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Thursday, 3 December 2015

The Flash(/Arrow) S2E8(/S4E8): Legends of Today & Legends of Yesterday

The Flash(/Arrow)
Series 2, Episode 8
(& Series 4, Episode 8)
Legends of Today & Legends of Yesterday.

Ah, crossovers. Complicating my schedule by being functionally a two-parter airing over two different series. I can't figure out whether this is a triumph of television programming or an out and out terrible idea, but the CW did, at least, manage to pull it off with reasonable aplomb.

After Kendra is attacked by Vandal Savage, an immortal man who is obsessed with killing her, Team Flash and Team Arrow must team up to protect her. It isn't long until Carter Hall, who claims to be the reincarnation of an ancient Egyptian prince and Kendra's lover in each of their lifetimes, joins the group. As Savage continues to be foiled, he steals the Staff of Horus, a magical artifact more powerful than anything the two teams have ever faced.

I have mixed feelings on these two episodes, to be honest. It's pretty much all set-up for Legends of Tomorrow (in case the episode titles didn't immediately give that away), and I've gone on record before saying how much I dislike the constant set-up for that show - and on top of that, the first episode of the two offerings, airing in the timeslot for The Flash, just isn't very good.

Oh, Malcolm's here too, because he doesn't have an order of assassins to run or anything.

It's not terrible, I should make that abundantly clear, but it's a slow, plodding affair that's pretty much all build-up to no real pay-off, since that pay-off is coming in the second of the two parts. While the second episode of the pair has a fairly gripping main plot and a whole slew of subplots to be going on with, the first part feels oddly barren, as if a twenty minute story has been stretched to fit a forty-five minute episode.

The big highlight of the first episode is the minor subplot with Caitlin and Wells, as they work on a serum for increasing Barry's speed to use against Zoom - which goes horribly wrong when Patty sees Wells while he's wandering around, assumes that he's evil speedster Wells, and shoots him in the chest, forcing Caitlin, Jay, and Joe to save him. That was actually quite a good plot, and critically gave us plot movement on The Flash's storyline.

(I care a lot less about plot movement on Arrow's storyline, on account of Darhk and HIVE being the villain equivalent of the colour beige.)

The other big problem with these two episodes is that Vandal Savage doesn't seem much like Vandal Savage. His backstory has been changed - instead of a neanderthal he's now an Ancient Egyptian priest, probably not least because the CW didn't want to do neanderthal make-up - but that's not really the big problem. The big problem is that he doesn't seem all that smart, and being viciously intelligent is Vandal Savage's main superpower. Some of that is Casper Crump, who plays him less as an erudite manipulator and more as a grandstanding maniac - but most of that is that Savage isn't being written especially well.

Okay, I realy like the Hawk costumes.

He's not written as especially intelligent, so much as he is just violent and obsessive, and his master plan - which boils down to 'threaten people with his magic doohickey and hope it pans out' - isn't all that masterful. He falls a bit flat as a villain, because not only does he come off as not as smart as the team, he also compares badly to the other two main villains of these two series. He comes off as less intelligent than Darhk, and as less of a physical threat than Zoom, and the result is the abiding impression that if he encountered either of these two people he would be dead in a heartbeat.

In other things that bothered me: CW, if you're going to have flashbacks to Ancient Egypt, just - just recast Hawkgirl and Hawkman for it. I know why you would have them look identical to their modern day counterparts, but your audience is smart enough to hear their extremely distinctive names that you keep bringing up in the modern day sections and go 'Oh, okay, so these people are actually the ancient versions of Kendra and Carter, and reincarnation in this universe doesn't involve your appearance always staying the same, okay, good.' It was actually really jarring to have painfully white Falk Hentschel and hispanic Ciara Renee playing Ancient Egyptians, who were, you know, black. 

Despite these things, I did actually enjoy the second episode. The time travel plot was worked in surprisingly well, if a bit glossed over, and there were enough subplots to go along with the main plot that the whole thing ended up being pretty action packed. I really want that rumoured Hawkgirl TV series now - with or without Hawkman, I'm really not fussed about him - because Kendra is a great character, and was excellent in the lead role of that second episode.

Can't decide if Carter is good looking or hideous.

I am still looking forward to Legends of Tomorrow, although increasingly less and less. What I'm looking forward to even more, though, is post-Legends Arrow and The Flash, when we can put all of this awkward set-up guff behind us.

(I'm not going to talk about the Ollie and his son plotline because - I'm just not, okay? I'm just not going to even try touching that topic today. Maybe in my midseason Arrow review.)

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