This week’s annual Arrow/Flash crossover ‘Heroes Join Forces’ was an incredibly taut and well scripted exercise that could teach the DCEU a thing or two about how to leverage their extensive history and characters. The crossover serves as a backdoor pilot for next year’s Legends of Tomorrow and I for one can’t wait to see it, or how Arrow and The Flash step to the heightened production and scale of their expanding world. It is not hard to imagine our heroes and the Multiverse touching the DCEU anymore.
The episode opens with Barry testing his limits on the Cosmic Treadmill, with Caitlin and HW2 analyzing his performance. He has maxed out his top speed at 1370 mph. Nowhere near his fastest speed of Mach 2, when he went back in time. Zoom is at least three to four times as fast. Caitlin thinks they have tried everything, but HW2 has something up his sleeve in the form of Velocity 6, which he wants to test on Jay Garrick.
In the best character introduction yet, Vandal Savage is introduced in a brutal multiple homicide where our immortal villain uses tricks he taught Houdini. Cut to Patty, Barry, and Joe reviewing the crime scene photos. The young couple attempt to hide their affection from Joe in a bit of adorable professionalism.
Later that evening, Kendra and Cisco are back at Jitters for a romantic dinner. Kendra has made an exquisite meal for Cisco, it’s a beautiful date and totally doomed. They go to kiss and Vandal Savage arrives. He wants her dead. Cisco signals Barry for help, who arrives and knocks Vandal on his ass. He almost doesn’t catch a knife in time, and saved Cisco accidentally outs Barry. Most heartfelt “DUDE” Barry has ever uttered.
With Barry’s secret identity out of the way the team convenes at S.T.A.R. Labs to determine their next move. In order to keep Kendra safe they will need to turn to Team Arrow, since Vandal Savage would mow down beat cops.
Cut to Team Arrow battling Darhk and his men for an A.R.G.U.S. chemical weapon. Luckily Ollie’s magnetic arrow disarms the ghosts and evens the playing field. But when Darhk gets the drop on Ollie it’s Barry that saves everyone. Diggle immediately puking was a nice touch.
Everyone heads back to the Arrow Cave, and Cisco ribs them for not following his designs correctly. Barry then sketches Vandal Savage at super speed in a wonderfully comic book moment. Felicity is able to find a photo match but it is from the seventies, which would make Savage 85 years old but unaging.
Our heroes get a little heated on how to best solve the problem and decide it would be best to go to Ollie’s penthouse and relax together. Cisco attempts to rename Speedy, which she doesn’t take lightly. Barry has a few special moments with Felicity, Barry, and Cisco to establish stakes. These people are vulnerable and in love, let’s hope nothing tests their bonds.
Vandal Savage crashes through the window and proceeds to try and slaughter everyone with his ancient knives. Barry catches the knives and Ollie goes toe to toe with Vandal. The tide doesn’t turn until Thea and Ollie overpower him with their arrows, then Thea goes for the killshot. But lo and behold there is no body.
Back at the Arrow Cave the team is surprised by Merlyn who steps out of the shadows and provides them with information on the immortal Vandal Savage.
Caitlin and HW2 complete the Velocity 6 and Jay Garrick refuses to be the guinea pig. Patty catches a glimpse of HW2 outside and follows him back into the lab and shoots him during a tense standoff with the jerk. Caitlin tells Patty to call Joe and then leave.
Cisco and Kendra have a heart to heart, which is interrupted by the arrival of Hawkman who whisks her off. The heroes scan the city for Kendra and eventually Hawkman engages Ollie and Barry in combat. Ollie shoots at him and he deflects the arrows. Then he knocks the motorcycle down and starts to whoop up on Ollie. Hawkman flies up with Barry and drops him from a great height. Ollie catches Barry with a life line. Barry whips up some arm tornadoes then encircles the grounded hawk boloed up by Ollie. Finally, Barry throws some lightning and knocks him out.
Hawkman wakes up in chains and then explains the reincarnation cycle and Vandal’s pursuit of the lovers to bolster his power. Cisco snaps back at the jerk with, “0 and 206 and you think you’re the best shot.”
Merlyn comes out of the shadows to describe the Staff of Horus, which is sought by Savage to get the upper hand. Barry responds, “Is this the only way he enters a room.” Meanwhile back at the lab, the bullet is lodged inside Wells and Caitlin needs Jay’s help, so Joe calls Jay.
Carter tries to get Kendra’s powers to emerge by convincing her to jump off the building, but when that doesn’t work Barry is luckily able to save her. Ollie deduces that the Staff of Horus is in Central City and that Kendra was drawn to it.
Back at the lab, Jay arrives and takes the serum to have enough speed to pull out the bullet. Jay’s eyes glow and he vibrates his hand into wells and removes the bullet.
Barry and Ollie are too late to stop Savage from getting the Staff, but they are able to fight him to a standstill and escape with their lives. Savage demonstrates the power of the staff by destroying the Cathedral. Kendra with inspiration via Cisco is able to fly, in a surprisingly effective and joyous moment.
HW2 wakes up sore and thanks Jay. Jay promises never to take the serum and tells HW2 that if he is grateful for his life, then he he will never use the serum on Barry.
The team is heading back to Central City via the company private jet. Barry and Ollie already in town are at Jitters. Ollie is overcome that there is a Flash drink and toys. Helps a kid pick up his toy and see’s that his mother is an old flame. The kid is his!
Arrow opens up with a well executed flashback to Egypt that introduces the Young Prince and his Priestess love, as well as Savage as a competing religious leader. Savage spies the pair having a secret rendezvous and basically twirls his moustache.
The team pulls a ninja turtles move and retreats to a farm to strategize and protect the Hawks. Everyone is doing their part to gather intel on Savage, and Ollie wants to train Kendra. Barry in the best character moment of the show says don’t let him train you, and then looks at Ollie and says “When it rains I can still feel where you shot me.”
The episode gets pretty timey wimey pretty fast so I’m going to break from the linear and explain it in broader terms. Merlyn arranges for Ollie and Barry to have a face to face with Savage. Barry spots a time traveling version of himself, but keeps it to himself. At the meeting Savage makes it clear that he wants the Hawks in 24 hours or he will kill everyone in the city and then return to Ollie’s home and kill everyone there.
“Such hubris you have,” says Vandal.
Barry responds, “Not hubris. Hope.”
That exchange sums up why these shows are so great and stomp all other competition.
Ollie finds out that the boy is his son and Felicity confronts him about it. Hawkman tries to make Kendra a rage warrior like him and it causes her to stumble in the main battle. Everyone is out of the game and in their heads, and Barry tries to out run the staff’s magical devestation. We see everyone die. But Barry is back at the face to face, armed with information to change the game. He confides everything to Ollie and Ollie comes up with a plan.
Ollie implores Cisco to reach out to Kendra and remind her who she is in the midst of this turmoil in order to prevent her choking in the big fight. We are treated to a flashback to the original death of the Hawks thanks to Cisco reaching out to the nurturer within Kendra. The flashback gives Kendra insight into how to stop Savage. Big ups to the production for making the high romance origin of the Hawks work, it’s one that I never thought I would see done justice. Barry fixes the gloves to handle the Staff with Nth metal from a meteorite. Ollie asks everyone to help contribute to the big fight.
Barry and Ollie present the Hawks to Savage, and Kendra is able to get the drop on him this time by using her powers. Team Arrow hits the scene and slows him down long enough for Barry to steal the staff. Ollie helps Barry shoulder the burden of the staff and Vandal Savage is reduced to ashes.
Ollie connects with his son and makes a solemn vow to keep his identity secret even from Felicity. That is gonna cause trouble. The Hawks decide to go their own way and fight crime elsewhere. Cisco gets a goodbye kiss and gives Kendra a signal beacon.
Back at the battle scene, Merlyn arrives and gathers the ashes of Vandal Savage while repeating the solemn vow of eternal revenge. What can he possibly hope to gain by bringing back an unstoppable monster? I don’t know but it’s gonna be tragic.
What did you think of the big crossover? Sound off in the comments.