Let’s Talk Flash -&- Arrowverse Classic: Bye, Captain Cold

Arrowverse Review Index

Today we’re discussing, as always, the latest Flash episode (The Flash – Season 9, Episode 5: “Mask of the Red Death, Part 2”), and, since last week we reviewed Captain Cold’s debut episode, this week we’re covering the ep where they bid their heroic farewell to the Arrowverse: Legends of Tomorrow – Season 1, Episode 15: “Destiny”.

“Mask of the Red Death, Part 2” did something that always irritates me on The Flash: it had a debate about whether to do the optimistic, feel-good, stick-to-your-ideals-no-matter-what thing, or do the cynical, pragmatic, expect-things-to-go-badly thing.

Now, I like such debates … in other shows. But for them to have dramatic power, there needs to be tension about which side of the debate the show and the characters will land on. That’s never the case on The Flash. This show always comes down in favor of headlong idealism, and its heroes stray from that path for long.

I don’t mind that The Flash is such an idealistic show – that’s part of its charm – but that means I never for one second doubt that the characters will ultimately reject their less scrupulous options, and will be vindicated for having done so. So when they debate the subject, I’m just sitting there waiting for them to reach the inevitable conclusion.

Add in the gloomy tone of the episode, and it just wasn’t much fun for me.

That said, it was nice getting a sendoff for Ryan Wilder’s Batwoman (hell of a nicer sendoff than Kate Kane got). Finding a way to write Joe out of the show while still keeping Cecile as a main character was a little awkward, but handled about as gracefully as it could be, I guess. Oh! And I did get a good laugh out of how Barry has not been following the Chester/Allegra romance at all.

With the plot of these first five episodes wrapped up, there’s an open slate for the rest of the season, so let’s see what they come up with.

Legends of Tomorrow – Season 1, Episode 15: “Destiny” review

When I talked about the Legends pilot, I focused on how it was a mix of things that would work well and flourish in later seasons, and other things that would be discarded as dead weight once this season was done. That was, perhaps, unfairly dismissive. I would never trade the delightful oddball beast that Legends would later become, but “Destiny” is proof that the kind of show Season 1 was trying to be could have been excellent.

Well, not the Vandal Savage and Hawkcouple stuff, which this ep shunts off to the side. However, despite that deviation, this is still, tonally and thematically, fully in keeping with the rest of Season 1. Yet while most of the season was frustrating, cringe inducing, or simply lackluster, this penultimate episode manages to be a rousing, heartwarming, heartbreaking, and thoroughly enjoyable hour of television.

As I mentioned before, part of the problem with Season 1 was that most of the cast felt extraneous to the main storyline. This episode rectifies that, by reframing the story, not as a quest to defeat Vandal Savage (something only Rip, Kendra, and Carter really cared about), but as a fight against the Time Masters who have been controlling their fates.

Each of the Legends has, in their own way, been struggling against the destiny laid out for them. In pitting them against the Time Masters, who personify destiny in all its unfeeling harshness, their disparate character arcs come together under a common theme, against a common enemy they can all fight for a cathartic victory.

In many ways, this is the climax of the season, even though the finale is still one episode off. It’s here that the true villains of the season are defeated – killing Savage next episode is just tying up loose ends. But more than that, it’s here the characters reach the points they’ve been building to since the show began.

Ray finally gets to be the guy who saves the world. Mick comes to care for the rest of the team (and even, begrudgingly, admit to it). Jax and Stein realize they’re each better for having the other in their life. Sara shows they’ve not only overcome their own darkness, but can inspire others to do the same. Rip is forced to burn their past behind them and accept their old life is gone. And Snart, at the very last, decides to go down a hero.

For once, everything in this season comes together to make for wonderfully gripping television. This is Legends Season 1 at its best, and I’d stack it up there with almost anything that came after.

I mean, it’s no Giant Beebo fighting Mallus, but what is?

Stray Observations:

  • How the Oculus can have no power at the Vanishing Point, but also foretell Ray blowing up at the Vanishing Point, and how the Time Masters could see that without figuring out they were all gonna blow up … as usual with Legends, trying to keep track of how time travel and places “outside of time” work is a pathway to madness.
  • What also adds to the feeling that this is the true climax to the season, is that it’s here they do callbacks to the first episode: Jax literally revisiting the first meeting of the Legends, and once again playing Love Will Keep Us Together to hilarious effect.
  • One of the biggest complaints with Legends Season 1 was how the heroes kept failing to defeat Vandal Savage, despite having the advantage of numbers, firepower, and frickin’ time travel on their side. Which makes me wonder whether the Time Masters’ Oculus was always part of the season’s plan, or if the writers realized how ineffectual the Legends were turning out to be, and introduced the Oculus to retcon their past failures as all being part of the Time Masters’ manipulation.
  • It’s a shame we lost Captain Cold after just two seasons in the Arrowverse, but I appreciate that they went out in such an epic way. (Rule of thumb on Legends is almost any death can be undone, except for grand, heroic sacrifices.)
  • What’s also a shame: given Ava’s reactions to Sara’s past love interests, we never got to see Ava & Snart meet up.

Question of the Week: What’s your favorite (and least favorite) Arrowverse death scene?