Arrow: Season 4, Episode 8 – “Legends of Yesterday”

Green Arrow and the Flash, as well as Richard and Gregory, crossover into one another’s world in part two of this superhero/reviewer crossover event.

Richard Giraldi: Like part one, part two of the The Flash/Arrow crossover was another highly entertaining exercise in comic book fun, but this Arrow b-side to The Flash’s a-side played far more weird and wild. Besides the flashbacks and time travel, there’s a deep-cut Arrow storyline that returns in a big way.

“Legends Of Yesterday” picks right back up with a more detailed backstory on Kendra Saunders/Hawkgirl (Ciara Renée) and Carter Hall/Hawkman (Falk Hentschel) via flashbacks to ancient Egypt. We discover the romance between Kendra and Carter, or more appropriately, Princess Shiera and Prince Khufu. Ultimately, Vandal Savage attacks and kills them both, and that time-loop of events continues on for centuries. It’s simply another example at how much Arrow has shifted from its formerly grounded tone to its current lighthearted approach.

Meanwhile, “Team Arrow” and “Team Flash” continue their search for the immortal madman Vandal Savage (Casper Crump) and decide to hideout in a home on the outskirts of Central City. They eventually schedule a meeting with Malcolm (John Barrowman) to get the story on Savage, but when en route, Barry/Flash (Grant Gustin) sees a double of himself while speeding, which leads him to believe a time-jump’s in his future. After the meeting with Malcolm, Barry and Oliver/Green Arrow (Stephen Amell) discover that the Staff of Horace is the key to defeating Savage. Later, Green Arrow, Flash, Hawkman, and Hawkgirl take on Savage, but Oliver tells the rest of Team Arrow it’s too dangerous and to stay put. Unfortunately, the attack doesn’t go well as Savage takes it to the heroes. Savage quickly kills both Hawkman and Hawkgirl before using the Staff of Horace to unleash a destructive blast that eradicates all of Central City, including Teams Arrow and Flash. Thankfully, Barry uses his smarts and travels back in time for a do over. After telling Oliver that the first attempt went badly, they re-strategize, and the second attack on Savage features help from the rest of Team Arrow. This time, the good guys prevail and disintegrate Savage using the Staff Of Horace. We’ll be definitely be seeing more of Savage, however, as Malcolm turns up at the end to save the ashes.

While the flashbacks and time travel were fun, one of the most intriguing plotlines is Oliver’s discovery that he has a son. Longtime fans of Arrow may remember that Oliver’s mom, Moira Queen (Susanna Thompson), paid off one of his former girlfriends who as pregnant with his child. Moira told her to leave town and tell Oliver she had a miscarriage. Apparently, the girlfriend left town but didn’t travel too far away, because Oliver finds her in Central City with a young son. After pulling some sly moves to get a hair sample, Oliver learns from Barry that the child’s is indeed his. In the timeline before Barry’s time-jump, Oliver and Felicity (Emily Bett Rickards) get into an argument about his son, which looks to fracture their relationship. But in the new, post-jump timeline, Oliver keeps his son a secret and Savage is defeated. Although he’s safe for now, I have a feeling his secrecy will hurt him in the end — especially when Felicity finds out. It’ll be fascinating to see if this leads to the end of “Olicity”.

There’s no doubt that “Legends of Yesterday” was one of the best Arrow episodes so far this season. However, many of the show’s supporting characters were basically pushed to the background in favor of wrapping up Cisco (Carlos Valdes) and Kendra’s relationship storyline from The Flash. Laurel (Katie Cassidy), Thea (Willa Holland), and Diggle (David Ramsey) barely had any lines; instead, they were mostly utilized as scenery. It would have been nice to see them more involved in the action, but it’s hard to argue the episode’s merit because this season’s entire The Flash/Arrow crossover event was downright delightful.

Gregory Reece: More comic book fun is exactly what we get in this episode. As is so often the case while I’m watching CW’s superhero shows, I kept wanting to pinch myself during Arrow, simply because I found it so hard to believe that Berlanti, Johns, and company are hewing so close to the comic book source material. This episode contains super powers, time travel, and reincarnated, bird-winged lovers from ancient Egypt! And, despite what we’ve always been told, it absolutely works. As it turns out, comic books can be faithfully adapted for the small screen, something comic book fans have suspected all along.

Not that everything here’s pitch perfect. I found the flashbacks to ancient Egypt to be pretty cringe worthy. The sets and costumes looked like sets and costumes. And, with the exception of Kendra/Shiera/Hawkgirl, hardly any of the actors looked liked they could have been native to the African or Mediterranean world of Egypt. I was following the story of Kendra’s and Carter’s first life pretty well without the flashbacks, but perhaps the writers thought that the scenes would be helpful to those viewers who weren’t already familiar with the characters of Hawkgirl and Hawkman from the comic books. More than likely it was just a case of a superhero drama falling into the trap of thinking that every hero’s origin story has to shown in detail.

Despite going a bit off track with its excursions into ancient Egypt, the episode was strong in almost every other way, however. While I agree that the Arrow supporting cast wasn’t given enough to do, I think that the B-story in this episode ended up being a lot stronger than the B-story in The Flash as a result. I know that you, Richard, liked the Wells (Tom Cavanaugh)/Jay (Teddy Sears) storyline a lot better than I did, but I don’t think there’s any doubt that Oliver’s discovery he’s a father and the resulting implications of that news for his relationship with Felicity is a much more substantial development. If overlooking the supporting cast meant that we could focus on this interesting bit of Oliver’s past, then I think it was well worth it.

There has been a long tradition of crossovers in the world of superhero comic books. Stan Lee made an art form of the crossover event in the early days of Marvel Comics and, of course, the Marvel Cinematic Universe has done pretty well with it as well. (It remains to be seen how the DC movie line is going to work out.) To be honest, crossovers are good for the bottom line. Fans of one character will pick up another character’s book or watch another character’s TV show when they know that the hero they admire is going to be on hand. But there’s more than that going on. Crossovers are fun. Just plain fun. Characters meet, fight, become friends, and work together to defeat a common enemy. Shared universes are built this way. Fictional worlds are enlarged; little stories get bigger. All of that’s going on this season’s The Flash/Arrow crossover.

RATING 7 / 10