Welcome back to Up To Speed, home of the the Flashest Recaps Alive. Here we’ll recap the latest episode of The Flash, but this week we're doing something a little different. This is the week the show crosses over with Arrow, so our usual Pointed Commentary recapper, Matt Wilson, will take a look at this one emerald archer style!

This week, Barry gets possessed by the underwhelming powers of the Rainbow Raider, Arrow shows up and is as big a jerk as ever, and the dialogue gets meta as all get out.

  • The Action

    Ostensibly, the villain of this episode is the Rainbow Raider, a.k.a. Roy G. Bivolo. (Cisco comes up with the name "Prism" for him, but at the end, Snow suggests "Rainbow Raider." Oddly no one suggests his current DCU name, "Chroma.") He matters exactly none, though. Spoiler alert: The Flash and Arrow catch and detain him in STAR Labs' Ghostbusters containment unit thing during a commercial break. No joke. It came back from a commercial and he was in super prison.

    Rainbow Raider is a means to an end, and that end is The Flash and Arrow getting into a very weirdly staged fight that ends in flashing dance club lights. Truly the world of Arrow has indeed come to Central City!

    We're introduced to Rainbow Raider, who looks like he's cosplaying Crispin Glover, in a scene of true Batman '66 proportions (and I mean that in a complimentary way). He walks into a bank, flashes his eyes red at everyone inside and enrages them. This causes everyone in the bank to start fighting each other pro wrestling style, smashing each other over the back with chairs and whatnot. It's fantastic. All the while, Rainbow Raider saunters into the vault and steals a bunch of cash.

    As he's leaving a woman who suddenly has a gun (maybe she grabbed it off a guard) fires away at a dude in the bank. The Flash blasts in and pushes the guy out of the way, and everyone quickly snaps out of the trance.

    After that, the cops and the STAR Labs crew have a tough time pinning down Rainbow Raider, even though he has to be the only guy who looks that much like Crispin Glover in Central City (which I like to call "Daytime Starling").

    Eventually, Joe West traces Rainbow Raider to a storage facility that seriously looks like a barn. Barns are apparently to this show as abandoned warehouses are to Arrow. Anyway, Rainbow Raider pulls his rage trick on one of the cops, who then turns around and blasts his shotgun at Joe and the others. The Flash then does a replay of HIS trick of knocking people out of the way of gunshots. Real one-trick ponies here.

    Speaking of one-trick ponies, Arrow shows up as things are winding down and shoots a police officer in the chest with two arrows. This is the very first thing he does in this crossover. It could not be more accurate to the character.

    After not getting punished for that at all, Arrow then returns to the storage facility and brutally interrogates the owner about who Rainbow Raider is. Ollie then relays that information to Barry, despite his stated intentions not to have a crossover with him. He just won't! But then Felicty Smoak talks him into it.

    After Smoak covertly installs some facial recognition software on STAR Labs' computers (she is such a generous computer hacker), the STAR Labs crew identifies Rainbow Raider at what I'm simply going to call A Dark Building. Despite officially being teamed up with Arrow, The Flash goes to fight Rainbow Raider alone, and in the process gets the rage red in his eyes like the people at the bank (the show called it being "whammied.")

    We don't see how that encounter ends at all; we're just told that Rainbow Raider got away somehow. From the fastest man on the planet, who didn't immediately exhibit signs of being harmed by being whammied. Does this much action usually happen in The Flash's commercial breaks?

    Team Arrow and The STAR Labs crew quickly figure out that Barry has been affected by the whammy, but it's affecting him slower than normal people because of...his faster immune system? If anything, it seems like it should be out of his system faster, but it's comics logic, so I'll go with it.

    Enraged, The Flash seeks out Eddie Thawne, who is riding in a car with Iris West, and tosses him out the car window out into the street. It looks like he's about to straight-up murder Thawne, so Thawne pulls out his gun and starts shooting. The Flash dodges the bullets. Iris pipes up and almost talks him down, but The Flash's eyes glow red again and he goes back into murder mode.

    "You don't know me!" he tells Iris. He's really acting a lot like Arrow at this point.

    Then Arrow pops up and shoots The Flash with a rope arrow. He tells Iris and Thawne to run, which they do. So does The Flash, who runs the two costumed heroes into a nondescript alley so they can fight in peace.

    The fight that follows is super weird. The show makes a big deal of Arrow not having superpowers while The Flash does (more on that in a sec), but Arrow completely no-sells The Flash's high-speed punches and manages to shoot Barry with arrows multiple times because Barry spends a lot of time during the fight just standing around. Either Barry's a super-weak idiot or Arrow dipped himself in liquid steel before going on this trip to Central.

    The fact remains: Arrow is a regular guy, and The Flash is a literal blur on the screen. This should be no contest. And yet, when the fight ends because Wells and Joe ride up in a van and blast flashing white and pink lights at The Flash to get rid of the red in his eyes (?) to snap him out of it, Cisco announces, "It's a tie."


    Anyway, The Flash and Arrow become buds again and catch Rainbow Raider off-camera. Fun times!

  • The Romance

    I haven't watched every episode of this show, but from the episodes I have seen, I don't think Barry acts quite as much like a creep to Iris as he does here.

    The episode opens with some patented Barry voiceover about how love is not science; while he's doing this he's blasting by a couple's table at a restaurant and leaving flowers and painting someone's wall for them. Of course, the voiceover ends with him in the coffee shop leering at Iris. That will be a trend.

    After the bank robbery, Iris and Thawne are making out at Iris' apartment (I think) when she sneaks a look at an article about The Flash. Thawne scoffs and Iris asks why he doesn't believe in The Flash; Thawne says. "I believe what I can see."

    It's a super-weird thing to say. You can see him, dude. There's a photo with the article.

    We later find out Thawne is pretty much lying, anyway. He pushes the burger-eating police captain for a Flash task force because he thinks the guy's dangerous. The captain shoots him down when Joe doesn't go for it. Just as the meeting is wrapping up, Iris walks up and Barry tells her about Thawne's anti-Flash plans. She's not super pleased.

    The Flash and Iris meet up at the coffee shop so she can tell him that Thawne has it in for him. Barry's reaction? To immediately ask if they broke up. Maybe cool it on the desperation tip, bro. (Another exchange: "He's just jealous." "Of The Flash? Should he be?") The Flash gets called off to deal with Rainbow Raider and Iris breathes super weird.

    Of course, everything changes after the enraged Flash attacks Thawne. Thawne gets his anti-Flash task force approved. Barry calls Iris to the roof of the coffee shop to tell her he's sorry and that wasn't him doing the attacking. Iris says she can't trust him anymore and that they can't meet again, which is a reaction that makes a whole lot of sense.

    Later in the coffee shop, Barry openly pines over Iris, who reasserts her amorous feelings for Thawne. Ollie gives him this for a pep talk: "Guys like us don't get the girl."

    First off: Real pick-me-up there. You're just a ray of light, Ollie. And second: Maybe it's thinking that girls are a thing you can get are the reason you don't get them, my friend.

    Speaking of Ollie, he gets a very cryptic moment at the end of the episode where he runs into a woman who knew his mother, Moira Queen. They clearly have a past, and after they part, she answers a call from a kid for whom she's buying hot chocolate. The clear implication is that Ollie has a kid. Connor Queen, I presume?

    I should also mention the scene where Iris sees Ollie in the coffee shop and gets flustered as all get out. She tells Barry that Ollie is on her "three list" (which most people call a "hall pass"), the people she's allowed to have sex with if the opportunity arises, even though she's in a relationship. If Thawne really is Reverse Flash, then she's got a thing for murderers.

  • The Bromance

    By "bromance," I of course mean, "Ollie constantly lecturing Barry about how he's not good enough at being a superhero."

    After their encounter at the storage facility, Ollie and Barry meet up at an old garage (which is a barn of sorts) for what Ollie calls "training." What he's really doing is violently assaulting a guy who should be his friend. No wonder Barry gets so mad at him later.

    After some ribbing about how their villains have silly names (because why should anything fun and comicy go unchallenged) Ollie tells Barry he doesn't do enough investigating at crime scenes or backgrounding of his villains. He's in full-on lecture mode and it's awful.

    His solution to that problem? He tells Barry to run at him so he can shoot an arrow at his face. No, really. Barry obliges, and catches the arrow. Then a machine shoots two arrows into Barry's back. Yes, that will help Barry do his due diligence. Certainly.

    Somehow Barry isn't grievously injured, but he is humiliated. When the two meet up in the garage again, Barry says as much while under the influence of Rainbow Raider's rage powers. He also says that Ollie is definitely jealous of his super-speed powers and will "never be what I am."

    That'd be great except those powers don't really do him too much good in the fight later.

    By the end of the episode, Barry apologizes for what he said in the barn, though he can't say it didn't come from somewhere real. Ollie tells Barry he can always talk to him, though he doesn't expressly state that it will always be condescending and didactic.

  • The Support Crews

    As soon as Arrow rolls into town, Wells and Joe pull Barry aside and tell him they don't want him working with Arrow. Why? Because Arrow is a brutal maniac who has killed dozens of people.

    Barry's defense? "He doesn't kill people anymore." Oh, well, great. That argument totally goes over great in courts, doesn't it? It holds up with juries, right?

    Joe and Wells couldn't be more on point here, quite frankly. Later, Wells confronts Smoak about Arrow and calls him "toxic, dangerous."

    But it turns out he just wants to know who Arrow is. He asks Smoak and she says it's not her secret to tell, so Wells just goes off and finds the information himself. I bet he just looked it up on IMDb.

    By the end of the episode, Wells and Joe and somehow totally cool with Arrow. Ollie gives them a big speech about how they have to protect his identity for the good of the people he loves (because that's all worked so well for him up to now), and they agree to it.

    Despite Wells totally giving Ollie the benefit of the doubt, Ollie's last word on the guy is that there's "something off" about him.

    Dig and Smoak are somewhat relegated to comic relief in their roles here. Dig gets some truly abysmal dialogue about not being sure how The Flash or his powers work. There's a line about how he had a relative who got struck by lightning and all he got was a stutter. Oof. David Ramsey does the best he can with what he gets.

    Smoak, on the other hand, gets a scene where The Flash runs so fast her shirt catches on fire and she has to take it off. Cisco and Snow walk in just as she's stripping down to her bra, and might as well make a sitcom "oooooOOOOOH!" sound.

    Poor Roy didn't get to come with Team Arrow to Central. Boo hoo hoo Roy.

    The support teams are the main catalyst for the very little info we get about the second half of the crossover tonight, too. Early on, Smoak says some iron oxide from Captain Boomerang's boomerang (he showed up in the cliffhanger to the Arrow from two weeks ago) led Team Arrow to Central. It is a heck of a stretch. She also asks Snow for help in figuring out who murdered Sara Lance (for non-Arrow watchers, she was mysteriously murdered and the investigation is interminable).

    Tonight's Arrow will focus on Captain Boomerang, at least according to the teaser. Not that you'd know that from the cliffhanger.

  • The Cliffhanger

    During his rage bout, Barry says something to snow about how he's "not Ronnie," a shoehorned-in reference to her presumed-dead fiance, Ronnie Raymond, a.k.a. Firestorm. (They're fire and ice, get it? Do you get it?)

    That sets up a scene at the end where she longingly looks at a picture of her and Ronnie from the good old days. Cut to: A disheveled-looking guy with the shakes sitting under a bridge while two homeless dudes heckle him.

    You can probably see where this is going: It's Ronnie. He gets up and blasts fire out of his hands and head because he's Firestorm now.

  • Final Notes

    So how was recapping The Flash different from recapping Arrow?


    That's how.

    A few quick notes from the episode that I didn't get to elsewhere:

    • When Arrow shows up and shoots that cop, he also tells The Flash "Nice mask!" I think it's supposed to be sarcastic? This coming from a guy who dunked is face in mascara to hide his identity for a year.
    • The Flash hates people enjoying meals. Not only does he run so fast past Dig and Smoak that he ruins their Big Belly Burgers (a restaurant that hasn't show up on Arrow in...a year and a half or so because Dig's sister-in-law stopped existing), but he steals the police captain's lunch.
    • The police captain's reaction to his lunch disappearing from his desk is to frustratedly throw his napkin. He should be flipping out completely. Food just effing disappeared in front of your eyes, man!
    • Here's an exchange between Iris and Thawne: "Buzzkill?" "The buzziest." That's how the kids talk these days, I hear.
    • Ollie initially refuses to say the word "metahuman" because he's in Alpha house and he hates nerds, but by the end of the episode he spits it out.
    • At one point, Iris observes that Ollie's arms are twice as big as Barry's. That's pretty clearly true.
    • Why have the Rainbow Raider as your bad guy and have him use only one color?


    So, like I said, this was exhausting. Maybe it's just by virtue of the fact that this was a crossover that had to cram in a lot more characters and story tidbits than a regular episode, or maybe it's just that The Flash is a show with a much more intense pace.

    This is apparently a show in which they don't even have time to show the heroes capturing the villain of the episode, after all.