Editor’s Note: With our regular Legends of Tomorrow recapper Evan Valentine out of town, our Flash recapper Kayti Burt has generously stepped in to recount the latest episode for us.
Legends of Tomorrow seems to be taking a page from the Marvel Cinematic Universe playbook in its variation of genre from episode to episode. Last week, we got a pretty effective space adventure. In “Night of the Hawk,” the Waverider gang visits 1958 in yet another lame attempt to stop Vandal Savage. Guess what? They’re unsuccessful — although, you probably could have predicted that going in, huh? It’s not season finale season yet.
The lack of tension in the Vandal Savage v. Rip Hunter battle continues to be a major problem for this show. The momentum Legends of Tomorrow builds up with energetic, comedic team heist sequences or the occasional intriguing character dynamic (i.e. Snart and Sara) is continually being dragged down by all of the things that don’t work. Take tonight’s encounter with Savage, for example. The crash of a meteorite has drawn Savage to Harmony Falls, a small town in 1958 America where he has decided to use the meteorite — the same kind that crashed down in Ancient Egypt, giving Kendra her powers — to try to make his own army of hawk-people.
But, like everything else we’ve seen Savage do, it’s unclear why he’s doing it, what’s at stake, and why there is any sense of urgency on a show where the characters can literally go anywhere in space and time, while their antagonist has to time travel the old-fashioned way. Even in the context of this small town setting, Savage isn’t very scary. His main villain superpower is being a total creeper towards Kendra. (The guy doesn’t even poison his tuna casserole like any self-respecting supervillain would do.)
To be fair, the creepster superpower thing seems to be working for Savage — possibly because Team Waverider is more or less incompetent. The only reason Team Waverider even has the info on where to run into Savage next is because a friendly Time Master decided to give it to them out of the unlikely kindness of her own heart at the end of last week’s episode.
When they arrive in Harmony Falls, the team members all go undercover in what comes off like a convoluted excuse to make comments about how backwards Harmony Falls is, and to put Rip and Snart in matching G-man outfits. To be fair, Rip and Snart looked great — but, again, totally unnecessary. It’s never clear why they even need to pretend to be FBI agents, especially given that Savage literally surprises Ray and Kendra with tuna casserole while they’re playing house as fake husband and wife.
And, speaking of convoluted narrative choices, why exactly did Team Waverider think it was a good idea to have Ray and Kendra undercover in the ‘burbs? Because, as far as I can tell, it was purely a convoluted narrative excuse to have them discuss their burgeoning relationship — a relationship that also doesn’t make a lot of sense, given what we know of these characters thus far. Not only do they have zero chemistry, but they have very little in common. A few episodes ago, Kendra said she didn’t want to be in a relationship. And Ray didn’t even like Kendra until Stein suggested that he should, an impetus that feels similar to how the conversation in the writers’ room might have gone when conceiving of this awkward, inorganic relationship.
Unfortunately, the relationship we really wanted to know about — the one between Snart and Mick — was left largely unaddressed. Jax, bless his heart, kept bringing it up to Snart and the rest of the crew, exasperated (like me) that no one would be asking follow-up questions about the mutinous crew member that just disappeared and was possibly murdered by another crew member. In a sea of unrelatable character decisions, this felt real. Of course, Jax wasn’t even allowed to stay on it because he had to go suffer racism, police brutality, and be turned into a hawk-creature. (Of course, no one really believes Snart killed Mick, right?)
The one storyline that did work for me in tonight’s episode was Sara’s. Sara has, by and large (and arguably in addition to Snart), been the most consistently interesting character on this show. In “Night of the Hawk,” Sara is largely sidelines from the action. She’s kind of doing surveillance, but — like the viewers — she knows that Savage is probably going to pop up eventually and then promptly escape, so she doesn’t seem too worried about it.
Instead, Sara connects with a local nurse who is questioning her sexuality. Unlike sad cheerleader Betty, Nurse Carlisle actually feels like a real person, and Sara’s “liberation” of her was a tangible example of someone on Team Waverider actually doing something to affect positive change in the timeline. While the rest of the gang was off trying and failing to stop Vandal Savage from his vague plan to conquer the world or whatever, Sara was giving someone hope. It might not be classic superhero stuff, but that doesn’t make it any less important.
Furthermore, in a rare example of organic, yet surprising character development, Nurse Carlisle’s brief relationship with the former assassin gave the latter a chance to reconnect with her own sexuality, something she hasn’t done since she was brought back from the dead. Best subplot, Legends. More organic, yet surprising character development please.
The episode ends with Chronos, a.k.a. that pest of a temporal bounty hunter, boarding Waverider before Ray, Kendra, or Sara can return. The ship takes off as they approach it, seemingly leaving them in 1958. Well, it was fun while it lasted, kids.
Rating: ★★ Fair
Notes of Tomorrow
“I’m not the only one whose vision is blurry in the left eye.” I love how Stein’s giddiness re: time travel cannot even be quelled by the side effects of traveling further through time. Side note: Are temporal side effects accumulative? Because this episode really made a point of pointing them out.
“What the hell is Savage doing in Pleasantville?” “Murder, apparently.” Like always, there were some great lines in this episode. This cast really knows how to deliver on the quips.
“Sounds kind of small town for a guy who’s had coffee with Hitler.”
There were so many references to classic movies and TV shows in this episode — from Back to the Future to Dukes of Hazzard, but was anyone else waiting for someone to make a 21 Jump Street reference to Jay’s undercover high schooler act?
Thoughts on Rip’s American accent? I thought it was pretty good, though sadly underused. Again, the Rip and Snart as FBI agents could have been it’s whole own episode.
“Yeah, if you’re white and a man and straight…” Sara and Jax are less impressed with Harmony Falls than Professor Stein is.
“I used to watch a lot of old horror movies with my mom, and they all started out like this.” Maybe they should make Jax team leader? He seems to have good instincts.
“Just so you know, R’as al Ghul taught me how to kill someone slowly, over the course of days.” Sara is my favorite.
“I hope you like tuna surprise.” I want to be scared of you, Savage, I really do.
“I’m pretty sure he’s not gonna kill me next to the canapes, Ray.” But are you, Kendra? Why doesn’t Savage just kill Kendra?
“Actually, I was liberating her. With the option of seducing her later.”
“Say what you want about Savage. He makes one hell of a casserole.”
“Let me ask you a question, Kendra. Do you believe in past lives? Do you believe in fate?”
“Fate is a prison. When free will is gone, what’s left?”
Can Ray shrink anything that he’s carrying when using the Atom suit? That doesn’t seem like a thing that should be true, but he manages to do it with the dagger.
“Yeah, cause it’s not like I’m a black kid a small town with a white girl bleeding all over my car.” Jax knows what’s up.
“I don’t know, but I’m guessing Jax and Peggy Sue had a pretty lousy first date.”
“Thank you for the vote of confidence. I don’t need your protection.” What’s the point of having a team if the team never actually tries to kill Savage together? This would never happen on The Flash — well, it might, but then someone would tell Barry he’s being an idiot.
“What of your square-jawed husband Raymond?” OK, Savage. This was a pretty good line.
“How are our friends doing over in Hall H?” Hall H is the biggest hall at San Diego Comic Con, and notoriously difficult (and crazy) to get into. Well played, Legends of Tomorrow.
“Should have known better than to fall for a ninja.” Can they just take Nurse Carlisle along?
“1958’s swell and all, but I miss the Internet. And cell phones.” Sing it, Kendra.