Howdy readers, your regular recapper Evan Valentine is off this week getting married (Congratulations Evan and Lauren!), so I am once again filling in for recap duties. And what an episode it was.
Oh Legends of Tomorrow. You started out with such promise, and perhaps, with “Legendary,” you won some of it back — but not until the very end. When Legends first began, it styled itself as bigger, more bombastic, and more overtly comic book-y than any other franchise in the Arrow-verse. It pulled together some of the better side characters from Arrow and The Flash, and then wanted to throw time travel into the mix. It was going to be crazy, but hopefully crazy fun. But unlike The Flash, Legends didn’t set time travel rules or keep to them (every episode brought an arbitrary new restriction that also eliminated past restrictions — more on that later) and when it wasn’t a befuddled narrative mess, it was dangerously uninteresting thanks to its pitiful villain, Vandal Savage.
And yet, every Legends episode had good parts to it, usually with either the introduction of some cool tech, or scenes relating to the banter among the Waverider crew. The best lines almost always went to Snart or Rory, but Jackson and Stein got some quips in as well. What has been endlessly frustrating with the show, however, is how it gets in its own way. Embodied in the character of Rip Hunter, Legends wants to do grandiose things with an awesome crew, but unfortunately makes terrible decisions again and again, bringing everything back to naught.
Let’s get into the specifics. “Legendary” attempted to bring the season full circle by connecting the time periods that the group visited, where Savage was going to activate alien meteors (Ancient Aliens!), in order to cause a “time quake” that would send the Earth back to 1700 B.C. Despite having lived for 4,000 years, Savage believes that this will solve his problems. Dude, if you haven’t gotten yourself together to make any kind of a difference or get a date with Kendra in 4 millennia, going back isn’t going to change a thing.
Still, it ended up being a cool convention, as it allowed the Legends to split up and work in pairs simultaneously in 1958, 1975, and 2021. It helped break up the action and allowed each Legend to shine with their special set of skills, which can be a rare thing. Best of all, they killed Savage three times. The only thing worse than one Savage is three, and I genuinely cheered when they stabbed him in the heart, broke his neck, and set him on fire. (Speaking of setting things on fire, Mick Rory killed at least three people in this episode, and no one seemed to really notice or mind).
I almost got to cheer yet again when Rip decided to throw himself into the sun, which was an extremely unnecessary plan. Plus, he didn’t even bother asking Gideon if she was ready to martyr herself for no reason. Typical Rip, always pulling people into his drama, consequences be damned. When Gideon decides she actually doesn’t want to throw herself into the sun, Rip suddenly wakes up to the notion that this actually the stupidest possible idea. Twenty minutes later he arrives back with the others, having torn up the Waverider for no reason, and declares himself head of a new Time Counsel. Literally the worst choice in history — not only does Rip clearly not understand the time stream, but he has no respect for the timeline, and a very poor sense of what matters to humanity at large. Like, say, how defeating Damien Darhk might be a good idea?
Here’s where things get tricky in a shared universe. When The Flash came on the scene, the formerly grounded Arrow had to up its game. Now that time travel was part of this world, Arrow decided it needed magic. Once Legends appeared, Flash gets multiple Earths and alternate universes. But why don’t the Legends use their powers to stop actual, world-ending devastation caused by in-universe villains like Darhk and Zoom? Currently there are two god-like madmen trying to destroy the Earth(-1), and the Legends are all hanging out, playing trivia, and visiting their friends in the past. Also note how they visited Nazi-occupied France, but did not bother to actually stop any atrocities happening there. So what exactly does “protecting the timeline” mean?
Rip tells Sara that she can’t go back and save Laurel with some mumbo jumbo about them “permanently altering” the timeline and the outcome always being the same. First of all, none of Rip’s “rules” about altering the timeline or time paradoxes have mattered whatsoever in this show. And while I might be willing to believe that the outcome would ultimately be the same (a la Final Destination), that makes the entire premise of the show worthless. Supposedly, the Legends destroying the Oculus means that free will is back on Earth, and yet according to Rip, nothing they do will change a pre-ordained outcome. Pre-ordained by whom? Why can’t the Legends save Laurel? Why can’t they save Rip’s family? You cannot have it both ways, show. There is no reason to have a Time Counsel, as Rip is re-establishing, to “protect” the timeline if all events are predestined and unable to ultimately be changed.
So Rip declares himself Time King or whatever, and asks if anyone is coming along. Unsurprisingly, everybody signs back up, except for the Hawks. Another thing to be thankful for. Nothing against Ciara Renee or Falk Henschel personally, but their story with Savage bogged this entire season down. When they were mostly absent from these last two episodes, I didn’t really notice or care. What I did notice was that Jackson and Stein actually got to speak and do things that mattered, and even Mick Rory got some character development (with Ray! An unexpectedly great pairing).
But, just before everyone is off on their merry Season 2 adventures, another Waverider crashes in, carrying a man who identifies himself as Rex Tyler, of the Justice Society of America. We’ll be talking more about him and what other characters we might see on Legends Season 2 in a separate writeup, but for people who aren’t versed in the comics, that reveal meant absolutely nothing aside from thinking, “isn’t that the guy from Suits?”
So the finale was satisfying to a point, and set up a decent new start for a new season, but Legends must rectify its villain problem, and understand that some arcs (and visits to other time periods) can go on for more than just one episode. At the same time, it needs to note the strengths of its cast, the importance of its often very fun humor, and the fact that sometimes you just need to Calm. It. Down. One of The Flash’s greatest strengths is how it creates emotional moments out of the relationships on the show, which are built up and have time to develop. Legends of Tomorrow never had any stakes, and certainly no emotional ones — if people died, they came back (except for Rip’s family, apparently). Mess up the timeline? No biggie, there are no consequences. Almost blow up the world a number of times? Just rocket into the sun. Or not. It’s all predestined anyway!
Episode Rating: ★★ Fair
Season Rating: ★★ Fair
Musings and Miscellanea:
— So Mick Rory was able to go and tell Snart that he’s a hero, but Sara didn’t go and say goodbye to Laurel? At least, not that we saw, which would have been a great scene.
— Rip, you are a coward and an idiot. Mick Rory agrees: “You’re a moron.”
— I laughed out loud when Rip hologrammed himself to drop the Legends in 2016 and speed off in the Waverider. What a dick.
— I also laughed out loud, less ruefully, when Ray made the meteor tiny and it went “poof!” We need more of that on this show.
— Clarissa was wearing a particularly bad wig. Almost Oliver Queen flashback-level bad.
— As I’ve asked myself so many times with this show, where’s a time wraith when you need one?
— “Before we had a Nazi trying to kill us, this is just a vase.” – Jackson
— “I never thought I’d utter these words but, I think we need a Nazi.” – Stein
— Ray: “Did you adjust or for temporary polarity?” Stein: “Oh Raymond, you insult me.”
— “Not to dismiss what just happened, but we need to find Savage” – the writers pretending they don’t need to deal with Sara’s emotional fallout with Laurel’s death, and letting us know they’re not bringing Laurel back.
— “Astonishing!” – Stein
— ”Do something, Robocop” – Mick
— “I’m not ready to die …” – Gideon
— “Every time they do that, I get hungry for chicken.” – Mick after the Hawks take off.
— “Aw man, you got my boots wet!” – Sara