Thursday, September 29, 2016

Legends of Tomorrow Season 1 - An Overview (Part 2)

Left Behind
Lost in time. Brainwashing ensues (for at least two people).
The good: 

-This episode introduces the concept of "time drift," when an individual lost in time tries to reaffirm their identity by returning to what's familiar - hence, Sara returning to the League of Assassins. It's an interesting psychological concept; I wish we'd gotten to explore it a little more.

-SARA'S AWESOME FIGHT - Holy crap, I could watch Caity Lotz fight all day. I mean, the choreography is amazing, and Caity makes it look so awesome, so smooth and beautiful and yet powerful at the same time. Sara's had some great fights, but I think this one is the best yet.

-THE REVEAL - Chronos is Mick! I confess, if I hadn't read it somewhere online, I probably wouldn't have seen this coming (I really need to stop reading comment sections). I love this twist. Mick is great for one-liners, and Dom does a fantastic job with what he's given, but because of the writing, Mick's been very one-note. Ironically, with the brainwashing from the Time Masters, Mick becomes more three-dimensional as a character, and we get to see a different side to him. This is the episode I realized Dominic Purcell could actually act; in his scene with Snart, Mick comes across as truly menacing, a genuine threat, and we know it's serious when he threatens Lisa. He, above all, knows how much she means to Snart.

-SNART IS A BADASS - Why does no one acknowledge this?! It's like they just assume Snart is awesome, so no one even reacts anymore - which, you know, of course he's awesome, but can he get some recognition at least? He broke off his hand to stop them from killing Mick. Broke off. His. Hand. I get there was a lot going on, but come on! I guess at this point no one expects any less - he's just Leonard F'ing Snart!

The bad:

-I wish we'd gotten to see some of the two years Kendra and Ray spent together in the 50's. This relationship obviously isn't going to last - it's clumsy at its worst and benign at its best - but it would have more emotional weight if we could actually see them getting to know each other and settling into their status as a couple. Why the writers invented this romance, I don't know, because it's obvious it's only around to cause conflict when Carter inevitably shows back up, who Kendra will ultimately end up with because of the writers' obsession with DESTINY (god, if I never hear that word again...), but if we're stuck with it, the least they could do is try to give us something to be invested in. Even if it was only five or ten minutes out of the episode, it would have been a lot more satisfying than just hearing out-of-context snippets about lucky water vases, however "cute" that may be.

Best Quotes:

[Sara and Kendra playing Life]
Sara: "Congratulations. You're a doctor."
Kendra: "You know, I thought about going to medical school once."
Sara: "Here you go. Ten-thousand dollar salary."
Kendra: "That's it? I made more as a barista."
Sara: "Well, it's 1958. You're lucky to make that as a woman."
Kendra: "Touche."

Snart: (to Mick) "Would you mind loosening these [handcuffs] up a little before you leave?"

Let's Kill (Baby) Hitler
The good:

-Props to the actor who plays Per Degaton, Cory Gruter-Andrew. The majority of Per's scenes are with Vandal Savage, and Gruter-Andrew just acts Casper Crump off the screen. Finally, we have a villain who's actually intimidating, and he's, what, twelve?

-The fact that the team's plan to save the world breaks down into Team Robot Army and Team Kidnapping is a better summary of the show than anything I could ever think of

-Snart turns into an Internet meme for a few seconds and actually says "Yaaaas" XD

Because honestly, what else would you say?

-Jax's face when Ray introduces himself as Dr. Hannibal Lecter is a thing of beauty:

The bad:

-There is way too much going on in this episode. Kidnapping Per Degaton, attempting to kill Per Degaton, the virus, the robot army, Ray's potential fatherhood, Snart and Mick's conflict - I would say this should have been split into two episodes, if the environment was interesting enough to stay in for that long. Sadly, it is not; it's like every generic dystopian future ever. I wish they'd been more creative with it.

-LACK OF TENSION - We know Rip's not going to kill Per; he's a douchebag sometimes, but he's not a murderer. Likewise, we don't care about Ray maybe having a kid he didn't know about; it's nice that Ray cares enough to be distressed about it, but when there's a giant robot army attacking, I don't really care whose pants you've been in!

-SNART - I feel like the writers lost track of where Snart's character development was, because he just feels off this entire episode. The Snart from the pilot may have been okay with killing a kid, but not the Snart from Marooned, or even as far back as Blood Ties. Also, what was Snart's plan when he proposed the fight between him and Mick? Mick's built like a wall; there's no way Snart's going to win. So Snart wants to die? But he's not really acting like it. The only conclusion that leaves is that Snart assumed that Mick wouldn't kill him - but he had no way of knowing that, and he's never showed great faith in Mick's (small) potential for mercy, anyway. The "man with a plan" felt like he was flying blind here - again, off. 

-Criminal under-use of Jewel Staite, who only got five minutes of screen time, tops. Any Browncoats watching, including this one, were extremely disappointed.



Best Quotes:

Jax: "If we're going to be checking out the future-"
Sara: "We should probably invite the Nerd Twins."
The Nerd Twins is now my favorite description of Ray and Stein.

Sara: [to Snart] "So stop being an ass, and go deal with it."
Sara Lance, life coach.

The Magnificent Eight
Not-So-Quiet on the Western Front
The good:

-This episode is definitely one of the show's best. Finally, after nearly a whole season of flailing around trying to find its way, it finds its niche: a genre piece, in the style of old westerns, with some sci fi thrown in - I'm getting Firefly vibes and I like it!

It's got a ton of atmosphere, it's a lot of fun, and, except for a few moments with Stein trying to save the kid, it never slows down - you always feel like you're always on your way to the next adventure. 

We get a bar brawl with the whole team after Snart shoots somebody (of course), Sara drinks Mick under the table, Ray gets to be John Wayne and stand up to the resident oppressive gang, Snart gets to be a sharpshooter (again, no one seems surprised by this! He's a thief, how would he know how to be a sharpshooter?? Because he's Leonard F'ing Snart. At least Jax gives him some credit this time!), Rip gets to do a quick draw duel, and the Legends get to scare the crap out of the townspeople when they reveal their powers in the final showdown. True to the show at its best, it's absolutely crazy, and absolutely fantastic.

-Jonathan Schaech is excellent as Jonah Hex, and his bromance with Rip is quite entertaining. I hope they bring him back next season!

-I loved how Snart refused to leave Jax behind. Within the Legends, Jax is everybody's kid brother, even Snart's.

-Also, in a show with mostly male leads, Sara and Kendra getting to do some bonding is always appreciated.

The bad:

-The Hunters were a bit too easily defeated. Otherwise, a solid episode!

The ugly:

-I suppose Jonah Hex's face? (which Ray is foolish enough to try to volunteer to fix)

Best Quotes:

[Snart shoots attacking gang member]
Stein: "You killed him!"
Snart: "You're welcome."

Mick: "You haven't drunk with me."
Sara: "Is that a challenge, Mick?"
Mick: "Line 'em up."

Last Refuge
The good:

-Fantastic work by one of my favorite directors, Rachel Talalay, who has also directed episodes of Doctor Who, Supernatural, The Flash, Arrow, Supergirl, and Sherlock. The final fight of this episode especially is stunning.

-I really liked the villain for this episode, the Pilgrim. Her powers of manipulating time are such an intriguing threat for the team to face off against. While Faye Kingslee's acting may have been a bit wooden at times, her delivery of the line "You don't need to understand" had me cracking up. I know the Pilgrim was eventually reduced to a pile of ash, but can we find a way to bring her back? With a show based in immortality, reincarnation, and a magical resurrection hot tub, there has to be a way!

-The one scene that really got to me was between Jax and his father. Franz Drameh doesn't always get his time to shine in this show, and it was a pretty short scene, but he managed to bring so much emotion to it. In a show that oftentimes opts for a lot of running around and yelling rather than just slowing down and letting its characters and their emotions breathe, Drameh brought the emotional resonance the episode needed...making the perfect case for why next season they should give him more screen time! 

"This isn't my element." God help me, even dumb jokes
 like this make me laugh. Bless you, Leonard Snart!
The bad:

- PACING - This would be a pretty amazing episode - if it kept up its momentum. But, as with a lot of the other episodes, the pacing just goes up and down, break-neck, then slouching, then back to break-neck as we race against the Pilgrim, but then stop along the way to meet Rip's mother and to have the Legends interact with their younger selves. I get it - these are essential elements to the plot, and I love them as individual scenes; Mick's scene especially with younger Mick is great. But together they just feel jumbled, letting the necessary tension die and leaving the audience unsure as to what level of concern they should be feeling for the imminent threat. I hope the writers work out this issue in Season 2, because it's letting a lot of potential go to waste.

-Ray, do not make out with your fiancee when your formerly dead fiancee is just on the other side of the door. That is wrong. On so many levels.


Younger Sara: (looking at Sara) "But she's-"
Mick: "Quite the badass."
I love how Mick is basically the president of the Sara Lance fan club. 

Best Quotes:

Kendra: "Ray and I are happy together. We should be able to enjoy that before I have to drop the whole "doomed love affair" thing on his head."
Sara: (sarcastic) "Yeah, I mean, who wants a relationship based on honesty and communication?"

Quentin: "I always knew that you'd end up caring for people. Protecting people."
Sara: "Well, I learned it from my dad."

Rock 'Em-Sock 'Em Robots!
The good:

-The best part of this episode is definitely the giant robot fight. I don't usually go in for stuff like Transformers, and I haven't seen Pacific Rim, but dang it if I didn't feel my inner child cheer when the giant Atom busted up the Leviathan. Woo! No doubt about it, it's awesome.

-CASSANDRA - Okay, so Jessica Sipos' acting was a little wooden, but I think the actress was running into the same problems as Kingslee did with the Pilgrim: trying to be stoic and commanding, which unfortunately comes across as bland and wooden when it lacks intensity. (For an example of what we need, see Caity Lotz's performance in Left Behind; she was cold and commanding, but she had an intensity that made her intimidating, and pretty mesmerizing to watch). But, I think this character has potential, and I'd like to see her come back. I think the writers were also trying to show a little spark between her and Snart, which was fine, but if they're going with the whole Sara/Snart pairing, Sara would totally kick Cassandra's butt - and then they'd probably make up and go for coffee or something.

The bad:

-CASSANDRA - Cassandra is way too easy to convince to turn against her father. Yes, it's interesting to see Snart of all people be the one to guide someone into the light, but if you're Vandal Savage's daughter, I don't think it would just take a half an hour of talking and walking around a refugee camp to convince you to turn your back on your father's entire evil empire, ergo your whole life and everything you've ever known. We needed something a bit more; as it is, it's just too easily resolved.

-MICK - What happened to Mick? It's like his entire personality reverted to what he was like before they even stepped on the Waverider. Maybe it's the writers' way of showing he's breaking away from his identity as Chronos. I mean, he's hilarious, but it felt out of place, and way too sudden!

-TIME TRAVEL RULES - Here is where it's most visible why the time travel aspect of this show isn't working. Rip says he can't go back to save his family because "time wants to happen." Yet, he's constantly worried about the team botching the timeline, saying "time is in flux." So which is it? If time wants to happen, why can't they do whatever the hell they want? If time is in flux, why is "destiny" brought up in every single episode? If time is in flux, destiny doesn't exist. You can't have it both ways. It's a real shame, because other shows, like The Flash, do time travel so well; it figures that the DC show whose premise is actually based in time travel can't seem to write it well!

-KENDRA - *scream of anguish*
Oh, Kendra. Why? Why do you have to be written so horribly? You could have been great. You could have been like Sara - three-dimensional, complex, likable, and badass - and yet, you're as awful as she is awesome.
This show is supposed to pivot on Kendra. She's the only one who can kill Savage; it's supposed to be her story that's driving this entire show.
She is one of the weakest, worst written characters I've ever seen. She isn't given even a vague rendering of a personality, she can't seem to physically exist within a story line without a love interest giving her a reason to be there (Cisco, then Carter, then Ray), and any kind of moment where she could potentially be amazing - taking down soldiers, rescuing members of the team - is immediately followed by her getting knocked out, kidnapped, or otherwise just negating her presence within the show. There is literally an entire episode, Progeny, where she does nothing but daydream, mooning around the ship while having flashbacks about Carter. And then here, when she finally has a chance to fulfill the only reason she's been around - to kill Savage - SHE CAN'T. 
Oh, my god, Carter reincarnates! You'll see him again! Even then, you literally know a person who came back from the dead - maybe there's another option there? You know there's reincarnation, immortality, resurrection, and just plain magic - why are you even worried about death at this point?? The entire fate of humanity is hanging in the balance! Smash Savage's head in!!
I feel so sorry for this actress. She's a successful singer, dancer, and actress on Broadway - she took over for Patina Miller as the Leading Player in Pippin, which is no small feat - and I feel like, with a little more experience, she could be a pretty good film/television actress. But, with the material they're giving her, there's nothing to work with. Don't hate Ciara Renee for this - she deserved better. Be disappointed in the writers for not being able to write more than one female character at a time who has actual depth and personality. 

Best Quotes:

Rip: "Now, in order to capture [Savage], I require the services of-"
Mick: "Killer, Klepto, and Pyro!"
Rip: "Bingo."
That's it. That's the show I want to watch. Killer, Klepto, and Pyro - where Sara, Snart, and Mick steal the jump ship and go through time causing shenanigans. I would watch the hell out of that.

Snart: (to Mick) "How about we play this like Chicago?"

River of Time
The One Where Everyone Takes Stupid Pills

This episode makes my brain angry. It's arguably the worst episode of the entire show, which is a shame, because it also has one of the best lines of the season (more on that later). What frustrates me is, I get what they're going for - Savage going all Hannibal Lecter and turning the team against each other. That idea could be a really interesting episode; the problem is, the writing isn't strong enough to make the situation plausible. 

Savage isn't intimidating enough, or apparently smart enough, to manipulate the team in ways that we can believe; instead, the only way to get the team to where the writers want them to be - in conflict and without hope - is by them being really, really stupid. 

Okay, first, the good:

-SARA - Captain Sara Lance. I love this so much. And the great thing is, I can believe it! If anyone's going to pilot the ship, out of all the Legends, it would be Sara.

-THE END OF "KENDRAY" - Holy god, I'm so glad this pairing is over. The actors did the best they could, but we could see from the beginning that it was pointless. And now it's gone - hopefully never to return.

-CARTER - I guess the trick to making a character more interesting in this show is brainwashing them. Carter returns as Scythian Torvil, and wow - Falk Hentschel can actually act! Evil Carter is so much more interesting than regular Carter ever was.

-FIRESTORM - The one truly emotional moment is between Jax and Stein when Stein sends Jax back to 2016. It's touching to see how far their partnership has come since the pilot - now it's not just a partnership, it's a friendship.

-"Alexa" - I love when Snart or Mick make references to their criminal past together. It adds a lot to their partnership - plus the way Alexa was brought up again at the end was a nice touch on the writers' part.

The bad:

-RIP - Rip is the worst leader ever. Yes, send Jax to die - your guilty conscience definitely makes up for that!

-RAY - Ray is not this stupid. He wouldn't let Savage out of his cell just because of some wounded pride. For Ray, ego is not the problem, so it doesn't make sense for him to be the one to let Savage out. That's stupid writing.

-"TWISTS" - Savage has been traveling through time? And he's working with the Time Masters? Whoa - actually, no, Rip should have suspected this from the start. Especially as a former Time Master. These twists aren't clever; they're so frikkin' obvious! 

-CARTER DYING - I laughed so hard when Savage stabbed Carter. Seriously, writers, you brought this character back just to kill him again? Ultimately he didn't die, but come on; I shouldn't be laughing when a character is quite possibly dead! 

List of things Carter Hall is good at: 
-getting stabbed by Vandal Savage.

Best Quotes:

Savage: "Who are you to stand against me, Vandal Savage, destroyer of empires?"
Snart: "Leonard Snart, robber of ATMs!"
This is, undeniably, the best quote of the season. Not only is it a great line, but the way Wentworth Miller delivers it, with pure, unabashed pride, makes it gold. I wish this was in a better episode, because it cracks me up every time!

Rip: "You, Miss Lance, you're going to be our navigator."
Sara: "I was League of Assassins, not NASA!"


Finally, we get to the show at its finest. Destiny course-corrects and fixes the flaws that have marred the majority of Legends of Tomorrow's episodes - this time it actually has steady pacing, it builds tension, it shows character development, and it ties the season together under a genuinely intriguing plot element. 

Also it stabs you in the heart. 

Any show that can bring me to feel that strong of an emotion towards a fictional character has my respect. Good job, writers. I hate you.

The good:

-SNART - I suppose this was planned from the beginning. Looking back, I guess I should have seen it coming. Snart is so clearly set up as the snarky, cynical villain of the crew, and his subsequent journey towards hero is meant to make us love him even more. 

Snart is undoubtedly the best part of every episode; he always has something enjoyably sarcastic to say about the situation at hand, he's consistently a stone-cold badass, and watching him interact with the other characters - Mick, Sara, Jax, even Ray - is always solidly entertaining. That's why I was sure the writers wouldn't kill him off; he's the best part of the show. With how much Legends of Tomorrow can struggle otherwise, no way would the writers kill off its strongest element!

I was wrong. 

I'd like to give credit not only to the writers, but to Wentworth Miller, whose subtleties within his performance as Snart truly sold his character arc from villain to hero - in fact, really made the character that the whole fandom unanimously loves. The hamminess of his Captain Cold persona is what makes him such a fun character, but it's just that - a persona. What made Snart great was when we got to see past the Captain Cold mask - when he opened up to Sara, when he refused to leave Jax behind, the look on his face when Mick revealed himself as Chronos. With a lesser actor, I think this character might very well have ended up being inconsistent and a bit irritating; with Miller, though, he's complex, three-dimensional, and always a welcome presence on the screen.

It'll be interesting to see where they take this character in Season 2. I was a bit frustrated when I heard he would only be recurring, and apparently he's evil. Again (please don't let this negate his entire character development in Season 1; that would also be frustrating). I have my own theories about Legion of Doom Snart, and I think the show is definitely worse off for him not being on the team, but, hey - he'll be recurring on the other DC shows, too, which will be fun, and we have Vixen and Citizen Steel joining the crew. I'll wait to see what the writers do with it. Regardless, I'll definitely miss Season 1's Leonard Snart.

-SARA/SNART - There's a term in the domain of Tumblr known as "trash." Before this show, it never applied to me.

Now it does.

Maybe it's because it was the unlikeliest of pairings, and yet somehow it works beautifully; it's definitely because Miller and Lotz's chemistry is off the charts in any scene they're in together; it's also because the writers had nothing to do with it. That's why it works so well - it's not forced. The actors just decided to go with it, and because of that, it's one of the strongest elements of the show. 

I could go on and on about why I love them so much, but I'll spare you the details and just say this: it feels honest. It feels genuine. There's no bullcrap between them, no secrets or drama or typical melodramatic nonsense - it's just two equally awesome people who become great friends, and then fall in love. More of this, CW. Please. 

The bad:

Not much to say here. Everything actually works really well; it feels like the writers kept all this stuff up their sleeve and then finally revealed it in this episode - which makes for a great episode, but I wish they'd had more ideas at their disposal so the rest of the season could have been as good. If you're saving everything good for last, there's no guarantee people will stick around 'til the end to see it. 

The twist with the Oculus, Sara and Snart saving the day, Jax doing his own bit of saving the day, Mick and Ray bonding, a very small amount of screen time dedicated to Savage and Kendra - like River of Time is the showcase for the show's biggest flaws, Destiny is a display of the show at its best. I hope the writers take note and give us more of this next season.

Best Quotes:

[Snart waves deck of cards]
Sara: "Not in the mood."
Snart: "I was going to apologize for pulling a gun on you, but apparently I was just following a script."
Sara: "Doesn't make you any less of a jerk."
Snart: "...Guilty."

Snart: (to Time Masters) "There are no strings on me."
Again, from a lesser actor, this line would have come across as cheesy; from Miller, though, it's decidedly badass.

Third Time's the Harm

Remember those meteors? The one from Night of the Hawk? Vaguely? Also there was one in Pilot, Part 2? No? Well, too bad, because apparently they're the point of everything - at least according to the season finale.

The good:

-SARA - Sara finally finds out about Laurel's death...and it's heartbreaking. Caity Lotz's performance is amazing here; we see Sara go from disbelief and grief, to calm rage, to outright fury, and back to grief, pleading for Rip to take her back to save her sister. And, knowing Laurel's death comes on the heels of Snart's - I'm amazed Sara is even still standing. But she gets back up, and she kicks ass, like she always does - and that's why I love her. I think that's why it's so satisfying when she finally gets to SNAP Savage's neck. YES.
Which brings me to:

-KILL, KILL, KILL - I have never been so happy to see a villain die. The team gets to kill Savage three different times, in three different time periods, and I was practically cheering the whole way. Kendra finally gets to stab him  - YES! Mick burns him - WOO! Sara snaps his neck - AWW YESSS! That's for being the worst, least intimidating, two-dimensional villain I've ever seen on screen! DIE! DIE, YOU BADLY WRITTEN, PAPER-THIN EXCUSE FOR A CHARACTER! DIE!

-TRANSMUTATION - Firestorm has a new superpower! With Stein and Jax getting pushed to the side a lot this season narrative-wise, it was great to see them finally have something just for them to marvel at and experiment with. Can't wait to see how they use this next season!

-GOODBYE, HAWKS - The Hawks decide not to keep traveling with Rip - thank god. Apparently when show runner Phil Klemmer sat down with the writers and they tried to think of stories for Hawkman and Hawkgirl next season, they couldn't think of any, so they decided to bench them for now. Klemmer says it's because they'd already focused a lot on their story, so there wasn't much left to work with. I personally think it's because THEY'RE THE MOST BORING CHARACTERS EVER. Goodbye - only have Kendra come back when she has a personality and no love interest!

-JUSTICE SOCIETY OF AMERICA - Pretty great cliffhanger for next season. I know the Justice Society is the precursor to the Justice League, so it'll be interesting to see who they bring in for it. Our first official member is Rex Tyler, a.k.a. Hourman, who has superpowers for one hour by taking a special pill. I guess we'll see how this show interprets his powers/back story.

-SNART AND MICK - Oh, god, that last scene between Mick and past Snart. What are feelings and why do they hurt *SNIFF*

The bad:

-RIP - Oh, my god, no one cares. I stopped caring about Rip and his family ten episodes ago. Your grief does not give you the excuse to treat everyone around you like crap and put everyone else's lives in danger. Even when he risks his own life, it's totally pointless - holy god, you don't have to die. You have a jump ship! Use it! God, this is so stupid. I hope next season the writing for Rip is better, because as of this moment he is down there with the Hawks as one of my least favorite characters. Don't make me do that to Rory Williams!

-METEORS - If the meteors are such an important part of the show that they comprise the whole of the season finale, maybe they should have been brought up before. More than once. Maybe.

-LACK OF SNART - I kept waiting this entire episode for a snarky remark about the ridiculousness of everything going on. And then I'd remember - oh, right. In an episode as insane as this, we really need someone there who's willing to mock it, just to keep something grounded in reality. As it is, there was definitely a void there that I hope isn't felt so terribly in Season 2.

Whatever this episode's flaws, I have to concede that it definitely has a full barrage of great lines. So, without further ado:

Best Quotes:

Sara: "Glad we're past the point of worrying about the timeline!"
Me, too, Sara. Me, too.

Ray: "We don't need weapons."
Stein: "He's right. We have superpowers!"

Stein: "I never thought I'd utter these words, but I think we need a Nazi."

Sara: (to Savage) "A Time Master is never late."

[Bird monsters attack]
Ray: "Seriously? These guys again?"

[Firestorm turns meteor to water, washes over Sara's shoes]
Sara: (facetious) "Aw, man, you got my boots wet!"

[Hawks fly away after their final farewell]
Mick: "Every time they do that, I get hungry for chicken." (chomps chicken leg)

So, a weak finale for a bumpy Season 1. 

When Legends of Tomorrow is bad, it's really bad, but when it's great, it's so much fun. I can see the flaws, I know it's not a great show - but god help me, I love it. The cast is perfect, the premise is ridiculous and fun and awesome, and I can't wait to see what happens in Season 2. We've got Citizen Steel and past Vixen joining the team, no more Vandal Savage or Time Masters, Justice Society versus Legion of Doom (including a certain Captain Cold who somehow isn't dead) - just, give me all of it. I love its ridiculous, over-the-top insanity, and I can't wait for next season!

See you on Thursday, October 13th for "Out of Time"! Until then, Legends!

Best Season 1 Episodes:

Pilot (bar scene)


Star City 2046


The Magnificent Eight

Destiny (best episode)

No comments:

Post a Comment