Tonight’s episode of Arrow concluded the special two-hour crossover event with sister series The Flash in spectacular fashion. Not only did it tie up the introduction of new heroes Hawkgirl and Hawkman, who dealt with their longtime nemesis Vandal Savage, but it also served up a good launching point for The CW’s mid-season spin-off series Legends of Tomorrow. While these crossover specials do tend to muddy the waters a bit when it comes to each series’ individual strengths, they do a fantastic job of pulling back the camera to reveal the wider world that their heroes and villains share. So even though tonight’s episode of Arrow’s strongest storytelling elements felt more at home on The Flash, “Legends of Yesterday” was still a successful melding of Arrow’s newfound mysticism with The Flash’s penchant for science.
It’s not unusual at all for an episode of Arrow to start with a flashback sequence, but a 4,000-year jump back through time was certainly something new! We see Prince Khufu and Priestess Chay-ara in their ancient Egyptian getups as they attempt to placate the pharaoh over his concerns that Horus has not been appeased and will send more destructive celestial rocks to Earth. Though Khufu and Chay-ara undoubtedly have some chemistry between them, Vandal Savage and his Staff of Horus steps in to complicate matters. This ancient, recurring love triangle gets an added layer of awkwardness when modern-day Cisco gets caught up in his girlfriend Kendra’s emergence as the warrior priestess. It’s one of tonight’s great romantic explorations and as good a place to start as any.
If you missed the exposition from the previous episode of The Flash, you’ll remember that Khufu and Chay-ara are lovers destined to find each other in life after reincarnated life for all eternity, just as they’re fated to be killed by the immortal Vandal Savage. We learn that Savage’s bloodlust for murdering these two heroes is tied into his ability to live forever, something he’s achieved for 206 lifetimes. What we don’t really get a sense of, however, is the love between Khufu and Chay-ara. Sure, their tryst in ancient Egypt was eventually found out by a jealous and lustful Savage, which led to all of their deaths during Horus’ meteorite rain upon the temple, but their modern relationship is a bit cold. Carter Hall quite literally swooped in to take Kendra off her feet in the previous episode, but does little to win her heart in this hour. Instead, that responsibility falls to Cisco.
Poor Cisco. Here he is in a loving relationship and in flaps this ancient upstart claiming to be his girlfriend’s fated lover. Despite Cisco’s numerous attempts to get a word in edgewise between the two winged warriors, Carter keeps Kendra at a distance since he’s trying to draw out her rage so that her powers will activate. Once our heroes get a second chance at defeating Savage (more on that in a moment), Cisco mans up and convinces Kendra to trust in her good-natured, nurturing priestess side of her super-powered self rather than Khufu’s aggro approach. This works out for the best in the end for Team Arrow and Team Flash, but Cisco ends up with the raw deal since Kendra opts to get to know Carter instead. It’s a sad goodbye scene, but I hope things heat up a bit more between Kendra and Carter once Legends of Tomorrow starts up.
Now, romance aside, let’s get to the action because there was plenty of it! Team Arrow leads Team Flash to their newest high-tech headquarters … a suburban farmhouse on the outskirts of Central City. Hey, it’s not the most secure location, but it’s not like they’re going to need a fallout shelter or anything, right? So while the sciencey folks get busy working on a solution to the problem of how to neutralize Savage’s super-powered staff (anti-magic gauntlets should do the trick), Oliver strategizes and the hawk people get their powers sorted out on their own. But Ollie finds an unexpected and yet still untrustworthy ally in Malcolm Merlyn.
Malcolm sets up a meet with himself, Green Arrow, The Flash … and Vandal Savage. Turns out that Savage has an ultimatum: Deliver Khufu and Chay-ara within 24 hours or Savage will lay waste to both Star City and Central City. Malcom is all for it, especially if it will prevent Thea’s death (possibly foreshadowing the grave once again), but obviously the heroes aren’t going to give into this demand. In the meantime, they better come up with a plan.
And though the prize for “Oddest Thing to Happen in This Episode” might be Savage admitting that he taught Robin Hood archery (and learned how to not feel pain in the process … what?), a case can also be made for The Flash “ghosting” while on his run to the meet-up. This has happened before when Barry ran so fast that he traveled through time; fans will remember that that incident did not end well for anyone so it’s understandable that he’s concerned something terrible might happen again.
Turns out he’s right. The team puts together a decent plan thanks to an old message from a Dr. Aldous Boardman who suggests that the Staff of Horus (or any other artifact from the time of the “calamity”) might be the key to defeating Savage once and for all. The problem with this plan is multifold: Kendra’s Hawkgirl powers have not fully emerged, Cisco’s anti-magic gloves are untested, Oliver waves off help from his less-powered teammates, and Ollie is distracted by a personal issue (which we’ll save for later). Needless to say, the plan goes terribly, terribly wrong.
Though pretending to offer up Khufu and Chay-ara to Savage made tactical sense, it soon fell apart when Hawkgirl’s powers failed to activate in the heat of battle. This led to Carter taking two knives to the chest with Kendra getting stabbed to death a moment later. As their lifeforces flowed into Savage, The Flash and Green Arrow manage to grab the Staff of Horus and turn it on the villain, but the anti-magic gloves aren’t working. Ever the hero, Oliver orders Barry to run away to get to safety, and it’s a good thing he eventually listens. A huge magical detonation rips through Central City, first incinerating Oliver himself, then leveling buildings and eventually disintegrating the rest of Team Arrow and Team Flash. Only The Flash himself is able to outrun the blast, and in doing so, trips back through time to the meeting with Malcolm Merlyn. This was a crazy scene that easily earns the episode an extra star.
Now that Barry is armed with knowledge of their failed attempt, he tries to warn Oliver about it without altering the timeline too much. While we’ll leave the complication of Oliver’s distraction for a little later on in the discussion, it’s a good thing they filled Cisco in on the problems since he’s single-handedly responsible for solving two of them. Cisco double-checks the anti-magic gauntlets, but it’s not until Kendra is able to trigger a suppressed memory (thanks to Cisco’s help) that they figure out that a piece of the meteorite metal from the ancient calamity is the critical element needed to complete the gloves. The final piece of the puzzle is Oliver’s decision to include Spartan, Black Canary, and Speedy in the fight.
This time around, Hawkman and Hawkgirl’s powers both activate just fine and they take the fight to Savage directly. The van rolls up and Team Arrow takes him on as well, led by Black Canary’s scream. Savage uses his staff to duel them all in a melee skirmish which gives The Flash an opportunity to zip in and grab it from him. Now improved with the Nth metal, the gloves work this time. Oliver once again grabs on to help Barry turn the staff on Savage. The beam incinerates the villain and he disintegrates into dust, along with the staff. It’s a bit anti-climactic but that lingering shot on the pile of dust suggests that this story is far from over.
So Savage is defeated, the Hawk-folks are alive and well, and everyone’s survived the battle; what drama could possibly be left? Well, the relationship issues in this episode didn’t only center on Khufu and Chay-ara. In The Flash crossover episode, it was revealed that Oliver’s Baby Mama Sandra Hawke is alive and well in Central City, along with her 9-year-old son, William. Despite the threats to the world as they know it, Oliver takes time out of his schedule to secretly visit Sandra, swipe one of William’s hairs, and get Barry to run a DNA test on it to confirm his parentage. “Yes, Oliver, you ARE the father!”
But in the destructive timeline in which everyone dies except Savage, Felicity found out about Oliver’s son when she discovered the paternity test; this led to the possible dissolution of their relationship, which weighed heavily on Oliver’s mind, along with everything else. In the second go ’round, Barry informs Oliver about his parentage and suggests that a relationship with his son would be beneficial to both of them, even if it means keeping it a secret from Felicity as per Sandra’s conditions. Oliver does indeed share a fun little playdate (The Flash vs Captain Cold!) with William, but keeps this huge, life-changing revelation a secret from Felicity once they return to Star City. What could possibly go wrong?
While Oliver continues to make bad decisions, we’re left with a curious little stinger scene that sees Malcolm Merlyn scooping up Vandal Savage’s dusty remains and putting them in a container. As he says Savage’s dying words, it becomes clear that these two share some sort of history, and that Malcolm will be partly responsible for Savage’s re-emergence to battle the Legends of Tomorrow (unless there’s more time-jumpery that occurs … my head hurts).
So that wraps up The Flash/Arrow crossover special! I felt like it did a great job combining the worlds of both series while setting up their new show, though much like the first part of the crossover, little progress was made in Arrow’s seasonal arc. Oliver’s parentage aside, Damien Darhk still has Star City in his grasp and apart from a small scene in The Flash, we haven’t seen much movement on this. Perhaps some big, cliffhanger moments await us in next week’s mid-season finale. We’ll have to wait and see!
Rating: ★★★★ Very Good
Khufu: “Priestess! You spoke with quite the tongue.” Chay-ara: “Did I overact?” Khufu: “No. I love your tongue.”
Thea: “Superheroes in a farmhouse? I think I saw that in a movie before.”
There are way too many people with far too much snappy dialogue to even try to keep up.
Thea: “I Googled “reincarnated nutjobs” and came up with nothing.”
Sandra’s son’s name is William. Not exactly what I was expecting, but maybe his middle name is Connor? Writers of superhero stuff love that middle-name trick.
The Flash: “Savage may be immortal but he’s not a God.” Malcolm: “No, but he’s the next best thing.”
Kendra: “Savage needs to kill us in order to stay immortal. Did we ever kill ourselves in order to deny him that?”
Green Arrow: “Two lives aren’t worth two cities.”
Green Arrow: “Run, Barry! Run!”
Holy shit, that nuclear staff detonation scene…
Even though this is the second time I’m seeing Casper Crump deliver Vandal Savage’s missive to the heroes, I still only caught about 50% of what he said.
The Flash: “I traveled back in time from when we take on Savage and it doesn’t work.” Oliver: “You’re right, that doesn’t make sense to me.” The Flash: “My world is stranger than yours.”
Oliver: “I need you to talk to Kendra.” Cisco: “Oh, I get it. You shoot arrows, you give love tips. It’s like you’re Cupid.”
Savage: “The sky rocks are coming to do their work. My hate will be ever-lasting. My enmity will never die. It will follow them from this life to the next, and the next.”
Thea: “The Indiana Jones reference is the only thing I understood.” Two episodes, two Indiana Jones references.
Savage: 206-1, Hawkman/Hawkgirl: 1-206
Cisco: “It’s okay, it’s kind of a classic story. Boy meets girl. Boy likes girl. Girl sprouts wings and flies away with her reincarnated lover.”
Oliver: “I’m not really a hugger.” Barry: “Yeah, I know, but I’m fast enough to hug you without you even knowing, so it’s best if you just get it over with.” ::hugs:: Barry: “Was that so bad?”
Um, is Sandra the one in the grave??
I love that Oliver’s apartment is still trashed from Vandal Savage’s crashing-through-the-window entrance. Ray Palmer, aka Worst Roommate Ever, apparently didn’t clean up while they were gone. (Ray was nowhere to be found in either episode.)
Malcolm: “You owe me one, buddy.”