Hawkpersons, an immortal, and someone gets shot – “Legends of Today” packed a great deal into 42 minutes.
It’s crossover time! The Flash, and Arrow, and the Legends of Tomorrow, oh my!
Continuing the motif from the last episode, The Flash begins the crossover event by chasing his goals on the treadmill (an unabashedly heavy-handed metaphor if I do say so myself). Harrison Wells wants the kid to run faster than he has so far, and the inter-dimensional scientist isn’t exactly trying to spare feelings making his opinion known.
On a secluded dock (the standard location for mayhem in all DC Comics canon universes) a trimmed-bearded stowaway murders a large group of ship workers. If the beard, accent, and promotional material didn’t tip you off, this is Vandal Savage, the villain waiting in the wings as the Big Bad for the up coming Legends of Tomorrow. (Get it? This episode is called “Legends of Today.” Clever.)
Now, “waiting in the wings” was a carefully selected phrase here, as Vandal’s first demonstration of his power is with a Vegas stage-magic slight of hand trick (escaping from his cuffs) and then similarly showy knife throwing tricks (the trick is the knives kill people). Savage takes a moment to ponder on his own goals (for us audience member’s sake, I suspect) revealing that he is hunting one of the Hawk-people.
In another return to recent motifs, Cisco and Kendra meet for another date at the local coffee shop. (I’m tempted to call it Central Perk?). Last time, Cisco dazzled with a makeshift movie theatre, so it’s no surprise (and super adorable) that Kendra tried her hand at a makeshift restaurant. Because this is a superhero show, their date is quickly interrupted by the suspiciously Danish accent of Vandal Savage. In true villain fashion he monologues long enough to tell us he is here for Chay-Ara. Naturally, neither Cisco nor Kendra know what he’s talking about, but lucky for you I do! Chay-Ara is, of course, the ancient Egyptian priestess whose soul is locked away in Kendra’s mind. (This will be explicitly revealed later in the episode.)
Barry zips in to save the day, barely catching a knife Savage throws at Cisco . This was a particularly interesting detail to me. In the series, we have seen Barry catch or deflect bullets with, mostly, little effort, but Savage’s knife nearly took Cisco’s life. I’m quite curious if this was only a narrative choice to imply the general difficulty of battling Savage or if the implications are that Vandal Savage is truly capable of throwing blades at speeds faster than speeding bullets. This wouldn’t be out of character for Savage necessarily, he certainly has super strength in the comics, but it seems like such velocity implies a much stronger version of the villain than fans may have seen before.
Because Barry is shaken (and because I’m sure it will get great ratings) Team Flash calls on Team Arrow for help. Barry explains to the Green team and the Red team that he “senses” that Vandal is “mystical” (apparently Barry is also vibing now?). The idea is that Barry’s powers are science based so he would know that Savage’s are not – relatively flimsy logic, especially because in the comics Vandal Savage isn’t technically “mystical.” His official origin is that radiation from a meteor enhanced his physical body making him super strong, super smart, and super unable-to-die. “Meteor radiation” isn’t necessarily not magic, but technically lightning gave Barry his power, so one would think they were in the same power-category.
It’s All about Gaining More Power
Since Barry has gained the new power of photorealistic speed-drawing, the team is able to find a photo of Savage…from 1975 (that explains why he’s so hairy, it was in vogue back then). Savage is, in fact, an immortal who has been on the Earth for at least forty millennia in the comics, so it almost seems improbably that they found photos from only one decade.
While the superheroes expand their horizons to include immortals, Dr. Welles and Dr. Snow are discussing new ways to push Barry’s limits (naturally they are doing this while Barry is away). Wells reveals that he has been working on a stimulant that would enhance The Flash’s speed and Caitlin fills in the blanks in Wells’ formula. (It’s about time Caitlin is given a chance like this to shine. A+ Caitlin episode.)
Cisco has, of course, been hiding the tiny little secret that he vibed on Kendra, seeing her as Hawkgirl (or, as he phrased it, a bird). Savage attacks again and is pelted with several arrows, including one in the throat from Speedy, which he naturally survives (this is a crossover episode—the villain won’t be easily defeated). Malcolm Merlin (for some reason or another) knows about Vandal Savage and tells the group an interesting new detail – the bearded villain is rumored to have been the advisor to both Genghis Khan and Julius Caesar. This is actually a step down in rank from the comics where Savage was both of those major political figures in the flesh, though it’s safe to say having a white man play Genghis Khan wouldn’t have been the best choice.
Returning to S.T.A.R. Labs, Caitlin Snow has synthesized Wells’s miracle speed drug in seemingly 30 minutes or less (eat your heart out Dominoes Pizza). Harrison, feeling the ever compulsive desire to fit the mad scientist trope, insists on testing the drug on Jay Garrick, the one man we all know hates Wells and everything he stands for. It struck me as particularly odd that Garrick was portrayed as very anti-science in this scene. Wells discusses the Speed Force (the source of The Flashes’ powers) as a scientific occurrence while Garrick (also a scientist) writes it off as “a gift” as though that precludes science.
A Shot in the Dark
As Wells and Caitlin argue about his treatment of Jay, Patty Spivet barges in and, with surprisingly little calculation, shoots Harrison Wells square in the chest. Joe West shows up to handle the situation (and mostly, handle Patty) only to dismiss Patty instantly. This seemed like the wrong choice, rather than attempt to give Patty a reason to trust Joe, or at least a story to go by, he kicks her out where she can come to her own conclusions. It’s very clear this show is setting Patty up to really mess things up for Team Flash very soon, and at this point it it’s Team Flash’s fault.
Kendra and Cisco try to share a moment after Kendra is hit with news that she may someday grow wings, when Hawkman swoops from the sky and nabs Kendra from the rooftop. (Though that’s what you get for doing all your brooding on rooftops.) It becomes clear that Hawkman is kind of a jerk very quickly. He insists that he is Chay-Ara’s true love, Prince Khufu, triggering a brief bout of vague flashbacks for Kendra. He claims to want to protect her, but that’s irrelevant to Green Arrow and The Flash who, with a fair struggle, take the winged “hero” down. It’s of note that the famous banter between Green Arrow and Hawkman that made the two characters popular in the comics was whittled down to “Not going to do that Robin Hood” – a true disappointment, honestly.
With Patty kicked out of the lab, Caitlin convinces Jay Garrick to forego all of his previous stances and take Wells’ drug in order to save his life. It’s a great character moment to see Garrick fight the thought of ever taking the drug until Caitlin mentions it will save a life, at which point Jay does not hesitate. Garrick represents a solid moral backbone for Team Flash once again.
Answers Lead to (So Many) more Questions
In the Arrow Quiver (the best canonical name for a superhero hide out in history), Hawkman is chained to a pillar, making it the perfect time for exposition. The entire Hawk-person lore is revealed to be mostly similar to the comics. Khufu (Hawkman) and Chay-Ara (Kendra) are reincarnated soul mates 4000 years over. Based on Hawkman’s pseudo-chivalric savior complex, it’s clear that his “love” is more outdated than the soul he claims inhabits his body. The new addition to this lore is Savage. He is tied into the lives of the lovers in that he gains more power as an immortal from killing Hawkgirl in all her lives. He is now looking for an Egyptian staff, the power of which can defeat the future Hawkgirl (and the staff just happens to be in Central City). It is quite unclear why Savage is only after Hawkgirl and doesn’t seem to care about Hawkman, but I’m personally hoping it’s because she is way more powerful and way more awesome.
Oliver places his trust in the winged-misogynist, who insists Kendra must jump off the roof to “unlock” her memories and her powers. Kendra is hesitant but willing, Cisco and Barry are not as trusting. Hawkman takes it upon himself to push her off rather than let her do anything, making him officially the worst. Barry and Oliver head to Central City to track down Savage and the staff, leaving Kendra to brood on the roof again.
Oliver and Barry find Vandal already in possession of the staff and battle it out. While our heroes obviously have to live to see a second half of the crossover event, it was particularly hard to suspend disbelief that Savage couldn’t instantly kill the two men with a (supposedly) super powerful magic staff. Savage escapes and everyone is mostly unharmed (tune in tomorrow for more is, I guess, the point).
Now that she is alone with Cisco, the one person she actually knows and trusts, it makes a lot more sense that Kendra feels confortable making the…leap of faith. Jumping off the roof, Kendra’s wings spread rather gloriously. This is a departure from the comics’ canon in which Kendra’s wings are a part of a special armor giving her the powers of flight and strength. The CW seems to be giving the Hawk-people a more magical take on the lore, which actually will be juxtaposed quite interestingly to the seemingly sci-fi Legends of Tomorrow series.
A Flash of the Future
Tomorrow night will see another hour-long chunk of the story, so hopefully several blanks will be filled. As of now, it is interesting how linked Vandal Savage is to the two Hawk-heroes. This will create a different dynamic in Legends of Tomorrow than I first suspected. The other heroes will not have the same connection to this villain making the two Hawks more equipped for the job (or potentially less as joining this particular team may bring them closer to personal danger). The biggest question in my mind after tonight’s Flash is: Does Rip Hunter know Vandal Savages obsession and connection to the lives of the Hawk-heroes? And, if so, is he risking more than we first realized in bringing this particular team of heroes together for the events of Legends of Tomorrow?