Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Legends Of Tomorrow Season 1, Episode 9: Left Behind

After a couple of so-so episodes, this week Legends Of Tomorrow comes roaring back with one of it's best yet!

There was an amazing amount of story packed into this episode. In fact I can't believe it was only forty five minutes. It felt like watching a full length movie— in a good way. If only more shows would actually follow suit and put actual content into their episodes, instead of wasting the audience's time with week after week of filler (I'm lookin' at you, The Walking Dead!).

There was also a huge reveal in this episode, as we finally learned the identity of Chronos, the human plot device, er, I mean the bounty hunter that's been chasing the Legends since the series began. Somehow I managed to avoid spoilers so I was genuinely surprised by the revelation. 

One down side to this episode— if you haven't been watching Arrow, then a good hunk of it probably sailed far over your head, as it did mine. Fortunately it wasn't too awfully hard to get the gist of what was going on.

MASSIVE SPOILERS AHEAD!

The Plot:
We back up a bit and see the end of the previous episode. Chronos invades the Waverider and takes control of the ship, blasting off into the time stream. Atom, Hawkgirl and White Canary are strolling to the rendezvous point and see the ship fly off without them, stranding them in Harmony Falls, Oregon in 1958. Uh-oh! Trapped in the 1950s with no internet, cable TV or cell phones!

On the Waverider, Hunter orders Jackson and Stein to the jumpship, while he and Captain Cold try to retake the bridge. Jackson and Stein refuse to run away and form Firestorm. Before Firestorm can do much of anything but strike a pose, Chronos captures Cold, sabotages the Waverider and takes off in the jumpship.

Back in 1958, Atom quotes from the Junior Woodchuck Guidebook and says that the best course of action is to stay put and wait for Hunter to come back for them. After several hours they realize that's not going to happen, since he has a time machine and could have come back a second after he left. Canary says Harmony Falls is too dangerous, since Vandal Savage knows they're there. They then move to Hub City.

We see the group ten days later, as Atom is cannibalizing parts of his power suit to create a time beacon for Hunter to lock onto. Ten weeks later, they've furnished their apartment with cool 1950s decor. Canary says she can't stay any longer, and needs to "find herself."

Amazingly, two years pass by (shades of Doctor Who!) and Atom is now a college professor. He and Hawkgirl have a picnic, and he tells her that he's finally accepted their new life, and is going to destroy his cobbled together time beacon. He also has an engagement ring in his pocket, and just as he's about to propose, the Waverider appears. For a guy with a time machine, Rip Hunter has the worst timing in the world!

Hunter apologizes for being late, explaining that he got as close to 1958 as he could after Chronos' sabotage. He asks about Canary, but Atom and Hawkgirl haven't seen or heard from her in two years. Hawkgirl wonders why Chronos would abduct Cold instead of Hunter.

Speaking of which, we see Cold handcuffed to a railing in the jumpship, while Chronos busies himself. He asks why he took him instead of Hunter, who's a former Time Master. Chronos tells Cold he should have figured it out by now. He removes his helmet and reveals he's really Mick Rory, aka Heat Wave! Whaaaaa...? 

To absolutely no one's surprise, Cold didn't really kill Heat Wave at the end of Marooned. Instead he shot past him and returned to the ship, marooning him for all eternity in the center of a dead planet. Buried alive... buried alive. What was I saying? Oh yeah. After almost starving to death, the Time Masters found Heat Wave and took him to their headquarters at the Vanishing Point, where time stands still. There they healed him, apparently cured his pyromania, and taught him to be a bounty hunter. He now has a personal grudge against Cold for abandoning him. Cold tries to tell him he always meant to come back for him, but his explanation falls on deaf ears. 

Of course this means that every time we've seen Chronos attack the Legends all season, it was really Heat Wave, even though he was with the team. Time travel!

On the Waverider, Atom mopes that the life he built with Hawkgirl is over, and she doesn't seem to care. I think he has a valid point. She does seem to get over it pretty quickly. Hawkgirl somehow figures out that Canary must have rejoined the League Of Assassins in 1958, decades before she joined them the first time. Time travel!

Meanwhile, Heat Wave/Chronos says he's going back to Star City to kill Cold's sister Lisa in front of him. Because he's got a time ship, he can go back in time a day and kill her over and over. Time travel! Suddenly his ship alerts him it's found the Waverider, and Chronos decides to kill the Legends first. He leaves Cold alone in the ship and goes after the team.

The Legends arrive at the League Of Assassins headquarters in 1960. They sneak into the heavily guarded fortress awfully easily, and Hunter finds Canary's room. He tries to talk her into returning, but she sounds an alarm. The entire team is captured and shackled. Hunter explains that Canary's been in an unfamiliar timeline for too long, and has lost track of her real identity. This is also why Atom was so content in the 1960s, and why Hawkgirl's apparently lost her powers.

Alone in the ship, Cold manages to find his gun. He activates it with his feet somehow, and I think he was aiming for his cuffs, but manages to freeze his hand solid instead. He shatters his frozen hand to escape. Ouch!

Hunter decides to hurry the plot along by meeting with Ra's al Ghul and demanding a trial by combat, to free the team. Ra's accepts, but picks Canary as his champion. Hunter picks Hawkgirl to fight for him, which seems like something he should have discussed with her first. The two women fight for a while, and just as Canary's about to deliver the killing blow, she recognizes her friend and snaps out of it.

Just then Chronos enters and starts shooting up the place. Ra's frees Hunter and the Legends and tells them to get rid of Chronos, since they brought him here. We get a nice battle sequence involving all the Legends and Chronos, and they manage to take him down. They're just about to kill him when Cold enters and tells them to stop. Chronos pulls off his helmet so the rest of the team can be shocked.

Ra's lets them all go, and Canary breaks all the rules of time travel by telling him to send his as yet unborn daughter Nyssa to Lian Yu in 1998. I have no idea what any of that means, but Arrow fans probably squeeed with delight.

Hunter locks up Rory in the brig, and the team all decide it's worth trying to undo the Time Master's conditioning and rehabilitate him. Hunter uses Gideon's advanced medical tech to regrow Cold's hand. Handy!

Hunter says they're going to 2147 to the Kasnia Conglomerate, whatever the hell that is. He says he's always known Savage was in that time, but the risk of going there was too great until now. 

Thoughts:
 After being abandoned in 1958, Atom, Hawkgirl and White Canary leave Harmony Falls and move to Hub City. In the comics Hub City was the home of The Question and Blue Beetle.

 After ten days in 1958, we see the three bringing bags of groceries home to their spacious apartment. Where'd they get the money for all that? Did they move to Hub City, find jobs and work long enough to receive paychecks all within ten days?

• In 1958, Atom uses parts from his high tech suit to make a time beacon. This had to be a sly little Star Trek reference. In The City On The Edge Of Forever, Kirk and Spock are stranded in the 1930s. Spock tries to construct a computer using the primitive technology of the day, saying he's forced to work with "stone knives and bearskins."

 After two years we see Atom has a job as a professor at a local college. One of his students is apparently Bill Gates Sr., the father of Microsoft mogul Bill Gates. Com-O-Dee!

Here's the dialogue from the scene:
Gates: If that's true and you can soften matter, then doesn't that mean you could theoretically miniaturize an atom?
Atom: In theory, yes. But trust me, you don't want to try it at home. And definitely not for at least another... hmm... forty years. Uh, aren't you supposed to be at home? I thought you said your son was sick?
Gates: Yes, William. My in-laws are at my house, so if you don't mind, I'd rather be in here.
Atom: Your son is Bill Gates?
Gates: Bill? That... has a nice ring to it.
This whole sequence is a bit too cutesy for me, plus it doesn't make a lick of sense, as it's hopelessly anachronistic. 

William Gates Sr. was born in 1925, which would make him 35 in 1960. A bit long in the tooth to be a college student, dontcha think? Plus he graduated from the University of Washington in 1949 with a law degree, not physics or theoretical science or whatever Atom's teaching here. 

His son William "Bill" Gates III was born in 1955, which would make him five years old in 1960. So why does his dad say that Bill has a nice ring to it? Did the younger Gates have a different name up until 1960? Or did his father never think to shorten his name to "Bill" until just now? As I said, none of this makes any sense whatsoever. The only way this scene can possibly work is if this is a completely different Bill Gates and son.

By the way, none of these facts about the Gates family are secret or arcane knowledge. I found out all this info with about thirty seconds of googling.

• Many fans have pointed out that in nearly every episode this season, Hawkgirl has made at least one reference to the fact that she used to be a barista. I never paid much attention to the matter until this week's episode. Sure enough, she says it again! When Atom mentions he's making $10,000 a year as a professor in 1958, Hawkgirl says she made more than that as a barista back home.

• As soon as I saw Chronos captured Cold, I figured it out and knew he'd turn out to be Heat Wave. I'm ashamed of myself that I didn't see that coming until this week though.

• I haven't been watching Arrow (there're only so many hours in a day), so all the Ra's al Ghul and League Of Assassins stuff was completely lost on me. I'm not even going to try and comment on it.

Maybe one of these days I'll binge watch the show and catch up.

• One thing I do know about Ra's al Ghul— the first part of his name is really pronounced "Raysh" and not "Roz." Canary properly pronounces it throughout the episode (which makes sense), while the rest of the cast doesn't.

• Chronos leaves Cold alone in the ship, handcuffed to a railing. He's able to drag his cuffs along the railing until he reaches a conveniently placed weapon rack. He manages to knock his cold gun off the rack, and somehow aim it and pull the trigger with his feet. Unfortunately this results in him freezing his hand solid and shattering it to escape.

A couple things here. Wouldn't it have made more sense to aim the gun at the railing instead of his own flesh? Surely the cold would have weakened the metal to the point where a good kick would shatter it.

Secondly, is this what happens every time Cold shoots a person with his gun? Do they really  freeze solid and then shatter when they topple over? Yikes!

• After being captured by the League Of Assassins, Hawkgirl admits she hasn't been able to "hawk out" for the past two years.

I had to laugh when she said that. Over at Marvel, Bruce Banner used to describe turning into a giant green rage monster as "Hulking out."

• Jackson and Stein turn into Firestorm to fight Chronos. Once he's been defeated, Firestorm lands and oddly enough, his head is no longer flaming.

Since when can Firestorm stop his head from "burning?" I don't recall ever seeing him do that so far. He's definitely still in Firestorm mode at this point, because he's in the suit and has the telltale all-white eyes.

I'm guessing there wasn't enough money in this week's budget for an extra flaming head shot, so Firestorm just gained the ability to extinguish his noggin.

• Luckily for Cold, Gideon has the ability to 3D print him a new hand. I'm betting this was another The Empire Strikes Back reference, as the shot is even framed similarly to the one in which Luke gets a bionic hand.

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