Season 2, Episode 8 - "Legends of Today"
Grant Gustin, Shantel VanSanten, Carlos Valdes, Tom Cavanaugh, Malese Jow
Regular airtime: Tuesdays, 8pm
US: 1 Dec 2015
Gregory L. Reece: The first installment of the two-part The Flash/Arrow crossover is a lot of fun. For fans of both shows, it is a chance to see the two appealing young casts together. Its success is a testament to producer Greg Berlanti’s ability to manage a talented ensemble in the cool mix of light drama and comic book action that has become a staple of the best of the DC Comics television programs.
“Legends of Today” tells an ambitious story, making this team-up between the “Scarlet Speedster” and the “Emerald Archer,” and the respective “Team Flash” and “Team Arrow,” feel a lot bigger than their previous encounters. Those who are critical of the Marvel Cinematic Universe for sacrificing the independence of their individual films in order to tell a really big, really long story over the course of several films will have plenty to gripe about here as well. The background for this story has been building all season in The Flash and, like the earlier “Fury of Firestorm” episode, is a set-up for the new CW series, Legends of Tomorrow. For comic book fans are used to long story arcs building to crossover events, however, it should feel pretty familiar and satisfying. I only wish that the distracting storyline involving Wells (Tom Cavanagh), Caitlin (Danielle Panabaker), and Jay (Teddy Sears) had been saved for another time.
It has been clear for some time that the success of The Flash‘s lighter and more comic book influenced approach has had an influence on the darker and grittier Arrow. (There is a fun “trick arrow” stunt in this episode that reinforces this point.) But this episode is a reminder that the influence has also gone the other way this season. The introduction of the villain of the piece, Vandal Savage (Casper Crump), is one of the darker moments ever seen on The Flash. I would think that the tone set by this truly menacing villain was just a product of the crossover storyline, except that it was surpassed a few weeks back by The Flash’s (Grant Gustin) battle with Zoom, a sign that the series is already on the way to some darker places.
When Vandal Savage threatens to kill Cisco’s (Carlos Valdes) new girlfriend, Kendra (Ciare Renee), Team Flash decides that they are going to need the help of Green Arrow (Stephen Arnell) and company to defeat the villain. The result is a trip to Star City and a chance for the characters to look great together, crack jokes at each other’s expense, and engage in some petty, and entertaining, bickering. It is also a chance to see some really great fight scenes involving lots or arrows, knives and Flash super-powered action.
When Hawkman (Falk Hentschel) shows up and claims that he and Kendra are eternal lovers who have been hunted and killed through hundreds of lifetimes by Savage, who feeds on their life force to keep himself alive, it all gets really weird and wonderful. When Green Arrow, the Flash, and Hawkman have a showdown, a requirement for any good superhero crossover, it should have made comic book fans stand up and cheer, even if Hawkman’s helmet makes him look like a low-budget Wolverine. The Hawkman/Hawkgirl origin story, combined with the costumed antics, just might be too much for the non-comics literate audience to bear, though its beginning to seem like everyone is enjoying the full-on comic book takeover of popular entertainment. I know that I am.
Richard Giraldi: Completely in agreement with you that this episode’s fun factor is off the charts. In many ways, “Legends Of Today” felt far more like a classic comic book crossover event than last year’s The Flash/Arrow team-up. What really makes this episode for me, however, is the introduction of Vandal Savage. Having a new and truly despicable baddie raises the stakes so much higher rather than the Flash and Green Arrow simply working together against their usual suspects. Savage is a compelling villain because of his motivation. He wants to kill Kendra, a.k.a. Princess Shiera, and Hawkman, a.k.a. Prince Khufu, like he has been doing for centuries. A conflict arises when The Flash and Green Arrow try and stop him from doing so, which coupled with his inherent maliciousness, is refreshing in its simplicity.
You’re also spot-on about the episode’s climax, which featured an epic, to say the least, battle between The Flash, Green Arrow, and Hawkman. The Flash has always been great at fan service, while Arrow is slowly, especially this season, getting better on that front. But this sequence in “Legends of Today” takes fan service to the next level with a battle ripped straight from the pages of a DC Comic book. Green Arrow’s rapid firing arrows, Hawkman wielding a mace, and the Flash creating wind cyclones by super speeding his arms—it’s definitely one of most entertaining scenes in The Flash and Arrow’s brief history.
I did, however, welcome the Caitlin, Jay, and Wells storyline as a change of pace. Throughout this season of The Flash, it’s been apparent that Jay isn’t very fond of Earth-2 Wells. So when Patty Spivot (Shantel VanSanten) enters S.T.A.R. labs and sees Wells, her cop instincts kick in. She shoots Wells, not realizing he isn’t the bad Harrison Wells from The Flash’s first season. What comes next is a cleverly written scenario in which Jay has to use Wells’ speed serum to regain his speed powers and ultimately save Wells’ life. The sequence worked to reintroduce Jay to the show after he’s been fairly absent from previous weeks, and to show that trust issues between Jay and Wells are slowly improving.
But, to echo your point, “Legends of Today” is just a fun ride from start to finish. The episode’s an exhilarating display of small screen superhero storytelling that, at times, is even more entertaining that its big screen counterparts. I too am all in on the comic book-ization of popular entertainment, as long as the results are this good.