Wednesday, December 2, 2015

The Flash Season 2, Episode 8: Legends Of Today

This week on The Flash we get our annual Flash/Arrow Crossover Event. We also get yet another episode that sets up The CW's upcoming series Legends Of Tomorrow. I have to admit after seeing a trailer for the series, it looks amazing, but Jesus! Enough with the setups already!

Don't get me wrong, I love the fact that these shows all share the same wacky universe. And there's nothing wrong with the occasional reference to another show or nod to a character. After all, Marvel Studios has built quite an impressive empire doing just that. But sidelining a show's main storyline just to set up another series feels cheap, crass and unnecessary. And so far The Flash has devoted at least four episodes to setting up Legends just this season!

It reminds me of those clumsy "backdoor pilots" that ran rampant on TV in the 1960s and 1970s. Like when The Brady Bunch focused an entire episode on their neighbors the Kelly Kids, in a transparent (and futile) effort to jumpstart a new series.

This setup episode wasn't quite as blatant as some of the others have been, but I'll be very glad when Legends Of Tomorrow finally premieres so The Flash can get back to dealing with the trials and tribulations of its own characters.

SPOILERS!

The Plot:
Caitlin and Harry worry that Barry's speed isn't increasing despite his heavy training. Harry warns that Zoom is at least four times faster than Barry. Caitlin and Harry then work on a way to increase Barry's speed.

Meanwhile Vandal Savage arrives in custody in Central City. He easily kills his captors with his awesome knife-throwing skills and escapes. Kendra invites Cisco to Jitters for an after hours (I guess?) dinner. Savage breaks in, addresses Kendra as Priestess Shayera and says he's there to kill her. Luckily Cisco's faster at texting than I am, and alerts Barry, who zooms in and saves them. Savage gets away.

Barry brings Kendra to STAR Labs to protect her, because why not let yet another person know his secret identity? Somehow Barry knows there's something mystical about Savage, and they'll need help dealing with him. For some reason he believes the best person to help is his pal Arrow, who has absolutely no superpowers whatsoever. He rushes to Star City and saves Arrow from Damien Darhk. Barry, the STAR Labs Gang and Kendra all meet in Oliver's Arrow Cave (or whatever he calls it). Computer whiz Felicity Smoak looks up Vandal Savage's Facebook page and discovers he hasn't aged since at least 1975.

Oliver invites Team Flash to his apartment for drinks. Savage shows up and attacks them. He easily deflects most of Oliver's arrows, but Speedy gets off a lucky shot and knocks him off the balcony. Of course when they all run over to look at the street far below, Savage is gone. Malcolm Merlyn and his League of Assassins then appear (!) to deliver some exposition, telling them all that Vandal Savage is an evil immortal.

Kendra freaks out at this (a guy who can run at Mach 2 doesn't bother her, but a man who lives forever apparently does) and runs out onto the street. Cisco chases after her and sees Hawkman swoop down and capture her. Flash and Arrow manage to subdue Hawkman and chain him up. He tells them his name is Carter Hall, but he's really the reincarnation of Prince Khufu of Egypt. He says Kendra is the reincarnation of Priestess Shayera, also of Egypt. Savage has killed them 206 times, and Hawkman says he needs Kendra/Shayera's help to prevent a 207th. He also says that every time Savage kills the two of them, he gets stronger.

Hawkman tells Kendra she has to "emerge" and remember her true identity of Shayera. To do this she needs to leap off the top of a tall building, which will activate her submerged, true self. She does so, and at the last minute her wings emerge from her body and she begins flying around Star City.

Back at STAR Labs, Caitlin and Harry come up with a formula they dub Velocity-6, which will temporarily give Barry extra speed. Patty Spivot waltzes into the lab unannounced and sees Harry. Thinking he's the Earth-1 Harrison Wells, she shoots him in the chest! Yikes! Jay Garrick just happens to show up right about then, and Caitlin tells him he needs to take the Velocity-6 to regain his super speed, or Harry will die. Jay reluctantly does so, and vibrates his hand into Harry's chest to remove the bullet. He then growls to Caitlin that he's never taking the drug again and leaves. This guy's supposed to be a hero?

Meanwhile, Barry and Ollie go back to Central City to keep Vandal Savage from stealing the Staff of Horus, which for some reason is located inside a massive cathedral. They arrive too late, as Savage already has the staff. They battle him for a while before Savage causes a massive explosion and gets away.

Back at Jitters, Barry and Oliver chat. A young boy (holding a Flash action figure!) bumps into Ollie, and runs to his mother. Oliver recognizes the woman-- he had an affair with her years ago, and realizes the boy is most likely his son.

Thoughts:
• According to Barry's cosmic treadmill, his top speed is currently 1,375 mph. Caitlin says the fastest he's ever run was Mach 2, when he went back in time last season.

This brings up an overlooked problem with the depiction of superspeed on this show. 1,375 mph doesn't seem like it would be fast enough for Barry to be able to pluck speeding bullets and arrows out of the air as if they were standing still.

Plus we current have airplanes that fly Mach 2 and beyond, and they don't travel backwards in time.

• Harry's says Zoom is three to four times faster than Barry. I'm not quite sure how he knows this, but there you go. Maybe he aimed a radar gun at him back on Earth-2.

• On a date with Cisco, Kendra unlocks the door of Jitters, where she's cooked up a private meal for just the two of them. 

Either Jitters is only open 9 to 5, or they're eating dinner after the place closes at 11pm. Something tells me the producers didn't want to build an apartment set that'd only be used one time.

• Inside Jitters, the Flash appears and saves Cisco and Kendra from Vandal Savage. A grateful Cisco then blurts out Barry's name in front of Kendra. There's yet ANOTHER person who knows his true identity. I honestly don't know why he even bothers with the mask at this point.

• Vandal Savage is played by actor Casper Crump. Now THAT'S a comic book name if ever I heard one. Just like Peter Parker or Bruce Banner.

• There seems to be great confusion as to how to spell "Shayera." I've seen various websites spell it "Shayera" as well as "Shiera." The closed captioning on my TV even spelled it "Chay-ara!" I'm sticking with Shayera.

• Barry decides that Team Arrow would be the perfect choice to protect Kendra from the mystically-powered Vandal Savage. I have no idea why he'd think that, other than as an excuse for a crossover. Nobody on Team Arrow has superpowers, mystical or otherwise.

Barry makes an excuse that Ollie and his gang have experience with mystic forces, but it's pretty weak. It would have made more sense if Team Arrow had been the ones to bring Kendra to Central City, where superheroes run rampant.

• When we first see Arrow, he's busy having his life drained by his nemesis Damien Darhk. Fortunately for him, Barry arrives in the nick of time and zooms Ollie to safety.

So if Barry hadn't arbitrarily decided he needed Arrow's help, Darhk apparently would have killed him!

And really, Darhk? Is that extra "H" supposed to make him sound more evil or something (Sorry, I haven't been watching Arrow)?

• Felicity invents a magnetic arrow for Arrow, that can rip the gun from an opponent's hands. Now that's a powerful magnet!

• Barry's dressed as the Flash when the two teams first meet in the Arrow Cave. Felicity suggests they all go to Oliver's apartment to talk shop. Cut to Ollie's place, and suddenly Barry's wearing street clothes!

Um... where'd he get the extra set of duds? They fit perfectly, so I doubt he borrowed them from Oliver. Was he wearing a blazer under his Flash costume? Maybe he ran home to Central City in three seconds, changed and ran back!

• Caitlin and Harry invent Velocity-6, a drug that will temporarily boost a speedster's power. Harry mentions that he's tried to come up with a speed-boosting compound before. I guess he tried and failed five times?

• In addition to being a superhero and a CSI, Barry's also an accomplished artist. He whips out a very impressive sketch of Vandal Savage in no time flat.

• Patty saunters right into STAR Labs, sees Harry, and thinking he's the evil Earth-1 Harrison Wells, shoots him. Maybe if Joe would tell her what's going on once in a while, she might not go around shooting people from Earth-2.

As for her walking into STAR Labs unannounced, I could swear that during the season premiere Cisco said he'd upped the security so people could no longer wander into the lab off the street.

• No Iris this week. I guess The CW couldn't afford her paycheck this week, what with all the extra guest stars.

• This was another of those "stage episodes" I keep talking about. The ones where the numerous characters arrange themselves like they're actors on a stage.

• Hawkman and Hawkgirl are the reincarnated spirits of a couple of Egyptian superheroes, which aligns more or less with the comics.

The Hawks have the most convoluted and confusing histories in all of comic-dom. It would take several days and a hundred thousand words to properly explain it all, so I won't even try. 

Basically the Golden Age Hawkman and Hawkwoman were reincarnated Egyptians, just like here. The Silver Age versions were alien cops (!) who came to Earth to study our criminology methods.

Then sometime in the 1980s all hell broke loose, and DC tried to combine the two versions, and they've never been the same since.

• I'm waiting for the PC Police to complain that someone who calls himself Prince Khufu is being played by a white German man.

• So if Vandal Savage gets more powerful every time he kills the Hawks, do they get weaker?

• Hawkman tells Kendra she can awaken the dormant Hawkgirl spirit inside her by jumping off a building. Being a rational kind of gal, Kendra's reluctant to do so. Barry actually gives her one of The Flash's patented "Believe in yourself" speeches. Oy.

I could happily live the rest of my life without ever hearing those three words ever again.

• Barry and Ollie decide to go to Central City and stop Savage from getting the Headpiece to the Staff of Ra the Staff of Horus. They pause dramatically in front of a wall in the Arrow Cave, which opens to reveal their respective costumes.

Why does Barry have a Flash suit inside Arrow's headquarters? I suppose maybe he stashed it there during their little party earlier?

• After being shot by Patty, Harry is dying and not even Caitlin can save him. She finally has to literally bully Jay Garrick into taking the Velocity-6 potion so he can regain his super speed long enough to vibrate the bullet out of Harry.

I am not a fan of the way the series has treated Jay Garrick so far. I was excited when he first showed up, as I expected some fun super-speed competition between him and Barry. But the writers made the puzzling decision to de-power Jay, and as a result he's been reduced to little more than a cheap Earth-2 expository device, and a lukewarm love interest for Caitlin.

And to make things even worse, this episode paints him as a Grade A jerk! I get that he's not fond of Harry and doesn't trust him, but he's still a human being and he's dying. Jay should have to be coerced into saving him. Doesn't seem very heroic, does it?

Hopefully once the series gets all this Legends stuff out of its system, it can focus on salvaging Jay and turning him into a proper hero.

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