Arrow – Season 4 Episode 8
“Legends of Yesterday”
Arrow concludes the two part crossover event started over on The Flash and finishes setting up Legends of Tomorrow by wrapping up Hawkman and Hawkgirl’s introductions.
This episode was heavy on the mythology in a really good way. Seeing Prince Khufu and Priestess Shiera right where it all began and showing how their life forces became connected to Vandal Savage was a lot of fun. It reminded me of The Mummy films starring Brendan Fraser in how it was presented as well as the notions of reincarnation and immortality. The comic book fan in me was a little disappointed that Vandal Savage’s caveman origins were altered to connect with Khufu and Shiera but from a narrative neatness point of view I can completely understand why it was done this way. The Golden Age Hawkman and Hawkgirl have one of the most convoluted backstories in comic history so the simplification of that for the benefit of the story made a lot of sense. It is still possible that Vandal Savage could have his traditional origin as his spell could simply be taking advantage of the situation to gain more power. I guess we’ll find out in Legends of Tomorrow.
One thing that didn’t work about the Ancient Egyptian flashbacks is the performances from Ciara Renée and Falk Hentschel were pretty dispassionate. That makes sense when they interact in the present as the whole reincarnation angle makes Kendra particularly unsettled about having past lives she knows little about and being the supposed soulmate of a guy she doesn’t know. It would have been better to show why these characters allowed themselves to be bound to each other in the performances. I just didn’t feel that this was an epic love that the two of them refused to let die.
Kendra’s development is really compelling. She reacts about as realistically as people might expect her to given the outlandish circumstances and it makes sense that she is somewhat resistant to the whole idea of others laying down their lives to protect her. She asks Hawkman -I can’t decide whether to call him Khufu or Carter so I’ll stick with his superhero name- if they had ever taken control and killed themselves. It is made clear that this is something that has never been attempted which makes me wonder why. Surely in 4000 years of reuniting and losing each other suicide was at least considered once. It’d be interesting to find out if that increases Savage’s power or not.
Hawkman definitely believes that they are worth protecting so freely accepts the willingness of Team Arrow and Team Flash to lay down their lives to make sure that they survive. Kendra is definitely the more compassionate of the two and as a result she is reluctant to fully embrace his training. He tells her that she needs to embrace her anger in order to realise her potential but Kendra isn’t a hostile person by nature so it feels wrong for her to try to make herself angry. Her compassionate nature works as an effective contrast to Hawkman’s cold outlook. Cisco’s conversation with her about being true to the person she actually is rather than conforming to what Hawkman wants her to be is a great moment and a powerful step forward for Kendra. It is at that point that she gains the necessary confidence to begin coming to terms with who she really is.
Cisco is a major focus in this episode with a lot to deal with. His feelings for Kendra are making the whole situation awkward and he feels that that he can’t possibly compete with a reincarnated soulmate. It’s a bittersweet story for Cisco but he takes it all in his stride without letting his personal feelings add any unnecessary baggage to an already difficult situation. The scene where he says goodbye to Kenda is nicely acted by both actors.
The rest of Team Arrow and Team Flash are basically in the background. I was left wondering why most of them were there at all beyond throwing in a few lines in group discussions. I get that Team Arrow were needed for the final action sequence but beyond that their contribution was strangely underplayed. A lot of the fun of these crossovers comes from seeing the two casts interact so it’s disappointing that there isn’t more of that here. There was plenty in the first part but as always, I want to see more. Thea’s reference to Avengers: Age of Ultron also featuring superheroes on a farm was really funny and nicely addressed the obvious comparison that people would make.
Oliver had the bulk of the development here with a story that has no real place in a crossover episode. He finds out about his son and confronts Samantha (Anna Hopkins) about it. This story has been on the shelf since season 2 but dredging it up now really doesn’t make much sense. It means that Oliver spends a fair chunk of the episode off on his own dealing with a problem that applies almost exclusively to him rather than keeping the focus where it should be in a crossover story.
Not that the scenes featuring Oliver dealing with this unexpected news were bad. They allowed for some of the strongest acting ever seen by Amell on this series. His scene where he explained how overwhelmed he is to Felicity was particularly heartbreaking. It looked like Oliver was fighting back tears and presented a level of vulnerability for him that is seldom seen. I also felt that Felicity was being completely unreasonable expecting Oliver to tell her everything immediately when it should have been obvious that he was having trouble processing everything and needed time before being ready to open up. The key thing about the news that Oliver receives is that it distracts him at a crucial moment and is partially responsible for the plan failing. Oliver being focused is a big aid to his crime fighting so when he is distracted then he is far less effective.
Samantha has put him in an impossible situation by setting him the ultimatum of keeping it to himself or having absolutely no access. How can she reasonably expect him to keep something like this a secret from Felicity? I understand not wanting to tell his son quite yet but at a minimum he should be able to tell Felicity about this.
Barry performs more of a supporting role in this episode. He tends to follow Oliver’s orders and back him up on his plans rather than doing anything on his own. Injecting time travel into the story was an interesting surprise and was handled a lot better than it was in “Out of Time” and “Rogue Time“. I do have to question why Barry warned Oliver against making changes to the timeline considering how catastrophically the first attempt to take on Savage turned out.
Oliver’s plan to be proactive and do things differently with the second chance makes a lot of sense. Barry seems to talk as if he’s a seasoned time travel but he only really has one example of changing the past and it didn’t turn out so badly for him that time. Beyond Iris not confessing her feelings the whole thing ended quite well. I suppose he could be referring to the singularity but that wasn’t due to anything he changed. Any outcome has got to be better than the whole city being obliterated.
The frustrating thing about the alterations made is that Oliver didn’t really listen to Barry’s advice. He still feel on old habits of keeping secrets from Felicity which likely only deferred the heartbreaking conversation. I’m definitely not keen to have the angst associated with keeping secrets drag on for a long time but if Felicity is the one who dies next week then I guess we won’t have to worry about it.
Vandal Savage fares a lot better than he did in the first part but there’s still a lot of work to do to make him a villain that can really threaten the team of heroes on Legends of Tomorrow. His meeting with Malcolm, Oliver and Barry was a good scene that showed how confident he is in his chances of success but the final battle where he took on the Flash, Hawkgirl and Team Arrow was really disappointing. I was expecting much more from a collection of superheroes taking on a powerful threat. It was over too quickly and was pretty far from being the most exciting action sequence on either show. The tease of Malcolm being involved in Vandal Savage’s inevitable resurrection is interesting so I look forward to Legends of Tomorrow developing him into a more engaging villain.
Now that Hawkman and Hawkgirl have left and the setup for Legends of Tomorrow is -presumably- at an end it probably means that both The Flash and Arrow can get back to focusing on developing their own narratives. I wish the crossover had concluded more effectively but as a complete piece it feels a little underwhelming.
A decent if a little underwhelming conclusion to the second annual Flash/Arrow crossover event that finishes setting up Legends of Tomorrow.
The episode was heavy on mythology in a good way by showing how Prince Khufu, Priestess Shiera and Vandal Savage became mystically linked. It would have been better if the performances weren’t so dispassionate as it fails to sell the epic cursed romance. It’s also a little disappointing that Vandal Savage’s caveman origin has been changed.
Kendra’s development is really compelling. She reacts about as realistically as can be expected. I like that she is resistant to the idea of others potentially laying down their lives to protect her and her compassionate nature is an effective contrast to Hawkman’s cold outlook. Since she is the most compassionate she is unwilling to accept Hawkman’s training as it is at odds with her nature. Her conversation with Cisco allows her to embrace who she is and unlock her powers that way.
Cisco has a lot to deal with in this episode but takes it in his stride that he can’t possibly compete with a reincarnated soulmate. His goodbye scene with Kendra is bittersweet but well acted from both of them.
The rest of Team Arrow and Team Flash are broadly in the background beyond contributing to group discussions and helping out in the final action sequence. A lot of the fun of these crossovers is watching the characters interact so it’s a shame that there isn’t more of that.
Oliver had the bulk of the development here when he discovers that he has a son and has difficulty processing it. This is definitely the wrong focus to give to a crossover episode as it is a very personal story for Oliver Queen. His conversation with Felicity was heartbreaking. Oliver was fighting back tears as he talked to her which wasn’t helped by Felicity being unreasonable and not accepting that he needs time to process things. Samantha also puts him in an unreasonable situation by giving him an ultimatum that is really unrealistic.
Barry’s role in the episode is more of a supporting one but introducing time travel is an interesting surprise that is handled better than before. I don’t understand Barry’s insistence that altering time is a bad idea considering how horribly it ends before he travels back. I like that Oliver was proactive in altering their plan with the benefit of knowledge of it not working.
Oliver not listening to Barry’s advice about doing things differently with the information in regards to the situation with his son is frustrating. All it does is defer that heartbreaking conversation with Felicity and fall back on old habits of secret keeping that will no doubt fill the relationship with unnecessary angst.
Vandal Savage is handled better than in the first part but there’s a lot of work to do to make him a truly engaging villain. The final fight was very underwhelming as it was over too quickly and doesn’t stack up against other impressive action sequences on either show.
I’m glad that the setup for Legends of Tomorrow is at an end and both shows can get back to developing their own stories exclusively. It’s a shame that the crossover didn’t have a better conclusion.