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THE FLASH Review: “Legends of Today”

Just imagine! The mightiest heroes of our time have banded together… Except, with all due respect to the famous DC house ad, we no longer have to imagine. Because, to quote Jor-El, this is no fantasy. What was once relegated to comics, what was once the playground stuff of children, has really and truly finally come to blazing life on screen. Without camp. Without grimdark. Just honest-to-God superheroes and supervillains. Green Arrow, the Flash, Hawkman, and Hawkgirl in one TV episode. To say nothing of Vibe, Speedy, Malcolm Merlyn, and Vandal Savage. One became two, two became three, and we all know three’s a crowd. Tell me people, do we have a Justice League here? Because I’m pretty damn sure WE HAVE A JUSTICE LEAGUE HERE!

Okay, deep breath. I mustn’t lose control yet. Because “Legends of Today” is, after all, the first part of a two-part story; the second part of which (“Legends of Yesterday”) is this week’s episode of Arrow. So who knows, maybe it could all turn to crap. But you know what? I don’t care if it all turns to crap. Because I just saw Carter and Shiera Hall take to the sky, while Oliver Queen and Barry Allen did battle with arguably the biggest bad in DC’s history. And right now I’m feeling the kind of giddy where it no longer matters to me what happens next. The same magic and wonderment that sparked the imaginations of generations of comic book readers has been set loose upon the world, and from this point on there will be no containing it.

As far as comparisons to last year’s Flarrow crossover go… November 2015’s episodes, as excellent as they were (and they were, of course, two separate stories), in hindsight, had a feeling of cautiousness, of dipping one’s toe in the water to see if one’s really meant to swim there. Their examination of Oliver and Barry’s differing philosophies was welcome and needed. But this year’s look at their faiths in science and mysticism (mirrored by those of Wells and Jay) is next level stuff. Now, as Barry points out, when someone can travel through time and then fight a telepathic gorilla, well, things are happening too fast for this world to slam on the brakes. The train has left the station and there’s no going back. Holy crap am I mixing metaphors. You see what “Legends of Today” has done to me?

Negatives? Well, I’m a little uncertain about Ciara Renee’s acting. Her reading of the line “If what they’re saying is true, my whole life has changed. I am so not ready” makes her sound like she’s considering a new color of hair dye instead of, y’know, getting in touch with hundreds of past lives. But I’m willing to give the Powers That Be the benefit of the doubt, and assume that this is Kendra Saunders, the girl from Wisconsin with limited life experience talking, and not Shiera, the woman she was and will become again when Legends of Tomorrow debuts next year. For his part, Falk Hentschel makes for a pretty charismatic Hawkman. While Casper Crump is far more wicked a Vandal Savage than we could hope for from someone with the name Casper Crump. (For the record, the character first appeared in December 1944’s Green Lantern #10, written by famed science-fiction scribe Alfred Bester and illustrated by Green Lantern co-creator Martin Nodell).

There’s just so many great little moments in this week’s Flash — and I’m hesitant to even call it that, because it’s really episode 0 of the upcoming spinoff show — that even the bits that normally irk, like Malcolm walking out of the shadows of every room he’s in, are turned into great moments by a writing staff that has grown so confident in their storytelling abilities that they’re unafraid of making fun of it. Rather, they are embracing the inherent silliness that often walks hand in hand with the thrills of the superhero genre. It’s a lesson Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice apparently still hasn’t learned. And even Mighty Marvel, with its Age of Utron didn’t present so winning a group of characters. Barry, Cisco, Oliver, Felicity, Thea.. these folks appear to genuinely like each other. Thanks to the fact that the casts have had countless hours to live in their characters’ skins, they’ve become pros at making us like them too. Just compare this episode’s party scene with that in the second Avengers film, and the difference becomes clear. And, yes, Vandal makes a much better entrance than Ultron.

Flash Arrow

Accelerated Particles

  • “Who taught you that? Houdini?” “Actually I taught him.”
  • “Kendra’s not going anywhere with you, Highlander.”
  • “I totally forgot this was an open line. Keep doing what you’re doing. Make smart decisions.”
  • “It’s the Flash. Did I know we knew the Flash?”
  • “I just saved you guys from whatever the hell Flock of Seagulls was…”
  • Honestly, I could quote lines from this episode all day.
  • Okay, another minor nit… I can forgive Cisco for revealing Barry’s identity to Kendra. But do we know why Oliver had to reveal his to her? Did I miss something there?
  • With all the action and humor in this episode, it finds time to give us a science lesson with Caitlin, Wells, and Jay, and in so doing advance the Zoom storyline.
  • It’s a joy to watch Oliver and Barry’s relationship evolve to the point where the latter can finally admit to his friend, without fear, that he was wrong. Amell and Gustin’s chemistry really anchors these crossovers.
  • Hawkgirl already has as good a theme song as Oliver or Barry.
  • Oh yes, Oliver has a son. But this has bigger implications for Arrow than Flash, so I’ll let my colleague Sydney Bucksbaum get into it in her Arrow recaps.
  • Oh, okay, one more quote for the road… “We’ll be fine. Kiss her.”

Next week: It’s the midseason finale, “Running to Stand Still”, directed by action maestro Kevin Tancharoen. Expect greatness.

What did you think of this week’s episode? Let me know in the comments below or on Twitter (@JMaCabre).


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