With The CW hyping up this years big crossover between The Flash and Arrow, as well as finish laying all the groundwork down for the spinoff, Legends of Tomorrow, the first part of this crossover event had a lot riding on it. It was awesome.
Vandal Savage is powerful, an effective threat and the right saunter to make him a terrifying villain. His initial appearances left something to be desired, sure he definitely wiped out those poor people down by the dock efficiently, but nothing about it screamed “monster.” We’ve seen perfectly natural killers on Arrow pull off greater (the handcuff switch aside) so it didn’t seem quite like the kind of threat that required packing up and running to Star City to combat.
It was nice how last years crossovers involved the other team paying a visit (in that episode of The Flash, Team Arrow came to Central City, and vice versa in Arrow) so it was nice to see the opposite happen here. Seeing the wide cast of characters interact in different ways depending on which show it currently is has led to some interesting issues in the past. Their appearances on The Flash last season left Diggle and Laurel feeling like completely different characters because of the different tones. This crossover seems to have a far more cohesive feel to it, as if it’s just another installment in this universe as opposed to another episode of The Flash. For fans who just prefer to watch their one show this might be a bad thing, but for the fans who love the interconnecting mythology it’s absolutely fantastic.
This meant there was a lot that had to be explained or at least addressed, because apparently none of the characters call each other up and act like friends off-screen. Barry didn’t know who Malcolm was (why exactly he needs 10 assassins with him for every shadowy appearance is beyond me), despite saving everyone from Nanda Parbat in the Arrow finale last year apparently? Thea tried to kill Vandal because of her bloodlust because remember? That’s still a thing, but we don’t have the time to talk about it much more than that. Felicity has to remind everyone she’s the CEO of a corporation now, because wait where did Ray go again? The slight mentions of Earth-2 and the other Harrison to Felicity probably would have made Diggle quit his job then and there if he heard them. It’s the little things like that, where they’re not sure if they respect the viewers enough to remember all of it, or if they’re just trying to be courteous and respect the people who don’t watch the other show. So it took a while for the plot to establish itself and figure things out instead of being a jumbled mess of references. Therein lies the problem with big crossovers, but it played it excellently after all that was settled.
This party was interrupted in a grand way with Vandal crashing through the window and attacking the whole ensemble. Barry’s knife-catching speed was very similar to how he saved Team Arrow last year from Captain Boomerang, but with even greater odds to overcome here. Seeing Barry and Ollie team up in their casual wear to protect their friends from this madman’s savage assault was great, even though it gave me some massive deja vu from Age of Ultron. Big superhero team ups, am I right? That scene is what finally sold the threat that Vandal poses to everyone involved, and feels like something of that scale should have happened before they all decided “You know what? Maybe we should leave town.”
The teases from Cisco’s vibes paved the way for the introduction to Hawkman and Hawkgirl into this DC Universe, and their interconnected fate with Vandal Savage. Hawkman’s introduction was hilarious (“Everyday gets more normal” as she gets swooped up by a giant bird.) Seeing Hawkman initially not only at odds, but in combat with The Flash and Green Arrow was great, and gave us a kind of fight we hadn’t seen yet in this universe. Considering they were able to take down the Reverse-Flash, it wasn’t a shock that the fight ended with Hawkman chained up in the Arrowcave. His insistence on Kendra and his destiny together, that they were lovers became a very tried and true Fate VS Choice conflict for Kendra. She likes her life and doesn’t want to throw it all away, but has this urge to be something more. Her initial failure to change made sense. Hopefully her eventual transition doesn’t lead to a complete abandonment of Cisco, as their relationship has been a great change of pace. Plus, Hawkman is kind of a dick.
Then there was Caitlin, Harry, Jay and Patty. This plotline felt like it was only there because “Hey, this is still The Flash! Got to bring in all of The Flash characters!” Caitlin and Harry’s attempts to create a super-serum to give Barry the power to fight Zoom is an interesting moral quandary, but considering it didn’t seem to have any adverse effects on Jay, what’s the big issue? I suppose it might become addictive, or have some long term consequence, but it just seems like angst for angst’s sake on Jay’s part here. Also I completely thought that Patty just killed Harry off with that shot, I thought it hit him more in the heart. I mean I get it, dead man who was revealed publicly to be a superpowered murderer suddenly being seen on the streets is bad, but considering he was in STAR Labs she didn’t think to contact any of them first? At least now it’s pretty much guaranteed that Barry will need to come clean to her about his superhero-ing.
Which might happen tomorrow, because with Vandal finding the Staff of Horus and a powerful showdown in the cathedral with it, everyone’s packing their bags and heading to Central City to “finish this.” Oh come on, we know it’s not going to be over. That doesn’t make it any less cool, but considering they still haven’t the foggiest idea of how to put Vandal down and he’s already confirmed to be the antagonist of the spinoff, I’m not sure why that needs to be said. I was skeptical about this crossover, the continued focus of the spinoffs seems to be derailing both shows. But with things coming to an end here, it finally feels focused, and that might not be an issue anymore.
One last note: that kid with The Flash toy in Jitters? Connor Hawke. Back in Season 2 of Arrow (which feels like it was forever ago) there was an episode that had a flashback dealing with Oliver having made some girl pregnant, and his mom bribing her to get an abortion and leave town. We saw that same woman in Central City last year for maybe ten seconds during the last crossover and it seemed to make no sense. Now it seems like it was some endgame plan to bring us to this: that Oliver is a father.