‘Arrow’ 4.08 Recap: “My World Is Stranger Than Yours”

This week’s big ‘Heroes Join Forces’ crossover event, which began on Tuesday with ‘The Flash’, concluded Wednesday on ‘Arrow’. Will a fan of the former who doesn’t normally watch the latter be able to keep up?

That shouldn’t be too much of a problem. Although the ‘Arrow’ episode puts some focus on ‘Arrow’ specific characters and storylines that a ‘Flash’ viewer may not care about, they’re pretty easy to follow if you’ve seen the first half of the crossover. I’d be more concerned for an ‘Arrow’ fan who hadn’t watched this week’s ‘Flash’ episode, because the second part jumps right into the middle of some crazy nonsense that will make no sense without context.

Walk Like an Egytpian

In addition to linking these two shows, the two-parter also has to serve as a backdoor pilot for the upcoming ‘Legends of Tomorrow’ spinoff. The opening scene starts right off with that by flashing back to ancient Egypt to show us the first lives of newbie characters Carter Hall and Kendra Saunders (a.k.a. Hawkman and Hawkgirl). Prince Khufu is the son of the great Pharaoh Ramses, while his secret girlfriend Chay-Ara is the High Priestess. (Wearing a costume that puts her rack very prominently on display, I suddenly get why actress Ciara Renée landed the role. Yowzah!) The villain Vandal Savage is also there. If he has a fancy Egyptian name, it isn’t mentioned. I’m also not sure what his role is supposed to be. High Priest, maybe? But then what’s the point of Chay-Ara?

Anyway, the country is being plagued by a bombardment of “sky rocks” (meterorites) that they believe are caused by the displeasure of the god Horus. Vandal Savage catches Khufu and Chay-Ara knocking boots and tries to blackmail them because he wants Chay-Ara for himself. This leads to a big fight in which Vandal Savage mortally stabs both the others before a big meteorite plummets down on top of them all. Some magic spells are uttered that will make him immortal and allow the other two to be reincarnated over and over again.

Oy. Got all that?

Eternal Flame

Hey, isn’t the Arrow supposed to be the star of his own show? After that long prologue, we finally return to the present day. Having gotten their asses handed to them by Vandal Savage, Oliver and Barry along with all their friends take refuge in a big house out in the country in order to regroup and formulate a new game plan. I guess the place is owned by Oliver’s family.

Carter gives Kendra her goofy Hawkgirl helmet and suit and begins training her how to fight – or, more accurately, reminding her how to fight. He says that when her memories start coming back, so will all her skills. He emphasizes that she was a warrior priestess, and wants her to embrace the rage inside her. She has trouble with that. Carter is kind of a chauvinist dick, but I suppose that follows from him being 4,000 years old.

Oliver seems distracted. He takes off on an “errand” and won’t tell Felicity what he’s doing. That’s because he meets up with his old girlfriend to find out if he’s the father of her young son William. She insists that he isn’t, but Oliver snags a stray hair from the boy’s head for DNA testing anyway.

Malcolm Merlyn (John Barrowman) sets up a meeting between Barry, Oliver and Vandal Savage to negotiate a cease-fire. On the way there, Barry sees a ghost echo of himself running beside himself, and realizes this means that he’s going to time travel again.

Vandal Savage isn’t much of a negotiator. He demands that they turn over Khufu and Chay-Ara to him. He needs to sacrifice them to the gods to remain immortal. He lays down the ultimatum that if he doesn’t get them in 24 hours, he’ll destroy both Central City and Star City. (‘Arrow’ fans, when did “Starling City” become “Star City”?) Barry and Oliver flatly refuse, but Malcolm is worried about his daughter’s safety (I take it that she’s a member of Team Arrow?) and asks them to consider whether two lives are really worth two cities.

In researching Vandal Savage, one of Arrow’s team digs up an old Betamax tape from the 1970s on which a conspiracy theorist nutjob speculates that the only way to kill him is to use the Staff of Horus – which is currently in Savage’s possession.

Barry runs the DNA test for Oliver and determines that the boy is indeed his son. Oliver confronts his old girlfriend again. She claims that his mother paid her off to lie about having suffered a miscarriage. She’ll allow Oliver to be part of the boy’s life, on the condition that he not tell anybody about the boy, not even his current girlfriend. Unfortunately, Felicity can sense that something is up with Oliver and pesters Barry into showing her the DNA test. Pissed at Oliver for lying to her, she has a big argument with him that suggests they’ve broken up.

Hero Takes a Fall

Oliver tries to put the baby mama drama and the fight with Felicity out of his mind while he focuses on devising a plan to snatch the Staff of Horus away from Vandal Savage. Cisco builds some fancy “gauntlet” things (basically gloves) that will allow them to hold the magic staff. Trying to minimize the number of people he’ll put in danger, Oliver orders most of Team Arrow to stay put. Only he, Barry and the two hawkpeople will confront Vandal Savage.

The plan goes disastrously wrong. Barry grabs the staff from out of Savage’s hands, but the gauntlets don’t work right and he has trouble holding it. Kendra fails to activate her powers, and Oliver is still half-distracted. Vandal Savage gets the staff back and uses it to set off a massive explosion that kills everyone (except Barry, who’s able to outrun it) and destroys the entire city.

While running, Barry breaks the time barrier and returns back a day to the ultimatum meeting with Vandal Savage. Afterward, he tells Oliver about the time travel and about how Savage will kill them all. Oliver is actually excited to know this, because it means they’ll get a second chance to do things differently. “What can happen here that is worse than what already did?” he asks. Once you parse that sentense out, he does have a point.

This time, Cisco talks to Kendra and tells her that Carter is full of shit. He advises her to focus on the nurturing priestess part of her personality, not the warrior. This somehow allows her to unblock memories of her life in Egypt, which then lead to the revelation that the best way to beat Savage is to use gem stones from the meteorite. Fortunately, Barry is able to zip to the local museum and grab one lickety-split. This is the missing component that Cisco needed for his gauntlets.

Oliver avoids the argument with Felicity. He also realizes that he’ll need the entire team to join the battle against Savage, not just the few he brought last time.

The second attempt goes much better. The whole team works as a unit to fight the villain. Barry and Oliver grab the staff again and the gauntlets work. Together, they’re able to incinerate him to ash. Hooray! Victory!

Wait, isn’t Vandal Savage supposed to be a major character on ‘Legends of Tomorrow’? Huh.

The staff also vanishes after Vandal Savage dies. That’s weird.

I’ll Never Be Through with You

Despite the fact that Carter is a major douchebag, Kendra decides to go off with him to another city together so that they can help people and be the stars of a new television show. She lets Cisco down gently. Nice guy that he is, he gives her a pendant he’s made out of meteorite that has a special microchip in it. This may or may not come around again in the future.

Barry and Oliver have a heart-to-heart about Felicity and about Oliver’s son. They both agree to not let Felicity find out about the boy this time. Is that really the lesson they were supposed to take from this storyline?

In an epilogue, Malcolm Merlyn returns to the scene of the big fight and sweeps up Vandal Savage’s ashes, muttering the words to the spell that made him immortal. “You owe me one, buddy,” he says. Obviously, he plans to somehow resurrect the villain. How or why he would do that is a mystery to me, but perhaps I’d understand his character better if I watched ‘Arrow’?

Episode Verdict

Considering that this crossover event was nothing more than an excuse to introduce the hawkpeople characters so that ‘Legends of Tomorrow’ won’t need to waste time on their back story, this two-parter did what it needed to do about as well as could be expected. The storytelling is remarkably coherent considering how overstuffed both episodes are with plot, and the teamwork aspect of bringing all these characters together is handled well.

Nevertheless, the hawks are still inherently cheesy, and I feel like this whole thing was just a pointless distraction from more interesting things going on in ‘The Flash’. I also haven’t been convinced to start watching ‘Arrow’ more regularly.

The best part of the episode occurs near the end, when Oliver visits his son and finds the boy playing with Flash and Captain Cold action figures, and nary a Green Arrow toy in sight.

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