Even by superhero standards, ‘The Flash’ is exceptionally busy this week. Not only does the show cross over with ‘Arrow’ again, but also has to introduce a major new villain and set up next year’s ‘Legends of Tomorrow’ spinoff. It’s a good thing Barry Allen has super-speed or he’d never find time to squeeze all that into an hour.
Barry has a problem. He seems to have hit a limit to his speed and isn’t getting any faster no matter how hard he tries. At his current abilities, he’ll never match Zoom, who’s at least 3-4 times faster than he is. (Where the hell is Zoom, anyway? He disappeared a few weeks ago and we haven’t heard a peep from him since.)
At the city docks, a cargo ship pulls into port and the captain reports a stowaway. The freeloader mentions something about being on a hunt, but both the captain and the harbor cop think he’s babbling nonsense. Then the man slips out of his handcuffs and kills everybody around him. We’ll later learn that he’s knife-throwing magician assassin Vandal Savage. (I realize that this comes straight out of the comic, but that name is awfully on-the-nose even for this show. Why not just call him “Destructo Meanguy”?)
Cisco takes his new girlfriend Kendra out for the lamest date ever – they have dinner at the coffee shop Jitters where she works. Their evening is interrupted by Vandal Savage, who barges in and announces his intention to sacrifice “Priestess Chay-Ara.” Kendra has no idea what he’s talking about. Cisco covertly sends a distress signal to Barry, who rushes over to fight off the attacker, which he only barely manages to do. Greatly thankful for the rescue, Cisco mistakenly blurts out Barry’s real name right in front of Kendra. Whoops. Guess we have one more name to add to the list of people who know The Flash’s secret identity – and yet he still won’t tell his own girlfriend…
Worried that he won’t be able to protect her on his own (what with also still having Zoom on the loose), Barry brings Kendra to Starling City to ask for assistance from Team Arrow. I still don’t watch that show, but it appears that there are three Arrows now and their chief baddie is played by Neal McDonough. (Fans, please correct me if I get the details wrong.) Also, Oliver Queen (Stephen Amell) is officially dating his sidekick gal-pal Felicity Smoak. He says they’re very happy together, but he still acts just as cranky and broody as ever. He’s pissy about Barry putting them all in danger and has to remind him that none of his team has superpowers. Barry draws a sketch of the attacker and Felicity matches it to a photo from 1975. The man doesn’t look to have aged a day.
Back in Central City, Dr. Wells v2 and Caitlin work on developing a drug compound that will temporarily give Barry a boost of extra speed, like a steroid shot for meta-humans. Wells calls it “Velocity 6.” With Barry away, he needs to test it on a Speedster – or failing that, on someone who at least used to be a Speedster. Caitlin calls Jay Garrick back to the lab, but he’s still opposed to anything Wells does and refuses to try the drug.
Cisco tells Barry about the bird vision he had when he touched Kendra. For some stupid reason, he still wants to keep his powers a secret from her. He has clearly not thought this through very well. If he has a vision every time he touches her, their sex life is either going to be very awkward or very kinky.
Suddenly, Vandal Savage smashes through the windows of Oliver’s penthouse and attacks. Even the combined forces of Barry and the three Arrows have a lot of trouble fending him off. Finally, one of the junior Arrows nails him with a chest shot that sends him tumbling out the window. Oliver, who’s vowed not to kill anymore, is annoyed about that, until they look out the window and see that the magician has vanished.
Cisco finally comes out as a meta and tells Kendra about the vision he had of her in the bird costume. From out of nowhere, John Barrowman appears in the room. Some quick Googling tells me that he’s Malcolm Merlyn, leader of the League of Assassins. He’s come to inform everyone about Vandal Savage, whom he claims is immortal, hundreds of years old and super powerful. He also says that if Savage wants Kendra, none of them will be able to save her. What a way to bring the room down, dude.
Back to Central City again. While minding her own business, Patty spots Dr. Wells and (believing him dead) is understandably concerned. She tracks him back to S.T.A.R. Labs and tries to arrest him. He has no idea who she is and tries to explain, but Patty mistakes a drug injector device he’s holding for a gun and shoots him. Caitlin rushes into the room. Patty offers to call for EMTs but Caitlin tells her to call Joe instead.
Barry and Oliver try to relocate Kendra again when a strange man with wings like a hawk swoops down from the sky and grabs her. He brings her to a rooftop and introduces himself as Prince Khufu, sometimes known as Carter Hall, and says he’s come to protect her.
Barry and Oliver follow the birdman and use their combined talents to subdue him and lock him in chains. Khufu/Carter/Hawkman quickly rattles off a bunch exposition about how he and Chay-Ara (that’s Kendra, in case you’re confused) are eternal loves who have been reincarnated through many lives together. He explains that Vandal Savage hunts and kills hawkpeople to gain strength, and that he’s currently also searching for something called the Staff of Horus that will give him incredible power.
Khufu/Carter claims that all of Kendra’s memories of her prior lives will come back to her as soon as she “emerges” – and the quickest way to do that is if she jumps off a building, which will basically force her to turn into a hawkperson to save herself. He even gets her started by giving her a little shove. Well, Kendra doesn’t turn into a hawkperson on her first try. Barry has to race down the building and catch her. Everybody thinks this Carter guy is crazy.
Joe arrives at S.T.A.R. Labs but there’s not much he can do for Wells, other than kick Patty out of the building and tell her to go home. (C’mon, just tell her what’s going on already!) Caitlin makes him go fetch Jay Garrick, who agrees to take the Velocity 6 and regain his speed, so that he can vibrate his hand, phase it through Wells’ chest, and remove the bullet. (Isn’t it nice how, whenever somebody is shot on television, they’re instantly saved as soon as the bullet comes out, as if the lead slug itself was the problem and not the holes it tears through the victim’s organs?)
Felicity uses her super Googling power to locate the Staff of Horus at a church back in Central City. Barry and Oliver head there to get the staff before Vandal Savage does, but they’re too late. He already has it. The three of them have a big fight in the church, with many knives and arrows and magic laser blasts flying through air, until Vandal Savage blows up the whole church. Barry and Oliver get out just in time.
Kendra takes what Carter told her to heart and jumps off the building on her own this time, without anyone to save her. It works; she sprouts wings and flies back to the rooftop. Cisco dubs her “Hawkgirl.”
Wells survives his surgery. Garrick tells him he’ll never take the Velocity 6 serum again and storms out. The rest of Team Arrow head to Central City to finish the Vandal Savage fight. Oliver spots an old girlfriend at Jitters and suspects that the young kid she’s with may be his son.
The ‘Arrow’ crossover episodes are rarely among my favorites. In this one’s favor, I’ll say that the teamwork aspect of Barry and Oliver fighting as a cohesive unit, each using their strengths in aid of the other, is handled really well. Vandal Savage is also a pretty badass villain.
On the other hand, I have mixed feelings about the way that magic and mysticism are being introduced into the show. I understand that’s a consequence of it already having been done on ‘Arrow’, but it feels out of place with the science-fictional world of ‘The Flash’. The episode is also crammed full of pointless cameos (did either Neal McDonough or John Barrowman really need to show up here?) and all of the ‘Legends of Tomorrow’ setup feels awkwardly kludged in. (In case it’s not obvious, Hawkman, Hawkgirl and Vandal Savage will be primary characters on that show.)
This story will be continued on the next episode of ‘Arrow’, which means that now I have to watch that show too this week.