Thursday, August 18, 2016

Legends of Tomorrow Season 1 - An Overview (Part 1)

Welcome to DC TV's craziest show yet - a time travel show featuring two reincarnating hawk gods, a reformed assassin, two master criminals, a miniature-sized superhero, and a flaming nuclear man (who's actually two men). Did we mention the main villain is also immortal? Legends of Tomorrow! Enjoy your stay! 

Time travel can be a bit rough, though; there may be some, um, bleeding from the eyeballs. 

Gideon! Plot a course for Legends of Tomorrow, Season 1 - An Overview!


Pilot, Part 1

So, if you've watched the other CW superhero shows, you know Arrow and especially The Flash had pretty strong pilots (I liked Supergirl's pilot, too, although I seem to be in the minority on that one). You set up your world, you introduce your main character, and you (hopefully) give the audience a reason to keep watching.

The problem with this show is that there are NINE main characters, all with stories to tell. True, they had all been introduced on either Arrow or The Flash before this show started, but, for novices like myself at the time, their stories still needed to be told. 

Unfortunately, that takes up a huge chunk of the episode, as well as just seeing Rip round them all up and introduce himself and his story. Then we have the season-long arc with Vandal Savage and the Hawks to explain, and my god, could the writers have chosen a more complicated story line for that arc. 

(The answer is no, no, they could not.)

So, too much exposition and talking makes for a not-so-great pilot - except for one scene:

The bar fight scene with Sara, Snart, and Mick. If you watch nothing else of this show, watch that scene. It finally shows how great this show can be, with Sara kicking butt and Captain and Tenille's "Love Will Keep Us Together" playing in the background. My kudos to you, writers; that scene is pure gold - and pinpointed, in my opinion, the three best characters on the show.

I also really like the fact that the Legends aren't actually legends, as revealed by Rip. A team of supposed losers fighting to save the world in defiance of their fate is much more compelling than people who already know they're destined for greatness.

Best Quotes:

Snart: "Why did we become criminals?"
Mick: "Because we hate work and love money."

Sara: "If we have the power to change the world, don't you think we have the power to change our own fate?"

Pilot, Part 2

Fortunately, Part 2 is a bit more evenly paced than Part 1. The Legends land in 1975,  sneaking into a weapons auction. But not just any weapons auction - this one is for nuclear warheads, and bids are placed by firing your gun into the air. First of all, that is awesome - and a prime example of the ridiculous, amazing spectacle that makes this show so much fun to watch.

Other highlights: Sara kicking butt again (while stoned, I might add), Ray and Snart having to work together to break into Savage's house (Ray is just such an adorkable puppy it drives Snart up the wall, and I think that's what makes their scenes together so entertaining), and then - and then Carter dies.

We are two episodes in, folks. One of the Legends is already dead. What.

I have to hand it to the writers, that takes some serious guts (specifically, Carter's - I'm sorry). Of course there's the whole reincarnation aspect, so we know he'll be back, but wow - that's one way to fix your overcrowding of characters, I guess!

Also, Stein's younger self - spot on imitation of Victor Garber's Stein. Nice job, Graeme McComb!

Best Quotes:

Sara: "I could be unconscious and still be able to kick the ass of a few rent-a-thugs from 1975."

Stein: "This is right when I meet my future wife, Clarissa. So obviously, we wouldn't want my former self tempted by a sexy assassin from the future."
Sara: "Aw, you think I'm sex-"
Stein: "Do not finish that sentence."

Blood Ties

This episode is a prime example of what stopped this show from reaching its full potential before Destiny (its best episode and the second-to-last episode of the season): it's too dang FRAGMENTED.


Main plot: Sara and Rip break into a bank to steal Savage's funds. Another awesome fight scene for Sara, where her struggle with bloodlust from the Lazarus Pit is placed front and center, but before it can overcome her completely, she and Rip take a captive to obtain more information on Savage.


Kendra is lying unconscious in the med bay, pieces of Savage's dagger trapped in her bloodstream and heading for her heart (did anyone else miss the part in the last episode where the dagger actually broke?). Ray has to shrink down to get into her bloodstream to pew-pew the pieces into smithereens (which could still probably cause some damage) with Stein there for emotional support. But, Ray has a crisis of confidence.

Side note: Was anyone else terrified when Ray panicked when he was inside Kendra's veins? I know they wouldn't do that on this show, but in the back of my mind I was terrified Ray was going to shoot up to full size and Kendra would just go SPLAT! Ughh. Give me a frikkin' anxiety attack.


Snart steals an emerald and goes to his childhood home, ending up having an unexpected heart-to-heart when he runs into his younger self. He gives the emerald to his father, who physically abused him and his sister when they were kids, so his father won't be sent to jail for stealing it, since it was after he got out of prison that the abuse started.

The conversation between Snart and his childhood self is a really touching scene. Hats off to Wentworth Miller, who injects some much-needed pathos into Snart and makes this a really lovely, sad, heartbreaking moment. We've never seen Snart without a smirk on his face; this is the first time we've seen him be absolutely sincere and genuine, and that really makes the episode. I mean, look at him:

The fact that he can switch from that face to one of pure hatred when his father enters the room gives such an emotional charge to the whole scene, and also makes us aware of just how hard and cynical Snart has had to become in order to leave his past behind. Even though this scene is so out of place from everything else happening in this episode, it's probably the first moment of real emotional connection to one of the characters, and for that I will give the writers their due.

Best Quotes:

Mick: "We know how to case banks. We're practically bankers."
Snart: "Except we take the money out."

Jax: "Is there anything you think about other than yourself?"
Snart: "Yes. Money."

White Knights

No question, this is Captain Cold's episode, and Wentworth Miller makes the most of every minute of it, with Snart's snarky drawl and trademark smirk.

True, this episode probably focuses too much on Snart (considering there are seven other characters who need something to do), but I can't help it - I just love everything he does in this. From that swoon-worthy catch of the military officer at the Pentagon, to stealing Valentina Vostok away from Ray's failed attempts at romance, Snart is cool, confident, and a surprise ladies' man- who knew? Smooth as ice, indeed!

Captain "Steal Yo Gurl"
Of course, there are other, probably more important things going on, too: we get our first genuinely intriguing villain, Dr. Valentina Vostok, who wants to create a Soviet Firestorm; Time Master Druce tries to kill Rip, our first clue that the Time Masters aren't a particularly nice bunch; and Sara and Kendra spar on the Waverider - which, while interesting, lacks weight since it remains outside of the main conflict. Blend your story lines, blend, come on!

I do love the ending when Snart pulls his gun on Rip. Their perpetual tug-of-war of leadership in the team is already apparent, and that tension gets jacked to the max when Snart threatens Rip. Leading the Legends isn't an easy job, but, I have to say, at this point I think Snart would make a better leader than Rip. The only thing stopping him is he has to learn to care about the team as much as he does Mick or his sister Lisa. Rip is trying to save the world, but his motivation is ultimately selfish - a fact that will definitely come back to bite him.

Best Quotes:

Ray: "Better go bone up on Vostok's CV."
Snart: "I guess I'll bone up on the ballet. Gideon: bone me."
[Best line, and line delivery, of the episode, I swear. I bust out laughing every time]

Vostok: "You used me. You work for the American government."
Snart: "I'm wanted by the American government, does that count?"


This is finally an episode that feels like it can stand on its own, that it knows the kind of show it is, the story it wants to tell and how to tell it. Everyone has something to do; no one is off on little side missions that have nothing to do with the main plot. We have focus, we have clarity, we have even tone and pacing. Finally. Let's show what this show can do!

Mick, Ray, and Stein are captured - time for a rescue mission (and plenty of Prison Break references)! Sara, Snart, and Rip engage the Bratva to break into the gulag.

A stray observation: I don't know if this is a coincidence that this episode is written by two (presumably) straight women, but there are a ton of shirtless scenes here - for Rip in the sauna, and for Mick and Ray when they're being tortured. Is this shameless gratification, or just per the CW contract?

And then there's Snart, J chillin' (metaphorically) in his robe:

Rockin' the white cotton
Meanwhile, Vostok is trying to get the Firestorm formula out of Stein. Ray and Mick are in prison, and they're tortured in front of Stein to make him confess. Rip tasks Sara with killing Stein if the mission fails, and, at long last, Vostok succeeds in merging with Stein to create the Soviet Firestorm. Fail-Safe's plot is solid, which finally gives this show the vehicle to showcase what makes it worth watching: the relationships between the characters.

Ray and Mick are a fascinating combination I never thought would work, but, strangely, it does. Mick works best with his opposites; that's why he and Snart work so well together. Ray is the exact opposite of Snart, yet somehow he and Mick work, too. How?

Well, Snart and Ray place emphasis on different things: Snart is all about the mind, tactics and strategy and planning ahead, while Ray is all about the heart, caring about other people. Mick and Snart's partnership is divisive, with Snart as the brains and Mick as the muscle; Ray and Mick's temporary partnership, however, is more inclusive, with Ray as the heart, and, because of this natural vulnerability and compassion, inviting Mick to also be more compassionate. Mick likewise tries to teach Ray to be more of the muscle and look out for himself. It's an interesting dichotomy, but one that works surprisingly well. It also rounds out Mick as a character a bit more; after Ray takes a beating for him, you can tell he's surprised and touched, and thus more open to caring about somebody else on the team besides Snart, even if he won't admit it.

Stein and Jax as Firestorm is also a great relationship that gets explored here, one that shows how much their trust has grown, and Jax's belief in Stein ultimately saves them from Vostok's Firestorm. But my favorite relationship is the episode's biggest surprise: Sara and Snart.

Snart stops Sara from killing Stein? Is this still Captain Cold we're talking about? Apparently, yes - and that's what makes this episode for me.

From the pilot, Snart's interest in Sara has been clear, but more so as someone to flirt with than to actually care about. Here, though, his actions speak volumes: he recognizes her struggle with self-doubt - trying to ignore her own personal objections for the greater good, her desperation that her dark past might finally result in something worthwhile. He sees that, and seems to understand; for some reason, he wants her to be better. He knows she is better. And so it's him who ultimately convinces her to spare Stein.

This seems to come right out of the blue, and yet, somehow, it fits. The assassin who wants to reform, the hardened crook who believes in her - that's a story I'll keep coming back for.

Best Quotes:

Jax: [after sprinting across prison yard] "Barry Allen who?!"

Snart: "Sara, don't do it."
Sara: "I don't have a choice. It's the only way to save Star City - the future."
Snart: "That's how a killer thinks. And that's not you anymore."

Star City 2046

I hadn't seen Arrow before watching this episode, so I wasn't that invested in what was going on. I'm on Season 2 now, and while I am enjoying it, I'm just not as into it as I am this show or The Flash. If you're an Arrow fan, you'll probably enjoy this episode; I know a lot of people did. As for me, I'll say I wish Grant Wilson had been a bit more intimidating. 

I did, however, love how Snart was completely bored out of his mind in the criminals' den! That was unexpected, and thus frikkin' hilarious.

Best Quotes:

Mick: "We're not going to sit here, are we?"
Snart: "Why don't we stretch our legs at that bank we passed three blocks back?"

Sara: "That's not Oliver Queen."
Ray: "Sure dresses like him."
Snart: [dodging arrow] "Shoots arrows like him!"


Well, here we are: the episode that made me fall hard for Legends of Tomorrow. 

I've gushed on and on about this particular episode already, so I'll keep it short(ish) here. But I can't help it: I really love Marooned.

Structure-wise, this episode was a huge relief in that it finally laid the groundwork to give Legends the solid foundation it needs to work as a show: the back story of Rip and his wife Miranda, the reason for why the Legends exist as a team in the first place.

We also got a little world building, as the team encounters a new threat: time pirates, criminals who illegally use time travel to commit crimes throughout the time-space continuum. Now that's an interesting idea, considering with law and order (the Time Masters) you always have someone bent on defying it, and I hope we get to explore that idea even more in Season 2.

But what's really great about this episode is the relationships explored within it. The main conflict is the most tragic one: Snart and Mick, who have been at odds since Snart knocked Mick unconscious and forced him back on the Waverider in Star City 2046. Seeing that partnership break down is frikkin' heartbreaking, especially since it's been established from the start how loyal they are to each other. But Snart's loyalties have changed, shown particularly well in the scene between him and Sara when they're freezing to death in the engine room. Once again, Wentworth Miller and Caity Lotz's chemistry is amazing, and in their conversation it comes through loud and clear: Leonard Snart has finally found his heart.

Which makes it even more crushing when, at the end of the episode, after Mick has placed all of the Legends' lives at risk by letting the pirates take over the ship, Snart is forced to take Mick off and "deal with him." 

If your eyes don't water even just a little when Snart and Mick are having that conversation at the end - well, you're made of sterner stuff than I. And then when Snart actually fires his gun at Mick, presumably killing him - "What! What?! What!!" (Me, when I first saw it.) It's so sad...

And yet...

...amazing! That's how you end an episode! What a cliffhanger! What an unforgettable ending! Woo! YES!

Best Quotes:

Ray: "Captain's log, stardate 837.9. We're awaiting word from the away team aboard the Acheron."

Sara: "I don't think Mick's problem is with the ship."
Snart: "You think it's with me."
Sara: "You did knock him out and force him to leave 2046 Star City - which is like Disneyland for felons."

Night of the Hawk

The mid-season finale is set in the 1950's, where a meteorite is turning rowdy teenagers into bird monsters, all kept hidden in an insane asylum under the care of Dr. Curtis Knox, a.k.a. Vandal Savage.

This is the show's first attempt at genre work - in this case, 50's horror movies. Some parts work, some parts don't; the surprising thing is, the one thing that hasn't been working all season finally does: Vandal Savage.

Up to this point, Savage has just been a drain on the show, sapping the energy from every scene he's in. I don't know who's responsible for this casting, and who knows, maybe Casper Crump has done good work elsewhere, but my god - is it possible for someone to have a negative amount of screen presence? Because with Crump as Savage, I might as well be watching static. 

Damien Darkh, for his whole two minutes of screen time in Pilot, Part 2 had more presence than Savage has had through a whole half season's worth of episodes. Granted, the writing is a bit thin, with the character basically going for taking over the world as his main life goal, but for Pete's sake - do you have to be so dull while doing it?

In this episode, Savage works a little bit better as the villain, mostly because the focus isn't so much on him as Earth's eventual dictator as it is on him as the (in his mind) jilted lover. Savage's influence across the whole of time is too broad for us as the audience to know what amount of concern we should be feeling; however, when he shows up on Kendra's doorstep, follows her around at the dinner party, stands way too close during an otherwise normal conversation, and brushes his finger across her face as he leaves - well, we get that creepy, stalker-ish vibe loud and clear. Now imagine your stalker has access to all of time - now we have more of an understanding of the threat Savage poses, to her and Carter, at least, and thus the team.

Other notables: There's a bit of commentary in this episode about racism and homophobia in the 50's, and I like that the show addresses that, especially the comment about the idyllic 50's being an illusion burnished by nostalgia. In related news, Sara finds romance with a nurse at the asylum, and that is very cute; I especially liked seeing Sara sailing in to rescue her love from the monsters. That's a heroic moment usually reserved for a knight on a white horse - I see some justice in it being the White Canary's!

There's also Snart in disguise as a G-man. And, yes. Just yes. Ten points to the wardrobe department!

Best Quotes:

Stein: "Come on, Ms. Lance. Even someone as jaded as yourself can't deny how idyllic this time was."
Jax: "Yeah, if you're white."
Sara: "And a man. And straight."
Stein: "Okay, okay, I get the point."

Stein: "We mustn't dawdle. I believe our lunch hour is nearly at an end. Come along, nurse."
Sara: "Just so you know, Ra's al Ghul taught me to kill someone slowly. Over the course of days..."

And thus, we've hit the mid-season hiatus. 

Despite its flaws, and unevenness in the tone and pacing, I love this show - this ridiculous, bizarre, wonderful show. It's a bit of Star Trek, a bit of Firefly, a little bit if you took The Flash and smashed it together with Doctor Who - my point is, it has such potential, and that's what I love about it. We'll see if it reaches that potential in the second half of the season, which I'll recount in Part 2. 

Until then, my fellow Legends!