Cate Cameron/The CW
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December 02, 2015 at 01:29 AM EST

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

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After the success of Arrow, Barry Allen (a.k.a. The Flash) gets his own CW treatment in this comic-themed spin-off.
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