In “Blood Ties,” Legends of Tomorrow blasts us back into ancient Egypt where Vandal Savage is doing some light reading, only to be confronted by a hooded figure promising to end his life once and for all. This mysterious assassin turns out to be none other than Rip Hunter, who has traveled into the past (during his future) to put an end to Vandal. From here we leap back to the 1970s where the team is attempting to save Kendra/Hawkgirl’s life while also figuring out the best way to take Savage down a peg. One of the strengths of Legends of Tomorrow is that its hodge podge of characters have already been fleshed out in their individual shows of origin, so we get to really dive into the chemistry among all of them, whether that be Snart and Rory’s anxiousness to get back to being criminals, or Rip’s horror at Sara’s bloodlust.
Another of the major strengths of Legends of Tomorrow is that it is unabashedly unashamed to delve into its comic book roots, and it easily takes the crown of most ambitious comic book television show airing right now. In this episode alone, we’re thrown into a scenario wherein the Atom is attempting to shrink down to pull some metal inching toward Hawkgirl’s heart, Rip and Sara are trying to break into one of the oldest banks in the world accompanied by the swinging tunes of the 70s, and Captain Cold and Heatwave are attempting to convince one half of Firestorm to fly a piece of the time travelling ship to Central City as part of a bank heist. Sometimes, you have to take a step back and look at the comic book media we have out there, and reflect on all these properties reveling in their goofy origins, yet how that ultimately makes them stronger. Gone are the days of all-black leather suits and grim demeanors (well … mostly), and it’s fantastic to not only see a show that is able to put together these elements, but folks involved that clearly have a blast making it.
Surprisingly enough, the heart of this episode came from its coldest member (::drum snare::). After convincing Jackson to take them on a bank heist to steal a rare emerald, Snart reveals that the real reason he wanted to steal the gem was to give it to his father so that his dad would never get arrested for attempting to steal it in the first place. While trying to give the emeralds to his pops, Leonard runs into his younger self, and rather than throw out a witty barb about Back to the Future or some other crack about time travelling, Snart kneels down to himself and pleads for kid Leo to “never let anyone hurt him.” Of all the actors in the DC CW’s roster, I think that Wentworth Miller is the shining star, able to chew scenery with a fiery tongue or pull on our heart strings with little more than a sentence. I’ve said in past reviews that a Captain Cold and Heatwave (or simply a “Rogues” series) would be a welcome addition to the stable, and I stand by that. After giving his dad the emerald, the Rogues and Jackson depart.
Meanwhile, back in the 1970s, Sara and Rip learn that Vandal is currently holding Hawkman’s body as part of his nefarious cult. The idea that Savage is imbuing others with a tiny bit of immortality in order to keep a full stable of devoted followers a little longer than usual is a neat concept, but I think that you could find some cracks in the foundation with this scene, and more so with Vandal Savage. At first, I thought Vandal Savage made for a fantastic antagonist for the team to fight, and really the idea is totally sound. An immortal dictator who lives in every time period, meaning the team can fight them in the past, present, and future? Fantastic. Unfortunately, I think that the portrayal of Savage has stopped clicking with me for whatever reason. He’s not so much scary and threatening as he is sort of just there. He’s saying all the right things and doing all the right villainous actions, but I’m never feeling genuinely threatened for the team’s safety — and one of them died in last episode! Ultimately, the show has so much good stuff going on right now that this is merely a minor quibble, but I hope they figure out a way to show Savage’s teeth a little more in the future, or at least inject him with a bit more personality.
Speaking of faults, I really enjoyed the presentation and trappings of Ray Palmer having to shrink down to save Kendra’s life from inside her body, but the chemistry between Ray and Stein could have been a bit more compelling. While the added twist of Stein having to admit he knew Palmer was a talented student — only to then reveal he had never actually known him in the first place — was nice, but the two eggheads were a bit too similar to ultimately make for a compelling relationship (though not everything is going to be Snart and Palmer).
The team once more reforms, almost, to fight Vandal Savage again after discovering his cult, snagging back Hawkman’s body, and holding a funeral for the guy. I had to admire the show taking a breath to portray a nice, quiet scene where the team reflects on the death of one of their own, as the scene itself was done really well. From here the team once again departs back into the time stream to figure out how to change the future for the better. While “Blood Ties” was very good in its own right, I don’t think it quite hit the highs of the previous entry. But man, this show is still killing it as one of the most entertaining shows on TV.
Rating: ★★★★ Very good
Notes of Tomorrow
– Time travel is confusing. Regardless of the medium, if you think too much about it, you’ll give yourself a headache. I really enjoyed that ultimately Snart didn’t actually change the future at all, and that Rip was ultimately responsible for his own family’s demise by giving Savage their names in the first place, but considering how much they’re all tramping around the timestream, you would figure there would be crazy changes to the present with all that’s happening.
– Kendra having metal shards that were slowly gravitating toward her heart had me thinking she was going to be locked inside a cave building an Iron Man suit at some point in the near future.
– Captain Cold – “Simple don’t mean easy, Captain.”
– Rip Hunter – “I’ve seen Men of Steel die and Dark Knights fall.”
– Heatwave – “Thick….does that mean stupid?”
– Atom – “All those years of playing Asteroids is starting to pay off.”
– Rip Hunter – “How many sodding knives do you have?”
– Heatwave – “Didn’t have you pegged as the Eyes Wide Shut type.”
– Jackson – “What the hell are parachute pants?”
*Ugh, I’m old