Arrow Review: “The Brave And The Bold” (Season 3, Episode 8)

After last night’s exceptionally fun Arrow/Flash crossover episode, “Flash Vs. Arrow,” I was completely okay with the idea that Arrow‘s half of the team-up equation might be a step down. Luckily, I had nothing to fear, as “The Brave and the Bold” ended up being not only another fun-filled adventure starring two beloved costumed heroes, but the best Arrow episode we’ve seen all season.

As a whole, I found this episode to be more satisfying than last night’s hour of The Flash. Perhaps that’s simply because Arrow exists in more of an established world, and more cohesively introduced the need for a team-up. Or, perhaps its because that, despite its novelty, “Flash Vs. Arrow” felt very much like a single Flash episode, and was more on-par with what we’ve come to expect from the series thus far.

“The Brave and the Bold,” however, felt bigger and more controlled, far different than what we’ve seen from Arrow so far this season. The show has struggled quite a bit with matching the excitement and momentum that its spectacular second season delivered in spades, and has resigned to keeping a dour tone and serious subject matter. Barry, Caitlin Snow, and Cisco Ramon’s appearance in Starling City injected Arrow with a much-needed dose of fun, and I hope that the effects last.

The writers didn’t shy away from the fact that, despite existing in a shared universe, Arrow and The Flash are very different shows. The Flash is more fun and fantastical, while Arrow has always been more grim and grounded. The characters themselves talk about that at length in this episode, which I appreciated. Oliver explains to Barry that Starling is “meaner” than Central City, and Barry is taken aback when he sees Oliver in full force as the emerald archer, torturing victims to get information.

Even Cisco, Roy, Felicity, and Caitlin discuss the two philosophical and aesthetic differences of the two series; Caitlin and Cisco are floored by how “real” things feel in Starling, and hypothesize that it’s because of the existence of superpowers that they treat their own perils and foes with more of a sense of wonder. After all, they face off with people like Captain Cold and Weather Wizard, while Oliver has been faced with terrorist-level threats like Deathstroke and Malcolm Merlyn. The Flash almost exists in a comic book universe, while Arrow takes its tones and situations from the more hardened and adult stories found in graphic novels.