Sunday, May 1, 2016

Legends Of Tomorrow Season 1, Episode 13: Leviathan

This week on Legends Of Tomorrow, we finally get some forward momentum in the Savage storyline. For weeks now the Legends have been spinning their wheels whenever they confront Savage. They can't end his reign too soon or the series will be over, so nothing they do can ever have any consequence. Now that the end of the season is looming, at long last they can make some progress. Such is the nature of serialized storytelling, I suppose.

Any flaws in this week's script were more than made up for by the batsh*t insane scene in which (SPOILERS!) Legends Of Tomorrow beats Captain America: Civil War to the punch by having Atom grow instead of shrink and fight a giant, five hundred foot tall robot! 

Rip Hunter's admission that he tried using time travel to save his wife and child dozens of times, only to see them die over and over, finally gives some tangible insight as to why he's so driven, and is betting everything on this impossible mission. Kudos to actor Arthur Darvill for totally selling Hunter's pain in this scene.

Unfortunately the episode was marred somewhat by Hawkgirl. This week she makes the stupidest and most bone-headed decision humanly possible, causing much gnashing of teeth and rending of garments throughout fandom. 

This episode could have easily served as the season finale. It was big, epic and even had a reasonable facsimile of a cliffhanger, as the Legends finally captured Savage and threw him into Plexiglass prison. I can't wait to see what happens in the real finale!

SPOILERS!

The Plot:
The Legends arrive in London in 2166, the year Savage completely takes over the world. Due to the events of last week, the team is running out of time, and has to destroy Savage before they're erased from the timeline.

Rip Hunter, White Canary, Captain Cold and Heat Wave disguise themselves as soldiers and infiltrate one of Savage's speeches. During the speech, Savage is flanked by a helmeted guard and a mysterious young female lieutenant. Cold notices the woman staring at them, and says they've been made.

Savage heads back to his quarters, surrounded by a dozens of guards. Cold and Heat Wave begin blasting away at Savage, while Canary fights the Lieutenant. Back on the Waverider, Hawkgirl is somehow monitoring the fight, and notices the bracelet she owned in her first life on the arm of the Lieutenant. She radios Canary and tells her to grab it. Unfortunately Savage's reinforcements arrive, and the Legends are forced to run away.

Back on the Waverider, Hawkgirl explains that she was wearing the bracelet back in Ancient Egypt the night she received her powers, and she can use it to kill Savage. Canary asks how the hell you can kill someone with a bracelet, which is a good question. Hunter tells Cold and Heat Wave to steal the bracelet, while he meets with the Resistance force.

Hunter, Atom, Professor Stein and Jackson visit the Resistance camp and meet with the Leader. She says they're the last refugees from London, as Savage used some sort of mysterious superweapon to completely destroy all the other camps.

Hawkgirl has a flashback to her previous life in 1941, when Hawkman gave her his mace as an anniversary gift. Romantic! She then realizes how she can use the bracelet to kill Savage.

Cold and Heat Wave sneak into Savage's headquarters and kidnap the Lieutenant. They bring her back to the Waverider and throw her in the brig. To no one's surprise, she turns out to be Savage's daughter Cassandra.

The Legends then debate what to do with her. Heat Wave wants to cut off Cassandra's fingers & send them to Savage until he comes for her, but Hunter wisely nixes that idea. Canary says Cassandra could be a valuable source of intel (Ha! Holy Greek Mythology, Batman!), and Cold volunteers to get her to talk.

Cold visits Cassandra in the brig, and the two chat about their respective childhoods and horrible fathers. Cassandra's convinced her father is a hero, and can save the world from Per Degaton's Armageddon Virus. 

Heat Wave melts Hawkgirl's gold bracelet, and she uses it to coat her mace. Apparently Heat Wave read ahead in the script, and asks Hawkgirl if she's sure she can really kill Savage. She says yes. He tells her she'd better be, or she'll end up as dead as Hawkman.

Atom examines satellite photos of the destroyed refugee camps, and notices what appear to be enormous footprints in the ground. He realizes Savage's superweapon is a giant robot (!). Just then they hear ominous footsteps, as a conveniently placed bottle of booze in Hunter's office does its best Jurassic Park impression and starts vibrating. The Leviathan is coming for them!

Stein evacuates the Rebel camp and herds the refugees into the Waverider (much to Hunter's chagrin). Hunter tells Gideon to take off, and they see the gigantic Leviathan looming in front of them. It grabs the Waverider and throws it, sending it crashing to the ground.

Stein is injured in the crash (meaning Firestorm will be sitting out this episode again). Cold releases Cassandra from the brig, and shows her footage proving that Savage released the Armageddon Virus, not Per Degaton. She says she doesn't believe him, but her face says otherwise. Well, that was easy!

Atom reverses the polarity of his suit, which causes him to grow to gigantic size. He sees the Leviathan approaching and runs toward it. Atom and the Leviathan then engage in an old school kaiju battle.

Savage watches the battle in his headquarters. He's surprised when Cassandra suddenly returns. He's happy to see her, until he notices her bracelet is missing. Cassandra accuses Savage of releasing the Armageddon Virus that killed her mother. Savage doesn't deny it. Hunter, Canary, Cold and Heat Wave then appear and Savage calls his guards. 

While the Legends deal with the guards, Hawkgirl swoops in and wallops Savage with her gold-coated mace. Each blow she lands causes mystic energy to explode from him, which I have to admit was pretty satisfying to watch. Just as she's about to deliver the killing blow, a guard appears. She hits him with the mace, knocking his helmet off. She sees it's the 2166 version of Hawkman.

Meanwhile the Leviathan knocks out Atom. As he's lying unconscious on a football field-sized patch of ground, Jackson gives him a patented The CW pep talk, and he comes to. He rallies and knocks the Leviathan's head off.

Hawkgirl gapes in astonishment at Hawkman, who doesn't seem to recognize her. Savage says he's mind controlling Hawkman, and is the only one who can restore his memory. Hunter pleads with Hawkgirl to end the nightmare and kill Savage while they have him on the ropes, but because of Hawkman, she can't. And of course because there are still three more episodes left in the season. A disgusted Hunter knocks out Savage.

Hunter takes Savage and Hawkman back to the Waverider. Cold takes Cassandra to the Rebel camp, where she offers to help the Resistance.

Hunter talks with Savage, who's now locked up in the brig. He says he'll figure out a way to save both his family and Hawkman. Savage chuckles and says, "Time will tell..."

Thoughts:
• The Legends land in 2166, a few days before Savage is scheduled to kill Hunter's wife and child. Atom asks Hunter why he doesn't just go and grab his family now and bring them onboard the ship, before Savage can get to them. Good question!

Hunter explains that he's already tried that, dozens and dozens of times, and in every instance his family was somehow killed anyway, because "Time Wants To Happen." He says their deaths are inevitable and he can't change that, not even with a time machine.

Hmm. So why does Hunter think he can kill Savage then? If "Time Wants To Happen," won't it always prevent Savage from dying, just as it always makes sure Hunter's family dies?

If so, that would tend to render the entire premise of this series moot!

This revelation explains why Hunter has always been reluctant to travel to this time period. It's not just because it's when Savage was at the height of his strength and power, but because it's the place where Hunter's had to watch his family die, over and over again. 

One last thing about this scene if Hunter kept coming back to this moment over and over, shouldn't there be dozens of versions of him running around 2166 London right now?

 Captain Cold must have multiple settings on his freeze gun. A few weeks ago in Left Behind, he froze his own hand completely solid and shattered it to escape Chronos' handcuffs. In this episode we clearly see his gun simply blast Savage's men backwards without shattering them.

 Stein insists on saving the refugees from the camp, and brings as many as he can onto the Waverider. Wow! Saving innocents on a DC Universe show! Imagine that! Good thing this episode isn't set in Zack Snyder's DC Murderverse, or Cold and Heatwave would have mowed down all those refugees with smiles on their faces.

 It's amazing that when Hawkgirl's relatively small gold bracelet was melted down, it was somehow able to coat the entire head of her mace. 

 Cassandra's change of heart seemed awfully rushed. She's been loyal to her father her whole life, but all it takes to get her to switch sides is a few minutes of therapy with Cold, and seeing a five second video clip.

It would have been better if she'd been introduced earlier in the season, and the show checked in on her from time to time to show us she was gradually beginning to have doubts about her father.

 Speaking of that clip as in all TV shows and movies, the alleged "security video" of Savage saying the human race needs a good culling looked suspiciously like the same footage the audience saw in Progeny. Funny how that works, eh?

• Vandal Savage actually has a few kids in the comics, though none are named Cassandra. Believe it or not, his most famous child is Scandal Savage (seriously!), who was part of a group called the Secret Six.

 Missed Firefly opportunity: When Savage discovers Cassandra has switched sides, he should have hissed, "Curse your sudden but inevitable betrayal!"

 Atom alters his suit in order to battle the Leviathan. He says "siphoning power from the auxiliary time drive should provide enough power to reverse the polarity of the dwarf star matrix." 

Was that a Doctor Who reference? The Third Doctor was known for the technobabble catchphrase, "Reverse the polarity of the neutron flow (which oddly enough, he only said twice onscreen!)."

 I can't say enough good things about the awesome battle between Atom and the Leviathan. I love that DC's TV shows have embraced their comic book roots, and aren't afraid to just go totally nuts, giving us telepathic apes, talking shark men and giant glowing five hundred foot tall robots. It's literally like watching a Silver Age comic book come to life. If only DC's movies were this much fun.

I don't know how Legends Of Tomorrow's effects team pulls off these near-movie quality effects week after week, but I hope they keep up the good work!

 I read a few DC message boards (I know, I know that way lies madness) and apparently some fans wondered why they didn't just film the battle with Brandon Routh and a guy in a robot suit. Um... maybe because the Leviathan's body was transparent, and the glowing parts were like its skeleton? I don't think you could build a suit like that!

Some also complained that Giant Atom's face looked fake and "cartoony," without an detail or definition. Jesus, have these people ever watched the show before? That's how Ray Palmer's face ALWAYS looks under the Atom suit's visor! The visor seems to be tinted and lit from above, and it has some sort of weird magnifying effect on his face that always makes it murky looking. Giant Atom's face was completely normal!

 One last thing about the Leviathan obviously it was modeled after the futuristic Atom robots we saw in Progeny. But I thought its head looked very similar to that of the robotic version of Brainiac from the comics.

 The most frustrating part of the episode (for me, at least) was when Hawkgirl has Savage on the ropes, but can't bring herself to deliver the killing blow because of Hawkman. Jesus Christ, I was screaming at the TV during that scene. I've never wanted to kill a character on a TV show more than I did her in that moment. Where's Zack Snyder's neck-snapping Hopeman when you need him?

I get that the writers' job is to generate drama and conflict for the characters, but they shouldn't do so by making the audience loathe them.

To make matters worse, this isn't even her version of Hawkman! It's one from a hundred and fifty years in the future! So what if this particular Hawkman doesn't get his memory back? She can't stay with this version anyway, since he's probably already got his own futuristic Hawkgirl back home. Plus is this one life worth more than the lives of Hunter's family, and the millions that Savage will no doubt kill in the future if he's allowed to live?

 Since Hawkgirl's too big of an idiot to kill Savage once and for all, Hunter knocks him out and throws him into the brig on the Waverider. We then get another example of the "Villain In The Plexiglass Cell" trope that's become all the rage in recent comic book and scifi movies (including The Avengers, Thor: The Dark World and Star Trek Into Lameness). Legends Of Tomorrow does it practically on a weekly basis!

 Lines Of The Week:

Hunter: "In order to capture him, I'll require the services of..."
Cold: "Killer, klepto and pyro!"

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Cassandra: "You'd risk dying for a bauble?"
Heat Wave: "It works with my outfit!"

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