Arrow Season 4 Episode 8 – TV Review
Praise be to Horus, it’s finally time for the Legends of Tomorrow to spin off, off, and away to their own show, and let Arrow be Arrow again.
But first, we need to time travel. And I don’t mean merely via flashbacks.
TL;DR The Arrow and Flash teams unite with the Hawkpeople to kill Vandal Savage; after failing a first attempt and being saved through Flash-based time travel, natch; Oliver does indeed have a son; across both this episode and the crossover The Flash episode this week, Ray, Sara, Captain Cold, Heatwave, and Firestorm do not appear.
Yeah, because everyone was looking forward to Legends of Tomorrow for Hawkman and Hawkgirl.
Now, I don’t review The Flash here on I Just Hate Everything. But I do watch it, and here are the important bits from its episode this week that lead into this one:
- Vandal Savage is out and about and on the hunt for Kendra/Hawkgirl and Carter/Hawkman because he needs to murder them to extend his immortality. He kills them every lifetime, and has been doing it for thousands of years;
- Vandal is tough as fuck to fight;
- Malcolm and the League know who Vandal is, but not much else;
- Vandal is after the Staff of Horus;
- Kendra and Carter’s hawk wings are magic;
- Oliver spots that ex-girlfriend of his with a son;
- Cisco has better hair than Kendra;
- and Laurel is oddly snubbed.
Now, onto our Arrow episode.
Picking up after our heroes’ defeat at Vandal’s hands, and Vandal’s acquisition of the Staff of Horus, everyone (including Laurel this time) flees to a farmhouse near Central City to hide out. Malcolm also shows up on the scene, having arranged a meeting with Vandal. Vandal offers our heroes an ultimatum: hand over Kendra and Carter, or he’ll personally murder the populations of Central City and Star City. Our heroes formulate the best plan they can, but end up defeated due to Oliver’s distraction with that kid of his (and an ensuing fight/break-up with Felicity because he didn’t trust her enough to tell her), Kendra’s choking at the vital moment, insufficient tech to handle the Staff of Horus, and Oliver’s insistence that only he and Barry accompany faux-prisoners Kendra and Carter to the rendezvous. Barry manages to barely zip away as Vandal sends the Staff nuclear, incinerating Oliver, the rest of the heroes, and Central City. Thank goodness Barry can time travel, right? In the second round, he makes sure Oliver keeps his shit together regarding his son; encourages Cisco to get Kendra’s head in the game; knowing that they need an extra ingredient, helps the geek squad cobble together more effective tech to handle the Staff; and has Oliver allow the whole battle crew to assist in the fight. They do, and Barry and Oliver get hold of the Staff strongly enough to burn Vandal to dust. The Super Friends and Team Flash celebrate a job well done, and the Hawkpeople set off to be heroes somewhere else. Meanwhile, Oliver plays his cards better and is allowed a relationship with his son, but still keeps it a secret from Felicity. And Malcolm ominously gathers a sample of Vandal dust to close out the episode.
Thousands of years of supervillainy, and Vandal is reduced to being carried around in the pocket of a hanger-on-er villain from season 1 of Arrow. Ouch.
I actually had a lot of fun with this episode. The cheesiness and blatant comic book tone made it feel unmistakably more like an episode of The Flash than an episode of Arrow (curiously, The Flash’s preceding episode was more Arrow than The Flash. Figure that one out), but if we’re going to endure crossovers, I’d rather they be whole-assed like this. And not half-assed like last time.
But in amongst all these Ancient Egypt flashbacks and magic Horus staves, Arrow still makes time for a subplot about an illegitimate son of Oliver’s, and unnecessary secret-keeping from Felicity.
So yeah, I guess it’s definitely still an Arrow episode, then.
Why I hate this episode:
Who gives an actual fuck about Oliver’s goddamn son? Felicity even says it herself: “I don’t care that you have a child.” When our resident girly girl doesn’t care, then it’s time to consider if any single person watching does.
Felicity doesn’t get off that easily, though. She may not care that Oliver has a child, but she does care that he didn’t tell her about it. Bitch, he just found out he has a nine year-old son, and that his mother offered the ex-girlfriend a million dollars to fuck off. Give him a fucking second.
She doesn’t, and they essentially break-up. For which I would be ecstatic. But, tragically, it is erased when Barry time travels.
Carter is pretty devoid of personality. Even by CW standards.
Malcolm’s inclusion in the plot is a nuisance. He admits that he and the League don’t know anything about Vandal. Then why are you here? I reckon it was so they could shove in that dust-collection ending. But I don’t think anybody would have been confused if they’d just included that scene, anyway. Malcolm is a bad dude, and he wants to use another bad dude to do bad dude stuff. Simple.
Oh, and Cisco’s hair really is so, so much better than Kendra’s. Move over, Aurora. The new queen of atrocious hair has arrived.
But it’s not all bad:
Cisco sneaks in to steal the emotional centre of the episode, as, despite his feelings for Kendra getting stomped on by her destined love for Carter, he must still suck it up and pep talk her into discovering her inner goodness. Cisco’s death scene from season 1 of The Flash was a very powerful moment, so it’s encouraging to see he hasn’t forgotten how to work a tragedy.
I know I’m a certified Laurel defender, but I appreciated how the episode made her feel always relevant, when in fact she had very little to do with the plot. Thea and Diggle get pushed out of focus as a result. But I’m not a Thea or a Diggle defender, now, am I? Laurel4lyfe.
Vandal is the episode’s most valuable asset, though, and it makes sure to use him. He’s despicable, and he has the power to back it up. With his little reincarnation triangle with the Hawkpeople, he’s got a Ganondorf thing going on, and I appreciated it. In the flashbacks to Ancient Egypt, he even gets a Demise-like speech about how his hatred will be everlasting, and follow the Hawkpeople from life to life. Carter isn’t the world’s most impressive Link, but Kendra is a battle priestess that Zelda could be proud of. Except for the hair.
The CGI is high quality. The standout would have to be the incineration effects on our heroes in the bad timeline. Although, I think I just have a thing for seeing Felicity obliterated out of existence, you know?
Speaking of Felicity, Oliver chooses not to rectify what caused their break-up in the bad timeline, as he again decides not to tell her about his son. So that break-up could still repeat itself. Fingers crossed.
The flashbacks to Ancient Egypt are supremely cheesy, and it works because of it. Can you imagine if they’d tried to take them seriously? Arrow Season 3 would have. But we’re in a better place now.
Oliver gets the best line of the episode when Felicity is worried about his moodiness early on at the farm house: “Well, maybe it’s too bright and sunny for me here.” Zing.
Malcolm’s words while collecting the Vandal dust imply Vandal will be indebted to him soon. Did the Lazarus pit survive? Can you remake someone from one scooping of dust?
Oh, and the crossover makes sure to leave us with a fancy group hero shot. Being black doesn’t help Spartan to stand out, though.