The moment that Barry Allen appeared in season 2 of Arrow, both Arrow and The Flash were inexplicably tied. Thankfully, the creators indulged the desires of their audience, and their own fan-driven hopes, and gave us a cross over. The first cross over came during episodes eight of both The Flash season 1 (“Flash vs Arrow“) and Arrow season 3 (“The Brave and the Bold“). The result was squee worthy in the sense that these two shows were coming together. Their plots from their respective seasons gave them reason to go to the other hero’s city. The result worked as a whole, but when you sit back and think of what it could have been, there was a sense of wanting that lingered even as the episodes faded into the distance.
Which is why when it was confirmed that the creators were looking to have a major crossover every year and potentially smaller crosses during the season I was hopeful. They still had time to deliver the crossover of all crossovers. One that felt like it was worthy of the characters from both shows combining forces, but also indulgent in the fact that we were mixing these characters. This week we got to experience the second major crossover event, which just happened to come in time to serve as a way to help pave the path for the upcoming show Legends of Tomorrow. The result was that this felt more like a proper crossover, but it still didn’t quite give me what I wanted.
The episodes I’ll be talking about are The Flash season 2 episode 8 “Legends of Today” and Arrow season 4 episode 8 “Legends of Yesterday“. If you have not seen these episodes please beware of spoilers.
The immediate thing that I realized when I tuned into the first part of the crossover with The Flash “Legends of Today” was that it was much darker than The Flash. Considering this was more of a launchpad than a proper crossover between Arrow and The Flash, this made sense. Legends of Tomorrow is clearly going to be taking a darker tone than The Flash, and only a little lighter than Arrow (though that could be argued due to some of the changes in this season of Arrow). The crossover felt like it had intense stakes because it did. While the focus was on saving someone’s life that wasn’t far from what we deal with normally. The real danger that lingered was the fact that Vandal Savage was an incredibly dangerous man. The fact that within the first minutes of the crossover we witness him slaughtering a group of cops in effort to get closer to Kendra the reality of the danger he brings set in. He was willing to kill the entire city to get to Kendra and Carter. Sure, we knew nothing about his motives or what methods he would use to dispatch those who interfered, but in that moment you knew that he was not one to mess with. Thus the tone of the entire crossover was set. People were going to die if this wasn’t handled properly.
Plot: The Complicated History of Hawkgirl and Hawkman
One of the things that really separated this season’s crossover from last season’s was that it felt like a proper story. This time around it was one cohesive story. Two parts that were reliant on each other to tell the whole tale. As a result it felt more like a proper event like it was marketed as. Last season we just saw the characters on the opposing show dealing with a different team, but it was not a true event. You could easily watch each episode without seeing the other. The increased focus on just one main plot was something that helped strengthen this event.
The actual plot revolved entirely around Kendra Saunders who was revealed to be the reincarnated Egyptian Priestess Chay’ara, the lover of Prince Khufu, now known as Carter Hall. If that one sentence didn’t throw you good for you. Unfortunately, that’s only one part of the story. We quickly learn that Kendra is more than who she thought she was. Not just the Wisconsin born and raised girl, she’s been reincarnated throughout time, reunited with her love, on a search for the staff of Horus, fighting for her life until she’s inevitably killed by Vandal Savage and the cycle repeated. If you aren’t getting the sense by now that Kendra and Carter are a complicated pair, then you may not understand why this is such a hard thing for Kendra to grasp. We are brought on the journey as she is forced to transform from barista finally in the big city to someone who has to embrace that she has to be a hero or she will die. It’s a tough thing to deal with and I felt that the show handled explaining her complicated history and how she was coping with it in a way that didn’t dump it all at once. Even still the episodes still managed to feel frenetic as we got to know Kendra and Carter. I’m certain that those who didn’t already have an understanding of who these people were may still be confused because it was so much, so fast. Even though it was parsed out, it was still a lot to take in.
Characters: So many and So few
When you have a crossover you are combining full casts from two shows and creating one super cast. However, there usually no way to make everyone useful. Very quickly it was clear that the two shows combined and focus was pulled to certain characters. What I found most interesting was that throughout the two episodes it felt like the show was a bit more Oliver dominated. On both episodes, it felt like he took the lead and had the most development and things to deal with. Sure, during “Legends of Today” Caitlin and Harry had their own plot which was interesting, but completely tangential to everything else. The big three characters that these episodes focused on were unsurprisingly Oliver, Barry, and Cisco. The more that The Flash has been moving on, Cisco has been stepping up in a more prominent role. Considering that he was Kendra’s almost boyfriend, it made the most sense that he played an important role in the plot, even if it was only an emotional one. While Oliver was dealing with serious character development involving his son and his relationship with Felicity, Barry was left to focus on what was going on. The result was that even though Barry was prominently featured, he didn’t really have any growth throughout the episode like one would have hoped.
As for the rest of the characters, they all served their individual roles to the plot. Felicity probably had the biggest role as she was still consistently delightful, but also had a great emotional scene with Oliver. The others had their moments, stepping up to fulful their individual roles that would either help the plot forward or provide a bit of levity. I have to say that it was the little character moments, the reactions between characters who don’t usually interact that were some of the best moments in both crossovers. Getting to see these characters together is the reason that I love the crossovers. Sure, a solid plot that brings them together is great, but I would love just watching an hour of power dynamics, fights, and quips between just the people of the two groups. The light and the what if moments with these characters is what makes them interesting. However, since it is a plot driven show it made sense that we would see so many of the normal hitters reduced to a few lines or brief appearances.
Overall, I really enjoyed this crossover. That is not to say that I wasn’t still disappointed. This crossover did what it aimed to do, it brought all the characters together in order for necessary set up for Legends of Tomorrow. While, I can understand that, I’m still left wishing that they didn’t have to do so much groundwork that would have allowed the pace to breath just a little and the characters we already know to shine. Still, there were enough great moments in here and it was a vast improvement structurewise that made me enjoy these episodes. I’ll be looking forward to the next crossover in hopes that they will get closer to nailing a crossover.
What did you think of the episodes?