Sunday, May 15, 2016

Legends Of Tomorrow Season 1, Episode 15: Destiny

This week Legends Of Tomorrow finally works out the bugs and starts shaping up into a compelling series. There's a definite sense of urgency to this episode, along with some actual high stakes. Too bad it happened one episode away from the season finale though.

There's a lot going on in this episode, including the startling revelation that the Time Masters are the real villains of the series, the discovery that been manipulating the Legends all season and the death of a major character.

The bit about the Time Masters' manipulation is interesting, as it seems like the writers' attempt to explain the numerous mistakes made by Hunter and the rest of the crew all season. It's meant to be a stunning plot twist, but seems more like a cheat to me.

For weeks now I've been 
hoping that the Legends would finally defeat Savage in the finale and we'd get a new big bad next season. Welp, it looks like that may actually happen. In this episode, Time Master Druce hints that the Thanagarians are scheduled invade Earth in 2176 (ten years after Savage took over the world and killed Hunter's wife and child). Hopefully this will come to pass, as battling Savage every week from now on would get old real quick.

SPOILERS!

The Plot:
We open with a flashback to the very first episode, which for a minute made me think I was watching a rerun. Rip Hunter shows the Legends what will happen to the Earth if Savage isn't stopped. Captain Cold and Heat Wave shrug and leave. Jefferson Jackson leaves too, and Professor Stein chases after him, begging him to reconsider. Jackson says nothing will change his mind and walks off. The present version of Jackson then immediately appears, just like Marty McFly at the end of Back To The Future II, and asks Stein for help. Apparently sending Jackson back to 2016 really did reverse his accelerated aging he contracted last week!

At the Vanishing Point, the remaining Legends are all locked in individual cells. Stein's condition is worsening, as he claims he and Jackson have to merge periodically or he'll lose his nuclear cohesion. Heat Wave says the Time Masters will likely attempt to turn him back into Chronos. The Time Master grunts enter and take Hunter, Hawkgirl and Heat Wave from their cells.

Hunter is taken to Time Master Druce's office. Druce tells Hunter he'll spare the Legends if he tells him where Captain Cold and White Canary are hiding. Hunter politely declines, and then denounces Druce for working with Vandal Savage. Druce tells Hunter that he's not looking at the big picture. He tells him that just ten years after Savage takes control of the world, an alien race called the Thanagarians will invade Earth. If Savage is in control he'll be able to repel the invasion. If not, the Thanagarians will destroy the planet.

Back on the Waverider, Cold and Canary emerge from a secret hatch in the ship. Cold wants to hightail it back to 2016, but Canary insists on trying to save the team. Gideon reactivates, and says she has an idea.

Hawkgirl wakes up and sees she's in a small timeship piloted by Savage. He tells her that the Time Masters gave him the ship, along with her and Hawkman (who's conveniently in stasis). He's heading back to 2166 so he can kill Hunter's family and take over the world.

Druce takes Hunter to the Oculus Viewing Chamber, a top secret phenomenon that shows them the future and allows them to alter time itself. He says the Time Masters have been manipulating Hunter for years to bring about Savage's rise to power. Every single decision he's made and every action he's performed has been part of the Time Master's script. He's literally their puppet, and they've been pulling his strings.

Hunter looks into the Oculus and sees Druce is telling the truth. He also sees a vision of Atom being vaporized while working on some high tech gear. Druce says the Time Masters even ordered Savage to kill Hunter's family in order to spur him into action. Hunter reels at this revelation.

In 2016, Past Stein helps Present Jackson go to STAR Labs and repair Eobard Thawne's damaged Time Sphere. Jackson needs the Sphere to get back to the future and the Vanishing Point. Jackson tells a very confused Stein that he forgives him for roofie-ing him in Episode 1, and blasts off back to the future.

Meanwhile, the Time Masters start reprogramming Heat Wave into Chronos again. He resists, but his brain is seemingly overwhelmed. He suits up as Chonos again, and starts hunting for Cold and Canary.

In the Vanishing Point hangar, Cold and Canary plant hacking devices on the various time ships, so Gideon will be able to control them. They hop back on board the Waverider and take off. The other time ships try to follow, but Gideon shuts them all down. The Waverider then turns and starts blasting away at the Vanishing Point.

Druce enters the cell block with a squad of guards, and orders the execution of the Legends. Fortunately Cold knocks him out. The celebration's short-lived though, as Chronos appears and aims his gun at Cold. But it seems the conditioning didn't take again, as he turns and shoots the guards, as well as the Time Master who tortured him. He then crushes his torturer's skull with his boot! Holy crap!

The Legends all make their way back to the Waverider and blast off. The team wants to stop Savage and rescue Hawkgirl, but Hunter tells them there's no point. He explains how everything they've done so far has been strictly controlled by the Time Masters. But Atom reminds him that since the Oculus doesn't work inside the Vanishing Point, it's the one place in the universe where their actions are their own. If they destroy the Oculus, the Time Masters won't be able to control them anymore. Hunter reluctantly agrees, and sets a course for the Oculus Wellspring. Meanwhile Cold makes a futile pass at Canary, who rejects him.

The Waverider arrives at the Wellspring and the team disembarks. Just when they think they've made it, smug bastard Druce arrives with another squad of guards, saying, "Again we see there is nothing you can possess which I cannot take away," er, I mean "This was all part of my highly orchestrated manipulation of you," or words to that effect.

Druce orders the guards to shoot, but just then Jackson arrives in the Jump Ship and blasts them. He jumps out of the ship and merges with Stein (no doubt just in time), becoming Firestorm. The Legends then move toward the Wellspring.

Savage arrives in 2166. Hawkgirl pleads with him not to kill Hunter's family, but he says it's his destiny. He shoots Hunter's wife, and then kills his child just as he did in the pilot.

Cold, Canary, Heat Wave and Firestorm fight off more Time Master guards while Atom and Hunter try to destroy the Oculus. Hunter realizes this is the future moment he saw, and that Atom is going to die. Atom says it's OK if he's killed, because all he's ever wanted to do was make a difference. He discovers the Oculus is rigged with a failsafe— it's impossible to destroy it remotely. Someone needs to stay behind, reach in and trigger the destruction. Heat Wave knocks out Atom and takes his place, telling Hunter and the others to get back to the ship.

When Cold and Canary hear this, they rush back to the Oculus to talk Heat Wave out of sacrificing himself. He refuses to leave, so Cold knocks him out and takes his place. Sadly the entire team doesn't line up and take turns knocking one another out so they can all be noble.

Canary plants a particularly lusty kiss on Cold's lips, and carries Heat Wave back to the ship (strong girl!). Cold triggers the Oculus, which destroys the entire Vanishing Point. The Waverider escapes into the time stream.

Heat Wave is devastated by Cold's death. Atom says he sacrificed himself to give them all free will. Heat Wave growls that that makes him feel a little better, but he still wants to kill someone. Atoms suggests Savage. Heat Wave says he'll do.

After killing Hunter's family, Savage tries to contact the Time Masters, but realizes they're gone. Hawkgirl finds this highly amusing, asking him how long he thinks he can hold onto power without the Time Masters to back him up? Savage says he no longer needs to rule the world. With his own time ship, he can now change it.

Thoughts:
• So let's talk about Captain Cold, shall we? He's not really dead and will be back next week, right? They wouldn't possibly be stupid enough to kill off the show's most interesting character, would they?

Welp... it looks like yes. Yes they would.

Supposedly actor Wentworth Miller, who plays Cold, only agreed to do the series on the condition he sign a short-term contract, and not become a permanent member of the cast. So it looks like Cold was doomed from the start.

But all is not lost. According to series creator Greg Berlanti, Miller has signed an exclusive deal that will give him "flexibility" and allow him to appear on all the various Arrowverse shows. Berlanti says it's the first time a deal like this has ever been struck.

So while Cold will no longer be a regular member of the Waverider crew, he could still pop up on the show now and then, and even make guest appearances on Arrow and The Flash again. I'm assuming because he was killed by an exploding time machine, he'll somehow cheat death by reappearing at some point in the past.

I still think it's a mistake to let him leave, as Cold has become the series' MVP. Supposedly the show will be adding two new characters next season. They'd better be damned impressive, because they're going to have some awfully big and snarky shoes to fill.

• Gideon tells Canary that the rest of the Legends are being held in Cell Block 4587. Is there some significance to that number? It pops up over and over in the various Arrowverse shows.


• I forgot to mention it last week, but the Vanishing Point looked pretty darned cool. It's amazing what Encore Studios is able to pull off week after week on a TV budget.

I grew up in an era when scenes like this were considered cutting edge special effects, so I definitely appreciate the awesome visuals on this show.

• I was expecting a Star Wars reference when Cold and Canary climbed out of the secret hatch in the floor of the Millennium Falcon, er, I mean the Waverider.

• Gideon comes up with a plan to have Cold and Canary secretly attach override devices to all the time ships in the Vanishing Point hangar. Not a bad plan, except for the part where the secret devices all feature a flashing light and emit a loud beep. Brilliant!

• Druce tells Hunter that the Thanagarians are scheduled to invade Earth ten years after Savage rises to power. So who the heck are the Thanagarians?

In the comics, the Silver Age Hawkman and Hawkgirl were actually human-looking aliens from the planet Thanagar. I have no idea if that's still the case, as the Hawks have the most ridiculously convoluted histories of any characters in the history of comic books. Honestly, it would take me a couple days to type it all out. But it looks like we're probably going to get a lot more winged hawk-people next season.

• Druce shows Hunter the Oculus, and says the Time Masters have been manipulating his every move all season. He says Hunter's actions even helped Savage rise to power sooner than he would have otherwise. When Hunter says he doesn't believe it, Druce offers proof:
Druce: "Thanks to your efforts, Vandal Savage was not in prison for the sale of a nuclear weapon in 1975. You prevented the Soviet Union from winning the Cold War in 1986. Carter Hall's death provided Savage's closest lieutenants preternaturally long lives. You and your team have been moving through the course of time. We've merely redirected it, and you, to the outcomes history requires."

So all those times that Hunter tried to stop Savage and failed miserably weren't because he's the worst captain ever. They were all part of the Time Masters' plan! Well, that's one way to hand wave away an entire season's worth of poor plotting. I honestly don't think I've ever seen a show use an explanation like this to explain away its bad writing before. Nice try, guys. But you're still not off the hook.

• When Cold and Canary fly the Waverider out of the hangar, they seem to take the Time Masters by surprise. I was going to ask how that's possible, if the Time Masters are manipulating time and everyone is following their "script."

But then I re-watched part of the episode, and Druce explains that the Oculus doesn't work inside the Vanishing Point. It's the one place in the universe where the Legends actually have free will.

The only problem with this is that when the Legends attempt to destroy the Wellspring, Druce appears out of nowhere. He slow claps and congratulates them all for playing their parts so perfectly. So which is it, guys? Does free will exist in the Vanishing Point or not? You can't have it both ways.

• There's apparently a big chunk of Jackson's storyline that happens offscreen in this episode. Last week he was aging at an accelerated rate, so Stein put him in the Waverider's Jump Ship and sent him back to 2016, theorizing that the trip would somehow cure him.

It must have worked, as we see Jackson hale, hearty and back to normal in 2016. But the Jump ship must have crash landed or been irreparably damaged, because Jackson says he needs Past Stein's help to get back to the future. The two then start repairing the damaged Time Sphere that's being stored in the basement of STAR Labs. The very same Time Sphere that was damaged when Eobard Thawne tried to use to get back to his own era in the Season 1 finale of The Flash.

Jackson makes it back to the future, but when he appears at the Vanishing Point, he's not in the Time Sphere, but in the Jump Ship again. Whaa...? Is there more than one Jump Ship? I'm pretty sure it's been established that there's only room for one in the Waverider. So how'd Jackson get ahold of another one? Did he fly the Time Sphere to the Vanishing Point, then get out and steal another Jump Ship from the Time Masters' hangar?


• Someone on the writing staff had some fun coming up with technobabble for Past Stein and Jackson to spout. Seriously, it rivals Star Trek: Voyager in its ridiculousness:

Jackson: Hey, you're drawing too much power from the sequestrian manifold!
Past Stein: "That's nonsense, Jefferson. Need I remind you who invented the sequestrian manifold?"

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Jackson: "Instead of pestering me about the future and being an insufferable know-it-all, why don't you help me reroute the temporal flow off the secondary buffer instead of just worrying about yourself?"
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Past Stein: "Well, I suppose it's time to say good-bye."
Jackson: "At least for now."
Past Stein: "Oh, one more thing, don't forget to initiate the... "
Jackson: "The quantum attenuator once I lock on to the Vanishing Point."

• Past Stein and Jackson go to STAR Labs to get the Time Sphere up and running. Funny how the place seemed to be deserted while they were there, eh? No Cisco, Caitlin or Barry anywhere to be found.


• Hawkgirl struggles against her restraints in Savage's Time Ship. He tells her not to bother, as the straps are forged from Tiberian steel. Was that material named after Captain Kirk?

• Cold seems excited about the plan to blow up the Oculus and rescue Hawkman and Hawkgirl. So I guess everyone's decided to forget that this particular Hawkman is from the future, and isn't "our" version. Apparently the writers are "cheating" in order to bring him back.

• Atom and Heat Wave have a chat in the Waverider's cafeteria. Atom talks about his predetermined death, saying, "Actually I gotta stop thinking about it. The temporal implications are infinite." 

Unfortunately instead of saying "TEM-per-al," he pronounces it "tem-PORE-ull," like he's never heard the word before. Eh, no need to do a second take, Mr. Director. I'm sure no one'll notice a flubbed line reading.

Legends Of Tomorrow features some impressive sets for a TV series.

But for every set such as the Waverider's bridge, we get another one like Cell Block 4587.

Or the Oculus.

Or the Wellspring. Basically sets that are nothing but dark, empty soundstages illuminated by a single bright light.

But you know what? As cheap as these sets are, they actually work (at least they do for me). There's a lot to be said for these minimalist sets, that suggest instead of show.

• Once again Cold gets the best lines of the episode:

Cold (to Canary): "Started to wonder what the future may hold for me. And you. And me and you.”
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And my favorite line from the entire season:
Cold: "But how do we do that if the Time Bastards are pulling our strings?"

I'm gonna miss you, Cold.

By the way, isn't Canary supposed to be a bisexual? I'm assuming Cold has to know that. I guess he's just that good, that he thinks he has a shot with her. And it looks like he was right!

• In all, at least three of the Legends stuck their hand inside the Oculus and volunteered to blow it up. I half expected the camera to pan across the entire cast, as each one of them waited their turn to sacrifice themselves.


• As Cold sacrifices himself, he turns to the Time Masters and says, "There are no strings on me!" Whoops! I predict Warner Bros. will be getting a call from the Marvel Studios lawyers in 3, 2, 1...

4 comments:

  1. "He's literally their puppet..."
    I hope you mean that he's figuratively their puppet? He isn't literally an empty shell with string attached or a hand up his but, is he? (Somehow I don't think prime time TV is ready for that. Muppets excepted.)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. OK, you got me there, with one of my own pet peeves.

      Delete
  2. "There are no strings on me!" is actually a callback to Pinocchio. So they'll be getting that call from Disney, not Marvel. (Unless of course they share lawyers, which is highly possible.)
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iAykOz1gWi4

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yeah, I knew that, but since Age Of Ultron just came out last year, I figured it would be the more well known reference.

      Delete

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