Wednesday, December 2, 2015

The Flash 2x08 "Legends of Today" (Welcome Back, Team Flarrow) [Contributor: Deborah MacArthur]

"Legends of Today"
Original Airdate: December 1, 2015

I think a lot of the "previously on" at the beginning of the episode was for the benefit of the Arrow viewers who don't tune in to The Flash very often (which, you guys totally should tune in often because The Flash is wonderful comic book deliciousness) since there's no way the people running the show could believe we've forgotten about Earth-2 Harrison Wells, Cisco's metahuman powers, or the fact that Barry and Oliver are friends. I know we had a little vacation there, guys, but it was only a week! Our memories are better than that.

Barry's opening voiceover is probably for the benefit of casual viewers, too, as it explains some of Barry's troubles post-Zoom and we've technically been over those already. It's good of them to carry the Zoom aftermath over, though — in more than just a "he's a really big threat" way. Barry evidently lost some of his speed after his paralysis, and he's not getting any better even though he's been training with the help of Caitlin and ParaWells. That's a problem, since ParaWells calculates Zoom's abilities to be about three or four times what Barry's currently clocking in, meaning that Barry's got absolutely no chance of facing Zoom without coming out of the encounter even worse than before.


So, what instigates this exciting crossover event, exactly? Well, it turns out that Cisco's "new beautiful friend who kisses [him], occasionally," Kendra, is being hunted down by a guy named Vandal Savage. Besides sounding like he was named after a really crappy metal band from the 90s, Vandal Savage is a vicious dude with some knife skills that put Barry's speed to the test... oh, and he's also magical. And immortal. These are all new things for Team Flash, but Barry knows that Team Arrow has experience with the mystical and magical parts of this weird, messed up universe, so he decides to seek help for Kendra in Star City.

Even though Oliver's not too sure about basically luring a very dangerous guy to Star City, Barry makes it a lot harder for him to turn them away when he saves Oliver from Damien Darhk's evil clutches. And, yeah, Darhk's only on the screen for a few minutes but man is he a fun villain. Even outside of Arrow, he's a fun villain, and I really wish he'd been around more so I could make a decent "Darhk" pun subtitle, a la Jenn's Arrow reviews. Sigh. Anyway, Oliver (with some urging from Felicity) reluctantly agrees to let the teams merge so that they can all better protect Kendra and help stop Vandal Savage.

Thus we get some excellent interactions between the two CW superhero teams. Everyone mixes remarkably well with each other in this episode and we see some mixes I don't think we've ever seen before, including Thea and Barry meeting for the first time (Thea being quite impressed by knowing The Flash), and Thea and Cisco chatting about Thea's sub-par superhero name, "Speedy." It's amazing how much chemistry exists between these characters who aren't usually seen together. Felicity and Barry seem like old friends together, by the way Felicity chastises him for not telling her how badly hurt he'd been after Barry's fight with Zoom. Cisco and Felicity talk about things in a way that makes you totally believe they might occasionally call each other up and chat about technology, computers, gadgets, satellites, and copper wiring.

I know I shouldn't be surprised, since The Flash is a spinoff of Arrow, but the moods between the two shows are so polar opposite that I'm just so amazed by how perfectly they mesh together. I'm not sure I've ever seen crossovers handled as perfectly as the Arrow/Flash crossovers are handled. Even though the atmosphere of this week's The Flash was consumed by the grittiness and darkness of Arrow's Star City, the writing and dialogue was The Flash — and it still worked. It worked amazingly well, and I can't wait to see what happens in the Arrow half.

But oh yeah, first, we have to get through plot of this episode. There's a lot more going on than wonderful cast chemistry and perfect one-liners. Kendra, the future Hawkgirl, is dealing with the idea that she might not be who she's always believed herself to be, and Cisco's dealing with the possibility of losing this new person in his life who he really, really likes. Not to Vandal Savage, of course — we all know that Team Flarrow is going to save her from the week's Big Bad — but to a destiny that he can't follow her into. Oh, and also to the winged guy named Khufu who showed up, got caught by Barry and Oliver, and then proceeded to tell everyone that he and Kendra have been lovers for thousands of years and are inevitably drawn to one another during each reincarnated lifetime.

Cisco, Cisco, Cisco. When will you ever catch a break? Your only other romantic prospect is a morally ambiguous thief and now your girlfriend's going to turn into an Egyptian bird-lady and fight crime on another TV show. Life's tough, buddy.

While chained to a pole, Khufu fills everyone in on the ages-old animosity between him, Kendra, and Vandal Savage, explaining that the guy gains more and more power every time he kills the two bird-people. They've apparently died 206 times before, and Khufu really doesn't want to make it 207, so he insists that Kendra fall her way into her winged priestess form because... maybe they would have a chance against him, I guess? Not sure what help the wings would offer, but fine.

Also, Malcolm Merlyn emerges from the shadows, annoying Barry just as much as Malcolm annoys me every time he pops up on screen, and tells the team(s) that Vandal Savage is after something called the Staff of Horus. (Horus has a bird head! Get it? Also, between this plot and Sleepy Hollow, I have been googling a lot of stuff on Egyptian mythology lately.)

Barry and Oliver team up to fight Vandal Savage in a church, but things don't exactly go according to plan. Savage blows up the church and absconds with the powerful Staff of Horus, but Barry determines the battle to be a tie and our heroes live to fight again in the other half of the crossover event.


But stuff's going on back in Central City, as well! Caitlin and ParaWells are hard at work trying to find a way to make Barry fast enough to compete with Zoom. Caitlin makes a breakthrough on developing a drug that should help people who are able to tap into the Speed Force become even faster, which should help Barry... Except that Jay implies that he knows what the drug is (seeing how he knew its name was "Velocity-6") and that it would be extremely dangerous for Barry to use it. Well, that's forboding. Please don't tell me you're going to do a "Barry gets addicted to speed (literally)" plot later on, show.

While skulking about in the shadows, ParaWells is spotted by Patty and followed back to S.T.A.R Labs. She confronts him and good ol' ParaWells, being a genius and everything, not only doesn't treat the gun being aimed at him as the threat that it is, but actually advances on Patty with the gun-like Velocity-6 injector. And gets shot. What a surprise, Harry!

Caitlin tries to save the life of ParaWells and calls for Jay Garrick's help. Jay injects himself with the Velocity-6 drug and it doesn't look like a particularly fun experience, which might be why he implores Caitlin and ParaWells to keep it away from Barry. Considering how pointless all of this side-plot was on the surface and how it was clearly just a way to introduce the Velocity-6 drug into canon, I'm thinking that your begging has fallen on deaf ears, Jay.



Other Things:
  • In honor of the crossover, I've been asked to choose my MVP of the episode the same way Jenn picks them for her Arrow reviews and it was really hard. Emily Bett Rickards as Felicity was wonderful throughout the whole thing with her perfect line delivery, Grant Gustin as Barry is pretty much always MVP-worthy, and even Ciara RenĂ©e as Kendra, although she's still a pretty new character, had some incredibly good moments. However, I predicted that I would be picking Carlos Valdes as Cisco and I guess I'm sticking to it: Cisco showed not only his usual fantastic sense of humor, but also a mixture of empathy and vulnerability that I really loved in this episode. He so clearly cares about Kendra and wants to be with her, but he also knows that life pulls people in directions other than the ones we intend. He knows that Kendra remembering her past and regaining her powers probably means she won't be around for him much longer (he did hear Khufu explain that the two of them had been lovers for centuries) but his fear and sadness at the prospect of losing her is overshadowed by how excited he is for her. He's absolutely overjoyed when she flies for the first time. This episode showed a terrific range for Cisco (and Valdes), rather than sticking to the usual wisecracks and one-liners, and so he's my choice for MVP in an episode with lots of MVPs.
  • "Oh, thank god, Barry!" "Dude. Come on." HAHA.
  • Felicity talking to herself! Calling Oliver "my love"! Oliver calling her "honey"! Overall, a very fun little scene and a good display of the Oliver/Felicity relationship.
  • Damien Darhk is the actual best. His little surprised giggle when The Flash shows up was marvelous. Can The Flash keep him? Our villain's no fun at all.
  • "Keep doing what you're doing, make smart decisions!" Did I mention that every single line from Felicity was perfectly delivered in this episode?
  • "I just noticed, no sleeves... Don't you get... cold?"
  • "Oliver, I just saved you guys from whatever the hell Flock of Seagulls was about to do..."
  • "Why don't you get a haircut, and then maybe we can talk about it." "I think you're just mad because my conditioner game is on point." Cisco and Thea friendship, yes.
  • "Did you tell me that guys like us don't get the girl?" "Yep. I was wrong." (Oliver slides out of frame.) Stephen Amell's comedic timing is A+ and I wish they took better advantage of it on Arrow.
  • So Cisco vibes Kendra, but Kendra isn't technically a metahuman... Does this mean that Cisco's powers aren't restricted to metahumans? Can he vibe magical people as well? This, plus the thing where he vibed the future (Kendra, with wings, in costume) makes me wish they would just outline exactly what his Vibe powers are.
  • Barry's complete astonishment over how ridiculous Malcolm is? Perfection. Seriously, he does the "Can you believe this guy?" snort and everything.
  • Man, that stunt when Khufu knocked Oliver off his motorcycle looked rough. Kudos to the stunt people on these shows.
  • "Is that the only way this guy knows how to enter a room?"
  • "Since when did our lives suddenly become an Indiana Jones movie?" Cisco. <3
  • They kept Barry's costume mannequin in the new Arrow Lair! How nice of them!
  • "We're too late." "Something you're not used to saying very often, I'd imagine." Ha. Nice, evil dude.
  • The music when Kendra sprouts wings is amazing. I don't remember hearing it on either The Flash or Arrow before, but is it a theme of some kind?
  • Oh I wonder who that kid who runs into Oliver could possibly be. Oh my gosh, it's such a mysterious mystery and I'm sure it couldn't have anything to do with the brief reminder in the "previously on" segment that Oliver had an illegitimate child with a lady Moira paid to stay quiet.


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