Arrow recap: Legends of Yesterday
Oliver's a father, but the daddy of all evil, Vandal Savage, threatens the entirety of Team Flarrow.
Well, Team Flarrow dealt with their 4,000-year-old immortal pest, and it only took everyone dying, except for Barry, to do it.
Yes, “Legends of Yesterday” showcases the ultimate worst fate for the combined teams and their respective loved ones, but thanks to the help of a little time travel, even death couldn’t keep a good team down.
But like The Flash’s “Legends of Today,” Arrow’s entry in the two-part crossover doesn’t pull the focus away from Oliver Queen’s world entirely. Most significantly, the episode picks up from Oliver’s revelation at the end of the first half, in which he discovers he just might be a father. The question of his possible paternity (though, with the story line popping up as it did, was there ever any doubt? He’s lucky there aren’t multiple Lance offspring running around) looms over “Yesterday,” as does the fate of the world.
While Oliver naturally takes center stage — and Stephen Amell steps up to the task, arguably giving his best performance on the show yet — the secret MVP of the hour is Carlos Valdes’ Cisco, who also happen to steal The Flash’s half of the crossover.
After the debut of Vandal Savage in “Today,” the combined force of heroes decide to keep Kendra and Carter out of the city, hiding them out in the country instead. (“Bunch of superheroes in a farmhouse? Feel like I’ve seen that in a movie before,” quips Thea, noting the fact that this incarnation of DC’s arrow-toting hero decided to hide his friends in the same fashion Marvel’s hawk-eyed archer did in Avengers: Age of Ultron.)
Once there, the team decides the best course of action is to figure out how to take Vandal’s staff away from him, while Carter believes Kendra needs to be trained to use her latent powers at will. He hopes she can tap into the warrior side of the warrior priestess she once was, but Kendra seems hesitant to fully accept this destiny. Kendra wants, at the same time, to have a talk with Cisco, but he shuts that idea down — after all, “Never in the history of romance have those words [we need to talk] meant anything good.”
But while Cisco doesn’t want to distract Kendra, she’s already too distracted to properly channel her abilities. Carter believes she needs to channel her rage so they can fend off Savage.
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Not everyone involved wants to fight Savage. Malcolm Merlyn calls Ollie while he’s out investigating his possible fatherhood (more on that later) and says he’s set up a meeting with Vandal to settle the dispute.
“Please tell me we’re not negotiating with terrorists…or 4,000-year-old bad guys,” Barry quips as he arrives to the meeting — after speeding by a possible alternate copy of himself to get there. Malcolm doesn’t claim to be a Savage expert — far from it. He knows so little about him, he claims, and that’s why he fears him. And Malcolm’s fears come to meet him when Vandal arrives and demands Carter and Kendra be turned over to him within 24 hours or everyone and everything they love will crumble.
“I’m just curious: Did you rehearse that speech in a mirror this morning, or is this all off the cuff,” Barry asks in return to Savage’s evil monologue. (ASIDE: If you missed it, re-watch the scene to see how pleased Grant Gustin plays Barry after his dig. It is the thing GIFs can only dream to be. END ASIDE) Savage isn’t playing games, though. Back at base, Carter reveals Vandal killed 2 million people in 1887 to find and kill them, so he’ll have no problem decimating Central and Star cities.
NEXT: Oliver, you are…the father
Although he played the encounter calm, cool, and collected, Barry is freaking out in the aftermath, confiding in Cisco that he believes he’s ghosting. Yes, time travel is in the equation, and while it’s giving the duo a brain freeze without the aid of any ice cream, they march on ahead, hoping it won’t conflict with the mission.
While Barry is freaking out and Oliver is out determining whether he’s been an unaware parent for the last decade, the rest of the crew may have a solution. Diggle gets a Betamax tape, courtesy of Lyla and A.R.G.U.S., of a professor from 1975. He speaks of Vandal Savage and how the fate of the world may rest in his death. His first death coincided with an unearthly calamity, which Kendra, whose memories have slowly been returning, can recall. She remembers Vandal having the staff even back then, suggesting it may be the key to his demise.
Unfortunately, some matters complicate their plan to fight Vandal. Kendra is still having trouble controlling her powers, even with Carter’s training, and, more importantly, Oliver’s head isn’t quite in the game. While the others make plans for killing Savage, Oliver visits Samantha at her home and grabs a strand of her possible-son’s hair. He then has Barry run some lab tests on the strand against a DNA sample claiming it to be about Damien Darhk. But Oliver’s current Big Bad has little to do with the true results of the test. It proves Oliver is a father, and so he immediately returns to Samantha to discuss the revelation.
Confronted with telling the truth, Samantha reveals the check Moira cut for her to keep the child a secret, but she never cashed it. She wanted her son to have nothing to do with the Queen way of life, but Ollie feels entitled to some opportunity to get to know his son. Samantha wants her son, William, to have a life of his own, though, and if Oliver were to ever be involved, he’d want him to keep their son a secret from everyone in his life.
This secrecy proves difficult, however, when Felicity finds out by confronting Barry about the DNA test. She’s tested Ollie’s DNA enough to recognize it, even when Barry can’t, and so she confronts Oliver back at the farmhouse. She’s not angry because he has a kid — she is upset because he wasn’t going to tell her. Amell is great in his pleading to Samantha, but he absolutely nails Oliver’s pained emotion in his discussion with Felicity. He explains he wanted at least a bit of time to process this revelation on his own, but Felicity sees it as a sign that he doesn’t trust her and never truly will. She can’t be with someone in that case and appears to break things off for good.
Oliver returns to the group to plan the confrontation with Savage, but in his distraught state, he denies most of the team a chance to help. So both Hawks, man and girl, arrive in handcuffs to the Savage meeting alongside Barry and Oliver. They lure Vandal into a false sense of security, freeing Carter and Kendra, the latter of whom is unable to channel her powers in combat.
And the fight only worsens from there. Barry and Oliver get ahold of Vandal’s staff, but the magnetized gloves Cisco designed can’t protect him from the staff’s power. Oliver tells Barry to save himself, uttering maybe the most meaningful “Run, Barry, run” since the first one. Vandal gets a hold of the staff again as it knocks them both out, but Barry runs, runs, runs away as Savage unleashes a massive wave that destroys everything. Yes, even Oliver and the rest of Teams Arrow and Flash. Everyone but Barry dies, exploding into dust and leaving the Flash with only one option to save his friends: time travel.
NEXT: Flarrow vs. Savage — Round 2
While running away, Barry sees his past self and travels back in time to the meeting with Savage, Oliver, and Malcolm. He reveals to Barry after the meeting that he’s time traveled and that everything ends in one big boom. Barry is afraid to mess with time, but Oliver wants to take the second chance while they have it.
The first thing to change? Oliver’s mindset. Barry reveals to him the hair sample test, the fight with Felicity, and the paternity revelation. Then Oliver goes about fixing the Kendra problem. He talks to Cisco about reaching Kendra because there’s no one better to help her accept herself than the guy who’s clearly in love with her.
Cisco takes charge, pushing Carter away from Kendra to convince her not to focus on the warrior side of her past, but the priestess — the healing side of it all. Channeling the good-natured part of her heart allows her to access her memories of her and Carter’s first death.
Their death, at the hands of Vandal who discovers them in bed together, coincided with a massive meteor show that destroyed the building they were in, crushing all three of them. (Carter has never been able to remember their first death.) But, on a hunch thanks to Felicity’s history knowledge, they determine Vandal’s staff was imbued with the same minerals as the falling meteors. Barry steals a bit of the mineral to use in Cisco’s gloves so that the staff can be controlled.
And now that the gloves work and Kendra has accepted her past, Oliver has one final change to make — he invites the whole team along for the ride. The fight initially plays out just as it did, until Thea, Diggle, and Laurel come in to join the fray and Kendra soars into battle with her wings. The attacks from every side allow Barry and Oliver to grab the staff, and this time, the gloves prevent it from knocking Barry back. Oliver helps him once again and refuses to leave Barry alone in the fight. The two are able to zap Savage to dust, the staff disappearing from their hands and, more importantly, saving the lives of the entire team and their respective cities.
Savage may be gone, but their lives won’t return to how they once were. Kendra is going off with Carter to help people, to give her life a purpose. That means leaving Cisco, and so she speaks to him privately to give him “the talk.” Although Cisco appears initially angered that Kendra doesn’t even seem to like him, he can’t help but laugh about a 4,000-year-old relationship ending his own. (ASIDE: Yes, Stephen Amell is fantastic in the episode, but if the crossover belongs to anyone, it is Valdes. He lands every hilarious line as he normally does and imbues Cisco with so much heart during the two-parter. END ASIDE)
So while Cisco loses her (aside from the GPS locator he gives her as a way for him to help if she ever needs it), Oliver has to decide how not to lose Felicity in this timeline. Barry confronts him about it, telling him that, as someone who grew up without his own father in his life, William deserves to have him around if Oliver can be. And after a bro-tastic hug — Amell and Gustin’s onscreen chemistry makes it disappointing they don’t share the screen more often — Oliver decides to confront the new facet of his life.
He returns to Samantha and promises to keep William a secret from everyone, even Felicity, so that he can be with him. He introduces himself to William as a friend of his mom’s, and don’t fear if your room also becomes suddenly dusty as Ollie plays with his son. It’s a beautiful and earned moment for the character that Amell once again lands, but, staying true to his word, he hides William from Felicity for now. There’s little doubt it will pop up again, but for now Olicity remains intact and, unlike in another timeline, alive.
Vandal Savage, however, may have not bitten the dust. Malcolm appears at the scene of his death, scooping his ashes into a container. “You owe me one, buddy,” he says, suggesting this savage threat is far from over. But that’s a problem for tomorrow.
What did you think of the conclusion to the crossover and the two-part event as a whole. Let me know in the comments and on Twitter @jmdornbush.