around the Arrowcave, not only bring an opportunity for lightness but also some humor. There is mention of the salmon ladder, Cisco’s curiosity with Oliver’s weapons, commentary on their team. In no time Barry manages to reveal his identity to Lyla, and later meets Captain Lance and Laurel once more.
With the way that Oliver’s story has been going, ARGUS is taking a huge step towards the main stage while The League of Assassins seems to have fallen into the backdrop. This week’s flashback features Oliver being coached by Waller on the art of torture. It is reflected in present-day Oliver, who tortures a man for information in front of Barry. It’s a heavy moment for Barry, who has never seen this side of Oliver before. A viewers, Oliver using harsher measures to get what he wants is nothing new, for god’s sake he used to murder people, this is a step up.
But Barry immediately chastises Oliver for his actions, and despite Oliver’s reasonings Barry sees no excuse for torture. Oliver not only points out the differences between Central and Starling City, but also some harsh realities. The consequences of the episode force not only Team Flash to mature and face their own demons with a grain of salt, but also open up the plot of The Flash to some darker elements.
The information Oliver receives from his torture turns out to be a trap, and ultimately leaves Lyla, Caitlin, and Felicity at the mercy of Harkness, who mortally wounds Lyla. Facing the results of his torture techniques, Oliver questions who he is with Barry. He tells Barry, that sometimes the things he feel like he has to do as the Arrow chip away at who he is as Oliver Queen, basically he’s horcruxing himself. It’s hard to disagree with him, when we refer back to flashbacks of a younger Oliver who is not only unwilling to torture someone but unable to build up the “conviction”.
However, this is where Barry’s golden heart gives Oliver (and us) some hope. He tells Oliver that he was a survivor, and instead of succumbing to the darkness that he suffered through, he came out a hero because of the light he had inside of him. Oliver not only inspires Barry, but he inspires him as Oliver Queen, not the Arrow.
Unfortunately for me, Captain Boomerang felt like a bust. His introduction didn’t have nearly as much clout as Floyd Lawton’s did, nor as much length as Slade Wilson’s. But it seems that we haven’t seen the last of him, as it is clear that both the Arrow and Flash’s prisons are really just powder kegs waiting to explode, giving us the Suicide Squad and the Rogues as a result, respectively. Perhaps this might be a little too much paralleling, but no one can say for sure where the story is heading, that was just an assumption.
Other than the teams combining to work together in general, some other highlights for me was the lack of the magical DJ (who was only mentioned by Thea), Lyla and Diggle finally getting married again (though to no huge surprise due to the heavy handed “we’re not married” line repeatedly used), Barry doing the salmon ladder while Cisco does a weak pull up (same, Cisco, same), a place for Barry’s suit in the Arrrowcave, a new suit for Ollie from Cisco, and a showdown at the end of the episode between the two heroes (though I am upset we didn’t actually get to see it!)