In this episode, Felicity and Ray’s visit to Central City coincides nicely with the doomed rise of Brie Larvan, formerly a mechanical engineer at Mercury Labs. Brie turned nasty when her robotics project was shut down for ethical reasons, and subsequently became a super-villain. (Arguably, not the wisest career choice). Naturally, Felicity and Ray take part in the dismantling of Brie’s robotics empire, thus explaining the name of the episode – “All Star Time Up” – and replicating the ensemble feel that the previous crossover employed to such success.
It was a strong episode that delivered both on humour – The Flash is, notably, a lighter variant on its counterpart, Arrow – and on genuinely emotional drama, and that managed to take advantage of the extra characters without allowing them to overwhelm its own regulars. It was clever and entertaining, but the stakes are getting steadily higher, and that, too, was clear.
Although there were a few subplots – Barry’s determination to discover everything he can about Wells, and Iris and Eddie’s relationship issues, for example – the majority of the episode was concerned with the villain of the week, and it enabled the whole range of characters, guests and regulars, to, well, team up, to glorious effect. It was almost ridiculously cheerful in that respect, and even the momentary danger to Barry’s life felt inconsequential, possibly because it was so momentary. It was not devoid of serious moments, but retained enough good humour and entertaining scenes to ensure it delivered on all fronts, and retained, also, the light-hearted personality The Flash has had from the start.
First things first, including Ray and Felicity – the cheerier members of Team Arrow – worked wonderfully. It gave the viewers an opportunity to see Felicity in happier circumstances, not to mention in her element at Star Labs, and the writers an opportunity to work on Ray in a new environment. It worked. The end result was a group of smart, entertaining people all working toward a common goal, and in doing so, inducing that feel-good sensation often associated with The Flash.
On the other hand, the subplot involving Iris, Eddie, and, to a certain extent, Barry and Joe, has not only become tedious, but felt clumsy. Iris West was portrayed as a strong, confident woman unafraid of pitting herself against significant opposition in order to achieve her dreams, and yet, in the recent few episodes, she, as one of the few important characters still unaware of Barry’s identity, has become the unfortunate Lois Lane of the show, dismissed from the central group of ‘very smart’ people and often the subject of many an awkward conversation.
She’s been kept in the dark for too long, perhaps as a tool to ensure that the viewers are aware that Barry’s identity is still, in the main, a secret, but it’s become tedious, and has subsequently pushed Iris into a particularly unflattering box as she struggles against the pressure of knowing that the people around her – the people she cares about – are lying to her face.
Equally, the conversations between Eddie, Barry and Joe about Iris, and, in particular, protecting Iris, have become ridiculous. The aim is, apparently, to protect her, but as an excuse for the lengthy deception, it fails to hold wait. Forewarned is forearmed, and surely Iris would be in a far better position to protect herself – for she is actually capable of that, as we saw in some of the earlier episodes – if she was privy to all the facts. But she does not get that choice, as instead the male characters get the deciding ‘vote.’ Quite aside from the fact that this relegates Iris to the position of helpless girlfriend in a show that at first seemed determined not to allow that trope to exist, it’s inconsistent with her earlier characterisation as the tough, no-nonsense friend perfectly capable of doing absolutely anything she sets her mind to.
The only redeeming factor was Iris’s response to that treatment – justified anger – but in the context of the rest of the episode, it came across as anything but justified. She, of course, is being unreasonable, because every other person around her knows better.
When’s the next crossover?