written by Justin Prince (@prince_justin)
ED NOTE: This review covers the season premiere for both The Flash, "Flashpoint," and Arrow, "Legacy."
It’s back! The Arrowverse, Flarrowverse, DC CW Universe… whatever you want to call it. So this season I intend to focus on the entire catalog, and not just The Flash and Arrow like I did last season. I started doing Supergirl (when it was on CBS) and Legends of Tomorrow but ended up shelving the reviews as I got busy. This year will be different, rather than focusing on just the big two… the “This Week in the Arrowverse” will be a series of reviews that cover the entirety of the main CW DC Comics shows… so lets get started!
This past week will cover the main two, with The Flash and Arrow officially returning (Supergirl and Legends start the next week). After another amazing season of The Flash and arguably the worst season of Arrow, this week felt like a fresh start.
First up, The Flash opens with the season 3 premiere episode “Flashpoint.” Hot on the events that occurred during season 2’s finale, Barry did the unthinkable and runs back to the night Eobard Thawne killed his mother… stopping him and in effect changing the events of his future. In this new future, both his parents are alive and well and Wally West is Central City’s Flash. His history also changed with everyone else. His relationship with Joe West is a far cry from what we all know and love, he never grew up with Iris, Cisco is the richest man in America, and Caitlin Snow is… a pediatric ophthalmologist?
This Flashpoint universe is very different from the one we know from the comics. It isn’t as epic as I was hoping for it to be. The events seemed contained to the core Flash universe. While Wally West acts as this world’s Flash, his reverse ended up being Edward Clariss… the Rival. An exciting and very different take on the character, instead of acting as Jay Garrick’s reverse he’s Wally West’s… a bit fitting since Hunter Zolomon (Wally’s reverse in the comics) ended up being Zoom last season. The one bit they did take from the comics was how Barry’s memories were collapsing in on itself. Though the circumstances are better explained than in the comics, the more Barry taps into the speed force the more his memories of the “other” world vanish.
The episode resolves itself somewhat anti-climactically. I was hoping for Barry to be stuck in this alternate “Flashpoint” world a bit longer than just the premiere episode. One major positive was how amazing Matt Letscher is as Eobard Thawne. Though he was barely seen during season 1 and 2, his turn in this premiere episode eclipses everything he’s done on the show so far. A sinister foe… fitting to be The Flash’s archenemy.
While I was a bit let down that Flashpoint didn’t last any longer than a single episode’s runtime, it was nice to have The Flash back again. Seeing Wally West finally don the yellow and red was an absolute delight. While this Flashpoint universe may seem to have ended… the repercussions could still be felt… perhaps creating the Arrowverse’s New 52 maybe? The premiere ends with the first look at season 3 baddie Alchemy, summoning the post-Flashpoint Edward Clariss… what to expect? I can’t even begin to predict.
On to Arrow… I pulled zero punches when I talked about how let down I was by last season, especially the finale. Their discount Dark Knight Rises big fight scene felt forced, and by injecting the fantastical into Arrow these past two seasons it hurt it rather than helped. Arrow works when the antagonists are street level villains. Ra’s al Ghul and Damien Darhk were poor choices, nothing near how great Merlyn and Deathstroke were. So with the return of Arrow I tried to temper my expectations… tempering I honestly didn’t need to do.
It may be a bit early to say it… but damn it, I’ll say it. Arrow. IS. BACK! What made the show such a delight and worthy of being the jumping off point of this greater DC Comics television universe finally feels like it deserves to stand with The Flash and Legends of Tomorrow. After Thea, Diggle, and Captain Lance leave Team Arrow behind; Oliver Queen stands as Star City’s new mayor while continuing to operate as the Green Arrow at night. The premiere opens with Oliver tangling with Lonnie Machin, and after taking him down… rather brutally at that… he tangles with Star City’s newest vigilante Wild Dog, delivering an arrow-y yet convincing message that he doesn’t want him on the streets. As mayor, Oliver is tackling corruption in the SCPD when a new threat comes to Star City by way of Blüdhaven and Coast City. Tobias Church, played by yet another Walking Dead alum Chad L. Coleman, violently takes control of Star City’s underworld by means of raw brutality and a set of metal knuckles.
Felicity urges Oliver to build a new team, even giving him suggestions like Evelyn Sharp (from last season) and Wild Dog. Of course Oliver is so convinced that he can get the band back together that he pushes back against her suggestions.
When Tobias Church makes a cameo at a ceremony honoring the Black Canary in a hail of bullets, Oliver and several members of his cabinet are taken hostage… forcing Thea to put her Speedy uniform back on to save her brother. Oliver’s newfound brutality doesn’t sit well with Thea, she comments that putting killing back on the table is the furthest thing from what Laurel would have wanted. Fans of the first season will recall a scene when Oliver and Tommy were kidnapped, after Oliver dispatches his kidnappers he utters the line “I’m sorry, no one can know my secret” before snapping a man’s neck… an act he does again to a dirty cop, complete with the same “apology.”
As for the flashbacks, for the first time since season 2, I am intrigued by the flashback scenarios. Oliver’s time in Hong Kong and back again on Lian Yu were such disappointing sequences and barely added anything to the overall story. I’m sure it was even felt by the production with these sequences paired down nearing the end of the seasons. Oliver is in Russia, and it looks like we’ll finally see how Oliver Queen joined the Bratva… reuniting him with Anatoly Knyazev and shedding light on his mission; to kill Konstantin Kovar.
Arrow is fun again! A street level villain like Tobias Church and the reveal of yet another archery themed villain in Prometheus give Arrow exactly what it needs after two fairly disappointing seasons. What made Arrow so great isn’t the same thing that makes The Flash great, and with the immensely positive reception the first season of The Flash left on viewers, you could see why they tried to bring some of that to Arrow. But it didn’t work and boy am I glad they went back to their roots. Tobias Church looks like he’s setting himself up as a force to be reckoned with, and with the reveal of big bad Prometheus… here’s hoping they continue to keep this train rolling.
The first week consisted solely of two shows. Week two we finally get the full four show lineup we’ve all been looking forward to. It’s fitting that they start with the core two in the Arrowverse. Supergirl and Legends of Tomorrow are possible because of The Flash and especially Arrow. It’s good to have these shows back… now on to week two!