Tonight's first half of the epic The Flash/Arrow crossover left us on a heck of a cliffhanger -- and along the way reminded us over and over and over again that, yes, this is a shared universe.
The Easter eggs and DC Comics references weren't the most we've ever seen -- but there were a lot of them, and a fair number of things that we don't even necessarily count, but we'll mention here anyway since our readers will think we forgot otherwise.
So...what did we see? What did we miss? Read on, and comment below.
BETTER, FASTER, STRONGER
There are a pair of references tied up in here, in the way Barry refers to Zoom.
The first and most obvious is a nod to the TV series The Six Million Dollar Man, the opening credits for which talks about rebuilding the character as "better...stronger...faster."
But there's also a song, "Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger" by Daft Punk. While less common as a cultural touchstone, it does have the adjectives in the correct order that Barry says them, so we're just going to call it a tie.
S. S. TITHONUS
When Vandal Savage was pulled from the S.S. Tithonus, you just knew that would be something.
In Greek mythology, Tithonos was a Trojan who was the lover of Eos, Titan of the dawn, who was known in Roman mythology as Aurora.
In DC Comics, there's only one reference I can find...but it fits in well with tonight's episode. In a recent issue of Justice League Dark, villain Felix Faust revealed that he had long sought the Book of Tithonus, which was thought to have the answer to immortality.
It's also the name of the title of an episode of The X-Files, and while tonight's director Ralph Hamecker didn't work on that particular episode, he has directed The X-Files before.
As far as we know, there are no comic books that deal directly with any relationship that Vandal Savage might have with either Houdini, whom he mentions early, or Robin of Loxley, mentioned later. Those are inventions for the TV show, or at least unimportant enough moments that they aren't well-documented online.
That said, in the comics he's even older than his 4,000 years here. There, he was given powers by radiation from a meteor storm 50,000 years ago when he was living as a caveman.
The idea that Savage has been quietly pulling the strings of the world's worst men is nothing new to TV, although in the comics he has a slightly longer list since he's been around longer, and since more stories have been told with him. He does have a kind of uneasy kinship with Ra's al Ghul, his fellow immortal.
In the comics, Vandal has a daughter -- Scandal Savage -- who is a member of the Secret Six.
While we've seen Hawkgirl (Kendra Saunders) already, this week marked the first time we heard a very important name in the Hawkgirl legacy.
In the comics, centuries ago, Chay-Ara and her lover Prince Khufu were killed -- and began a thoudands-of-years cycle of death and rebirth in which the two souls always find each other.
We see it playing out in this episode -- except, of course, that it's all pretty toned down for TV. In the comics, the eventual reincarnation story came in part out of numerous abortive attempts at cleaning up the Hawks' origin stories. When Geoff Johns said "Heck with it, I'll use them all," the reincarnation angle really made sense. On TV, at least so far, we haven't seen mention of things like Thanagar, the alien world where the "Nth Metal" that allows them to fly in the comics came from.
Cisco is pretty on the nose -- more so than he knows -- with calling Savage "Highlander."
That's a series about an immortal warrior with magic elements and a very special weapon in his hand.
And, yeah, the fancy clothes and stuff.
ODDS AND ENDS
A few things worth mentioning, but not in their own separate headings:
- The magnetic arrows are something we've seen in the comics.
- ARGUS, one of the many shady governmental law enforcement agencies from the DC Universe, is a fairly regular fixture on Arrow but hasn't shown up much -- or at least not in such a big, visible way -- this season.
- "Did I know we knew The Flash?" asks Thea. That's likely a legitimate question. With so much crossing over last year, the writers' room probably needed a flowchart for who has met whom.
- Deathstroke, the big bad of Season Two and one of DC's most formidable villains, gets a name-drop.
- "I'm not going to change my name!" Thea/Speedy tells Vibe. Why? Well, he wants her to. That's kind of funny since the original Speedy -- Roy Harper -- has changed his name a BUNCH of times in the comics, and since it took a long time for Thea to finally suit up there were plenty of other predictions for what superhero she might turn out to be.
Well, it ain't Velocity 9, but it's close.
Velocity 9 is, in the comics, a serum that can bestow (or in Jay's case restore) super-speed powers. It's just one of a number of artificial ways to gain such powers, one of which is the Speed Formula -- a literal mathematical equation that Johnny Quick and his daughter Jesse Quick both used to gain speed.
The serum had some serious long-term health effects, with the effects of the Speed Force taking their toll on people not prepared to connect to it. The most recognizable regular user was Inertia, the arch-enemy of Impulse and an evil speedster who at one point lost his powers.
Interestingly, Velocity 9 in the comics was actually developed not by Wells (who doesn't exist in the source material) but by Vandal Savage. Savage ended up running a small drug empire after sales of Velocity 9 to successful young men put him at odds with more traditional drug dealers.
This episode featured the first appearance of Falk Hentschel as Prince Khufu/Carter Hall/Hawkman.
He has basically the same origin story as Hawkgirl -- the pair were murdered and then, through ancient Egyptian magic, began a cycle of reincarnation in which they always find one another.
Hawkman is one of the most regular members of the often-revolving lineup of the Justice League of America.
And, yes, in case the fight in this episode felt a little familiar, Hawkman's right-wing politics and brutal way of operating often contradict with the fiercely liberal Oliver Queen. They're one of the most volatile combinations of Leaguers.
THE STAFF OF HORUS
We had wondered, ever since the DC's Legends of Tomorrow trailer was released last week, what that staff was that Vandal Savage always seemed to be holding, throughout all of time. It's the Staff of Horus, an Egyptian hawk-god who is worshipped by Khufu, Chay-Ara and their people in this iteration of the stories.
In the early Hawkman stories, Horus was misidentified as Anubis, leading to the first in what would be many, many revisions of the characters' origin stories.
In "Haunted," John Constantine found an artifact called the Orb of Horus, from which he took the powerful part and gave the shiny part to Baron Reiter in order to make his escape from Lian Yu.
The Eye of Horus, an ancient Egyptian symbolf of protection, popped up in the Constantine pilot as well.
WHEN DID OUR LIFE BECOME AN 'INDIANA JONES' MOVIE?"
That's a very good question, Cisco!
Lest anyone forget, Indiana Jones, as a franchise, was built on seeking out old, powerful artifacts, including the bird-topped Ark of the Covenant.
And, yes, many of the best Hawkman stories in recent decades have embraced the Indiana Jones sensibilities and similarities.
Last year during the crossover with The Flash, it was revealed that Oliver's ex-girlfriend, whom he had gotten pregnant almost a decade ago, had moved to Central City after faking a miscarriage at Moira Queen's request.
We heard her talk on the phone with her child, whom Oliver didn't know existed, but now he apparently does.