Saturday, January 30, 2016

Legends Of Tomorrow Season 1, Episode 2: Pilot Part 2

This week on Legends Of Tomorrow (why does that sound weird?) we finally get the second half of the pilot episode. I still don't understand why they split it up and just didn't air the whole thing as a two hour special, but I guess I'm not a program director.

Just like last week the story moved along at breakneck speed. There are times when I think it moves a little too fast, as huge events come and go before the audience even has time to process them. Slow down a bit, guys! What's the rush?

Last week I said I enjoyed the first episode for the most part, but had some misgivings about the series' future (heh). This week's episode seemed to address and fix most of my concerns.

SPOILER ALERT FROM HERE ON!

After watching the first episode I said I was worried that the show had damaged Professor Stein's character, possibly for good. You remember what he did— basically giving Jackson a roofie and kidnapping him when he didn't want to go on an adventure. 

Believe it or not they managed to make up for that huge misstep this week. Seeing Professor Stein interacting with his younger and even more arrogant self totally made up for last week's blunder.

I hadn't read any spoilers about the episode, so the death of Hawkman was a huge surprise to me. I didn't think they'd kill off any of the Legends this soon, and definitely not him. I figured they'd draw out the "Hawkman loves Hawkgirl but she doesn't remember him" subplot for several more episodes. I'm sure we'll see him pop up again at some point though, what with the whole "resurrected 206 times" thing.

There was a lot of humor on display in this episode, as these horribly mismatched characters, none of whom have anything in common, are forced to work together. It's a welcome change from the dour and depressing DC movies. I really wish the DC TV people were in charge of the theatrical films as well.

This episode only heightened the biggest flaw in the whole series— namely actor Casper Crump (now that's a comic book name) as Vandal Savage. He definitely looks the part, but unfortunately he's not a very good actor, and he has no screen presence or charisma whatsoever. Vandal Savage is a terrifying figure, and should command the audience's attention every second he's onscreen. Crump seems incapable of even summoning up a decent evil laugh.

Neal McDonough had a brief cameo as Arrow villain Damien Dahrk (oy, that spelling), and he practically stole the entire show from Crump, who seemed like a wet washcloth in comparison.

This is a huge problem, especially considering that the entire premise of the series revolves around stopping Vandal Savage. I have no idea how to solve this dilemma, other than to recast the role, and I doubt they're going to do that. Hopefully Crump's game will improve and soon, before he torpedoes the entire show.

The battle scenes in this episode were nothing short of amazing, especially for a TV show. I don't know how they do it on a CW budget, but somehow the series is giving us battles that rival ones seen in the Avengers movies. Kudos to the FX team!

The Plot:
The team is still in 1975, and using Professor Boardman's info, they track Vandal Savage to a terrorist arms auction in Norway. Rip Hunter tries to get them to follow his plan, but the Legends refuse, coming up with their own. Professor Stein, Captain Cold, Heat Wave and White Canary travel to the auction site. When the security guard is suspicious of the group, Stein surprisingly steps up and blusters their way in.

Heat Wave bids in a nuclear warhead and wins, which draws the attention of Vandal Savage. He quickly figures out the group's "not from around here," and orders them killed. A glorious comic book battle breaks out, as each of the Legends does his thing. The Atom flies out of Professor Stein's coat pocket (where he'd been hiding) and joins the fight. Stein merges with Jackson (who luckily had just arrived as backup) and they turn into Firestorm.

In the confusion, Savage activates the nuke and scampers off. Atom tries to diffuse it, but can't. Firestorm flies off with the bomb and absorbs the nuclear blast. No one notices that in the fight, a chunk of Atom's suit breaks off.

When the group returns to the Waverider, Hunter gives them a sarcastic slow clap and congratulates them on their total failure. Savage managed to escape, plus they left future technology in the past. He says that Savage found the Atom's tech and was able to use it to create advanced weaponry, and has now taken over the world a hundred years early, in 2016. Gideon shows the Legends a glimpse of the ruined world they left behind.

The Legends assure Hunter that they'll fix things. Atom says the part from his suit emits alpha waves (whatever those are) and Stein says he just happened to invent an alpha wave detector in 1975. Stein, Jackson and White Canary travel to Ivy College to meet the twenty five year old version of Martin Stein. Jackson and Canary are amused to find the younger version regularly smokes pot. They steal the alpha generator, but Young Stein catches them. Canary knocks him out, and Older Stein places an alarm clock by the unconscious Young Stein's head, so he'll be sure and wake up and go to a college dance, where he's destined to meet his future wife.

The group then tracks Atom's tech to a lab, where they manage to steal it back. They return to the Waverider. They're surprised to see Young Stein has followed them, and is amazed by all the futuristic tech inside the ship. Old Stein is horrified when he sees his wedding ring fade away, and realizes Young Stein didn't go to the dance and never met his wife.

Meanwhile Hunter examines Professor Boardman's notes and reads about an ancient dagger with the power to kill Savage. Atom, Cold and Heat Wave leave to steal the dagger. Hawkman tries to get Hawkgirl to remember her past. After concentrating hard, she finally remembers enough to translate the inscription on the dagger, and how to use it against Savage. Atom, Cold and Heat Wave break into a mansion and steal the dagger. Unfortunately the mansion belongs to Savage, who returns. He captures them and forces them to summon the rest of the team.

Hawkman, Hawkgirl and the others answer the call and show up at Savage's mansion. While the others battle Savage's men, Hawkman grabs the dagger and attacks Savage with it. Savage is able to get the upper hand and stabs Hawkman with the dagger, killing him and absorbing his life force. He tells Hawkgirl that because the dagger belonged to her, only she can use it against him. I guess that part wasn't in the inscription. He injures Hawkgirl, and the team retreats. Savage gets away of course, or the series would be over.

Back on the Waverider, Gideon heals Hawkgirl's injuries. Stein is upset that his past has been altered. Suddenly his wedding ring reappears, and Hunter reveals he met with Young Stein and encouraged him to go to the dance, where he apparently met his future wife after all.

Hawkman didn't die in vain, as his death galvanizes the Legends and they vow to work together to stop Savage.

Thoughts:
• The arms dealers bidding on the nuke by firing their guns into the air was a humorous touch. Probably didn't do the building's roof any good though.

• So far my favorite characters on the show are Captain Cold and Heat Wave. I've always been a sucker for stories in which the bad guys are forced to team up with the heroes, and Wentworth Miller and Dominic Purcell are obviously having a ball playing these two miscreants.

One ominous sign— rumor has it that Miller and Purcell have supposedly signed on for a revival of their old series Prison Break. I hope that doesn't mean they'll be exiting this show any time soon.

Professor Stein meeting his younger self was hilarious, even if it did echo elements of the Back To The Future movies. I guess when you've got a show about time travel it's inevitable that you're going to tread some familiar ground. 

The part where Stein watched in horror as his wedding ring flickered out was particularly Back To The Future-ey. It's also a bit suspect if Stein never married, would his subsequently different life choices have allowed him to be in the same exact position for Rip Hunter to recruit him in 2016? I doubt it.

Once again we see it's tough to write time travel stories. If Old Stein went back in time to 1975 and met his younger self, shouldn't he remember that event?

Graeme McComb played the younger Stein, and although he didn't look much like him, he definitely had Victor Garber's speech patterns and cadence down pat. Considering the no doubt hectic TV schedule, he probably didn't have much time to practice either. Kudos!

 Why does White Canary always look so... greasy and oily? She looks like she hasn't washed her hair for a month. It's a very unappealing look. And why is her costume grey?

 I haven't been keeping up with Arrow (there are only so many hours in the week!) so I'm not sure if the writers have ever explained how the Atom's suit works. If it's anything like Ant-Man's over at Marvel, then it works by compressing the space between the molecules of his body. If that's true, then the Atom has all the same scientific impossibilities as Ant-Man

If he shrinks by compressing his body, his mass won't change, meaning he'll weigh the same at six inches high as he does full size. That means there's no way he could've hidden inside Professor Stein's pocket. Unless the Professor and the material his jacket are really, really strong, that is. I know, it's a comic book.

 During the first battle, a high-tech gizmo falls off of the Atom's suit. Savage finds it and is able to reverse engineer it, allowing him to destroy/rule the world a century earlier. 

We see Savage give the underlings in his lab a scant twenty four hours to figure out how the piece of tech works. He even kills one of them in order to motivate the others.

Sorry Savage— you can kill as many of your techs as you want, but they're still not going to be able to reverse engineer Atom's techs in a day. His technology is no doubt advanced even in 2016, so there's no way in hell someone in 1975 could figure it out, much less replicate it. The material and manufacturing processes just aren't there. Imagine traveling to 1975, handing an iPhone to an engineer and telling him to make one. It couldn't be done!

I agree that Savage having the Atom tech could spark ideas and hurry the development of technology along. But it would still take much longer than a day for any of that to happen.

 The mechanics of the whole Hawkman/Hawkgirl/Vandal Savage triangle are a bit vague (no doubt on purpose). As near as I can tell, the Hawks aren't immortal. They live normal lifespans, but are reincarnated every time they're killed by Savage. He's immortal because every time he kills one of the Hawks, he absorbs their life force, which delays his death a few more years.

So I guess a person's life force is separate from their soul? It would have to be, or else the first time Savage killed the Hawks and sucked up their life force would have been the end of the matter.

Hawkman says he and Hawkgirl have lived 206 previous lives. I kind of wish that wasn't the case, and that after the two were killed in ancient Egypt they weren't reincarnated until the present day. Being killed 206 goddamned times by the same enemy makes the two of them look like the most ineffectual and incompetent heroes possible. Jesus, Arnold Stang is more threatening than these two.

According to the online caption, the Hawks and Savage lived in 1700 BC. That was 3,716 years ago. The Hawks have lived 207 lives. If you divide 3,716 by 207 you get 18. That means the average age at which the Hawks have died over the years is just eighteen. 

That seems pretty young. I suppose there were some years in which they lived longer and others in which they were killed earlier, but it still seems dodgy to me. Maybe the producers should have said they've lived 150 lives. That would up their average death age to twenty four.

So what happens now? Will Hawkman be reincarnated again now, or are they a matched set, and he can't return until Hawkgirl's killed? According to the producers it's the latter. We won't be seeing a new version of Hawkman as long as Hawkgirl's alive.

Of course that doesn't rule out the possibility that she'll run into a previous incarnation of him somewhere in the past, or even the future!

 It was a lucky break that Hawkgirl finally remembered her past seconds before Hawkman was killed, wasn't it. Why, it's almost like it was written that way.

• Somebody call Cisco Ramon, stat! A few months ago he was dating Kendra Saunders. When Hawkman showed up and told her who she really was, she unceremoniously dumped poor Cisco. Now that Hawkman's out of the picture, he's got a second chance.

• I just realized that Hawkman is the Agent Coulson of this series. His untimely death at the hands of a villain galvanized the team and made them band together, just like the Avengers.

Unfortunately the fact that Hawkman was killed off so quickly made his death into a real non-event. I could tell the producers wanted us to sob bitter tears at his death, but he wasn't a beloved character we grew to love over the years— we barely knew the guy.

That's why the various Legends being so affected by Carter's death rang false as well. How long had they been together when Carter died? A day? Less?

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