"The Brave and the Bold" was bad. It was bad in almost every way that it could be bad. Let's talk about the ways that it was bad, and the occasional sparks of brilliance that illuminated the darkness.
Captain Boomerang barely works in the comics. Someone, well before this script was written, needed to drive the concept of Captain Boomerang out into the country, put an overdose of morphine in its ice tea, and let it die quietly in a field. Arrow has had some extremely entertaining fights with non-traditional weapons. Not this time. Every single fight in this episode was embarrassing.
It was embarrassing to see a man with boomerangs walk into a top secret government agency (past a single guard who wasn't even looking at the door) and murder nearly every person in the building. It was embarrassing to watch the agents stare fixedly ahead of themselves while a boomerang shot by them and then came back to stab them in the back of the head. It was embarrassing to watch Ollie and Roy fight with Captain Boomerang hand to hand while Lyla and Dig, both armed with guns, crouch in terrified silence behind a table.
Other mortifying moments included the time when Lyla got a second shot at Boomerang - he attacked her at the Arrowcave - fired all her bullets at what looked like the ceiling, and then got stabbed in the chest and saved by Felicity. Look, I love Felicity even more than I am legally required to, but come on. Lyla is a trained field agent. And that final fight between Ollie and Boomerang, when Ollie got away from an exploding Boomerang by running up a wall and flipping over the explosion. What? What?
There was a reason why Boomerang was after ARGUS in general and Lyla in particular. He had been forced onto a suicide squad, the mission had gone south, and Lyla had tried to explode all their heads. His device didn't explode. Instead of enjoying a life of happy freedom, he decided to try to kill everyone.
But actually, this episode is about torture. I know. Thank god Arrow is speaking up about it. In the current storyline, Barry is disturbed when Ollie briefly tortures someone. In the flashback, Ollie is asked by Waller to torture someone to get information about a bomb, delays too long, and the bomb goes off. Given "another stab at redemption" by Waller, he enthusiastically jumps into the job.
There are a few important factors here. All the guys being tortured are definitely guilty. One guy yells a little, but there are no agonized screams and no gore. The man just looks a little shaken at the end of it. The other two men Ollie threatens to torture don't even look afraid. They dare him to hurt them. If you're worried about seeing some horrible dark room where a trembling victim is brutally tortured by some thug with all the power, don't worry. There's none of that heartrending stuff here. What's heartrending is the how very, very bad the torturers feel about torturing people. I think we covered that pretty well on this site.
I'll add a few things. One, I don't know why Amanda Waller blames anyone but herself for the bombing. She had a bomber and a deadline and a huge agency and who did she put in charge of finding stuff out? A guy she found on a boat. More importantly, Ollie has always tortured people, and certainly will do so again. Barry probably will as well, considering putting people in fear of immediate death is torture. We've been watching torture for years. We don't care because we're not watching a news broadcast, we're watching a superhero show.
And finally, people who want to address civil rights through superheros - stop it. Stop. It. If there is one thing we know, looking back through history, it's that when superheroes directly address political or ethical issues, they are hilariously out of touch. You deal in an allegorical medium. That is why Stan Lee created the X-Men as a metaphor for the civil rights movement, instead of having the Fantastic Four and the Hulk sit around and discuss the civil rights movement. If you can come up with a fantastical allegory for an issue, proceed with caution. If you want to talk about issues, stop. You are not just ruining superheroes, you may be ruining the concept of civil rights.
The Flash universe is bright and fun and the Arrow universe is dark and harrowing. Do you get it? Well, if you don't, the characters literally sit down and discuss it several times. At one point, Caitlin says that the fact that all their villains have crazy powers and code names makes their danger seem "less real."
She's wrong. I've thought about it, and realized that I would be more likely to believe the idea that a man can run so fast that he approaches light speed than the idea that a man can break into CIA headquarters with boomerangs. Thank you for teaching me that about myself. Now never do that again.
There were some good moments in the episode, and most of them involved Cisco. (Although I think we all loved seeing Barry do salmon ladders.) I loved when Cisco asked about Thea and was simultaneously informed by Roy that she was his ex and by Felicity that she was Ollie's sister, and you could see the wall between him and Thea rising behind his eyes.
I loved Ollie's frustrated, "You see what you've done?" when Felicity allowed one person to call the hide-out "The Arrowcave," and suddenly everyone was calling it that. I loved the affronted look on Ollie's face when Cisco marveled at the arrow costume and said, "I have so many ideas for improvements!"
And Dig and Lyla are getting married! It's a terrible idea! They have deep, deep philosophical differences about things that are big parts of each of their lives! So what? Why should they bear the burden of being the show's only stable couple. It's going to be great entertainment. Also, superhero weddings are the best!