‘The Flash’ Post-Show Analysis: Season 2, Episode 8: ‘Legends of Today’
Welcome back to Up To Speed, in which Flash TV show veteran Dylan Todd and newbie Ziah Grace break down the latest episode of The Flash, dispense some Flash Facts, and talk about what works, what doesn’t, and where the series might be headed.
This week, Savage beatings are handed out, Kendra Saunders is looking for a complication and learning to fly, and the STARios take a trip to Central City to visit the Big Arrow. ""Legends of Today" was directed by Ralph Hemecker and written by Aaron Helbing, Todd Helbing, Greg Berlanti, and Andrew Kreisberg.
Ziah: Well, it’s the holiday season, that time of year when we all spend time with people we don’t see all that often, and Flash is celebrating that with a two-part crossover with Arrow.
Now, I don’t watch Arrow, but I have to say, this crossover bit did a great job of making me want to. The cast had great chemistry with the STARios, and whoever that villain in the beginning was, he was delightful. Also of note, Felicity’s clearly the Cisco of the show: the best lines, the most fun to watch, A+ there. So, before we get into it, how’d you feel about the tonal crossover? I’ve heard that Arrow’s a bit darker, but this felt like pretty light fare. How was watching The Flarrow/The Rash, having seen both shows?
Dylan: Beyond the crossover episodes last season, I have only been watching Arrow regularly this season, but on average, it’s the grimmer of the two series. That’s changed this last season, as it feels like they’ve seen that a lighter touch has been working for The Flash and tried to do the same in their own doofy way.
The villain from the first Arrow scene is Damien Darhk, played with typical aplomb by Neal McDonough. (You might recognize him as Dum Dum Dugan from Captain America: the First Avenger and an reprisal of that same role in the first season of Agent Carter.) Here, he’s basically playing the same character he did in the third season of Justified, which is to say a charismatic-yet-slimy crime boss, only --- oh yeah --- he has soul-sucking powers or something. He’s a treat.
Ziah: I really just love any character actor that’s just delighted by what’s happening around them, especially in goofy superhero stuff. His happy confusion at Flash saving Green, Red, and Black Arrow (two more and we get a super sentai show) from harm was amazing.
Jumping from best to worst, Dylan, how do you feel about Hawkman? Because, brother, let me tell you: Hawkman is the worst. I hate his whole gimmick, the whole agressive C-List Guy Gardner impression, his reincarnated space alien gimmick, all of it. Hawkgirl’s great any time DC has her in a show (Justice League, Justice League: Unlimited) but I just could not care less about Hawkman. What about you, Dylan?
Dylan: Hawkman is pretty great, Ziah! I mean, he’s a birdman who smashes crime’s face in with a friggin’ mace! That’s his whole deal, be he reincarnated Egyptian prince or space cop or whatever. I’m not seeing a downside here. Admittedly, why you need Hawkman when Hawkgirl is in the picture is beyond me, but still: has wings, smashes evil. That’s a winning formula.
Ziah: Man, I guess in theory he’s great, but his interaction with literally anyone else just always bothered me. Plus his constant characterization as just a dude who’s super convinced that bird people need to only marry other bird people. He’s like the racist uncle you see at Thanksgiving who talks about how much he can lift.
And speaking of. I cannot believe, even in a show that last week had a telepathic gorilla, that they’re going full-bore into the immortal Vandal Savage and reincarnated Egyptian royalty stuff. I feel like we say this every week, but that this is a show that millions are watching is crazy to me. I feel like we jumped the point where the showrunners would’ve stopped to wonder how regular people would react to this show ages ago, and I love it.
Dylan: This episode was just so stupidly amazing in every way. From Vandal Savage’s introduction on the dock where he straight up David Blane’s the sea captain and then throws knives at everybody to the super-goofy Hawkperson subplot to John Barrowman’s Malcolm Merlyn (Ziah! That is his name! Malcolm! Merlyn! With a “Y”!) and his League of Assassins just popping out of every corner to say, “Nope.”
Ziah: Vandal Savage as dirtbag street magician is the greatest thing I’ve ever seen, but a cult of ninjas slowly walking out of the shadows to be naysayers like a goth Greek Chorus might be #2.
Dylan: If I’m being honest, the security guard setting him up with, “Where’d you learn that trick? Houdini?” was a bit much, but as this whole episode was a bit much, it worked just fine when Savage shot back with, “Umactually, I taught it to him.”
Also, let’s take a minute to appreciate Vandal Savage’s Murder Coat.
Ziah: Vandal Savage’s Murder Coat is the name of my punk band.
Dylan: I liked your older stuff better. Before you sold out.
Ziah: Hah! Take it to the comments, Dylan. The writing on this episode was exactly the kind of writing I love to see on Flash; goofy, somewhat self-aware without being obnoxious, and packed with jokes and characters hanging out and chatting. The drinking party in Oliver’s pad was definitely the highpoint, but I dug all the little details and sniping between the characters.
Dylan: Yeah, that scene, combined with the Savage fight after that, was definitely the high point in an episode with a surprising amount of high points. Cisco telling Speedy that she was just jealous cuz his “conditioner game is on fleek,” or whatever, was pretty much everything you need from a TV show.
Ziah: It’s either that or Vandal Savage sarcastically saying “dude” that wins my Line of the Week, yeah. Sidenote: “Speedy” is a really weird name for a superhero that shoots a bow and arrow who hangs out with a literal speedster.
Dylan: Just wait until they introduce Barry’s sidekick, Marksman, next season. All that aside, I am very ready for the Legends of Tomorrow to face off against a Highlander caveman with a coat full of stabbing stuff. Like, I was already ready for it so we could finally get back to the regular season storyline instead of continually setting up Legends, but now I’m fully psyched for that show as well. My psychometer readings are off the charts.
Ziah: Yeah, if LoT gets even a quarter as fun and doofy as this episode, it’s going to be a wild ride. I just hope a character says “Today… is the day to become the legends of tomorrow.”
But on the other hand, the CGI on those Hawkpeople is pretty rough, huh? I usually try not to complain about bad CGI in shows like this, because they’re dealing with a budget, and just the fact that they’re trying is usually enough, but this is definitely the first time in watching this that I was distracted by it.
Dylan: I can see what you mean, but it didn’t bother me all that much. Then again, I just watched CBS try and do Red Tornado within the last 24 hours, so I’m broken when it comes to griping about this stuff. I’m keeping Zen about it, y’know? It is what it is, man.
Speaking of things that are what they are, how about when Flash and Green Arrow are trying to get Hawkman down and Ollie is all, “We have to get his wings! I have a plan!” and his plan is just shooting lots and lots of arrows at him until he falls? I love it.
Ziah: Amazing. I love that Flash has tornado powers and lightning punches, and Arrow’s new trick to show off in front of Barry is just… just shooting those arrows. Just shooting them real good.
Dylan: Dude has to commit to his gimmick.
Ziah: So, reminding us that this is an episode of the Flash, we’ve got a subplot where Twells and Caitlin are working on a temporary speed booster until Patty shoots Twells through the heart, and she’s to blame.
It seemed a little weird that Jay was so gung-ho against science in a show where almost everyone is a scientist, especially because I don’t remember anyone mentioning the Speed Force as a living thing. Speaking of, what’re your thoughts on that concept? I never really cared for it, since “guy who runs fast” didn’t really need a psuedo-mystical connotation to me.
Dylan: The Speed Force is fine, I guess. I mean, I also regularly enjoy stories about guys in bathrobes with laserswords who harness the hippy-dippy Force That Surrounds Us, so I’m not gonna throw rocks. That it’s something that you can inject is a little suspect, but whatever. I gave up in trying to make this show make sense scientifically when Barry got his run-run powers from a magic lightning bolt. If it helps to call it The Speed Force, more power to you.
Oh! So also, Kendra now knows that Barry is the Flash. Like, it would be hilarious how many people know his identity if it didn’t mean that we had to keep gaslighting his crushes rather than letting them in on his secret.
Joe dismissing Patty was some dirty pool. Just tell her about Earth-2, man. She’s already seen a totally jawsome Street Shark and a killa gorilla roaming around the city. Being confronted with the existence of alternate realities is not gonna shake her up that much. Am I being unreasonable here?
Ziah: Oh man, I can’t believe he gave her Disappointed Dad face when he’s been lying to her for literal months.
Dylan: I love Joe but he is also the worst when it comes to ladies. Also, Patty Spivot will shoot a b---- like for reals.
Ziah: Patty continues to basically star in Gotham Central nestled into The Flash every week, and it’s great. I do love that Cisco’s so used to calling him “Barry” that if Cisco had more friends or ladies to date, the whole city would know him.
Dylan: Thank goodness the only other lady he’s shown interest in turned out to be evil and also already knows Barry is the Flash cuz he would totally whip that out to impress a lady on a date before also showing off his collection of “funny” t-shirts.
Ziah: So anyway, Jay saves Twells and reminds him not to inject Barry with speed steroids, which on the surface seems like good advice. “Don’t take drugs” is good advice from anyone, even a guy really into heavy water, but is it doing drugs if they’re science drugs you use to stop an evil supervillain from another dimension who crippled you until you got better?
Dylan: That is the worst Buddhist koan ever, Ziah. But seriously, we know Twells is gonna try and get Barry to use it at some point. He made up a professional-looking label for the beaker with the serum and everything. It’s Chekov’s Beaker at this point.
Ziah: Umactually, Vandal Savage told Chekov about how to structure stories.
Dylan: Ha! Also, Twells is still a delight, from his, “Barry sucks at running because he eats trash food,” to him being all, “Whatever, nerd,” when Jay “The Drip” Garrick won’t just be cool and shoot up some literal speed. I want Mean Science Dad around forever and ever.
Ziah: I love that he said, “We’re not doing well” to “You’re doing good” as soon as Barry could hear him. Mean But Fair Science Dad is here to stay, and it’s amazing.
Dylan: Ziah, we talked about Hawkman as a concept before, but let’s talk about this Hawkman in particular, the former Carter Hall who likes to show up, hawk ladies away, and then throw them off buildings.
Ziah: AKA every Hawkman ever. Again, this is why I dislike a Hawkman where anyone responds to him with anything other than mockery. He’s a jerk! A jerk with very little to offer a bunch of superheroes that kind of knew what they were doing before he showed up. I will say that Carter Hall pushing Kendra off a building with a shrug was pretty hysterical though.
Dylan: AIso loved him waking up all chained up, but that made me go, “Wait, so why does Green Arrow have yards of chains laying around his lair again?” Stuff gets real weird in Star City, apparently.
Ziah: He’s a chain-ged man these days.
Dylan: Aaaaand here come the puns. Dammit.
Ziah: I had to build sus-pun-se.
Dylan: Well, this is a good a place as any to end before somebody gets hurt. Next week, in the mid-season finale, it’s a big ol’ Rogue showdown with Weather Wizard breaking Captain Cold and The Trickster out of Iron Heights just in time for the holidays! Also, Wally West! Meanwhile, tonight...