We Can't Ignore The Arrowverse's Crossover Problem - But We Can Fix It

Arrowverse Class of 2017

SPOILER WARNING: The following article contains major spoilers for recent episodes of Arrow and The Flash, including both shows' most recent season finales.]

Season 6 of Arrow and Season 4 of The Flash each had their heroes square off against villains whose successes came from dominating the playing field. Arrow's crime boss Ricardo "Dragon" Diaz controlled Star City policemen and judges, while Flash's Thinker was prepared for everything and surprised by nothing. Naturally, both had grand ambitions: Diaz sought to rule Star City, while the Thinker wanted global domination.

However, the cumulative effects of their weekly exploits got us thinking about the Arrowverse's interconnectedness. Specifically, the details of their plans and the pace at which they unfolded suggested that if our heroes had exploited all of their own connections more fully, the end result might have been a lot better for them and for us viewers.

I'll Be There For You

Neil Sandilands as The Flash's The Thinker

The Thinker was a megalomaniacal strategist whose superhuman intellect continually kept him several steps ahead of Team Flash. Eventually his scheme, ironically dubbed "the Enlightenment," involved a network of satellites which would make the world's population dumb and malleable. Accordingly, because the Thinker could thwart a technology-based attack, Team Flash realized that they would need a specific super-person to destroy the satellites.

Since Team Flash already knew someone who could a) fly into space, b) shrug off orbital defenses, c) destroy the satellites with super-strength and d) zap the bits with heat vision, you might think they placed a quick call to Earth-38. Instead, they sought out Amunet "Blacksmith" Black and her killer shrapnel. Although that took care of one satellite, the Thinker was only delayed for a few minutes while he reprogrammed the STAR Labs satellite as a replacement.

Likewise, in the season's penultimate episode the Flash had to train Killer Frost and Vibe on the finer points of Flashtime because their latest counterattack required more than one person to move at super-speed. While this worked out well in the end, they could also have called up Jesse Quick, Kid Flash or Jay Garrick. Moreover, Jesse and Jay had already guest-starred in the earlier episode which introduced Flashtime.

Arrow also started the season with a super-smart bad guy (evil hacker Cayden James) before swerving into the shouty toxic masculinity of Ricardo Diaz. Using overwhelming force rather than intricate analysis, Diaz bullied his way to becoming Star City's very own autocrat by bribing every public servant he could find. Thus, the key to his power came from a blackmail-filled flash drive he wore as a necklace. Towards the end of the season Green Arrow and Overwatch tried to clone the drive, but they weren't fast enough.

You can see where this is going. Not only would a speedster (not to mention some STAR Labs help) have been useful to Team Arrow this season, but the Flash could at least have disarmed enough of the bad cops and other gangsters to give Team Arrow better odds. In turn, that might have stopped Ollie from throwing himself on the mercy of the FBI and getting sent to a supermax prison for the summer.

Precedent for this sort of blink-and-you'll-miss-it cameo comes from the middle of Flash's first season, when Ollie helped Flash and Firestorm take on the Reverse-Flash; and from Arrow's Season 3 finale, when the Flash rescued Team Arrow from a Nanda Parbat dungeon. Even this season, with Ollie up to his eyeballs in trouble, John Diggle wasn't too busy to pop over to Central City for a couple of ARGUS-related scenes.

Admittedly, Flash nodded towards its fellow shows when Barry name-checked Supergirl, Green Arrow and Kid Flash in the Season 4 finale. While this was better than nothing, it came too late to be meaningful. Besides, the satellites ended up being just part of the buildup to the season's real endgame; namely, forcing Barry to confront the Thinker inside the villain's mind. Specifically, the Thinker wanted Barry's knowledge of the Speed Force in order to have access to all of time. That's a decent villain scheme, and it incorporates Barry's super-speed without pitting him against yet another evil speedster (not to mention a time paradox).

However, such apocalyptic threats remind us that the Arrowverse has no shortage of super-folk. Indeed, since the final stakes involved control of the Speed Force, that made destroying the satellites at least marginally less important, and therefore something which could be taken care of in a minute or two by a Kryptonian, Martian or Daxamite. Instead, the season finale got two ticking clocks: the literal countdown to total global domination, and the risk that Flash would be trapped in Thinker's mind for good.

As it turns out, the Flash Season 4 finale actually did downplay the Enlightenment somewhat, by staging the last big action sequence around the crashing STAR Labs satellite. The Flash had to stop the satellite himself (or so he thought), since there was no time to call anyone else; and the sequence helped set up next season's daughter-from-the-future arc. It was a good way for the episode to play with audience expectations, and it provided a nice bit of catharsis in a season which often felt frustrating.

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