Warning: major spoilers for the eighth episode – entitled “Legends of Yesterday” – of Season 4 of Arrow ahead.
It’s that Flarrow time of year again, and the massive crossover extravaganza between The Flash and Arrow ended on a plot twist that will alter the course of the entire Flarrow-verse on The CW from this point on. Just when all of the action of “Legends of Yesterday” seemed to end with all of the characters returning to their roosts, Malcolm Merlyn showed up at the abandoned warehouse where the showdown occured between immortal supervillain Vandal Savage and Team Flarrow to scoop up some ashes. Judging by Malcolm’s announcement to the empty warehouse that Vandal Savage will be in his debt, it’s safe to say that Vandal Savage will have a speedy return to the corporeal land of the living.
It’s also safe to say that Team Flarrow has a rather fluid understanding of the word “immortal.”
Now, The CW has not exactly been secretive about its plans for Vandal Savage as the main antagonist for the upcoming spinoff Legends of Tomorrow, so the stakes regarding Savage’s survival in “Legends of Yesterday” were about as low as low can be. Still, the episode did a decent job of compensating when it effectively killed off all of the characters except for Barry and Savage before the handy dandy time travel reset button came into play. Oliver wasn’t going to stay dead any more than Savage was, but seeing the Emerald Archer incinerated on screen was a shock to the system to get the pulse pumping. Vandal Savage suddenly became a very real threat to Team Flarrow rather than just an implant from Legends popping up in a backdoor pilot.
Malcolm Merlyn was the perfect character to bring Savage back into the fold. A dubious ally at best to the good guys, Malcolm embracing the dark side and giving a helping hand to an evil immortal is so much more fun than Malcolm trying to sell a redemption arc. Malcolm Merlyn as "a wild card villain out for his own best interests" beats out Malcolm as "doting father who just loves too darn much any day." Frankly, this will make it much more enjoyable if Malcolm finds himself in over his head with Savage and discovers that immortals are not often beholden to men whose positions come from symbolic rings on their fingers.
It was a smart move to bring Vandal Savage back to the world of the living on Arrow rather than waiting until Legends of Tomorrow premieres. Legends will have enough information to exposit without delving into what went on in the crossover, and Arrow had already volunteered enough of its screentime to setting up Legends that one more plot twist wasn’t going to hurt.
We learned many huge new things in “Legends of Yesterday.” Star City does not have the Flarrow-verse monopoly on abandoned warehouses. Oliver still hasn’t 100% learned his lesson about keeping major secrets that are bound to emerge sooner or later. The Canary Cry looks especially dumb when nobody reacts to it. Biggest of all, however: Vandal Savage will be alive and kicking to savagely vandalize the world on Legends of Tomorrow thanks to the machinations of none other than Malcolm Merlyn.
Arrow airs on Wednesday nights at 8 p.m. ET on The CW. Legends of Tomorrow featuring Vandal Savage and the Hawks will premiere on January 21, 2016.