Nothing however, could prepare me for the second part of the crossover on Arrow titled Legends of Yesterday. Drastically different than The Flash installment and perfectly in tone with its own series, this episode propelled the cliffhanging necessary for the mid-season finales and returned to the deeper themes the series is known for – including the transition to the new less secretive, more trusting and happier Oliver.
That doesn’t mean the epic superhero story dwindled in scope or that the fanfest geekout got less intense. So what happened? Where are we now and what does it mean to the future of the Arrowverse corner of the DCTVU? I break it down below.
So let’s get this monkey smoking…
SYNOPSIS from TVGuide.com
Arrow Season 2
Episode 8 – Legends of Yesterday
December 2, 2015
A crossover episode that began on "The Flash" concludes with Oliver and Barry taking Kendra and Carter to a remote location to keep them hidden from Vandal Savage, while they figure out how to defeat him. Meanwhile, Malcolm arranges a meeting between Vandal, Green Arrow and the Flash, but it doesn't go as planned.
A.R.G.U.S. gives a Betamax warning to the team, meteors come back to the CW superhero universe (hello Smallville) and Oliver confirms he has a son, but will he ever tell Felicity? Does it even matter if Savage kills everyone?
All season I have been asking, “At what point does Arrow restore the template that made it successful and how do they do it and reconcile the new approach?” I never guessed the answer to this is time travel. When Barry ghosted I rolled my eyes and said to myself, “Time travel? Again? Aww.”
I was wrong.
It was the perfect device to make a superhero team-up (rooted in shallow fun and Easter Egg Nirvana) poignant, deep and the perfect setup for the second half of the season. You see, what the time travel device allowed was for us to experience the outcome two separate ways to drive home the themes they have been deliberately expressing all series long.
While giving our brains and hearts the day off on Flash they set us up to fall twice as heard on Arrow and all the stops are pulled here. We see exactly what would happen if the characters of the show resort to their comfortable old characterizations, and how everyone dies as a result. To wit, the Arrow of secrets past and carrying the burden alone gets everyone killed but the Arrow that is trusting, inclusive and reliant on help saves the day. The untrusting Barry who won’t risk anyone else gets everyone killed but the new Barry who allows others to fulfill their own destiny prevails and brings hope. The passive but in love Cisco can’t help Kendra but the new assertive Cisco helps her accept herself and become the warrior she always was.
It is payoff in the most basic and satisfying of ways. Simply put, all the ideals, morals and themes of the show – so carefully implemented and realized – are put to practical application here. It is a good way to sate the hiatus wait while whetting the appetite for more. Flash has had an amazing effect on Arrow – unapologetic wildly comic book like morality plays – and Arrow has had an enormous effect on Flash – built in its template and infused with thematic seriousness in its own voice.
Not only did they accomplish all this but managed to introduce Nth metal and a few more Hawkworld mythos Easter Eggs along the way. Vandal Savage and Legends of Tomorrow is halfway setup (we are still waiting on Firestorm, White Canary and Atom to fall into place for the series) and make no mistake that the template is in full swing. We can see secret narratives and villains are on the team in the form of Captain Cold and Heatwave so close double dealing is coming. Not to mention there is talk of the Hellblazer joining too.
It is clear that these crossover episodes are fan favorites but this year they managed to turn them into more than just fun geekery and used the time and space to continue the narrative in a compelling and relevant way. Oh, and All Hail Vibe – the nicest nice guy on TV.
Ra’s Al Ghoul is nasty and scary as heck again. He is going to be a problem. The cliffhanger was a perfect way to launch Arrow back into its template of secrets, narrative from flashbacks and darker tone. It also launched Flash back into its separate identity with a hug and has given the audience permission to suspend their disbelief without question so the most ludicrous of comic book concepts can be handled in a thoughtful and artistic way sans hokey, sans trite but still light and full of hope.
Tell the monkey to crush his butt…