Flash Five-Point Review: Legends of Today
- Vandal Savage, Moment Killer: Our introduction to Vandal Savage comes as Cisco and Kendra are enjoying an adorable date together only for our future Legends of Tomorrow villain to pop up and ruin it with his plans of murdering the future Hawkgirl, which is kind of hilarious. Before they even get to the business of letting viewers know who he is, they make sure you don't like him by turning him into a huge jerk who ruins dates.
But more seriously, the character appears to have survived his transition to television well: he's still an immortal who's been alive for several millenia, often a major player in countless places of human history, with skills and knowledge beyond that of even your average mystical character like a Ra's Al Ghul or Damien Darhk. He came in looking like a legitimately valid threat to both Team Flash *and* Team Arrow, and though he did need a magical macguffin to take them on nearer the end, that's not exactly out of character for him. The casting is inspired too--Casper Crump strongly resembles most classic Vandal Savage renditions, and he looks as if he can help carry the show that's technically being built around him.
- Legends of Tomorrow: Speaking of--this episode left me geeking out for a variety of reasons. With a full year of fighting metahumans under his belt, Barry was able to speak to Ollie on a more equal level (even if Oliver is really light-years ahead of him). Their banter this episode was more friendly rather than as tense as it was last year, and reminiscent of something one might read in the comics. In fact, Team Arrow and Team Flash managed to contrast well--it never felt like the show was overburdened with too many differing voices, something that has to be a concern when there are so many main cast actors and actresses needing screentime.
And the actual showdown between Hawkman and Green Arrow/Flash had me trying not to actually squee with excitement. Though both CW shows can occasionally get moored down with a bit too much soapy drama, most of the time they manage to perfectly hit the balance between levity, high-octane action, and relationship conflict that as a comic fan I've been wanting to see on the small screen for years. Compare this to
- The Speed Formula: Though this is meant to be a crossover between Flash and Arrow, apparently the writers felt they had enough time to keep working away at the current overarching plot for the current season, which lead to Velocity-6, a biochemical formula meant to increase a speedster's natural abilities.
This is from a fairly obscure piece of comics trivia: in the comics, it's called Velocity-9 and ironically, it was originally developed by Vandal Savage. It's both developed and used in this episode, as Jay Garrick tests it on himself in order to save Earth-2 Wells' life after a chance run-in with the surprisingly trigger-happy Patty Spivot. In the comics it's got quite the dangerous set of side effects in its full form, though here clearly it barely lasts long enough for Jay to even remove a bullet from Wells' body. I had the vague hope that Jay would regain his powers from doing this, but apparently I was right the first time in that the Flash writers want to save that moment for a more powerful scene. Just so long as he doesn't find himself jonesing for a hit of "speed" three episodes from now, I suppose we're all good.
- Hawkman, Creeper: If I can get just one incarnation of Carter Hall that isn't a creepy sumbitch, I'll be a happy fanboy. For whatever reason, he's always forcing his and Shayera's shared history on her without even trying to actually talk to her like a regular human being. Here he basically kidnaps Kendra, which leads to the fight scene I was talking about before. Which reminds me...
In what world can a Flash running at even a fraction of full speed get taken out by Hawkman? Watching him perfectly time a counterattack made me wonder what closet Hawkman fan the writers have on staff. Of course, he got smited with Barry's favorite new trick, "the lightning toss", so one supposes it sort of evens out.
Either way, Hawkman's one of the most complex superhero characters in comic books to explain, so props to the writers for managing to keep an explanation of his and Hawkgirl's origins down to only a couple of minutes. Hopefully they keep all mentions of the word "Thanagar" out of things and leave that to Earth-2. Which is backwards but eh, this is a different universe.
- Connor Hawke: This week's episode ended with something I didn't ever expect to see followed up on, Oliver running into his own son, Connor Hawke. A plot point seeded somewhere in the middle of Arrow season two, Young Oliver had irresponsibly gotten one of his flings pregnant, only to have his mother pay for her to disappear after telling him she lost the child. In-universe, that was over eight years ago, and the haunting look Ollie had on his face after seeing the boy's mother makes me realize that this is absolutely something we'll have to deal with in the second, Arrow-focused half of this two-parter.
Now, I would be bummed that my favorite version of Green Arrow has pretty much zero chance of ever appearing as a hero...but next year they are doing a series where there's going to be a LOT of hopping around to the future as well as the past. So don't count the guy out yet.