Monday, May 23, 2016

Legends Of Tomorrow Season 1, Episode 16: Legendary

It's the season finale of Legends Of Tomorrow!

SPOILERS FROM THIS POINT ON!

For weeks now I've been hoping the show would have the good sense to kill off Vandal Savage in the final episode of the season, as I was not looking forward to watching the Legends try to kill him for the next five years or so. Fortunately we got to see his demise this week, clearing the way for a new big bad next season.

I was never a fan of Savage and his storyline in the first place. I'm sure a big part of that was due to actor Casper Crump and his serious lack of charisma. He never seemed like much of a threat to me, and turned in a very lackluster performance from week to week. 
He finally started growing into the role in the past few episodes, but by then it was too little, too late.

Savage even had a dull superpower— immortality. That's it? He couldn't fly or shoot lasers from his eyes, lord no— that might have actually been exciting. Instead his sole power was not dying. How spectacularly uninteresting. His immortality was problematic for the Legends as well. Every time Savage appeared the Legends had to lose, else there'd be nothing else left for them to do, and no more show. This constant failure to stop him made them look inept and incompetent.

This was especially true of Hawkman and Hawkgirl, as their lives were inextricably intertwined with Savage. According to the Hawks, they've been trying to kill him for the past 4,000 years, and they failed every single time! Even worse, he managed to kill them in every one of their 209 reincarnated lives! This endless cycle just made the Hawks look like a couple of incompetent ninnies.

Supposedly Hawkman and Hawkgirl won't be returning next season. I'm completely fine with that development, especially since there wasn't really anywhere for their story to go now that Savage is dead.

The show started out a bit dodgy, but improved greatly by the end. It looks like the early episodes were a 
shakedown cruise for the series, as the last three or four episodes finally began to gel and show real promise. It felt like the writers learned from their mistakes and tossed out the things that didn't work— like Savage, the turgid and unconvincing Hawkgirl/Atom romance, and even the uninteresting Hawks themselves. Now that they've jettisoned all that, I'm hopeful the series will continue to improve in Season 2.

Despite its problems, I like the series quite a bit. I'm especially fond of the way it fully embraces the insanity of its Silver Age comic book roots. If the sight of a hundred foot tall Atom battling a giant, glowing robot doesn't bring a smile to your face, then you're already dead.

The past two episodes have named dropped the Thanagarians, so I assumed they were going to be the new villains for Season 2. According to producer Marc Guggenheim this isn't the case, which makes me wonder why they brought them up in the first place.


Like most viewers, I fully expected Rip Hunter to somehow save his family in this episode. I was VERY surprised when that didn't happen. It looks like they're not only merely dead, they're really most sincerely dead. Kudos to the writers for taking the unexpected road and making such a risky move.


ONE LAST SPOILER WARNING!

The Plot:
The Waverider lands in Star City in 2016. The Legends disembark, and Hunter explains he's brought them all back home because Vandal Savage has disappeared and the mission is a complete failure. The team protests and they all want to try and stop Savage one last time, but Hunter says he's made up his mind. It turns out he's a holographic projection, and the Waverider flies away, leaving the team stranded.


For plot complication reasons, Hunter brought everyone back to May 2016 instead of January as he promised. White Canary goes to the Arrow Cave and finds her father Quentin Lance there, grieving. He says while she was gone her sister Laurel Lance was murdered by Damien Darhhhhhhhk, er, I mean Darhk.

In Central City, Heat Wave wastes no time reverting to his criminal ways, robbing a bank. Atom intercepts him, and says to honor the memory of the late Captain Cold, the two should become partners (!).

Professor Stein and his wife play Trivial Pursuit, but he can't concentrate. He tells his wife he has unfinished business and returns to the vacant lot where Hunter left them. There he finds the entire team milling around. They all want to finish the mission as well. Atom and Stein figure out a way to technobabble a message to the Waverider. Hunter receives their text and returns to 2016. The Legends tell him they're going to complete their mission and save the world, and they're not taking no for an answer.

In 1944 France, Hawkgirl apparently escaped from Vandal Savage and is fleeing through the forest. She encounters an American soldier, and recognizes his helmet (?) She writes a note and puts it inside his helmet lining. Just then Savage appears, kills the soldier and knocks her out.

On the Waverider, Canary threatens Hunter and demands he take her back to January so she can save Laurel. He tells her it's impossible, as "time wants to happen," and there's nothing she can do to prevent her sister's death. So... that pretty much makes their entire mission moot then, right? He then uses a device to knock her out. Problem solved! Jackson accidentally knocks over a WWII helmet in Hunter's office, and it turns out to be the very one in which Hawkgirl hid her note. Hunter reads the note, realizes where and when Savage is, and heads for 1944 France.

Back in 1944, Savage takes blood from the Hawks, and mononlogues his master plan to them. He says their blood will somehow activate the secret Thanagarian technology hidden inside the three meteors that landed in ancient Egypt and gave him and the Hawks their powers. Once he's activated the meteors, he can detonate them in three different time periods, erasing history and resetting it with himself in charge. Comic book science!

Savage attacks a Nazi convoy carrying one of the meteors. The Waverider arrives and the Legends attack. Firestorm rescues the Hawks, and accidentally transmutes a Nazi's rifle into sand. As everyone's fleeing back to the Waverider, Hawkgirl's knocked out and recaptured. Outnumbered, Hunter's forced to flee without Hawkgirl.

Savage uses his time ship to travel back to Harmony Falls in 1958 (where the events of Night Of The Hawk took place). He meets his past self as he discovers the meteor and hands him a vial of the Hawks' blood. He tells Past Savage to use the blood to activate the meteor and detonate it.

On board the Waverider, Stein and Jackson merge into Firestorm and practice their new-found transmutation ability. Stein deduces Savage's plan, and says they'll need to kill him in all three time periods: Harmony Falls in 1958, Norway in 1975 and 
St. Roch in 2021. Additionally, the radiation from the meteors will temporarily suppress Savage's immortality, so anyone will be able to kill him, not just the Hawks. That's some fancy deducing on Stein's part, especially since he's pulling this theory directly out of his ass with no proof or testing. The Legends then split into three teams to kill Savage simultaneously in each time period. Atom and Heat Wave go to 1958, Firestorm and Canary go to 1975, and Hunter and Hawkman go to 2021.

All three versions of Savage begin the ritual. In 2021, Hawkgirl frees herself and joins Hawkman and Hunter. The battle rages across three different eras. Eventually the Legends get the upper hand. In 1958, Heat Wave beats the crap out of Savage and incinerates him with his flame gun (!). In 1975, Canary snaps Savage's neck (!!). And in 2021, Hawkgirl stabs Savage in the heart with his own knife (!!!). Hunter then grabs him and throws him against a generator, electrocuting him (!!!!). I gotta say, it was satisfying watching him die three times.

The meteors then threaten to explode. Atom shrinks the 1958 meteor, causing it to explode in a harmless puff of smoke. Firestorm turns the 1975 meteor into water. Gideon then time jumps and brings all the Legends to 2021. Unfortunately, the 2021 meteor can't be disabled for reasons. If it explodes it'll destroy the Earth (of course).

Hunter places the meteor into the Waverider and flies it toward the sun. As the ship begins to shake apart, he hallucinates his dead wife and son are with him. Suddenly Gideon comes online and says she'd rather not die, thanks. This snaps Hunter back to his senses, and he tells Gideon to prepare for one final jump, to twenty minutes in the past.

Hunter returns to the rooftop and tells the Legends he shot the meteor into the sun and returned. So... why didn't he do that in the first place? He says now that the Time Masters are gone, someone needs to protect the time stream, and says the Legends are welcome to join him.

Cut to 2016. Canary visits her sister's grave, and says she knows Laurel would want her to go with Hunter. Stein plays Trivial Pursuit with Clarissa (again!). Jackson enters and says it's time to go. Stein says he doesn't want to leave his wife, but she says being part of Firestorm is more important.

Back in 2013, Heat Wave visits a bar and meets Past Captain Cold. Heat Wave awkwardly tells the very confused Cold that he's his hero, and walks out. I guess Canary didn't want to visit her late sister in the past?

After the various goodbyes are said, the Legends meet in another vacant lot. The Hawks say they've decided not to sign on for another mission, as they want to enjoy their Savage-free lives. Good riddance to them, I say! The rest of the team prepares to board the ship when a second Waverider appears, and crash-lands in front of them. A mysterious man exits and tells them if they get on their ship they'll all die. Heat Wave asks the man who the hell he is and how he knows that. He says Heat Wave himself sent him back to warn the Legends, and his name is Rex Tyler of the Justice Society Of America (sending squeals of delight throughout fandom).

Thoughts:

• Why does Hunter always wait until after the Waverider lands before he cloaks it? Wouldn't it make infinitely more sense to cloak it before it flies through a heavily populated city and alarms the entire populace, not to mention the police and military? I guess all those office buildings we see must be empty, or no one ever looks out their windows.

The real world reason for this is so we can get all those kewl shots of the ship coming in for a landing in a vacant lot. But within the universe of the show, it doesn't make any damned sense.

 After dumping the Legends in 2016, Hunter says says he'll go back to The Refuge, retrieve their infant selves and return them to their proper times so their adult selves don't disappear from the present. Even though it's ridiculous, I'm glad to see the writers remembered this dangling little plot point from Last Refuge.

 As Hawkgirl flees through the French countryside in 1944, she runs into an American soldier. She actually recognizes his helmet as one of the historical artifacts on display in Hunter's office, and places a note in it, hoping he'll find it decades later.

Jesus Christ! Not only is she the most observant person in the world to recognize the soldier's helmet as the same one in the Waverider, she's also got to be the luckiest. What are the odds she'd just happen to run into the one soldier in all of WWII who's wearing the exact helmet that somehow comes into Hunter's possession? Coincidence, thy name is Legends Of Tomorrow!

And that doomed soldier better not have been Sgt. Rock! The helmet certainly looked like Rock's, but surely the producers wouldn't be dumb enough to waste such a major character from the comics by killing him thirty seconds after his introduction.

• Why did Hunter take the Legends back to May 2016 instead of January? All season he's been assuring them he could return them a second after they left, then suddenly in this episode he has some lame technobabble excuse as to why he can't. What is this, Doctor Who?

Once again, the real world reason for returning to May is so Canary could arrive after her sister Laurel died, so she could agonize over that and give her a story arc in the episode. I have no idea what the in-show reason was though.

• When Canary demands Hunter take her back in time to save her sister Laurel, Hunter says it's not possible. He says he altered the timeline when he recruited Canary, as she was supposed to die alongside her sister. If she tries to go back, she'll be killed by Damien Darhk as well.

Additionally, Hunter says he's tried to prevent his wife and son from being killed dozens of times, but the time stream always asserted itself and won in the end. He tells Canary that no matter what she does, she can't change Laurel's death.

This pretty much makes the entire series moot, doesn't it? The whole point of the mission was to defeat Savage and save Hunter's family. If events truly can't be changed, then why the hell did he bother in the first place?

To make things worse, the Legends actually succeed in killing Savage in this episode. Three different times! 
So which is it, writers? Can events be changed or can't they? You can't have it both ways! Especially not in the same episode!

• When Savage steals the meteor in 1944, he's accompanied by a small army of grunts with hi-tech armor and blasters. Where the hell did they come from? Certainly not 1944! Did he use his jump ship to grab 'em in 2166 and bring them back to WWII?

• The Legends wonder why Savage went to 1944 and what he was doing there. Gideon helps out by providing surveillance footage showing Savage stealing a meteor. Um... surveillance camera footage in 1944? How the hell is that possible? 

• During the three-way battle between the Legends, Savage and the Nazis, Firestorm grabs hold of a soldier's gun and is shocked when it transforms into sand.

Huzzah! At long, long, LONG last, Firestorm finally gets the power to transmute objects from one substance to another. It's about damned time.

In the comics Firestorm could fly and shoot fire from his hands, but his primary power was always transmutation. If a thug shot at him, he could turn the bullets into water or flowers. 


Ever since he was introduced over on The Flash, Firestorm's been little more than a low-rent Human Torch. I was beginning to think he'd never manifest his full powers, so it's nice to finally see it happen.

I'm still struggling to get used to his "budget friendly" non-flaming head though, that only ignites when he flies.

• Savage's new master plan is to cause a time quake, which will shatter the timeline and take him back to 1700 BC. Once there, he'll set himself up as supreme ruler, and due to his foreknowledge, he'll now be a god.

Eh, I don't know about that. The guy's already been alive for 4000 years! If he couldn't figure out how to conquer the world in all that time, he never will!

Legends Of Tomorrow loves to throw in homages to time travel movies. This episode features a ton of them.

The whole "Contacting Someone In The Future By Hiding A Message In The Past " scene is very reminiscent of a similar occurance in the movie Frequency

The Legends splitting up to stop Savage in three different time periods had to have been a nod to All Good Things..., the series finale of Star Trek: The Next Generation.

Hunter uses a hi-tech doodad to knock out an angry White Canary. Doc Brown did the same thing to an overly curious Jennifer in Back To The Future II.

And of course Hunter getting shot, toppling off the side of the skyscraper and then slowly rising back up while standing on the Waverider was an homage to Back To The Future II as well.

• Whoops! In both Marooned and River Of Time, Stein said he and Jackson couldn't form Firestorm inside the Waverider because the fusion reaction would damage the ship. So what do they do in this episode? They form Firestorm. Inside the ship. The resultant reaction is very small and contained and doesn't look like it scorched the ship in the least. Sometimes I wonder if the writers watch past episodes before penning a new one. Or hope the audience doesn't remember things like this.

• It looks like everyone's officially decided to ignore the fact that this particular Hawkman is from the future and doesn't belong with this Hawkgirl. I believe Hawkgirl is on her 209th life (give or take one), but this Hawkman was taken from 2166. He's probably on his 211th or 212th life by now. They don't belong together. They're not a matched set. It's like the writers cheated to make them a couple again.


If this Future Hawkman is #211, what happened to his corresponding #211 Hawkgirl? Was she killed? Or his addled state, did he forget what happened to her and decide the 2016 Hawkgirl is good enough? I hope the 2166 Hawkgirl truly is dead, because if not she's going to waste her life looking for her partner and never find him.

• Heat Wave's primary weapon is a small flamethrower gun. Oddly enough, whenever he shoots someone with his gun they're usually just blown backward, with no other damage. Um… that's not how flamethrowers work.

Finally in this episode he fires at Savage and he goes up in flames like a high school homecoming bonfire. So I guess Heat Wave's gun is capable of shooting both lethal and non-lethal flames. Got it.

• Poor Arthur Darvill. Near the end of the episode, Rip Hunter finally gets to kill Vandal Savage. As Savage dies, he hisses through bloody teeth that Hunter hasn't won, as his family is still dead.

If you watch closely it looks like actor Casper Crump is spitting fake blood all over Darvill's face. Look closely at the still above, and you can see Darvill closing his eyes as the bloody spittle comes at him. Say it, don't spray it, Savage!

• While it was definitely satisfying to see Savage get killed in three different time periods, I'm not even going to attempt to explain how impossible that would be. OK, I'll try. 

Say on Monday he went back to 1944. Then Tuesday he goes to 1975. Wednesday he goes to 2021. If he's killed in 1944, then how could he go to the other periods? See what I mean?

• I loved it when the 1958 meteor was threatening to explode, and Atom simply shrank it so it went off with a barely audible "poof."


• To save the planet, Hunter puts the last meteor in the Waverider and pilots it toward the sun. This of course will kill him (and Gideon) in the process. Um... that seems needlessly complicated and dramatic. Why not just put the meteor in the Jump Ship and have Gideon program it to fly into the sun? Because then the writers couldn't generate tension and almost kill Hunter and have him come to his senses in the nick of time, that's why. It's cheap theatrics, and lazy writing.


• With the crisis over, Hunter says that now that the Time Masters have been blowed up real good, he's taking it upon himself to watch over the time stream and guard it himself. Oy gevalt! Welp, there goes the universe! Hunter's shown time and again that he's the worst captain EVER, and consistently makes the worst decisions possible. We're all doomed.

• After Savage is killed, Stein and his wife Clarissa sit in their living room playing Trivial Pursuit. Jackson comes in and says the Legends have decided to re-up for a new mission. Stein refuses to go, saying his place is at home with his wife. Clarissa says he'll regret it for the rest of his life if he stays home, and encourages him to go. Wait, did I say "encourages?" I meant "shoves him out the door."

Sounds to me like Clarissa's anxious to get Stein out of the house again! She got something going with the pool boy?

• At the very end of the episode, the Legends all meet Hunter, anxious to go on a new mission. A second Waverider then crash lands in front of them. A man gets out, gives them an ominous warning and says he's Rex Tyler of the Justice Society, and he'll be joining the cast next season. OK, so he doesn't really say that last part, but he is becoming a regular.


So who the heck is Rex Tyler?

In the comics, Rex Tyler was the superhero known as Hourman, who debuted in 1940. He was a chemist who came up with a wonder drug called "Miraclo," which, when taken, would grant him superhuman strength and speed for one hour. So he's basically Popeye with the spinach.

He had a son named Rick Tyler, who took up the Hourman mantle in the 1980s. It's a long and complicated story (of course), but eventually he also gained the additional ability to see an hour into the future. 

There was a third Hourman named Matthew Tyler, who was an android from the 853rd Century. He gave up most of his powers and spent his days wandering the timestream.

I'm betting the Hourman we see at the end of the episode is the original, who's only "super" for an hour. I wouldn't be surprised if they eventually throw in Rick Tyler's precognition power too (hey, it worked for Cisco on The Flash!). 

As for the Justice Society, they were a team of superheroes who were the precursors to the more well-known Justice League. The Justice Society premiered in 1940, and the team is still in existence today. The roster's changed dramatically over the years, but the original members were Hourman (or Hour-Man as it was spelled then), Doctor Fate, the Spectre, Sandman, the Golden Age Atom (who couldn't shrink, but was just a short guy who punched people), the Golden Age Flash, the Golden Age Green Lantern and the Golden Age Hawkman.

I doubt they'll use the Golden Age Flash, Atom, Green Lantern or Hawkman here. Doctor Fate and the Spectre would be pretty cool though. There's a ton of other members who joined up later that they could use.

The Arrowverse shows are probably forbidden from using the Justice League, since Warner Bros. is currently filming a dark, gritty and murdery version of them for the big screen. So the Arrowverse producers are using the next best thing. The Hourman we saw here looked like he was wearing a fairly modern costume, so I doubt he's from the 1940s version of the Justice Society. I guess we'll find out for sure this fall.

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