Legends of Today/Legends of Yesterday: A Flash/Arrow Crossover Post Mortem
BY The Screen Spy Team
Published 7 years ago
By Justin Carter
Last year’s crossover of Flash and Arrow was one of the best things that happened to both shows — illustrating why both series and their leads needed each other around — in addition to being a really, freaking great team up. With this second crossover outing, the question now is less about if both shows pull it off a second time, and more how can they pull it off a second time. The solution to this dilemma? Just amp up the crazy.
With both series now doing the legwork to lead in to January’s Legends of Tomorrow, the “Legends of…” two-parter decides to spend its time focusing on that series’ antagonist and pair of least developed leads. Our bad guy in both parts is Casper Crump as Vandal Savage, a man with a wicked goatee a knife fetish who, during “Legends of Today” (Flash’s episode), up and arrives in Central City to speak some crazy talk and murder Kendra Saunders during her date with Cisco.
Savage falls more in the range of mystic as opposed to scientific (Barry says that, but that’s a quick assumption to make based on one quick fight), so he takes Cisco and Kendra to Star City to secure Team Arrow’s help in protecting her. That all goes well and good up until Savage tracks them down in Star, at which point a dude with wings shows up and kidnaps Kendra. Oh, and there’s also Malcolm Merlyn thrown in for good measure. After Kendra opens up the wings on her back by jumping off a skyscraper and Savage high tails it to Central City, “Yesterday” focuses on helping Kendra get over all the weirdness going on in the last episode so she in turn can help the team defeat Savage.
Like I said, all of this sounds crazy and a lot to handle, and that’s because it admittedly is. Honestly speaking, it feels like at times that “Today” and “Yesterday” are trying to do too much, setting up the Hawks –Kendra and later on Carter Hall (Falk Henstchel), who are Hawkgirl and Hawkman in the comics — introducing Savage so he can become the Big Bad of Tomorrow, along with plotlines that are established to pay off later on in their respective shows (more on that later). It straight up shouldn’t work, given how packed these episodes, particularly “Today,” are.
The success comes in balancing all of the hefty plot with moments in which the characters are just being themselves, particularly in “Today.” Flash as a series has always been more lighthearted and focused on humorous character moments, and it’s here the cast definitely gets to shine the most. Small moments like Damien Darhk straight up giggling like a kid at using his Kalima Hand before wondering in excitement “what was that?” when Flash swoops in to save Team Arrow are fun to watch, and the follow up moment of Diggle vomiting immediately after his speedy rescue and Thea’s “Did I know we knew the Flash?” bit are a delight. The characters just hanging out in Oliver and Felicity’s loft is the perfect time for some interactions between the different cast members, and all of it, from Cisco demanding Thea change her code name to Felicity and Barry swapping stories of the past year, is pure gold. “Yesterday” has fewer moments like these, but the ones they do are just as entertaining.
So, about that dude with wings from a few paragraphs ago? He doesn’t exactly beat a giant CG shark on the weird scale for this show, but Carter does a good job at bringing the plot forward. Hawkman and Hawkgirl have had different origins over the years. Most people probably know them as aliens thanks to that Justice League cartoon from 2003, and in comics, their backstories are convoluted in ways I couldn’t even start to describe. Thankfully, instead of that route, the pair here are two lovers from ancient Egyptian times who were murdered by Savage and he’s vowed to hunt across all lifetimes for the past 4,000 years, killing them 206 times to become stronger with each killing.
Hentschel does a good job of bringing the dickishness of Carter across (in most continuities, Hawkman’s an enormous tool), but it’s sort of hard to buy that he and Kendra were ever an item in any previous life. Part of this is how they’re written; Kendra just isn’t willing to accept that all of this is happening around her, because who reasonably would? The other hangup is that it’s difficult to get what she’d see in him when Flash has done a good job of showing why she’d be into Cisco. This is probably something that’ll be rectified in Tomorrow, but for now, Ciara Renee works best when she’s with Carlos Valdes and not Hentschel. Crump, on the other hand, is probably the best sort of actor they could’ve gotten for the role of Savage. While it’s disappointing that he isn’t a caveman, Crump manages to play the guy with the right amount of menace and goofy to sell his lines, and he knows how to hold himself in a fight.
While “Today” is about setting things up for the Hawks to reunite, “Yesterday” is where the two truly get to shine. At least, at the end; before that point, we get to see the team work together to try and get the jump on Savage, and it goes horribly bad. Even with the earlier appearance of a second Barry hinting that time travel was going to be involved, watching the members of Team Arrow and Flash get incinerated was just awful to watch. Luckily, Barry does what he does best and manages to return to before the fight that kills everyone.
Once Barry time hops, things are more about helping Kendra confront her pasts and accept her new life. The relationship between her and Cisco really does help Kendra come into her own during these two episodes, and it wouldn’t be a stretch to say that they’re the MVPs of this two-parter. It’s compelling to watch them try to work through what is basically the universe conspiring for them not to be together, and I’m hoping that they at least get to see each other again at some point.
If there are any issues with the two-parter, they’re relegated to problems with their own shows. In Barry’s half, Patty shows up and ends up shooting Harry because she still thinks he’s the Harrison Wells, and responsible for multiple Earth-1 deaths, and Jay shows up again to mope and argue. Jay needs to do something to continue being useful again, and I’ll be very annoyed if the show tries to dump on Patty for shooting Harry when Barry and Joe had multiple opportunities to keep her in the loop. Oliver ends up meeting his old girlfriend and his son, which is supposed to be a much bigger deal than it should be. If the show hadn’t been dangling this thread off and on for the past two years and offered some insight on what the mother Samantha has been up to in the past nine years with her son William, it would’ve meant something when she decides she doesn’t want Oliver in the kid’s life. As it is, without the sweet moment of Oliver and William playing with Flash toys together, she just comes across as unreasonable in asking that Oliver keep this secret from his family and girlfriend. It’s not exactly unreasonable for him to keep that secret from Felicity for as long as he needs to process everything, but the show stumbles in having her break up with him in the first timeline, and it wouldn’t be surprising if that happens again in the Barry-adjusted present.
Still, those flaws are ultimately minor when thinking about what “Legends of Today/Yesterday” gets right, and it definitely does on that front. This is probably the best episode for both seasons thus far, and definitely another home run for this shared universe. This is probably the best version of Batman v Superman we’ll see for sure until the actual film comes out, and if this sort of thing becomes yearly, I am definitely not complaining.
- I guffawed way too hard when Barry asks Malcolm if he knows how to enter a room any way other than stepping out of the shadows.
- Speaking of Malcolm, he goes and brings back Savage from literal ashes at the end of the episode. Curse your sudden, but inevitable betrayal!
- Pushing people off of skyscrapers is not cool, Carter, even if they’re your lover from 4,000 years ago.
- Can you imagine being hunted down to be killed over 200 times? What do you for those gap periods while they’re being reborn?
- According to Savage, he trained Houdini and Robin Hood.
- Seriously, look at pictures of Casper Crump. Casting him must have been easy since he already looks like a supervillain.
- Midseason finales for both shows next week. Maybe we’ll finally learn who Zoom is and who ends up six feet under…