TV Review: Arrow – “Legends of Yesterday”

Arrow - "Legends of Yesterday"
Warning: this review contains spoilers. You can find my review of the first half of this crossover here, and my review of the previous Arrow episode here.
With the introductions out of the way, the second half of the Arrow/Flash crossover went straight to the action and delivered an incredibly fun hour of television. Look at the photo above: this is the only Justice League I need right now.
Vandal SavageIn my review of "Legends of Today", I mentioned that Vandal Savage was a cool villain who nevertheless did not manage to make enough of an impact for me to buy him as a threat worthy of his own show. "Legends of Yesterday" changed that entirely. Savage gave a great display of power in his fight scenes. Oh, and he also killed everyone. That’s right. He stabbed Hawkman and Hawkgirl and incinerated Ollie and all of Team Arrow and Team Flash. I’m not even kidding, everyone died.
Well, Barry traveled back in time and saved the day, of course, so there’s that. I know many would rush to call time travel a cheap cop-out, but I actually disagree. In my opinion, time travel can only be a cop-out when it’s used to undo or retcon past events that weren’t intended to be overwritten. "Legends of Yesterday", however, organically used time travel as a narrative device within the scope of this one episode, and it worked because it served the story.
The plot necessitated the defeat of Vandal Savage, but it would have been hard to take him seriously in Legends of Tomorrow if Flash and Green Arrow were able to beat him in one or two episodes. Time travel provided the best of both worlds: it allowed him to be defeated, but not before we got the haunting image of all of our heroes burned to crisps as an entire city was eviscerated by this powerful madman. He was so dangerous that our heroes weren’t able to win unless they traveled back in time, which is funny because that’s exactly the premise of Legends of Tomorrow.
In other news, we finally got a payoff for the long-gestating "Oliver has a son!" story. I was so happy to get some development on that front at last—and even happier that the time travel didn’t undo any of it—especially since it didn’t feel unrelated to the rest of what was going on (unlike the Wells side-plot on The Flash). The best part was that it allowed Stephen Amell to showcase some seriously good acting. The scene with him and William bonding over action figures was really touching.
Green ArrowI loved almost everything about this subplot except for one major issue: lying to Felicity. I do understand why Samantha wanted to keep Oliver away, but I just can’t fathom why she’d ask him to keep it a secret from Felicity, or why he agreed. Even after time-traveling Barry warned him about lying to her, he still did. It worries me that the writers are trying to manufacture some trouble in Olicity paradise. The romantic back and forth between Oliver and Felicity was one of the weaker elements of Season 3, whereas Season 4 has really benefited from having them as a united front. Of course, there are ways to pull off the requisite repercussions without making it look like unnecessary drama, and I hope the writers pull it off.
The flashback sequences to ancient Egypt were hit and miss. On one hand, their very existence was really cool, especially on Arrow, a show that only 3 years ago wanted to be grounded and realistic. Plus, between the shots of the city and the meteor strikes, they were pretty well-produced. On the other hand, they did feel kind of goofy at times, and the chemistry between Hawkman and Hawkgirl (excuse me, Khufu and Shayera) wasn’t that strong. But who knows, maybe Legends of Tomorrow won’t have them be a couple after all.
Overall, I thought this crossover was well worth the hype, with the Arrow half getting the edge. If this yearly tradition continues to deliver this much dazzling spectacle and comic book goodness, I look forward to what next season brings.

Rating: 4.5/5 (Excellent)

Notes and Observations

  • OK I did not expect an Avengers: Age of Ultron reference in an episode of Arrow, but I loved it. "A bunch of superheroes in a farm house? I feel like I’ve seen that in a movie before."
  • So wait, there’s an in-universe action figure of Captain Cold? Way to glorify criminals, Central City! You know what, I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt—maybe it’s a custom figure.
  • "Oh I get it, you shoot arrows, you give love tips, it’s like you’re cupid or something." Cisco, always with the best lines.
  • "Knowing the future might change the past which might change the future!" "… What?" "My head hurts." Oh how I love time travel.
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