Before we dive into the specifics of the Season 2 finale, “Aruba,” I think we can all agree that this season of Legends of Tomorrow is tip to tail better than the its first. Season 2 embraced the show’s humor, its great character interactions, and brought in a very effective villainous trio (and briefly a quartet) in the Legion of Doom. It even dealt with its Rip Hunter problem head-on, putting him at odds with the Legends (for a few glorious episodes, at least), before allowing him to gracefully exit the crew now that Sara has fully taken charge.
All of these changes, including getting rid of the Hawks and adding Nate and Amaya, have been great for the show, but there was a still a part of me watching “Aruba” that wanted the Legion to prevail, and have the show turn to them. Eobard was by far its most powerful member, but that’s because Damien Darhk and Malcolm Merlyn were never really given enough to do. It’s the same problem that The Flash has faced this season, in that a speedster is often so much more lopsidedly powerful than anyone else it’s hard to create effective stakes. And we know if there’s one thing Legends still isn’t very good at, it’s making time travel rules and sticking to them.
Still, “Aruba” had its fun by allowing two sets of Legends to occupy most of the episode, killing off the “spares” from the changed reality version of the future in often gory ways (Amaya was turned to ice and shattered, Ray had his heart pulled out Temple of Doom style, Jax took an arrow to the heart, Mick took an ice spear to the back, Nate was run through with a sword, and Rip had his neck swiftly broken). Nate’s egregious wig and the casual tossing around of the blood of Christ aside, the dueling characters were mostly a delight, particularly Mick Rory, who would of course be the one to pick a fight with his past self. (Also the tiny Waverider really was adorable).
Less successful were the references to time storms and time quakes, because the Legends have created paradoxes so many times in the past. The show is better when it ignores the rules rather than carefully setting them up and them shattering them without much consequence, although the final shot of a dinosaur-infested Los Angeles and the declaration that “we broke time” certainly has some interesting implications moving forward
But if Legends did end here (it won’t — it’s already been renewed), it would be pretty satisfying. Sara and Mick have had the best character arcs (the latter somewhat surprisingly, though he was a scene-stealer all season), but everyone pulled their weight. Sara battled her own darkness and rose up as the team’s leader, being a much better one than Rip ever was. But more than that, she knew herself well enough to know that she shouldn’t have control of the Spear because of her own dark impulses. So we got the moment with Laurel, which we’ve been waiting for ever since the Spear was introduced, but Sara didn’t bring her back. The real logic as to why is shaky (she could have also done so much more with it), but at least it upheld some real stakes for both Legends and Arrow as far as death goes.
As for Mick, even though his loyalties waffled some towards the end after his partner Snart was brought back by Eobard, he ultimately came to the same conclusion Snart did in Season 1 — that he has been improved by being around this rag-tag group. He imparts this knowledge to his old buddy, leaving to door open for Snart to return to the crew (he has been missed, though Mick has definitely stepped up in his absence). But given where things end up, it’s clear that the Legends still have a lot to account for when it comes to their continued messing with time, a lesson that could also be learned on The Flash. (Though Legends has succeeded, again, in making it fun and not so emotionally taxing each week. That can mean that moments like Nate grieving Amaya don’t fully land, but it also only took about 10 minutes to get her back).
The defeat of the Legion gave “Aruba” what it needed to wrap things up in a satisfying way, and as disappointed as I was to see Reverse Flash get eaten up by time as Black Flash dispelled him from this mortal coil, he couldn’t have gone out in a better way. Bringing in a hundred of his former selves to take out the Legends was the latest in a number of brilliant moves he made against them (looking back, Eobard was really always on top of everything — it is a shame to lose such a capable villain). But it also ensured his destruction as he could no longer escape Black Flash “fixing” the timeline by erasing him. Matt Letscher was fantastic in those final moments, as Eobard watched himself be eaten up until he was just a head and a screaming face. If you have to go, that’s a hell of a way to do it.
Where Legends of Tomorrow goes from here is anyone’s guess. We know that there will be new characters, but with such a full roster it’s uncertain how that will work. The current lineup has worked very well, and the challenge will be bringing in a villain as great as the Legion, which was set up as the Reverse Legends, essentially — a hard thing to top. But it is possible that something Black Flash-esque could come to haunt them for their timeline changes. (Speaking of which, it seems unlikely that the events of Legends of will have any effect on The Flash or Arrow, though we’ll see. So many timelines!)
Ultimately, Legends improved so vastly in its second season overall that it became, rather surprisingly, one of the best Arrow-verse series this year, fully embracing its crazy premise and allowing itself to become a kind of Doctor Who / Firefly hybrid. More so than any other DC series on the CW, Legends leaned in to an episodic structure, one that allowed it to follow an overarching narrative while still finding specific value in a Villain of the Week (or if not Villains of the Week, at least, New Time Period of the Week). Having learned from and corrected its mistakes so well this season, I have exceptionally high hopes for Season 3. Maybe they did break time, but so what? When we’re having this much fun, what’s the harm in messing it up some more.
Rating: ★★★★ A fitting end
Season Rating: ★★★ Crazy but fun