Waiting for Tomorrow.
The CW is to be commended. If there’s one thing that they know how to do, it’s build hype for the Flash/Arrow crossover event. They love to blow it up in big letters, and change the title screen to commemorate the occasion and make sure we’ll all paying attention. Well, you got us CW. We’re ready to be wowed.
The Flash has been the bearer of the sci-fi element of the Arrowverse, and that position has also served to ground the themes and occurrences of Arrow through pure contrast. So what happens when both series are forced in to unfamiliar territory? Exactly that. Unfamiliarity. What we have here is a rare opportunity to see our experienced and knowledgeable protagonists blindsided by a persistent matter outside of the scope of both of their abilities and intelligence. It’s a conflict that makes everything that happens afterward all the more natural, as both teams attempt to unravel an unconventional mystery with logical thought. As usual, there’s action and suspense and drama, but at its heart Legends of Today is a simple story about a group of friends forced to accept the fact that the world is much larger and more complicated than they had anticipated. Even though this means the episode is very exposition heavy, since the characters are all previously established, and highly loved, the personality profiling aspect is completely skipped over so Flash can get back to what it and Arrow do best and that’s have interesting characters interact with each other. And with, as Barry puts it “an immortal madman on a rampage against a reincarnated warrior priestess” these characters have plenty to talk about.
It’s Kendra’s fate though that makes all the talking worthwhile. Her motivation is tied directly to the audience’s empathy for her confusion and it’s that emotional connection that drives the plot forward…sometimes. There’s real value in Kendra’s story and Ciara Renée makes her a charismatic presence, but oftentimes the episode doesn’t leverage that emotional connection to its finest. There are points where she is glossed over completely, and that submission of her point of view serves to diminish the importance of her journey and her reason for being there. When she is given time though, she does a great job of conveying what can only be described as a very conflicting role. Falk Hentschel comes across as a unique personality for Carter Hall. He literally just comes out of nowhere, and there’s practically no time to build any connection to his character, but he adds a casual touch to a matter that had been very heady up until that point. Finally we come to Casper Crump as Vandal Savage. Crump’s Savage is a threatening figure, to be sure, but he seems to be much more of a blunt instrument despite his intellectual background. Most of the threat felt from his presence comes from characters talking about him, rather than his portrayal, which makes him feel like more of a villain charade than the force of destruction he’s being made out to be.
Final Word: There’s a lot at play in Legends of Today and sometimes it means parts are left either discarded or unused. Practically all of the characters are constantly present, but few of them actually contribute anything. Vandal Savage acts as a suitable villain for the episode, but with everyone talking him up, his delivery comes off as being a bit shallow. There’s a few too many coincidences and flimsy explanations that introduce plot elements in awkward ways. There is also a LOT of sitting around and talking, and while most of it is in service to exposition, there’s quite a few instances that are just entertaining personalities being consistently entertaining; which is one of the best aspects of both shows. Kendra’s such an instantly relatable character who has a great and intense destiny that she is being forced to accept with virtually no preparation. Strong performances from the B-Team keep the side story from falling behind. It’s not nearly as intense or intriguing as the main obviously, but it is sound at involving the rest of team Flash and making some intriguing steps forward for their confrontation with Zoom. Legends of Today’s greatest success though is making the old new again. We’ve seen Oliver and Barry come up against seemingly impossible odds before, but the opposition matched with the new elements creates a hybrid sense of vastness and possibility that changes the entire climate of what I previously referred to as the Arrowverse. We’re only give a brief glimpse at Kendra and Carter’s mythology, but its mere inclusion reveals just how extensive the possibilities are.
Legends of Today gets an 9.3/10. Savage is an adequate villain, Gustin and Amell are on point, and Renée’s portrayal of Kendra is emotional. Most of all though, this is clearly the spark of Legends of Tomorrow and a reveal of a massive universe full of possibilities.