Sunday, November 13, 2016

Legends Of Tomorrow Season 2, Episode 5: Compromised

This week on Legends Of Tomorrow, the team goes on the most important mission of their lives undoing the timeline aberration known as the 2016 Presidential Election. While there they run into the Doctor, Marty McFly and Doc Brown, Bill S. Preston, Esquire and Ted "Theodore" Logan, Kyle Reese, and Dr. Samuel Beckett, who've all converged on the same date to prevent the American public from destroying the world.

OK, so that's not what really happened, but Jesus Christ do we need the time-traveling Legends now more than ever.

In this episode the Legends go to the 1980s, Professor Stein meets his younger self again, and White Canary finally gets her revenge well, sort of against Damien Darhhhhhk.

We also find out what happened to the Justice Society, and why no one on any of the Arrowverse shows have ever called on them for help.

SPOILERS!

The Plot:
In 1987, Damien Darhhhhhhhk, dressed in a very Miami Vice ensemble, oversees a drug deal in exchange for an ancient relic. According to Darhhhk, the relic is called a "fasces," and ancient ceremonial axe carried by the bodyguard of Emperor Nero, and is the source of the word "fascism." And that's one to grow on!

Suddenly the DEA shows up to arrest Darhhhhk and the drug dealers. Just then the agents are all dispatched (killed?) by the timely appearance of the Reverse Flash. It's been forty five years since Darhhk has worked with Eobard Thawne, but due to time travel shenanigans, it's only been a few days since Thawne has seen Darhhk. Thawne offers Darhhhk another job, promising him "real power" this time.

On the Waverider, Jackson tries to convince Professor Stein that they should be proactive and make sensible changes to time, instead of cleaning up temporal messes caused by others. Stein and White Canary tell him that tampering with the timeline's too dangerous, and not what Rip Hunter would have wanted. Jackson says he's tired of being a "time janitor." Look for this storyline to rise up again in a future episode.

Meanwhile Heat Wave is trying to teach Atom how to use Captain Cold's gun. Citizen Steel invents a "temporal seismograph," which can detect anomalies in the timeline. The seismograph goes off, indicating an anomaly in the White House in December, 1987. 

Professor Stein says it's the day before Reagan and Gorbachev signed the IMF Treaty, which reduced the number of nuclear weapons on both sides, and ended the Cold War. Stein knows all this because his younger self was there at the White House in 1987. He's afraid a time traveler is going to attack while Reagan and Gorbachev are under the same roof.

Vixen says the Justice Society had a training academy in Washington, and she could go there and get help from the current team (she's from 1942, remember). Steel goes with her. The rest of the team infiltrates the White House by joining a tour group.

Vixen and Steel enter the JSA training academy and find it's been deserted for decades. She wonders what happened to her team, and is surprised that Steel
 who's an historian doesn't know either. He says every scrap of info about the JSA was highly classified. Nice try, Steel.

Stein and Jackson sneak away from the tour group (riiiiight). Stein is shocked to see his younger self in the White House, since he doesn't remember being there on this day. He says someone's already changed the timeline slightly.

Atom and Heat Wave spot Darhhhhk in the White House, working alongside Reagan's aides. When Canary hears this, she rushes to kill Darhhhk, the man who killed her sister. Canary's surrounded by Secret Service agents. Atom and Heat Wave move in to help her, but are caught as well. Luckily Stein and Jackson form Firestorm, and create a distraction so everyone can escape.

Back at the JSA building, Vixen and Steel run into Obsidian, who's now an old man. He wonders why Vixen left the JSA so abruptly. She tells him it's because she went looking for Hourman's killer (which he probably should have been able to figure out for himself). When she asks what happened to the JSA, he says the entire team died on a mission to Leipzig in 1956. He was left out of the mission because the government didn't trust him (most likely because he has a case of teh gays). Vixen promises Obsidian she'll save the JSA when the current mission's over (um... won't that seriously alter history?).

On the Waverider, Stein tells Canary she's got to stop trying to kill Darhhhk thirty years early, as she'll end up destroying the entire timeline. The Legends then try to figure out what Darhhhhk's trying to accomplish. They deduce he's working with their mysterious time traveling nemesis (aka Reverse Flash). They find out Darhhhk has a secret meeting that night, and Atom and Heat Wave stake out the area to spy on him.

Darhhhk meets with a KGB agent, and gives him a "package" to deliver to a State dinner that night. Suddenly Young Stein wanders up to Darhhhk and says skipped a birthday dinner with his wife just to meet him. Unfortunately he realizes the Russian is a KGB agent, and Darhhk stabs him. The second Young Stein is injured, Old Stein collapses as well, which isn't the way time travel works, but whatever. Darhhhhhk and the Russian leave, and Atom and Heat Wave save Young Stein.

Back on the Waverider, both Steins are in the med bay. Old Stein scolds his younger self for taking his wife Clarissa for granted. Vixen talks Obsidian into helping them get into the state dinner. The Legends, dressed in their best duds, then infiltrate the dinner, trying to find Darhhhk's "package," which is most likely a bomb.

At the dinner, Old Martin sees Young Clarissa, and introduces himself as a friend of her husband. He asks her to dance, and tells her that Martin loves her very much, even if he sometimes doesn't show it.

In the basement, Darhhhk sells nuclear launch codes to the Russians in exchange for another relic. Vixen, Steel, Canary, Firestorm and Obsidian appear and battle the Russian agents. Darhhhk of course slinks away unharmed, which is apparently his superpower. 

Atom finds the bomb under one of the tables in the banquet room. He says the only way to disarm it is to dismantle Captain Cold's cold gun. Heat Wave, who's been very protective of his dead friend's gun, says go ahead. Atom deactivates the bomb with a second to spare (of course). 

In the basement, Vixen and Obsidian search for Darhhhk in the dark (heh). Darhhk shoots at Vixen, but Obsidian zooms over and takes the bullet for her. Canary catches up to Darhhhhhk, and decides that Stein's right and she can't kill him. So she does something worse she lays out the next thirty years for Darhhhhhk, telling him exactly how and when he's going to die. Suddenly Reverse Flash appears and speeds Darhhhk away. Canary now knows their time traveling adversary is a speedster. Canary also stole the relic from Darhhk before he disappeared.

Old Stein sends his younger self home, after telling him to treat his wife better. Gideon heals Obsidian, who says he's too old for this sh*t and says he's going home to his boyfriend.

Darhhhhhhhk tells Thawne that he wants to change his future, and is finally willing to join him. Thawne reveals his Time Sphere, and the two enter it and blast off.

Thoughts: 
 Jackson does this week's intro.

• The episode, set in 1987, started with a fun homage to Miami Vice, complete with Damien Darhhhk decked out in some very Don Johnson-esque  attire.

Annnnnnd that was about it for the 80s setting. Sure, the Legends all wore some vaguely period clothing, and we heard a couple songs from the era, but overall there really wasn't much of the 1980s on display. And how could they visit the White House without giving us at least a glimpse of the President? How hard would it have been to hire a Reagan lookalike?

If not for the occasional dialogue reminder, I doubt most viewers would have realized the episode didn't take place in the present day.

• As most readers of my blog know, I watched about half of the first season of Arrow and then sort of drifted away from the show. Nothing against the series mind you; I just don't have time to watch everything. I know that Darhhk is one of the main villains on the show, but that's about it.

So color me surprised to find out that Darhhhhhk apparently died a while ago on the show. Thanks to the magic of time travel though, he's back! Well, not back, but still alive in the past.

Since  I'm not all that familiar with Darhhhhhhhhhk, I have to ask is he supposed to be scary? Everyone speaks about him in hushed tones like he's Voldemort, or a terrifying force of nature. Yet whenever he appears onscreen he's just this... pale bland white guy in a business suit. He doesn't seem the least bit menacing. 

Even worse, I've yet to see him actually do anything, as he prefers to stand around trying to look villainous, and dashes off the set at the first sign of danger.

I'm not sure if this is the fault of the character or actor Neal McDonough. I suppose if I'd seen all of Darhhk's Arrow appearances I'd be more impressed with him, but right now... I just don't get it.

• Another week, another Back To The Future reference. When Jackson says the Legends should be more than "time janitors," Stein says altering history, even for good, is too dangerous. Jackson says, "Did you really just use Doc Brown on me?"

There's also a Ghostbusters reference this week, as Heat Wave warns Atom of the consequences of crossing the heat and cold gun streams. If I remember right, this is a callback to an early Flash episode.

• When Vixen visits the now-defunct JSA facility, she finds an old photo of the team from the 1940s (which includes her as well).

The photo looked a lot like the one of the Minutemen in the Watchmen comic and film. And when I say "a lot like" I mean "exactly." I'm sure that was intentional, as both teams are from the 1940s, and Watchmen is owned by DC as well.

• This scene served as a reminder of something I'd almost completely forgotten Vixen is from the 1940s. Sure, occasionally she makes a comment about the state of our current society, but overall she sure doesn't act like she's seven decades out of time. The least she could do is pepper her speech with the occasional, "Say, what's the big idea?"

• Vixen finally channeled an animal other than a gorilla this week, as she assumed the powers of an eagle. Oddly enough she summoned eagle powers just so she could see in the dark, not so she could fly. I'm still wondering if she's able to fly when she channels bird powers. Are the producers worried she'd look silly if she flies? Atom and Firestorm do it, so why not her?

• Obsidian tells Vixen that the JSA all died on a mission in 1956. He was forced out of that mission (and possibly even the team?) because the government didn't trust him.

It's pretty subtle and probably flew right past most of the audience, but it's a good bet the government didn't trust Obsidian because they found out he's gay. Not that big a deal today, but in the 1950s it was a career-ending, shameful revelation.

• When Young Stein is stabbed, Old Stein immediately begins bleeding from a corresponding wound. The writers would have us believe that getting wounded in the past instantly affects his current self.

I've seen this trope in other time travel movies, such as Frequency and Looper. Every time I see it pop up though I realize that it doesn't make any damned sense. If Young Stein was stabbed in 1987, one of two things would happen he'd either recover from the wound or he'd die. If he lived, Current Stein would have a battle scar every day of his life since the moment he was stabbed. If he died, Current Stein would simply blink out of existence. 

It defies all rules of cause and effect for Old Stein to suddenly be affected by something that happened three decades ago.

• Wow, being a physicist must be a hard life indeed. In just three short decades, Professor Stein goes from the man on the right to looking like the one on the left. His kingdom for some Retinol A!

• Apparently Steel learned to effortlessly switch to his armored form between episodes. Last week he was still having trouble changing at the opportune moment.

• At the end of the episode, Canary realizes she can't kill Darhhk. Instead she does the next best thing she destroys him psychologically, by telling him when he's going to die. This was a nice touch, as knowing the date and manner of your death would be enough to drive anyone crazy. 

That said, maybe it wasn't such a good idea after all. Now that he knows exactly how the next three decades unfold, he can take steps to avoid his fate. Which is exactly what it looks like he's going to do as he and Reverse Flash fly away in the Time Sphere in the final scene.

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