Thursday, March 23, 2017

The Walking Dead Season 7, Episode 14: The Other Side

This week on The Walking Dead, we get something that literally no one who watches the show has ever asked for— an episode devoted almost entirely to Sasha and Rosita, the two least interesting characters on the entire series!

Sasha sort of had a storyline in Season 6 I think, when she developed a death wish after her brother Tyreese was killed. But much like Carol's odd personality change, it was abrupt, felt unearned and seemingly cropped up out of nowhere. And she got over it just as quickly, and inexplicably!

Rosita's fared even worse. She first appeared way back in Season 4, and we've learned literally nothing about her in all that time, except that she was Abraham's woman. That was pretty much it!

It's as if the writer's can't think of anything to do with the two of them, other than to have them both mourn Abraham. They finally decide to flesh them out a bit in this episode, especially Rosita. After four long seasons, we finally learn a bit more about her, other than her name. She opens up to Sasha, as she tells her where she learned to be a demolition expert (a skill that only manifested itself a couple of episodes ago). It's most likely a case of too little, too late though, because we all know what happens to characters on this show who suddenly infodump their backstories.

MILD PREDICTION SPOILERS AHEAD!

Even though Rosita seems to have a death wish, I think she's probably going to survive a bit longer. Sasha's the one who's going to die by the end of the season. As I've said several times now, she's signed on to play the lead in the new Star Trek: Discovery series, which doesn't bode well for her continued existence on The Walking Dead.

Showrunner Scott Gimple knows we all know this, and keeps desperately trying to convince us she's not leaving, saying he's willing to work around her Star Trek schedule. I don't buy it for a second. That's exactly what I'd say if I didn't want the internet to know one of my actors was leaving my show. Sasha's toast, guys. I'm 99% positive.

My prediction for Sasha? She's going to take the place of Holly from the comic. 

See, Sasha doesn't exist in the comic. However, she's very similar to a comic character named Holly, who lived in Alexandria (she actually popped up on the show last season, but was quickly killed off). Holly fell in love with Abraham, and ended up stealing him away from Rosita. Sound familiar? 

In the comic, Holly was captured by the Saviors and taken to Negan. He assures her he'll take her back to Alexandria, but only after he tortures her first. True to his word, he shows up at Alexandria's gate, and makes a big show of returning Holly to Rick. She's wearing a bag over her head, and the Saviors shove her toward the gate. Dr. Cloyd (who was still alive in the comic at that point) rushes forward to grab Holly. She removes the bag from her head, and we see Negan's apparently killed her and she's turned. She then bites the surprised Dr. Cloyd on the arm before Rick shoots her in the head.

I'm betting this is how Sasha's gonna go out. She'll get captured inside the Sanctuary, Negan'll torture her, he'll return her with a bag on her head, everyone will gasp in horror and she'll bite someone. The only question left is who'll she'll bite.

Speaking of predictions, a few weeks ago I outlined how I thought the remainder of the season would play out. I said we'd get an entire episode of Rick talking the Oceansiders into joining his fight. We'd get another in which something bad would happen between the Saviors and Ezekiel, which would cause him to side with Rick. And we'd get an episode in which Sasha and Rosita try and fail to kill Negan, causing him to attack Alexandria.

So far my predictions are all fairly on the nose. Something bad did happen between the Saviors and the Kingdom, and which indeed convinced Ezekiel to fight. And this week we got the Sasha and Rosita plot, although it's not quite played itself out yet. 

There're only two episodes left in the season, so I'm betting next week we'll get the Oceanside visit, maybe with a bit of Sasha's fate mixed in as well. I still think the season will end with Negan and his army rolling up to the gates of Alexandria.

There were a few nice character moments in this episode. It was touching to see that Daryl feels so guilty about causing Glenn's death that he can't even bring himself to look at Maggie. Gregory is still as wonderfully slimy as ever, and Simon continues to out-Negan Negan.

This episode would also like us to believe that Eugene isn't cooking up some elaborate escape plan, but has permanently turned to the Dark Side. Eh... I don't believe it. I still think he's working on some sort of long con. To do otherwise would be a HUGE departure from Comic Book Eugene, which would probably be a big mistake on the part of the show.

SPOILERS!

The Plot:
Through the power of a montage, we see the Hilltopian blacksmith making knives, spears and pitchforks for the community. Maggie & Sasha train various Hilltop citizens how to fight in the coming battle with the Sanctuary. Dr. Carson gives Maggie a sonogram, as against all logic and reason, she's somehow still pregnant. With every passing day, Maggie becomes more and more the defacto leader of the Hilltop, as the seat of power subtly shifts from Gregory to her.

Jesus draws a map of the Sanctuary and gives it to Sasha. She studies it intently, trying to memorize the layout. Later she visits Abraham's grave, as she appears to do daily. Maggie cooks steaks on a grill, and offers some to Daryl, who's still hiding out from Negan at the Hilltop. He still feels guilty about causing Glenn's death at Negan's hand, and can't bring himself to look at Maggie.

Sasha visits Abraham's grave again. Rosita arrives and says she needs Sasha's help, and we realize this entire opening sequence was a flashback to the end of Say Yes.

Later Jesus and Maggie chat, and he says that 
having her here's finally made him feel like he belongs at the Hilltop (?). He enters his trailer and sees Sasha packing, and realizes she's leaving to kill Negan. He asks her not to go, but she says she has to, and not to let Maggie know what she's doing. Sasha gives Enid a bracelet she made for Maggie's baby, if it's ever born some day (Plot Point!). Enid tells Sasha she'll give her ten minutes, and then she's going to tell Maggie what's happening. Sasha says that's fair, and leaves.


Suddenly the Hilltopians sound an alarm, signifying the Saviors are coming. Daryl grabs Maggie (because for reasons I forget, the Saviors aren't supposed to know she's alive) and they hide in the basement of Barrington House. Sasha finds Rosita, and the two of them slip out of the Hilltop through a secret exit.

Simon and a huge group of Saviors enter Barrington House and confront Gregory. Simon says (heh) he's looking for a certain somebody (aka Daryl), and suspects he's hiding out at the Hilltop. Gregory plays dumb, and the Saviors begin searching the place for him.

Meanwhile, Rosita and Sasha make their way to the Sanctuary, with a very half-baked plan to assassinate Negan. 
Rosita's plan is to enter the Sanctuary, find Negan among the thousands of people there and kill him at point blank range, which seems like the stupidest idea ever. Sasha would rather hole up inside an empty building outside the Sanctuary's gates and use a sniper rifle on Negan when he comes out, which seems like a much better plan. Rosita says if Sasha misses, their one chance will be gone. Sasha assures her she won't miss. The problem is that both plans will probably result in their deaths. One would think they'd try to plan out their attack a little better, but this is The Walking Dead, so...

Along the way, Rosita notices the necklace Sasha's wearing. She mentions that she made it for Abraham when they were hooking up, and sarcastically asks Sasha how she likes it. AWK-ward!

Later Sasha asks Rosita where she learned to disarm bombs and such (something the audience would like to know as well, since she acquired this skill seemingly out of the blue a couple episodes back). She curtly tells her learned it from someone she knew, and says she doesn't want to talk to Sasha unless it's about the mission.

Back at the Hilltop, Simon says he'll also be taking Dr. Carson with him, since Negan recently fired (GET IT?) the other Dr. Carson. Naturally this Dr. Carson doesn't want to go, but he has no choice, and Gregory offers no resistance. Simon leaves them a case of aspiring in exchange for the doc (!).

One of the Saviors enters the cellar, despite Enid's attempts to distract him. He searches around for a while, coming close to Maggie and Daryl's hiding place. Daryl moves to kill him, but Maggie hold him back, knowing this would cause them all to be Lucilled. The Savior picks up a few things and leaves.

Maggie asks Daryl why he was willing to risk everything to kill one Savior. Daryl, who has more cause than most to hate the Saviors, says it's because he deserved to die. Maggie decides she's had enough and orders Daryl to look at her. He can barely manage to do so through his guilt. She hugs him and tells him that Glenn's death wasn't his fault (even though it was) and that he's "one of the good things in this world."

Gregory has a private word with Simon, saying he's worried that taking the doctor away might make him look week in front of the Hilltopians, and that "someone else" could step in and seize power from him. Surprisingly he doesn't blurt out Maggie's name here, although I'm not sure why he doesn't. Simon tells him if he's having a problem with authority, to come see him anytime. He then draws a map to the Sanctuary (!) and gives it to Gregory (if you don't recognize this as a HUGE Plot Point, then you've never seen a TV show or movie before).

Cut to Sasha and Rosita, who apparently set up their sniper nest outside the Sanctuary while we weren't looking. Sasha looks through her powerful rifle scope and sees Eugene ordering people around at the fence. Rosita says he's no doubt playing some angle, and has an escape plan. Rosita finally decides to open up to Sasha, and tells her how she hooked up with a series of guys who taught her survival skills and demolition. Uh-oh, Rosita! You know what happens to characters on this show right after they reveal their backstories!

They both discuss Abraham, and Rosita says it wasn't his time, as he would have wanted to go out fighting. Sasha agrees, saying "That asshole with the bat took that away too." Sasha looks through the scope again and sees Negan walking around. Unfortunately she can't get a clean shot at him. For some reason, she immediately decides Rosita's right, and the only thing left to do is sneak into the Sanctuary.

Back at the Hilltop, Gregory tells Jesus that he's assigning new jobs to people, which will split up certain little groups (in an attempt to weaken Maggie's position). Later Daryl, crossbow in hand, asks Jesus where Sasha and Rosita are.

That night at the Sanctuary, Eugene's giving orders to a guard. Suddenly the guard's shot in the head, as Sasha and Rosita approach the fence and begin cutting through it. They tell Eugene they're rescuing him, but he doesn't move. He yells, "I didn't ask you to come, so go!" and runs back inside. The two women are gobsmacked. Sasha tells Rosita to keep watch while she cuts the fence. When Rosita turns around, she sees that Sasha's slipped through the fence and somehow sealed it up behind her, planning to infiltrate the Sanctuary alone. She says that Rosita's more valuable to Alexandria than she is and runs into the building.

Rosita hears Saviors approaching and runs off. She stops as she sees a shadowy figure (Dwight) with a crossbow (Dwight) barring her way (Dwight), that we're obviously supposed to think is Daryl (Dwight).

Thoughts:
• This episode begins with a montage at the Hilltop, that's a goldmine of "What The Hell?" moments.


First of all, I guess it's a good thing that Maggie and Sasha are training the Hilltopians how to fight and all, but... realistically, their throwing knives and homemade pitchforks ain't gonna be much use against the Saviors and their arsenal of automatic weapons.


Secondly, we see Sasha brooding as she sharpens a small hunting knife. Oddly enough, she pushes the cutting edge of the blade against the sharpening stone instead of pulling it toward her (in the photo above, she's moving it toward the right). 

OK, I'm no outdoor expert, but isn't that backwards? Aren't you supposed to move the knife edge away from the stone? The way she's doing it seems like it's going to make the blade duller instead of sharper!

Lastly, we see Dr Carson giving Maggie a sonogram. Jesus H. Monkey Fraking Christ, Maggie's STILL pregnant! Holy Crap! How the hell is this possible?

She first announced she was pregnant way back in the SEASON 5 episode Now, which aired on November 8, 2015! She's now well into her sixteenth month of pregnancy, and amazingly she's STILL not showing!

• I honestly don't remember why Maggie has to hide from Negan and his men. I think I remember Negan barging into Alexandria a few months back, and asking about "the pregnant girl," and for some reason Rick lied and said she died.

Not sure why it would matter if Negan saw her walking around. Is everyone afraid Negan would be mad if he found out they lied and Lucille her?

• At least we didn't get any wonky blue screen shots or circa 1997 CGI deer in this episode. In fact there were few if any special effects at all, other than in a few zombie-filled scenes.

• Now that Negan killed Dr. Carson in Hostiles And Calamities, he sends Simon to the Hilltop to retrieve the other Dr. Carson.

I want to hear the story of how two brothers who're both doctors (and look absolutely nothing alike) survived the zombie outbreak and ended up in two different communities. 
I feel like there's an interesting tale there.

I also don't understand why Negan let one of the Carsons live at the Hilltop in the first place. He obviously knows he's there, since he sends Simon for him. Seems like someone like Negan, who wants all the stuff, would want both Doctors Carson with him at the Sanctuary.


• The writers finally decide to give Rosita a bit of a backstory in this episode. While killing time in their sniper's nest, she tells Sasha that after the Zombie Apocalypse started, she hooked up with a wide array of men. She stayed with each one just long enough to soak up their knowledge and expertise before moving on to the next.

That's very similar to the way Sarah Connor learned her survival skills in Terminator 2: Judgement Day. Wait, did I say very similar? I meant exactly.

• So Sasha wants to kill Negan from a distance, while Rosita wants to barge into the Sanctuary and murder him up close and personal. 


Sasha's plan apparently wins, as she and Rosita camp out in a sniper's nest outside the Sanctuary. Sasha sees Negan milling around outside, but unfortunately she can't get a clean shot at him. She then IMMEDIATELY abandons her plan in favor of Rosita's!

Wha...? Seriously? She's discarding the sniper plan after trying and failing one time? 
What the hell? Why not wait another day or two for another opportunity? What's the rush?

Answer: Because there are only two episodes left in the season, and the writers need things to finally start happening.


• One thing about Sasha and Rosita's assassination plan that one seems to be addressing: they both seem to think that if they kill Negan, the Savior threat is immediately over. Apparently they think the Sanctuary's like an ant colony. If they can only take out Negan, then every single one of the other Saviors will instantly lay down their arms, hold hands and start singing Kumbaya.

There's no way in hell that would ever happen. If Negan was assassinated, there are probably twenty other Saviors who'd be more than happy to take his place, and the first thing they'd do is strike back at Alexandria and the other communities hard.

• Sasha cuts the chain link fence around the Sanctuary, slips through, and then while Rosita's not looking, she somehow seals it back up so she can't follow.


How exactly do you close up a chain link fence after cutting it open?

• Can I just say again how much I like Steven Ogg as Simon? And how I think he'd make a much better Negan than Jeffrey Dean Morgan?


The highlight of this episode was when he was using his "expressive face" to clue in Dr. Carson to the fact that his brother had expired.

• It may not seem like it right now, but Simon giving Gregory his address is a HUGE plot point. There's no doubt in my mind that Gregory's gonna get fed up with Maggie usurping his power, and run to the Sanctuary to ask Simon for help. Simon will then take Gregory to see Negan, who'll listen to his case and say he'll be glad to help. And then Negan will gut Gregory like a fish for being such a little bitch, just like he did when Spencer tattled to him in Hearts Still Beating.

I'm betting this'll all happen in the season finale.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

The Naked And The Streetcar

Next time you're feeling a bit down, you can always console yourself with the fact that at least you're not the poor schlub named "Kevin," who, on a recent episode of Wheel Of Fortune, guessed a "K" at this point in the game.

Yes, it's Tennessee Williams' most famous and beloved play, A Streetcar Naked Desire!"

The American Educational System at work, ladies and gentlemen!

It Came From The Cineplex: Logan

Whew! It was touch and go there for a while, but we all put our heads down, pushed ourselves to the limit and made it through the horrible, horrible January/February Film Dumping Ground! Finally! It should be smooth sailing now (for a while), as there're some pretty good movies filling the cineplex this month.

Logan was written by Scott Frank, Michael Green and James Mangold. It was directed by James Mangold.


Frank previously wrote Malice, Get Shorty, Out Of Sight, Minority Report, Flight Of The Phoenix (2004), The Interpreter, The Lookout, Marley & Me (!), The Wolverine and A Walk Among The Tombstones. Green has primarily worked in TV, writing episodes of Smallville, Everwood, Heroes and Gotham. He also wrote the screenplay for the Green Lantern movie. Well, I'm sure he's a decent person anyway...

Mangold is a prolific writer and director. He wrote and directed Heavy, Cop Land, Girl, Interrupted, Kate & Leopold and Walk The Line. He directed Identity, 3:10 To Yuma (2007), Knight And Day and The Wolverine.


SOME MILD SPOILERS AHEAD! YOU'VE BEEN WARNED!

Logan is a well written, well acted and very well made movie about superheroes that isn't a superhero movie. I cannot emphasize this enough— this is not a superhero film. There're no people in elaborate costumes shooting rays out of their hands to be found anywhere here. It's more like a post-modern, deconstructionist western, with a few superhero trappings thrown in here and there to remind us of what we're watching.

And you know what? That's OK! I'm fine with that. I have no problem with director James Mangold trying something different here. The genre needs to expand like this, lest it become stale and die.

I'm also impressed that Fox let Mangold make such an offbeat, bleak and dour film such as this, without attempting to meddle and tweak it for maximum audience appeal. Maybe Fox learned their lesson from their disastrous 2015 Fantastic Four train wreck, and have decided to let their directors do the job they were hired to do. Hear that, Warner Bros.? You don't have to micromanage and second guess your directors! That's how you get crap like Suicide Squad!

It's also a fitting and well-earned sendoff for the Wolverine character, as well as Hugh Jackman.

But (you knew there'd be a but), as much as I admire and appreciate Logan as a film, sadly it just didn't resonate with me the way it has with most of the public. I like the movie, but I don't love it. As good as it was, I honestly have no desire to ever see it again.

I think part of the problem is the grim and depressing tone. Logan is all about characters at the very end of their days. I just don't like seeing superheroes laid low in such a hopeless manner. Your mileage of course may vary.

Another reason I may not have loved the movie— unlike the entire rest of the world, I've never really been a fan of the Wolverine character. He's always been the focus of most of the X-Men movies, even when he shouldn't have been. In fact, he even shoved poor Kitty Pride out of the spotlight to take over as the main character in X-Men: Days Of Future Past. I just don't get his appeal.

As near as I can tell, this is the ninth time Hugh Jackman has played Wolverine, aka Logan, over the past seventeen (!) years. Yep, believe it or not, it's been a whopping seventeen years since The X-Men premiered way back in 2000. Where the hell has the time gone?

Jackman swears he's hanging up his claws for good, and this is the last time he's playing Wolverine. No doubt he wants to finally relax and eat something besides boiled chicken and wheat germ again! 

I wouldn't get too misty-eyed about Jackman's announcement though. I have no doubt that if they back a big enough truckload of money into his driveway, he'll change his mind. After all, old comic book characters die and get better all the time!

Logan is very loosely based on the Old Man Logan storyline  (by Mark Millar and Steve McNiven) that appeared in the Wolverine comic back in 2008. The comic story is set in an alternate future, in which Wolverine was tricked into killing off all the other X-men by Spider-Man villain Mysterio. He then goes on an introspective, cross country road trip with Hawkeye of the Avengers.

Logan tweaks the story quite a bit, ditching Hawkeye (since Marvel Studios owns him) for Professor Charles Xavier, and making him the one who killed off the X-Men in a psychic attack. The film also adds X-23, aka Wolverine's genetically engineered "daughter."

The film also borrows quite a few elements from the 2014 comic Death Of Wolverine, in which Logan's healing factor has been weakened by a super-virus, causing his adamantium claws and skeleton to slowly poison him. He ends up sacrificing himself to save a young group of mutants, which is quite similar to what happens in the movie.

Logan's "daughter" Laura, aka X-23, is also loosely based on her comic book counterpart, although the version seen here is considerably younger than she's typically portrayed.

One character I wasn't crazy about it the film was X-24, the Wolverine clone. Mangold worked hard to create a gritty, realistic, grounded (there's that "G" word) and lived-in world. He then comes thisssssss close to flushing it all down the crapper by dragging out the most overused and outrageously comic booky plot there is— the evil twin!

For any parents out there planning on taking your kids to this film, be warned— Logan is NOT a typical comic book movie. It's a hard R film filled with brutal violence and adult language, and is definitely NOT for kids. Even if you set aside all the adult content, there's little in the film that would appeal to a child who likes superheroes. I think a kid would be bored to death during most of it.

Despite that, I saw at least three or four clueless Parents Of The Year bringing their six and seven year olds into the theater with them, no doubt thinking this is a typical X-Men movie. Gosh, if only there were some way to inform parents as to whether a movie is appropriate for their children or not. Some sort of system that would label the content of a film, possibly assigning it a rating.


So far the film's a huge hit, pulling in $525 million worldwide ($185 million in the U.S.) against its $97 million budget. Hey movie studios, see what happens when you hire a competent director and leave him alone to make a movie?

Lastly, I think my favorite part of the film was the Deadpool 2 teaser that was attached to each print! I'm impressed that Fox, who makes the Deadpool movies, was somehow able to talk Warner Bros. into letting them use John Williams' iconic Superman The Movie soundtrack!

LAST CHANCE SPOILER WARNING!

The Plot:
It's 2029, and the world's a mess. Wolverine, aka James Howlett, aka Logan (played by Hugh Jackman), is now working as a limo driver in El Paso. He looks much older than he did the last time we saw him, as apparently his 
mutant healing factor has slowed down considerably. For the first time, any wound he receives now leaves a scar. Apparently his adamantium in his claws and bones are slowly poisoning him, and he's taken to self-medicating with booze to dull his constant pain. 


As Logan naps in the back of his limo, he's awakened by gang members trying to strip his ride. Tired and weary, he tells them to get lost. They begin beating him, and he reluctantly pops his retractable claws (sort of) and begins slashing away at them. He's shot several times before killing them all. He staggers into the limo and speeds away.

Logan drives across the border into Mexico to an abandoned shack. Inside he sees Caliban (played by Stephen Merchant), an albino mutant with a severe aversion to sunlight and the ability to track other mutants. Caliban lives in the shack and cares for Professor Charles Xavier (played by Patrick Stewart)..

Xavier, who's now well into his nineties, is the world's most powerful telepath. Unfortunately he's also suffering from dementia. His sanity comes and goes, and he occasionally has violent seizures, in which his mutant mind emits deadly blasts of psychic energy. Logan houses Xavier inside a fallen water tank to shield the world from his psychic blasts. He also keeps him under near constant sedation with drugs he scrounges from a local hospital.

Logan enters the tank and Xavier babbles incoherently to him. Suddenly he has a seizure and Logan's hit point blank by the psychic blast. He's barely able to sedate Xavier in time. Caliban complains to Logan, saying he needs to find more sedatives, as Xavier's seizures are getting worse. Logan says he's saving money for a boat, so the three of them can sail to the Bahamas, where Xavier won't be able to harm anyone. Caliban's less than thrilled by this prospect, what with his aversion to the sun.

Back in the States, Logan gets a gig driving a group to a cemetery. A Mexican woman named Gabriella approaches and asks for his help, but he rudely blows her off. Later in Mexico, Donald Pierce, the chief of security for Transigen, approaches Logan. Pierce, who sports a bionic hand, is one of the Reavers
— a group of cyberntetically enhanced enforcers. He asks of anyone's sought Logan's help recently. Logan lies and says no. Pierce gives him his business card (?) and leaves.

Later Logan gets a text and drives to a motel to pick up a fare. It turns out to be Gabriella, who offers him $50,000 to take her and her daughter Laura to a sanctuary in Canada called Eden. Logan sees Laura in the courtyard, playing with a red ball. Foreshadowing! He's suspicious, but since he needs $75,000 to buy a boat, he reluctantly accepts. For plot reasons they arrange to meet the next day, instead of leaving immediately.

For more plot reasons, Logan returns to Mexico and tells Caliban he'll be gone a few days on a job. Caliban senses Logan's sick, and is hiding some sort of illness. Logan angrily tells him to mind his own bees wax.

Logan returns to the motel, and finds Gabriella dead in her room, and Laura nowhere to be seen. Logan takes Gabriella's cell phone and leaves. He returns to Mexico (man, he puts the miles on that limo in this movie!) and Caliban notices the trunk is open and a red ball's lying on the ground. Foreshadowing Payoff!

Pierce returns (alone). and hints that he knows Logan's keeping Xavier inside the tank. Logan knocks him out and tells Caliban to take Pierce out into the desert and leave him. Inside the shack, Xavier's having a moment of lucidity as he feeds Laura a bowl of cereal. He scans her mind and realizes she's actually a mutant. He 
marvels (heh) at her, saying it's been twenty five years since a mutant was born into the world.

Meanwhile, Caliban drives Pierce into the desert. He wakes up and quickly overpowers the less-than-super Caliban. Pierce returns to the shack, just as his Reavers arrive. Pierce spots Laura and tries to capture her, but SURPRISE! She pops adamantium claws from her hands (two on each, as opposed to Logan's three) and a claw on each foot (?).

Laura savagely tears through the Reavers in a hard R-rated orgy of violence. Logan loads Xavier into the limo and roars off. Laura jumps in and they drive through the desert, with the Reavers in hot pursuit. Logan spots an approaching train and flies the limo across the tracks with millimeters to spare. The train forms a miles-long barrier between them and the Reavers and he drives off to safety.

Pierce then tortures Caliban with sunlight to force him to track Logan and Laura.

Meanwhile in El Paso, Logan watches a series of expository videos on Gabriella's phone. Basically she was a nurse at Transigen in Mexico, and Laura was a patient there
— not her daughter. The company was supposedly a cancer research facility, but in reality they were genetically creating mutants. The company, including project head Dr. Rice, treated the superpowered kids like lab animals, but Gabriella and the other nurses tried to give them as much of a childhood as they could.

Logan notes that the mute Laura's like a feral child, with no awareness of the rules of society. Xavier says Laura is Logan's daughter (actually, clone would be more apt), somehow created from his DNA, but Logan refuses to believe it. They stop in Oklahoma and enter a casino hotel to rest & freshen up.

In the hotel, Xavier and Laura watch Shane on TV, which I'm sure wasn't meant to be symbolic or a metaphor or anything. Logan looks through Laura's backpack and finds files Gabriella stole from Transigen, confirming that Laura
— also known as X-23— was grown from his DNA. This makes her technically his daughter. He watches another video on Gabriella's phone, in which she says Transigen shut down their Mexico facility, so she and several other nurses tried to smuggle the kids out and into North Dakota, where they could make their way to a place called Eden in Canada. He also finds an old X-Men comic (!) in the backpack, and as he leafs through it, and sees a mention of Eden. This calls the whole existence of the Canadian mutant sanctuary into question.

The next day Logan sells the limo and buys a used pickup truck. He returns to the casino hotel and notices Reavers milling around outside. He races up to his room to grab Xavier and Laura. Suddenly Xavier has a seizure and everyone in the casino is frozen in horrible pain. Logan struggles to enter the room, and sees it's filled with Reavers. He somehow manages to fight against the psychic assault and kill them all before sedating Xavier. He rushes Xavier and Laura to the truck.

Logan, Xavier and Laura then take an extended road trip to North Dakota. Along the way they're almost run off the road by speeding self-driving trucks (The World Of The Future!). A truck pulling a horse trailer is driven off the road in front of them. The driver manages to avoid crashing, but his horses escape the trailer and run out onto the dangerous highway. Xavier uses his telepathy to calm the horses and make them line up so the farmer and his family can get them back in the trailer.

Logan helps the family push their truck out of the ditch. They introduce themselves as the Munsons, and invite Logan and his "family" to a home cooked meal at their house. Logan politely declines, but Xavier says they'd be delighted. At the Munson house, Logan pretends Xavier's his father and Laura his daughter. After a satisfying meal, the Munsons insist their guests spend the night. Xavier readily agrees again, before Logan can protest.

Mrs. Munson notes that their water is out, and Mr. Munson says he'll have to fix the pump at a station several miles away. Logan offers to go with him. He sees the pumping station is actually owned by a huge corporation that's trying to force the Munsons off their farm. Mr. Munson cuts the lock on the fence and enters the pumping station and restarts the pump.

As Munson and Logan are leaving, they're confronted by a truckload of armed men who accuse them of trespassing. Logan manages to scare them off without killing anyone.

Back at the Munson home, Xavier's lying in bed, and sees a figure he assumes is Logan looming over him. He says this is the best time he's had in years. The figure looks exactly like a younger Logan, and he suddenly pops his claws and stabs Xavier in the chest (!). He grabs Laura and puts her in metal restraints, as we see he's already killed Mrs. Munson and her teen son.

Just then, the pump station rednecks arrive at the Munson house, eager for revenge. The Logan clone, who's called X-24, easily kills them all. Munson and the real Logan arrive on the scene and see the carnage. Logan rushes upstairs to rescue Xavier, while Munson's mortally wounded by X-24.

Logan and X-24 then fight, in another bloody, hard R-rated battle. X-24's winning of course, until he's shot by the dying Munson. Dr. Rice and Pierce arrive to capture Laura. Caliban's with them, and during the commotion he grabs two grenades and detonates them, sacrificing himself to give Logan and Laura a chance to escape. Pierce is caught in the blast, and Logan manages to get Xavier and Laura in his truck and drive off.

Some time later, Xavier begins coughing and Logan pulls to the side of the road. Xavier tells Logan to accept Laura as his daughter, and dies. Logan buries him next to a river. He screams in anguish and passes out.

Dr, Rice restores the battered X-24 with an injection of a glowing (of course) green serum. Pierce repairs his bionic hand, and notices Laura's comic book, which contains the coordinates to Eden.

Logan wakes in a doctors office, after Laura apparently stole an SUV and drove him there. He leaves with Laura, who's now inexplicably speaking Spanish. Logan drives a few miles, but the battle with X-24 was too much for him and he passes out again. Laura takes over and drives.

Some time later, Logan wakes up in the truck, and sees a house on a cliff high above him. He climbs up to the house and sees it's filled with other mutant children from the Mexican Transigen experiment. This is apparently Eden, which wasn't mythical after all. The kids nurse Logan back to health by giving him small, controlled doses of the green serum. After a few days he's almost back to normal, or at least to the level he was at the beginning of the film.

Laura sees Logan fingering a bullet, and asks him what it is. He says it's made of adamantium, the same substance as his unbreakable claws. He says it's the only thing that can kill him (Foreshadowing Alert!) and he once considered using it to commit suicide. He gives her the bullet. Plot Point!

The next day the New Mutants leave for Canada while Logan sleeps (So I guess this isn't Eden after all? Or it is, but was just the first stop on their tour? I'm confused). He wakes up some time later and spots the kids in the distance, making their way through the mountains. He also spots a Transigen convoy heading right for them. He injects himself with a large dose of green serum, and turns into the berserker Wolverine we all know and love.

The kids are being hunted down and tranqed by Pierce and his Reavers. Logan rushes in and kills dozens of Reavers, as Laura pops her claws and savagely helps. The serum begins to wear off as Dr. Rice appears and starts monologuing to Logan. He says Transigen wiped out all mutants twenty five years ago with a genetically engineered virus. They then began cloning select mutants (such as X-23 and X-24) to use as weapons. Rice also mentions that Logan killed his father during his escape from the Weapon X program at Alkali Lake years ago, and apparently wants revenge..

Logan decides he's heard enough exposition and shoots Rice dead. Pierce then sics X-24 on him. They battle again, while the New Mutants use their powers to kill Pierce. Somehow Logan calls up the last of his strength and overpowers X-24. Rictor uses his powers to lift the earth under a truck and slam it on top of X-24.

Logan tells the kids to hurry across the border to Canada, although I have no Earthly idea why anyone thinks that'll save them. Suddenly X-24 reappears like a slasher movie villain and impales Logan on a jagged tree branch. Laura shoots X-24 in the head with the adamantium bullet, killing him instantly. Plot Point Resolved!

The kids pull Logan off the branch, and he begins remembering film clips of his long life as he slowly dies. He tells Laura not to become the weapon she was created to be (seems a bit too late for that!) and dies in her arms.

The kids bury Logan, and Laura recites a speech from Shane over his grave. As the rest of the kids head for the border, she takes the crude cross from his grave and tilts it so it resembles an "X." She and the others head north to sanctuary.

Thoughts: 

• I'm not even going to attempt to figure out how this film fits into the laughable and completely hosed X-Men Movie Continuity. I gave up trying to make sense of the franchise's timeline long ago, and now just treat every film in the series as a standalone feature. It's easier on my head that way.

As a perfect example of this convoluted continuity, at one point Xavier says there hasn't been a mutant born in twenty five years. The movie takes place in 2029, so if I remember my math, that means the last mutant was born sometime in 2004!

The X-Men, which was released in 2000, begins with an onscreen caption that reads, "In The Not Too Distant Future." If we believe Xavier, then that means it probably took place around 2004 or even later— after the last mutant was born.

But then in nearly every movie, evil mutant Magneto goes on and on about how Homo Superior (aka mutants) will rule the world! How's he expect that to happen if no more of them are being born? It's gonna be a pretty short reign for them!

To complicate matters even further, the events of X-Men: Days Of Future Past supposedly altered the timeline, meaning certain events, and some of the movies themselves, never "officially" happened!

This is all just another example of the woeful, haphazard and "reset by time travel shenanigans" continuity of these movies.

• Thank Thor for Johnny Cash! Without the bleak and starkly introspective songs he wrote in the twilight of his career, modern movie soundtracks would be completely silent. Logan features two Cash songs! They use his cover of Hurt in the trailer, and When The Man Comes Around in the end credits.


To prove I ain't kidding, the new Pirates Of The Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales trailer even uses a Johnny Cash song! I don't understand what undead pirates and The Man In Black could possibly have to do with one another, but apparently Disney does!

To be clear, I like Johnny Cash as much as the next person. I'm just afraid constantly using him in EVERY trailer and soundtrack is going to turn him into the new "BRAAAAAAAAAHHHM! BRAAAAAAAAAHHHM!"

 It was a nice touch when one of Logan's claws refused to pop out all the way, as if even they're starting to wear out over time.

That said, he tries to pull it all the way out of its hidden socket in the worst manner possible— by grabbing the entire blade and pulling with all his might, slicing his fingers open in the process. Couldn't he have just, oh I don't know, gripped the TOP of the blade instead? I guess that just goes to show how tough our Logan is!
• X-23, aka Laura, actually got her start on TV rather than in the comics! She first appeared in the X-Men: Evolution TV series in 2003. She made her comic book debut in NYX in 2004.

In the comics she's the cloned daughter of Wolverine, designed to be the perfect killing machine for an organization called The Facility. She eventually encounters Wolverine, and becomes a student at Xavier's School For Gifted Students, and later becomes a member of the mutant team X-Force.

Like her "father," she has a mutant healing factor, enhanced speed and senses, and retractable adamantium claws in her hands and feet. Why only two claws on her hands instead of three? Because comics, that's why!

• Caliban's appeared in the X-men movie universe before. He was in X-Men: Apocalypse, although there he was played by actor Tómas Lemarquis and seemed like a completely different character. He's played here by writer/actor Stephan Merchant, who co-created the original British The Office with Ricky Gervais. 

Caliban's been in the comics for years, first appearing way back in 1981, where he was a member of an underground-dwelling clan of mutants who called themselves the Morlocks. He's flipped sides numerous times, even joining the various X-men teams at times.

• Donald Pierce and the cybernetically enhance Reavers have appeared in various X-Men & Wolverine comics over the years. As you might expect though, their appearance in the comics is a bit more extreme. Look at those guys! No wonder they're so angry! You'd be upset too if everything below your waist was replaced by a tank!

• Earlier I said I am not a fan of the Wolverine character. I think a big part of that has to do with the slapdash nature of his origin and powers, and the way it seems like it was all made up as the creators went along.

For example, Wolverine first appeared in 1974 (!), in The Incredible Hulk #180. In that issue, his trademark metal claws were actually built into his gloves, and not part of his body!

Think about that for a minute! The most iconic part of the entire Wolverine character— his claws— started out as what amounts to party horns that extended from the backs of his gloves!

In 1975, Wolverine joined the all-new X-Men team, and his claws were retconned so they were now bionic implants, which extended from the back of his hands. This is where we also discovered he was a mutant with the ability to ability to heal faster than normal. 

After that, new traits and powers gradually accumulated on the character like barnacles. Not only were his claws made of adamantium, his skeleton was replaced with the indestructable metal as well. When a reader helpfully pointed out that bones actually generate blood cells in the human body and Wolverine couldn't survive with such an alteration, the writers quickly backtracked and said his skeleton was merely reinforced with adamantium!

Sometime in the 1990s, the concept of Wolverine's long life was introduced, as we found out he was born sometime around 1880 and fought in every major war afterward. This was also the period in which the villain Magneto, who can control metal, pulled all the adamantium from Wolverine's body, revealing that his claws were actually made of bone, and just covered with metal (?).

As I said, virtually everything about the character is convoluted and feels like it was made up as time went on.

Of course, the same thing happened with Superman, who's one of my all-time favorite characters. So maybe I have no idea what I'm talking about.

I appreciate the fact that the movie doesn't spoon-feed info to the audience, requiring us to work things out for ourselves.

For example, I don't think anyone actually comes out and clearly spells out that the adamantium in Logan's body is slowly poisoning him and causing his mutant healing factor to fail, but it's pretty heavily implied.

Similarly, Xavier briefly mentions the "horrible thing he did in Westchester." The script doesn't elaborate on what exactly happened, but I can make a pretty good guess. Xavier's School For Gifted Youngsters was located in Westchester, so I'm betting he probably experienced his first psychic seizure there, which inadvertently killed all his students.

• Speaking of Xavier's psychic seizures, they were almost as bad in the theater as they were in the world of the movie! The one he had in the casino just went on and on, and after a while it felt like someone was sticking an ice pick in the corner of my eye. It felt like the speakers in my theater were tuned to the precise frequency to drive me nuts. It definitely helped draw me into the movie, as I kept wishing Logan would hurry up and sedate Xavier.

Kudos to the filmmakers for such a creative, if annoying, sequence!

• Logan looks through Laura's backpack and finds a stash of old X-Men comics. Apparently in the X-Men Cinematic Universe, the team is real, but Marvel produces a series of comics inspired by their exploits.

Eh... I'm not a fan of this idea, as it kind of took me out of the movie for a bit. This is actually an old trope, used quite a bit by Marvel Comics. In the early days of The Fantastic Four, the Thing reads an FF comic book and complains about how inaccurate it is.

By the way, the X-Men comics Logan leafs through were created especially for the film by Marvel CCO Joe Quesada and Dan Panosian.

• During their road trip, both Logan's group and the Munson family are almost killed by fast-moving, self-driving trucks roaring down the highway. Does that seem right? If corporations of the future insist on these dangerous vehicles sharing the road with humans, shouldn't they have their own restricted lane?

• As Xavier rests in the Munson's home, he's attacked by X-24, a clone of Logan. For a couple of seconds, I honestly thought X-24, with his slicked back hair and mutton chop sideburns, was Logan's old nemesis Sabertooth. I'm betting that was intentional.

As I said earlier, I felt the X-24 character almost derailed the film. It wanted so much to NOT be a comic book movie, and then it goes and includes the most over the top comic book villain possible.

I get the metaphor— X-24 was a younger, sleeker version of Logan, and he was literally battling the memory of himself here. But I think his inclusion may have gone a step or two over the line.

• In Eden, Rictor injects Logan with the green super serum to help him heal faster. Logan objects, as he saw Dr. Rice inject X-24 with the serum, which caused the clone to fly into an uncontrollable berserker rage. Rictor assures him the serum's safe in small doses.

How the hell does he know THAT? He's a twelve year old kid! Were the New Mutants regularly injected with the serum in Mexico, so he knows of what he speaks from experience? Does the label on the serum bottle say, "WARNING! Administer in small doses, to avoid berserker rage?"

• Speaking of Rictor, as one of the New Mutants, he has the power to control the Earth and cause it to quake. I'm assuming this is how he got his code name. For some reason though, it's spelled "Rictor," instead of "Richter," as in "Richter Scale." There's a version of the character in the comics, and his name's spelled the same way there too. Odd.

• Logan carries an adamantium bullet, saying it's the only thing that can pierce his metal skull and kill him. I'm not quite clear on how that's supposed to work. 
Adamantium is an indestructible metal. Nothing can cut, break or burn through it. I guess the movie wants us to believe that the only thing that can affect adamantium is more adamantium. I suppose that might work, but it seems iffy to me.

By the way, the adamantium bullet made its debut back in X-Men Origins: Wolverine. In that film, William Stryker shoots Logan in the head at point blank range with an adamantium bullet. Strangely enough it doesn't kill him, but it does cause his infamous memory loss.

• It was great to see a superhero movie in which the entire world isn't at stake. Logan's just trying to protect some kids from some guys with guns. For once there was no blue laser shooting up into the sky at the end!

• Logan tells the New Mutants to hurry and cross the border into Canada, where they'll be safe at last. But why? Pearce and the Ravagers don't seem like the type who'd respect national borders. Are we to believe these hired killers and thugs will stop at the edge of the border, put their hands on their hips, say, "Dang it, they got away!" and then turn around and go home?

I suppose at that point, Dr. Rice, Pierce and probably all the Reavers were dead, so maybe there was no one else chasing them.

Logan is a dark, gritty, hyper-violent and well-made film that's more like a western than a superhero movie. Don't like traditional superhero movies? Then you'll love Logan. t's definitely worth a look at the cineplex. But leave your kids at home. I give it a B+.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Legends Of Tomorrow Season 2, Episode 14: Moonshot

This week's Legends Of Tomorrow was filled with the usual Silver Age insanity and goofiness (in a good way), and a hell of a lot more fun than this week's dour and depressing The Flash.

The best part about this episode was the fact that it acknowledged Rip Hunter's new persona non grata status on the show, now that White Canary's taken over as Captain of the Waverider. To my great surprise and the writer's credit, it looks like this change is going to stick, and Rip isn't going to shove Canary out of the Captain's chair any time soon. 

That's good, because she's a far better Captain than Rip ever was. The writer's know this as well, and even acknowledge it in a fun little meta scene!

There's also an odd attempt this week to humanize Eobard Thawne, aka the Reverse Flash, as he sort of bonds with Atom. I'm honestly not sure where they're going with this subplot maybe they're just trying to give their main villain a bit of depth.

There was lots of fun period detail and NASA history this week, as the Legends attempted to save Apollo 13, which, due to a time aberration, didn't actually need saving!

Missed opportunity: Last week I predicted that since the Legends would be visiting the early days of NASA, they'd run into Katherine Johnson and do a little Hidden Figures tribute. Sadly, that didn't happen. 


For a second I thought it was going to though, when Canary said she needed to know the exact reentry trajectory, and Stein said he couldn't figure it out without a supercomputer. I was half expecting Katherine Johnson to stick her head in and say "I can do that!" But that wouldn't have allowed the Legends to have their dramatic "Can We Trust Thawne?" moment. Plus Katherine was probably busy looking for a place to go to the bathroom. Ah well. Their loss!

SPOILERS!

The Plot:
In 1965, Rip Hunter brings Commander Steel of the Justice Society to New York City. He gives him the final piece of the Spear Of Destiny, telling him to guard it with his life. Commander Steel, aka Henry Heywood, regrets that his family will think he died in the Battle Of Leipzig in 1956, but accepts the mission. He hands his dog tags to Rip and makes him promise to give them to his young son Hank.

The two men part ways and vanish into the crowds. A second later, Current Rip Hunter, Steel, White Canary and Vixen appear, looking for Past Rip and Henryl. Rip says this is the exact moment in which he gave Henry the Spear fragment, but they can't find him anywhere.

Back on the Waverider, the Legends discuss how to find Henry. Vixen says he was a fighter pilot, and Professor Stein suggests he might have gone to work at NASA. They have Gideon search NASA records, and sure enough, they see Henry's working there on the Apollo 13 mission in 1970. Rip enters the bridge, saying he has an idea how to find Henry. Canary tells him they've already figured it out, and they're on their way to infiltrate NASA. Rip, who of course was the former Captain of the ship, looks annoyed.

Canary, Vixen and Steel join a NASA tour group, hoping to find a way to sneak into Mission Control. Meanwhile, Rip and Atom attend a press conference given by Henry. He sees Rip, punches him in the face and has security haul him away. In the holding room, Atom asks Henry why he punched Rip. He says because Rip ruined his life, and he couldn't help himself when he saw him. Canary, Vixen and Steel enter the holding room. Steel, aka Nate Heywood, has an emotional reunion with Henry, his grandfather. Canary sees Rip in the cell and demands that Henry release him.

Steel explains that the Legion Of Doom is searching for the Spear Of Destiny, and already have three of its four pieces. He says the Legends are there to protect Henry's piece of it. Henry tells them there's no cause for alarm, as he hid his piece in the safest place possible— inside the flag that Neal Armstrong planted on the moon in 1969!

Steel asks how Henry plans to save the current Apollo 13 mission, which was aborted after an oxygen tank exploded. Henry doesn't know what he's talking about, as the mission's going perfectly. The Legends realize there's been a time aberration, and the Legion Of Doom has altered history. They're heading for the moon to retrieve the Spear shard, and the Legends have to stop them.

Cut to the Apollo 13 capsule as it hurtles through space, carrying astronauts James Lovell, Fred Haise and Jack Swigert. Suddenly Swigert morphs into Eobard Thawne, aka the Reverse Flash.

Back at NASA, Henry arranges for Stein, Jackson and Heat Wave— all in appropriate period attire— to enter Mission Control, claiming they're British observers (?). Stein and his pals will make sure the control crew doesn't witness anything they shouldn't regarding Apollo 13, to prevent history from becoming even more messed up.

Henry joins the rest of the Legends on the Waverider, and they blast off into space. Steel notices that Henry still seems upset about something. Henry says he still resents the fact that Rip's mission kept him away from his wife and son Hank. But now that he's on a time ship, he says he can go back to 1956 and it'll be like he never left! Steel's all for this idea, as he says his father Hank was cold and distant, no doubt because Henry wasn't in the picture. He hopes that if Henry returns, it'll alter Hank's life, as well as his own.

The Waverider locates Apollo 13, and Atom shrinks and flies over to the ship. Somehow he manages to enter the airtight spacecraft, and sees the unconscious astronauts. He then sees Thawne entering the Lunar Lander. Unfortunately Thawne spots him. Atom grows to normal size and the two engage in a zero-G battle. For some reason, Thawne feels the need to announce that his superspeed doesn't work in zero gravity. That doesn't make a bit of sense, but it's a lucky break for Atom!

During the battle, Atom accidentally hits a red (of course!) button, which separates the LEM (Lunar Excursion Module) from the Apollo capsule, sending it hurtling toward the moon. Atom knocks out Thawne, and desperately tries to regain control of the LEM.

Canary radios Stein in Mission Control, telling him he needs to distract the ground crew so they don't see Atom land on the moon. Stein panics, and does the only thing he can think of— he starts singing Day-O (The Banana Boat Song). Amazingly, Heat Wave joins in the call and response tune, to the bewilderment of the ground crew. Meanwhile, Atom manages to land the LEM successfully, if a bit roughly, on the moon.

Atom radios the Waverider, saying the LEM's damaged and won't be able to take off again. Canary says they'll come pick him up. In the meantime, Atom ties up Thawne and somehow exits the LEM without killing him. Luckily he just happened to crash very near the Apollo 11 landing site, and recovers the piece of the Spear from the flag there.

Suddenly a meteor shower appears in space, threatening the Apollo 13 capsule. The Waverider zooms over and protects the fragile capsule from the space rocks. Unfortunately the meteors end up damaging the Waverider, disabling Gideon and sending the ship tumbling into space, meaning they can no longer rescue Atom on the moon. Canary tells Atom he's on his own. Thawne wakes up and tells Atom he doesn't want to die on the moon, and they'll have to work together to survive.

Back on the Waverider, Steel tells Vixen that Henry wants to go back to 1956 and salvage his life. He says he's all for it, as this would alter the lives of the entire Heywood clan for the better. Vixen realizes this would irreparably alter the person Steel's become, and tells Henry he can't risk going back. Henry realizes she's right.

Rip apologizes to Henry for making him sacrifice his life for the Spear. Henry praises Rip for molding the Legends into an efficient team, one that's much better than the version he first met in 1942. Rip admits he had nothing to do with this, as Canary's the one who whipped the Legends into shape.

Atom realizes he has to trust Thawne if they're going to survive, and unties him. They work together to power the LEM. Atom says Thawne's a murderous monster, which is true. Thawne assures Atom they're more alike than he thinks. They launch the LEM into space. Somehow Atom manages to expertly dock it back with the Apollo capsule and he and Thawne somehow make it back to the Waverider. They then send Apollo 13 safely back to Earth (???).

Meanwhile in Mission Control, a young boy enters, saying he's Hank Heywood, son of Henry and father of Steel. He's there to observe the Apollo 13 landing after winning a contest. Apparently Henry arranged for him to win, so he could secretly meet the son he never got to know.

On the Waverider, Canary, Vixen and Rip escort Thawne to the brig. Unfortunately the Waverider's still out of control, and is plummeting toward Earth, where it'll burn up unless it reenters the atmosphere at just the right angle. Canary radios Stein for the angle calculations (as Gideon's still out for the count), but he says he'd need a supercomputer to figure it out. Atom consults with Thawne, who tells him the answer is 38º.

The Legends debate whether to trust Thawne or not. Atom points out that Thawne doesn't want to die, so he'd have no reason to lie. Canary agrees, and enters the reentry coordinates. Unfortunately there's not enough power or something to set the ship at the proper angle. Rip says if they open the cargo bay door, it'll somehow angle the ship properly— but it can only be opened manually, meaning whoever does so will be burned to a crisp. 

Rip and Canary both volunteer to open the door, but Henry beats them to it. He seals the cargo bay and prepares to open the door. Steel pounds on the door, demanding he rethink what he's doing. Henry says since he can't go back to his family, this is the only way he can die in peace— by saving the Legends. He opens the door and is sucked into the atmosphere, dying instantly. The ship successfully tilts to 38º and safely reenters the atmosphere. Vixen, who served with Henry in the Justice Society, tearfully embraces Steel.

In all the confusion, Thawne phases out of the brig. He's met by Atom, who points an anti-speedster gun (?) at him. Somehow Atom's worked out that Thawne is a time remnant, and has to keep moving in order to exist. Thawne confirms this, and his watch alarm goes off, signalling that the Black Flash is near. He speeds away to... somewhere.

Meanwhile Mission Control celebrates the successful landing of Apollo 13 (no word on how they react when they find out its missing an astronaut). Steel appears and speaks with young Hank, his future father. He gives Hank some fatherly advice, hoping it'll change their future relationship.

Back on the Waverider, Rip tells Canary she's a better Captain than he ever was, and says he now feels out of place on his own ship, and wonders what his purpose is. She reminds him that the entire team is made of people who don't fit in.

Vixen apologizes to Steel for telling Henry what would happen if he went back to 1956. He says it doesn't matter, as Henry would have sacrificed himself anyway. Steel apologizes for telling Vixen about her future. Later she asks Gideon to show her what happens to her village of Zambezi. Gideon warns against it, but Vixen insists. Gideon shows her images of Zambesi being destroyed, and her granddaughter Mari McCabe who becomes the modern day Vixen...

Thoughts:
 Heat Wave does the opening narration this week.

 OK, we know that Rip broke the Spear Of Destiny into four pieces, then recruited three members of the Justice Society to guard them, sending them to various point in time for safety's sake. But have we ever been told how Rip got hold of the Spear in the first place?

I don't remember them ever mentioning it on the show, but I could be wrong. I turned to the Official Arrowverse Wikia for the answer, and it said:
In 1956, the Justice Society of America were sent by President Ike Eisenhower to Leipzig to retrieve the Spear of Destiny after supposedly being contacted by Rip Hunter. Deciding that the Time Masters couldn't be trusted with such a powerful artifact, they split the spear into four fragments, Rip sending the other three into different time periods for safekeeping, while keeping his own aboard the Waverider.
Fine. But that still doesn't tell us how Rip knew the Spear was in Leipzig in the first place. Maybe since he's a time traveler, he saw that the Legion Of Doom would acquire the Spear at some point in the future, and had Gideon search for it in the past so he could hide it?

 Did you notice how in the scenes set in 1965, the camera was practically pointing straight up at the actors?

That's a common trick used in historical scenes, when a series can't afford to shut down several city blocks, replace all the modern street lights and parking meters with vintage ones or hire hundreds of extras dressed in period-appropriate garb. Just point the camera straight up to hide all the modern trappings and voila! It's 1965!

 Rip explains the mission to Henry:

Rip: "I know this mission won't be easy, Commander Heywood."
Henry: "For me or for Bettie? She'll think I died in Leipzig."

Apparently Henry's wife's name is Bettie. I wonder... was that a little shoutout to famous 1950s cheesecake model Betty Page? Henry was a member of the Justice Society during the 1940s and 1950s, the period in which Betty Page rose to fame.

 The Legends all looked pretty spiffy in the 1960s outfits, especially Canary and Vixen. I bet the actors on this show have a lot of fun getting dressed up in various period clothing.

 For you whippersnappers out there who are too young too remember it, here's the deal with the real Apollo 13. It was the third manned mission to the moon, and launched on April 11, 1970. Unfortunately two days later an oxygen tank exploded, crippling the Command Module. This caused the moon landing to be aborted, and Mission Control worked tirelessly to make sure the three Apollo 13 astronauts made it safely back to Earth.

The astronauts had to deal with limited power, loss of cabin heat and a shortage of water. They also had to use whatever components they could salvage from the inside of the Command Module in order to rig up a way to filter the carbon dioxide out of the cabin air.

It was touch and go for a while, but the three astronauts eventually landed back on Earth on April 17, 1970.

Due to changes made in the timeline by Eobard Thawne, the events of the mission were apparently altered. No oxygen tank exploded, the LEM touched down on the moon (although Mission Control doesn't know that), and astronaut Jack Swigert somehow disappeared from the mission!

 When Atom and Thawne have a zero-G battle inside the Apollo 13 capsule. For some reason, Thawne announces that his superspeed doesn't work in a gravity-less environment.

Wha...? Why the hell would that be? OK, I could see how running or leaping around a super speed inside a tiny space capsule could be a bad thing, as he'd  probably shoot right through the side. But that's just a case of restraining his powers, and is completely different from them disappearing altogether. There's no reason I can think of why his powers would stop working in space, and I see no reason why he still couldn't use the old "vibrating hand" trick and punch through Atom's chest.

And according to The Flash, don't all speedsters get their power from the Speed Force? You know, that infinite, interdimentional void that somehow grants speed to a chosen few? Does the Speed Force have a boundary? Does it only work on Earth?

 Why would Stein, Jackson and Heat Wave tell the Mission Control supervisor they were with the British Space Program? There ain't no such thing! OK, so they had a "space programme" that launched various satellites and rockets starting in the 1960s. But they've never had their own manned space program. The very first Brit in space was Helen Sharman, who tagged along on a Russian mission in 1991!

My point about all this is that saying they were from the British Space Program should have made the easily agitated Mission Control supervisor suspicious. I guess he was too busy to check their credentials.

I'm betting the only reason they wrote that line was so Franz Drameh, aka Jackson, could use his native British accent in a couple of scenes.

 Apparently Professor Stein is a big fan of Beetlejuice. When Canary radios him and tells him to distract Mission Control, he bursts into an impromptu rendition of Day-O! Amazingly, Heat Wave must have seen the film as well, as he joins in with the Professor!

 Obviously the producers intended for Stein and Jackson to be a duo on the show, since their two halves of Firestorm. The two of them have a satisfactory rapport, as Jackson's fond of calling Stein "Grey."

What the producers didn't realize until recently though was that the stuffy, reserved Stein and coarse, uneducated Heat Wave make an amazing comedy team. To their credit, they've realized how great these two are together, and have started writing more and more scenes for the two of them.

 Right before Atom lands the LEM on the moon, Jackson cuts the video feed to Mission Control, so the technicians there don't witness a time aberration. I noticed something odd about the error message that's displayed on the giant screen...

That's the Chicago font right there, baby! The font invented by Susan Kare for Macintosh computers in 1984 fourteen years after this episode takes place. Whoops!

 When Atom find out he's marooned on the moon, he makes a The Martian-style video log, saying, "I'm Dr. Raymond Palmer. Time traveler, superhero, and most recently, astronaut. It's April 13th, 1970, at 2200 hours, and I am stranded on the moon. Fuel on the LEM is close to zero. The food and water provisions were designed to last days, not months. So, yeah, I'm gonna have to science the (static) out of this."

Note that the producers cleverly place a bit of radio static over that last line, so he doesn't say "science the sh*t out of this" on network TV.

• As the Waverider's reentering Earth's atmosphere, Canary radios Stein and says, "Martin, are you sure about these calculations? I'm piloting manually here." Stein replies, "Did I or did I not win six Carlins?"

His "Carlin Awards" would be a reference to Mike Carlin, former executive editor of DC Comics, who wrote the various Superman books for many years.

 There're a ton of plot holes (as well as nonsensical "science") that are quickly swept under the rug in this episode, as the writers desperately hope we don't notice. Here are just a few of the ones I noticed:

Atom exits the Waverider, flies through space over to Apollo 13, and somehow enters the capsule. Here's the thing about space capsules they're airtight! There's no sneaking in through some kind of vent, no matter how small Atom shrinks. If there's some kind of hole for him to fly through in the capsule, then everyone inside's dead!

Thawne says his superspeed doesn't work in zero-G. That seems patently ridiculous to me, but let's just go with it. Later he and Atom crash-land on the moon in the LEM. Um... the moon has gravity! It's only 1/6 that of Earth, but there's still gravity there. Wouldn't Thawne have 1/6 of his superspeed? Wouldn't that be enough to knock Atom in the head before he knew what was happening?

Once they're on the moon, Atom somehow exits the LEM and bounds across the lunar surface to retrieve the Spear fragment from the Apollo 11 flag. Yeah, no. There's no airlock on the LEM just a door. The second Atom opened it, all the air would rush out, and Thawne would be dead. Was there an extra space suit inside the LEM? Did Atom put it on Thawne while he was unconscious, so he didn't die when he opened the door?

And then there's the biggest plot hole of them all, that's completely glossed over the fact that Apollo 13 blasted off with three astronauts, but returned with just two. Good luck to Lovell and Haise after they get back to Earth, as they try to explain to NASA where Jack Swigert went!

• When Thawne phases out of the Waverider's brig, Atom's there waiting for him, with a BFG pointed at his head. He tells Thawne, "I knew you'd escape.You're on the run. Because you're a time remnant. You should have died when Eddie Thawne killed himself. And now something's chasing you, trying to correct the Aberration."

How the hell does Atom know all that? That's all backstory that happened last season on The Flash, while Atom and the rest of the Legends were busy trying to kill Vandal Savage. I guess he could have asked Gideon to pull up Thawne's history, but that doesn't seem like things even she'd have records of. Did he look Thawne's wikipedia page? 

• Legends Of Tomorrow goes meta again! At the end of the episode, Rip admits to Canary that she's a much better Captain than he ever was. Which of course if what the fans have been saying all season long! Good to know the writers are listening to fan complaints, and adjusting course accordingly

• This week's best lines:
Rip: "Welcome to Manhattan, 1965."
Henry: "I have been dropped off behind enemy lines and cities all over the world. Never been dropped off in the future."
(It's a funny line, because to Henry, who's from 1956, the year 1965 IS the future!)

Jackson: "We're headed to Houston, 1970."
Heat Wave: "Elvis at the Astrodome."
Steel: "And then we're going to rescue my grandfather."
Heat Wave: "Then Elvis."

Stein: (describing Heat Wave to the head of Mission Control) "Uh, he's a man of few words, but makes up for it with personality."

Atom: "Houston, we have a problem."
(I don't think this is a particularly great line, as I even cringed a bit when he said it. But there's no way in hell they were gonna do an Apollo 13 episode without saying it, so we might as well get it out of the way)

Rip: "Can't you at least to try to destroy the meteoroids rather than using my ship as a human shield?"

Canary: "It worked before back in 1942. You put the Waverider in front of a nuke and it absorbed the blast."
Rip: "At least I had the decency to time-scatter you all first."
Canary: "Decency? Did you ask any of us if we wanted to be time-scattered?"

Rip: "! was trying to save your lives!" 
Canary: "You put me in a time period where they wanted to hang me for being a witch!"

Atom: "Waverider crew, we are now the proud owners of the last fragment of the Spear of Destiny."
Canary: (over radio) "Copy."
Atom: "Copy? That's all I get is a "copy?" Guys, I'm standing on the freakin' moon!"

(I dunno, I'm with Canary. Somehow travelling through time on a regular basis seems much more impressive than standing on the moon. Especially since we did it way back in 1969!)

Thawne: "Menial labor without superspeed is really quite tedious. Then again, I've missed working with a fellow scientist. Cisco and Caitlin and I, as you know, worked together for some time and I miss the camaraderie."

Atom: "Legion of Doom doesn't have Karaoke Fridays?"

Thawne: "I know it's easier for you to think of me as a monster. But I've met some of history's monsters, Raymond, and believe me, I'm not one of them."
Atom: "You killed Barry's mother. Twice. Rex Tyler. Brainwashed Rip into killing Dr. Mid-Nite."

(I have to agree with Atom here. How is Thawne anything BUT a monster? Why are the writers suddenly trying to get us to sympathize with him?)

Thawne: "And you and I have more in common than you think."
Atom: "Pass me the pliers."
Thawne: "We're both scientists. We're both obsessed with achieving the impossible. You dedicated your life to learning how to shrink yourself down to the size of an atom, and I spent mine learning the secrets of the Speed Force."
Atom: "I became the Atom to help people."
Thawne: "You could use the dwarf star in your expo-suit to power an entire city. But instead, you chose to become the Atom because you weren't satisfied with your small, pathetic life. There is no shame in wanting to be great or to reach higher. To walk on the moon."


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