Arrow season 4 episode 8 review: Legends Of Yesterday

This year's Arrow/The Flash crossover was hugely entertaining, with the Star City gang injecting some lightness to proceedings...

This review contains spoilers.

4.8 Legends Of Yesterday

What does one do when you’re Greg Berlanti (and team), building an empire of modern superhero shows that has become increasingly interwoven, to the point where the first two series are being used to launch a third? Unsurprisingly, the most sensible place to do this was in the now-annual crossover event, somewhat inconveniently placed the week before each individual series’ mid-season finale.

The first half of this Legends two-parter consisted of a lot of set-up done incredibly well, cashing in on the expectations of Flash viewers for more humour and camaraderie. Legends Of Yesterday, then, gets to do some more drama, finishing off the Kendra origin story and moving a few more chess pieces into place.

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But I’m a little bit unsure as to what the rules are here. For me, it would make sense for the first half of the two-parter would have Arrow characters present, but not interacting independent of Flash characters. The opposite would be true here, but that’s not what happens, and the result is that Legends Of Yesterday ends up feeling a bit more like a Flash episode than an Arrow one.

The sad fact is that the shift actually makes the hour one of the better ones Arrow has produced recently, with explosive action (watching the gang get incinerated was fun, yes?), more human drama and a general sense of enthusiasm for the entire concept. I like that Arrow is generally a bit darker, but whatever they did here, they need to keep doing when they go back to Star City.

One major plus was the lack of island flashbacks, but then they were replaced by painful jumps to ancient Egypt. I don’t actually know which are worse.

Taking a turn for the personal following Oliver’s sighting of his ex-girlfriend and her nine-year-old son at the end of the previous episode, through some investigating with Barry’s help, he discovers a mini-me that he knew nothing about and, in either timeline, he’s unwilling to share that revelation with those close to him.

Like it or not, William is Thea’s nephew and Felicity’s step-son, but Oliver has not had a personality transplant. As frustrating as this turn of events might be, and as off-brand as it seems given the tone that Arrow‘s been going for the last couple of years, it’s completely in character and a storyline ripe for mining. You can’t blame the show for using a paternity mystery to drum up personal drama and relationship troubles.

The prospect of having a kid on the show in an expanded capacity – made more likely by the more than likely eventuality of his mother being the person in that grave – is worrying, but then again that scene between Oliver and William playing with Flash and Captain Cold action figures was adorable. Babies ruin shows, but can the same be said of kids? It would certainly shake things up.

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And, though the only person who knows the truth on Arrow is Oliver, Barry’s also in on the secret.

The set-up for Kendra, Connor and Vandal was less interesting in this episode, mainly because the thrill of discovering their powers was already over and done with, but it was good to spend more time with them ahead of January’s Legends Of Tomorrow premiere. I was actually surprised that none of the other cast members were in this episode, but I guess we have to save something for later.

And Vandal’s not dead, because Malcolm’s gotta Malcolm. Is this annoying? Does Malcolm need to be written off the show at this point? Yes to both, but then we needed to put Vandal on pause for a bit, and this was the easiest way to do it.

Aside from some clumsy elements, then, this two-parter was shockingly entertaining and held together far better than it really should have done given the circumstances. What it means for the rest of the show we’ll have to see but, as a standalone, you can do nothing but admire it.