Cisco Ramon Wins Flarrow’s MVP Award
This week Flarrow arrives like an early Christmas gift wrapped in red paper tied with a green bow. The quips fly at the speed of light as the annual Flash/Arrow crossover enchants even while the writers sometimes lose track of their own characters. Cisco Ramon holds the two episodes together, with an assist from Barry Allen, while Kendra emerges as Priestess “Hawkgirl” Chay-Ara, and Oliver discovers he’s “someone’s father.” Meanwhile, Malcolm pops in and out like an Exposition Genie and time travel wreaks havoc with this blogger’s post.
The crossover’s most amusing and thrilling moments originate with the adorable Cisco, a man-boy so lovable I want to scoop him up in my arms and then buy him an ice cream sundae. Things are going well for our beloved IT guy. He meets Kendra, a cute barista, and she agrees to a date. Love is in the air until some unctuous windbag appears from ancient Egypt to kill her – his hobby for the past 4,000 years. The Star Labs team jumps into action to save Kendra from Vandal Savage and calls in reinforcements from Star City.
Soon after, Carter Hall, Prince “Hawkman” Khufu, soars into Kendra’s life ready to guide, train, and woo her. He opens with a winning pitch: “Hey baby, we’ve gotten together a couple hundred times over the past 4,000 years and every time we do, we die. So, you wanna hook up again?” Cisco, channeling the audience, calls this guy a “He-Man” throwback and wonders aloud why Kendra would link arms with Carter for a 207th suicide mission. Carter shows Kendra the magical trunk containing her hawk mask, and when she asks where the object came from, he explains, “Sometimes I find it and sometimes you find me and then we find it together,” to which my daughter asked the screen with disgust, “Why can’t she find it?” I was thinking the very same thing, though to be honest, my thought was preceded by WTF?
Oliver, Barry, Cisco, and the rest concoct a plan to take down Savage with information dramatically supplied by Malcolm Merlyn, tech from Cisco, and the hope of Kendra’s powers emerging at just the right moment. Naturally, the plan fails, everything goes to hell, and Barry time travels to undue the mess he and his friends made. Barry tells Oliver they have a chance at a redo, and Oliver takes his word for it stepping up as Flarrow team leader.
Kendra, still bogged down by fear, needs advice from someone other than Hawkman. Enter Cisco whose recent transformation from human to meta-human taught him a thing or two about conquering fears and embracing identity. He convinces Kendra to open herself up to her past and unlock her powers, even though he knows he will lose her affection in the process. Here, as always, he sacrifices his own needs for the greater good. Superpowers have only augmented and not diminished Cisco’s most endearing qualities, fun-loving optimism and relatability. He retains his everyman Vibe even while some of the other Flarrow characters spin out of control.
Greg Berlanti and company have up to four balls in the air with Arrow, Flash, Supergirl and Legends of Tomorrow, and some character inconsistencies in Arrow’s “Legends of Yesterday” suggest that they have fallen victim to their juggling act. Felicity’s tantrum upon discovering Oliver’s brief withholding of information regarding his newly materialized son falls completely out of step with her character. Her “You don’t trust me” speech feels like words stuffed into her mouth by writers who have not been watching their own show. While the time travel plot erases her tantrum and suggests that the writers wanted her erratic behavior to signal that upcoming plot twist, those words would never come from the Felicity Arrow writers have created. The entire fourth season of Arrow thus far, not to mention part one of the crossover, Flash’s “Legends of Today,” reinforces Oliver and Felicity’s faith and trust in one another despite some threats to their relationship.
In this case, however, Felicity shows no patience with Oliver, stomps her feet like a child, and stalks off in the middle of a pretty important mission to save all of humanity. Please. Felicity Smoak would never behave this way in any reality. Felicity’s dramatic declaration to end her relationship with Oliver furthers the plot by sending Oliver, who needs Felicity in his life, into battle burdened by distractions. The results – his death and the annihilation of Central City – manage to reinforce the crucial role she plays in his life. Specifically, Oliver does not make mistakes in version one of the group’s battle with Vandal Savage because having learned about his son distracts him. Rather, defeating Savage in version two in which he also knows about his son, but retains Felicity, shows that he lost the first time around only because Felicity nearly ended their relationship (and this is why I don’t write about time travel).
Despite this course correction, the writers choose unnecessarily to pursue a tired soapy plot in the adjusted timeline. Back in Star City, Felicity tells Oliver that she knows he is hiding something from her. Oliver lies and keeps the knowledge of son William to himself. Earlier he had promised Samantha, William’s mother, that he will keep the child’s paternity a secret from everyone in exchange for occasional playdates with a son to whom he cannot reveal his true connection. That conversation contains more illogical dialogue than I can recount. Samantha switches erratically from one viewpoint to another – You cannot see your son! – You can see your son if you keep him a secret! Oliver agrees to her terms.
I’ve been the first to point out that Oliver has never been the smartest guy in the room, but I am giving him a pass on this one and placing responsibility for his dimwitted decision squarely on the writers’ shoulders. As my friend pointed out, the addition of a son to Oliver’s life and to his relationship with Felicity creates tension enough to keep their relationship interesting. There is no need to foster mistrust and contrive obstacles for Felicity and Oliver to overcome when an obvious and sufficiently dramatic one already exists.
Malcolm also displays his fair share of inconsistencies, most notably threatening Oliver with loss of limb if the Arrow’s plan hurts his daughter. Oliver stands calmly as Malcolm raves about protecting Thea as if Oliver barely knew the woman. Since Malcolm’s daughter is Oliver’s sister, arguably the most important person in Oliver’s life, Malcolm’s speech and Oliver’s placid reaction feels nonsensical and disconnected from Arrow’s narrative. Oliver has literally traveled to the ends of the earth for Thea and even threw in with Ra’s a Ghul to save her. His desire to protect his sister has been pretty well established.
These inconsistencies do not detract from the joy of watching a Justice League’s worth of superheroes get together for drinks or hang out in an Avenger’s style farmhouse. Everyone brought their A game – even the B team, including Diggle who can’t hold his lunch when speeding along with Flash. But it is Cisco Ramon who wins Flarrow’s MVP award for bringing heart and narrative consistency to a time-bending crossover. Like Cisco, I am happy to put time travel behind me since it turns my mind to mush, to say nothing of my paragraph structure.