This Arrow review contains spoilers.
Arrow Season 4 Episode 8
So. Let’s talk about “Legends of Yesterday.” I didn’t love “Legends of Today” last night. I liked it, mind you. It was fun. But I had some trepidation coming into “Legends of Yesterday.”
For much of the first half of this episode, it felt like that was justified. Once again, there was far too much talking involved and too many leaps of logic and faith (not literal this time) on the part of everyone buying the story of the Hawks. And really, the “exposition Betamax tape” was just entirely too much.
I don’t want to sound ungrateful. Falk Hentschel, Ciara Renee, and Casper Crump all appear to be perfectly cast as Hawkman, Hawkgirl, and Vandal Savage, respectively. I fully expect Legends of Tomorrow to be great fun. But man, they really had to step on the gas to get us to buy all this, didn’t they?
But then something happened.
“Legends of Yesterday,” which I was afraid was just going to be another hour of fan service with little substance, turned into a really good Arrow episode. Not just a good Arrow episode. A good Oliver Queen episode. We haven’t had one of those in awhile.
Stephen Amell was terrific tonight. His scenes with Anna Hopkins (and with Defiance gone, I’m happy that we may get to see her more often on Arrow now) were really great. His interactions with Barry Allen perfectly highlighted the relationship between their characters, and it really does feel like a natural evolution of what we saw when they first met two years ago (holy moley, has it really been two years?).
But it was that scene with Felicity. You know the one. And y’know what? Usually Felicity is totally right, and she certainly isn’t in the wrong here. But that whole scene was such a raw nerve, and I don’t believe that Oliver would have been able to carry on his deception very long in good conscience (despite his track record, which Felicity was totally right to bring up). Great stuff from the both of them. But (and you know there’s a but)…
…while it’s not as bad as it was on “Legends of Today” with the interesting/potentially momentous stuff with Patty, Wells, and Jay, all of this stuff with Oliver and his son would have been better placed in an episode with less going on. Tonally, this was too much of a roller coaster. As much as it impacts the larger Arrow narrative (and that’s something this season desperately needs), it just didn’t feel quite right amidst all the other stuff.
In other words, all of the actual story involving the Hawks and Vandal Savage really could have fit in one episode. It probably would have served their story better, too. Last year’s Flash and Arrow crossover was really two standalone episodes. Maybe that’s the way forward in future seasons.
My observations as a TV critic aside, as a fan, I really can’t complain too much about “Legends of Yesterday.” The two teams really gelled nicely, and just as Barry and Ollie felt like real friends during the episode’s dramatic moments, Flash and Green Arrow felt like natural teammates during the superheroic moments. “My world is just stranger than yours,” summed it up perfectly, and watching Flash explain accidental time travel and its potential repercussions to Green Arrow on my TV screen, well…that’s the DC Universe right there.
With the midseason finale next week, I have to believe now that it’s time for Arrow season 4 to step up to the plate. There’s no more Legends of Tomorrow set-up to be done, so it’s time for these main storylines to start mattering. But if the hints we saw tonight about the focus on Oliver Queen as both a man and a hero are an indication of the quality of writing and performances we’re going to get in the second half of the season, we might be in good shape.
DC Universe Watchtower
Okay, I talked quite a bit about a lot of this stuff in the Flash Facts section of my “Legends of Today” review. I hate to be that guy, but I’m going to refer you to those for the meat of what you need to know about the Hawks and Vandal Savage (plus, there’s this great Vandal Savage article that we have for you).
That being said, a few things were clarified tonight…
– I was right! Vandal Savage was Hath-Set, the similarly reincarnated villain from Hawkman and Hawkgirl’s first appearance in Flash Comics #1 in 1939! What didn’t appear completely clear to me, though, was whether the stuff in Ancient Egypt was the start of Vandal Savage’s immortality, or if he was already skulking around throughout history. Feel free to correct me if I missed something really obvious.
However, the “celestial rocks” would certainly seem to play into Vandal’s traditional “meteorite gives a caveman immortality” origin story. Tying his immortality and eternal struggle directly to the Hawks is kind of another nod to Hath-Set and the Hawkman/Hawkgirl enemies he became.
Also, did anyone else get a Charlton Heston in The Ten Commandments vibe off of Falk Hentschel when he got ready to tangle with Hath-Set in his bedchamber?
– Cisco makes a reference to “Nth Metal” as an alloy made from the meteorites. “Nth Metal” is what made the original Hawkman and Hawkgirl able to fly. Could the meteorites have been from or a result of something involving the planet Thanagar? That might be a fun way to tie things together.
– So, Oliver’s son isn’t Connor, but “William.” Did we already know this? Am I just losing my mind?
– Thea wasn’t lying. This is what happens when you google “reincarnated nut jobs”
– The Professor that we “meet” in 1975 is also going to appear on Legends of Tomorrow, and we know that show is going to take us to 1975 for at least one episode.
What did I miss? Let me know in the comments or on Twitter!