Giant walking, talking sharks, the most villainous speedster in this universe (and in another), and now an immortal being hellbent on killing Cisco’s new girlfriend — Barry Allen is having a tough year. So it only makes sense to call in a little back-up when things in Central City take a turn for the mystical during “Legends of Today.”
The appearance of a mysterious stowaway on a boat turns deadly as Vandal Savage finds his way to Central, jeopardizing the lives of everyone on Team Flash — and Team Arrow — leading to the season’s big crossover event. While The Flash is burdened with part 1, the set-up to the eventual big showdown, that doesn’t prevent “Legends of Today” from landing its own big moments and plenty of laughs.
And the episode doesn’t forget to be about the Flash, either, as much as it is about the spectacle of the crossover (and setting up Legends of Tomorrow). “Legends” opens with Barry training to become faster. He needs to prepare to fight Zoom again, and he doesn’t want to come away with even worse injuries in the next round.
Barry isn’t becoming faster, though, and the team is running out of ideas to change that. But the scarlet speedster has other worries to chase when he receives a distress call from Cisco, who should be in the middle of a romantic evening with Kendra.
Those plans are spoiled, however, by Vandal Savage, who ruins the wonderful homecooked meal Kendra made for them at CC Jitters. (ASIDE: Two issues — Has Kendra secretly been living out of the coffee shop this whole time, and how busy is Jitters during the day that it can afford to close before dinnertime? END ASIDE) After arriving by boat and already murdering anyone in his way, Vandal enters the coffee joint looking for Kendra. He calls Kendra by another name. She clearly recognizes him, but has no recollection of him, though. And it’s not just because she’s distracted by Cisco’s charm and good looks.
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Luckily, Barry arrives just in time to stop Vandal’s knife from plunging into Cisco’s chest, and the immortal foe decides to regroup rather than face this unexpected threat.
Kendra’s safety becomes of paramount of importance, so they bring her into the Team Flash fold — well, for her safety and because Cisco accidentally says Barry’s name to the Flash while she’s there. But Barry knows there’s more to this guy than the metahumans they’ve taken on in the past. He’s got a mystical vibe to him, and some assistance may be needed.
Although Cisco protests, Barry decides to round up Team Arrow. After all, how busy could they be, he wonders. Busy enough to be on the brink of death is the answer: Oliver and the team are facing off with Damien Darhk as he attempts to steal a chemical bomb.
Despite Team Arrow gaining the upper hand against Darhk’s ghosts thanks to the Felicity-invented magnetic arrow, Darhk gets his mystical hands on Oliver and literally saps the life from him until Barry comes to the rescue.
He’d, of course, like some help in return, and although Barry is impressed by the new Arrow lair, his mind is focused on helping Kendra. Barry’s return to Star City is also a chance for these characters to catch up after months apart, leading to a fun round of filling in the blanks on everything from Oliver and Felicity’s relationship (“More bruises from her than from Deathstroke,” Ollie explains) to Barry’s Zoom fight to Oliver’s sleeveless new digs (“I spent the better part of five years on an island in the North China Sea… I don’t get cold, Barry”).
And then there’s Kendra to introduce — after Cisco calms down from seeing the underwhelming tech Felicity’s been using to power the system. “She’s my new beautiful friend who kisses me occasionally,” Cisco explains, but more than that, she has Vandal chasing after her. Felicity finds a picture of him thanks to Barry’s speed-drawn sketch of Savage, but the photo is from 1975 — and he looks identical to the man who confronted Kendra.
NEXT: The Legends come to blows
Oliver wants to get down to business, and he’s a bit more forceful with his line of questioning than anyone expected. He’s worried that they are now all in danger, and he simply wants to protect his team, but Felicity decides to calm his temper by inviting everyone over to their apartment for drinks. Lots of drinks.
Ollie is in a much better mood at home, apologizing to Barry and appearing, much to Barry’s surprise, like he’s happy. He got the girl, and for the moment so has Barry with Patty. (Cisco is unhappy Thea won’t consider a new codename other than Speedy, but otherwise he’s glad to be with his girl, as well.) The night turns dark, though, when Vandal comes crashing through the apartment’s giant windows, which, in hindsight, were much less safe of a choice than the underground concrete walls of the lair.
Savage deals out a flurry of throwing knives, Barry catching them all, except for one that hits him, while Oliver fires off arrow after arrow until a few finally fly by Vandal’s protective metal hand fan. Thea, with her Lazarus Pit-fueled bloodlust, sends one final arrow into Savage, causing him to careen over the balcony ledge. Yet he’s nowhere to be found on the ground.
There’s an explanation for that, though. Cisco also has some explaining to do to Kendra. He reveals to the group his powers and tells them about his vibe of Kendra (which he revealed to Barry at the party). But he isn’t the only one with intel — Malcolm Merlyn and a few of his assassins appear from the shadows to reveal just who and what Savage is.
The knowledge of Savage’s immortality freaks Kendra out, so Cisco follows her outside to console the confused Wisconsin transplant/possible ancient Egyptian priestess. But just as he promises her every day gets a little bit more normal after a life-altering revelation, Kendra is scooped up by a man in a suit with wings, who reveals himself to be a figure from her past. She begins having flashes to her ancient past, but before this man can explain more, he has some heroes to fight.
Hawkman demolishes Oliver’s bike with his mace before the two duke it out. Barry shows up to even up the fight, but the winged warrior is able to grab Barry even as he’s speeding toward his foe. The two combine their efforts, Barry pulling out his patented (and frankly, at this point, overused) tornado arms before hurling a lightning bolt and knocking out Hawkman.
They chain him up back at the lair where he reveals Vandal Savage is hunting him and Kendra, as he has 206 times before. Vandal has been successful each time, but Hawkman, whose most recent given name was Carter Hall, doesn’t want that count to rise to 207. He needs Kendra to emerge and rekindle her past life so she too will have wings and fend off Savage. They’re soulmates after all, he tells her, much to the dismay of Cisco.
But Carter believes he is the only one to save her from feeding Savage’s life force, which grows every time he kills them. Barry and Ollie believe they can take him on, but Malcolm is not so sure. He appears from the shadows yet again (“Is that the only way this guy knows how to enter a room,” Barry asks in a perfectly timed response), informing them of Savage having left the city to hunt down a powerful ancient staff.
NEXT: Let’s call it a tie
The distance between them and their foe gives the combined teams a chance to consider Carter’s suggestions. He wants Kendra to emerge as Hawkgirl by, naturally, jumping off the edge of a skyscraper. Cisco and Barry don’t love the idea, but after everything that’s happened Oliver believes it makes sense. Rather than giving Kendra the opportunity to jump, though, Carter pushes her off the building.
Kendra falls…and her wings fail to emerge. Something is blocking her, and though Barry saves her, he’s done with letting her risk her life. He feels powerless, despite his powers, in the face of ridiculous challenge after challenge. Oliver calms Barry down, and no party is required because instead he might have a lead on where Savage is.
The staff has been consecrated and placed in a Central City church, so Oliver and Barry take a trip back to Central to save the day. Unfortunately, when they arrive, Savage has already acquired the staff, and it prevents them from landing a single blow. He fights the two off with ease, blasting them back while still surprised at finally facing foes like them.
He prepares to deal his killing blow when a disturbance in the force causes him to pause. Back in Star, Cisco has been talking with Kendra, who is finally accepting her fate. She jumps, and this time, her wings materialize, giving her the first taste of flight in this incarnation of life. Savage knows it, and his moment of hesitation gives Ollie and Barry the chance to escape as he sets off an explosion in the house of worship. Savage, of course, wouldn’t have killed himself, so for now they walk away with a tie, but it’s a tie that gives them two new feathered allies to help in the next round of battle.
The rest of Team Arrow, along with Carter, plan to make the trip to Central and join forces for that battle, giving Barry and Oliver a little time to reconnect over coffee, not combat. But Oliver gets more than he expected at at CC Jitters. A young boy with a Flash action figure runs into Oliver, and as he watches the boy go back to his mother, he discovers he knows her. She’s the woman he had an affair with (who wasn’t part of the Lance family) and Moira paid off to disappear. He ran into her before, but the child is a new development, adding just one more issue for Oliver to tackle while out of town.
Back in the Lab
Not everyone can be directly involved in the battle against Vandal Savage. Realizing Barry has not improved despite their efforts, Harrison explains to Caitlin he has one other idea in mind. He developed a serum meant for Jay to enhance his speedster abilities, but after five attempts, he never quite perfected the formula. Luckily, he has a biochemical expert on hand now to help, and Caitlin lends her expertise to the formula.
Caitlin is able to crack the Velocity-6 formula, but Jay, realizing what they’re up to, advises against it. The speed force is a gift, and not one to be tampered with in Jay’s mind. He wants Barry nowhere near it, just like he wants nothing to do with it, but fate has other plans in mind for him.
Patty (who has a great scene of reserved flirting with Barry while in front of the unfortunately sidelined Joe) spots Harrison out on the streets as he acquires (read: steals) some supplies for the serum. She follows him back to S.T.A.R. Labs, where she confirms — and is a bit shocked — that this is in fact a Harrison Wells. She tells him not to move, but Earth-2’s Harrison Wells is not one to listen to authority. He takes a step, and she shoots him, with Caitlin arriving too late to stop Patty.
She doesn’t have time to explain the whole alternate-reality ordeal, so she has Patty call Joe instead of 911, but there’s only one way to save Wells. Jay will need to take the serum and phase the bullet out of Wells’ chest. Despite his opposition to everything involved, he takes the serum and pulls the bullet out of Wells, saving the man, other than Zoom, he hates the most.
Barry will have some explaining to do when he returns to town, however, and he may have to decide on whether to let her into the Team Flash secret. But first, he has to focus on that immortal killer on the loose.
What did you think of the Flash-Arrow crossover’s first part? Let me know your favorite moments, lines, or gripes in the comments and on Twitter @jmdornbush.