Sunday, February 7, 2016

Legends Of Tomorrow Season 1, Episode 3: Blood Ties

Even though it wasn't billed as such, this week's Legends Of Tomorrow felt a lot like the third part of the two-part pilot episode. The gang's still running around in 1975, the characters are still learning to trust one another and there's yet another lesson in how they all have to work together if they're going to succeed. At the end of the episode they all even renew their commitment to the mission— exactly like they did at the end of Pilot Part 2. Odd. 

The writers seem to realize they can't have eight characters milling about the screen at the same time, so they've been splitting them up into smaller groups, just as I predicted. This is a wise choice, and results in some interesting team-ups. Captain Cold and Heatwave always make for an entertaining team, but this week Rip Hunter and White Canary made for a surprisingly good pairing.

A couple weeks ago I noted that actor Casper Crump's Vandal Savage made for a very underwhelming villain. He must have heard me, because suddenly in this episode he seemed much improved. Maybe he's finally found his groove.

This episode highlights the big problem with the premise of the series-- namely featuring Savage as the villain each week. If that's really the producers' plan, it's gonna get might old mighty quick. They're going to have to somehow figure out a way to change things up now and then to avoid "Gilligan's Island Syndrome." I don't want to watch a show where every week they have a chance to get off the island, er, I mean kill Vandal Savage, but at the last minute Gilligan, er, I mean Rip Hunter messes it up.

Next week's episode looks to feature Chronos and the Time Masters (hey, that'd make a good band name), so maybe we'll finally get at least one Savage-less story.

Blood Ties also featured a huge plot gaffe so mind-numbingly stupid that I almost knocked myself out slapping my forehead. Sometimes I think the writers are so busy juggling eight characters they forget about writing a coherent story. Hopefully they'll seal this leak before it can sink the boat.


The Plot:
in 1700 BC, we see Rip Hunter try to kill Vandal Savage. He fails of course, hesitating just long enough to let Savage escape. 

Cut to 1975, where the Legends are still stranded. They can't risk tim-jumping while Hawkgirl's injured, and she doesn't seem to be improving. Hunter fears the entire mission may be at an end. White Canary asks Hunter what's really bothering him, and he tells her about failing to kill Savage when he had the chance.

Canary comes up with a brilliant plan. If they can't kill Savage, why not try and bankrupt him, which could delay his world domination by a few decades. Hunter thinks that's a smashing idea.

Meanwhile Gideon scans Hawkgirl and says fragments of the magic McGuffin knife are in her bloodstream, heading straight for her heart, and not even Rip Hunter's futuristic technology can save her. Professor Stein and Atom come up with a crazy plan to save Hawkgirl. Atom shrinks himself smaller than he ever has before, and Stein injects him into Hawkgirl's bloodstream. Once inside her body, Atom begins disintegrating the fragments.

Unfortunately debris from one of the fragments strikes Atom's suit, destabilizing it. He exits Hawkgirl's body, shaken, saying he can't go on. Stein gives him a patented CW "I believe in you" pep talk, and he goes back in and finishes the job, saving Hawkgirl.

Hunter and Canary travel to the Blumberg Bank (the oldest in the world), where Savage stashes his loot. They convince a manager they're millionaires who want to make a deposit. Hunter manages to break into the bank's computer and sees Savage is storing something called "the Vessel." Unfortunately the manager saw through their ruse and returns with a gang of armed thugs. Canary makes short work of them, killing all but the manager (which hopefully didn't screw up the timeline too badly). 

Captain Cold and Heatwave talk Jackson into taking the Waverider's shuttle (which we've never seen or heard of before) for a joyride to Central City. Once there, Cold breaks into a museum and steals the Maximilian Emerald. He then enters his old house and gives the jewel to his father. 

Cold explains that his father tried to steal the Emerald, got caught and spend five years in prison, which was the beginning of his family's downfall. He hopes that by altering history he'll improve his own life. Once they all get back to the Waverider, he has Gideon check the historical records, and sees his father ended up in prison anyway after trying to fence the Emerald to an undercover cop. Cue sad trombone. Sorry Cold, the time stream doesn't like being changed!

Hunter interrogates the bank manager, who recognizes his as Gareeb, the man who tried to kill Savage in Ancient Egypt centuries ago. The manager says the mysterious "Vessel" is actually Hawkman's body, which Savage wants to use for some demented purpose. Hunter decides to forget about the bankruptcy plan, and retrieve Hawkman's body so that Savage can't desecrate it. 

Hunter and Canary crash Savage's party, but are captured. Savage drains some blood from Hawkman's body and gives it to his followers, saying it will prolong their lives. Back on the Waverider, Hawkgirl wakes up and has some sort of psychic vision, warning the team that something bad's happening to Hawkman's body.

Just as Savage is about to kill Hunter and Canary, Cold, Heatwave and Jackson burst in and save them. During the ensuing battle, Hunter manages to stab Savage with the McGuffin knife, saying he's paying him back for killing his family. Since the magic knife only works if Hawkgirl's wielding it, Savage is just wounded. Savage says he'll heal and come back, and looks forward to killing Hunter's family in the future. 

The team takes Hawkman's body with them (which they should have done last week), and then I guess they just leave Savage lying there wounded and bugger off. More on this below.

The Legends give Hawkman's body a proper burial. Gideon detects Savage in 1986, and the team blasts off.

• This is some pretty hardcore nitpicking, but here goes— in the teaser scene we see Rip Hunter try to kill Vandal Savage in 1700 BC. During their battle they shout back and forth to one another.

So does Rip speak ancient Egyptian? He'd pretty much have to, else Savage wouldn't have understood anything he was saying. 

• Hunter gives yet another rousing speech to the Legends, saying. "I've seen men of steel die, and dark knights fall." Gosh, I wonder who he was talking about there?

Supposedly the Arrowverse isn't allowed to use either Superman or Batman, because the DC executives think the audience will be confused if there are movie versions and separate TV versions. Which is an idiotic notion, but that's corporate executives for you.

But the show keeps nudging and winking at the audience as they drop in little bits like this, which is frankly kind of annoying. Either there's a Superman and a Batman in the Arrowverse or there ain't guys. You can't have it both ways.

• Thank the maker! White Canary must have visited a 1975 hair salon and got a new 'do. She looks much better without that wet, greasy look she sported in the first two episodes.

I'm betting this episode was filmed weeks or even months after the pilot, giving her time to grow out her hair a bit and change up the style.

• When Canary's trying to cheer up Hunter in his office, there's a brief shot of an Old West wanted poster on the wall. 

Here's a better shot of it.

As you can see, it's definitely a wanted poster for Jonah Hex, DC Comics' resident Old West antihero. He's scheduled to show up on the series in a few weeks, so this is no doubt a nod to his appearance.

Let's hope this version is better than the dreadful theatrical film that came out a few years ago.

• At the Brumberg Bank (the oldest in the world), Hunter and Canary are ambushed by a group of thugs. Canary kills several of them in self defense.

Did she just screw up history by killing those thugs years before they were supposed to die? Hunter's upset about their deaths, but it seems more from a "Jesus, what a psycho" standpoint than from an "Oh my god, you just wiped out the future" one. 

Maybe the thugs just weren't that important to the timeline? Or did Canary's appearance in 1975 become part of history, and they died when they were supposed to? 

This show really needs to lay down some rules about how its time travel works.

• Atom shrinks and enters Hawkgirl's bloodstream. We then get the following exchange between him and Professor Stein:
Atom: Alright, where am I headed? 
Stein: You just exited the tracheal artery. You should see the first fragment.
Atom: No sign of it. Did I miss it?
Stein: It's the size of an iceberg! It seems highly unlikely that you could miss it!
Atom: That's probably what they said on the Titanic!
Obviously this cutesy little scene was a reference to the fact that Victor Garber starred as Thomas Andrews, the shipbuilder in 1997's Titanic.

• Captain Cold visits his old Central City neighborhood in 1975. We see he lives at 1629 Hadley Ave. There was a Dr. Harold Hadley in DC Comic, but he didn't have anything to do with Captain Cold or even the Flash. I'm guessing the name is just a coincidence and not an easter egg.

• While sneaking around his old house, Cold inadvertently runs into his much younger self and gives him some advice. It's a nice little scene, and gives some added depth to Cold, but it also made me wonder— just how old is he supposed to be?

The Legends are currently marooned in 1975. That was forty one years ago. Young Cold looks like he's about six, maybe seven years old. Is Cold really supposed to be forty seven or forty eight? That seems a bit long in the tooth for a superhero, or in this case, villain. On the other hand, Professor Stein is in his sixties, so I guess it's not impossible. I just didn't think of Cold as being near fifty.

For the record, actor Wentworth Miller is currently forty three.

• Just how big is the Waverider supposed to be? It looks fairly huge, but I don't think it's large enough. So far we've seen it contains a massive bridge, complete with crash chairs for everyone, lots of roomy corridors, Rip Hunter's spacious office (filled with relics from across time), a pretty sizable medbay and even a room that manufactures period-specific clothing. In this episode we find out it even contains a shuttle/escape ship. There's probably also some sort of galley and an engine room somewhere.

One thing that hasn't yet been addressed— where do the Legends sleep? Surely there have to be some sort of crew quarters on board. Or do they all unroll sleeping bags every night and sack out on the bridge?

When you start adding up the rooms we've seen so far (and the ones we haven't, but must surely exist), it makes you wonder they're all crammed in there. Maybe the Waverider is like the Doctor's TARDIS, and is bigger on the inside than the outside?

• In the comics, Ronnie Raymond and Professor Stein initially had to be in contact with one another to merge into Firestorm. If I remember right, they eventually learned how to merge even when they were miles apart. 

Jackson and Stein really need to figure out how to do that on the show. It'd make their lives a lot easier, and solve a whole lot of plot complications (which is why it'll probably never happen!).

• Hunter and Canary crash Vandal Savage's shindig at the ballroom of the Grayhill Building. In order to blend in, Hunter suggests they dance. Canary says, "I'm not much of a dancer." I guess she forgot she was dancing up a storm in Pilot Part 1. Maybe she means she's not a ballroom dancer.

Anyway, Hunter says, "I'll lead then." Um... isn't that how it always works? Doesn't the man usually lead?

 At the party, Savage drains blood from Hawkman's lifeless body and gives a sip to each of his faithful servants. He says the blood won't make them immortal like him, but will prolong their lives by a century or so. A couple things here.

How'd Savage get ahold of Hawkman's body in the first place? Well, that would be because last week the Legends attacked Savage in his mansion. After a short struggle, Savage killed Hawkman with the McGuffin knife, and seriously wounded Hawkgirl. 

The Legends then grabbed Hawkgirl and hightailed it outta there, leaving Hawkman's body lying in the mansion of an immortal psychotic madman.

I'm starting to think Hunter was being ironic when he named this group "Legends."

Secondly, once again the mechanics of the Hawks and Savage is very vague. Savage says Hawkman's blood will prolong the life of his followers.

Why the hell would that be? Savage is the one who's immortal. Hawkman lives a normal lifespan and is reincarnated at death. That's not the same as immortality at all. I honestly don't see how his blood could do anything to prolong anyone's life.

And even if it did, he's a stiff. Do his dead corpuscles still possess magical powers?

Lastly, this is pretty gross, but... how long has Hawkman been dead at this point? How long does blood continue to flow out of a dead body? Shouldn't it have coagulated way before now? 

 Rip Hunter is the worst time traveler in history (see what I did there?). He recruits a couple of self-proclaimed criminals to be on his super team, and of course to absolutely no one's surprise, the first thing they do is take off on their own and try to change history— for their own benefit.

Then when Hunter has Savage on the ropes, he stupidly announces he's seeking revenge for his murdered family. This brilliant tactic ensures that Savage will now be on the lookout for them, and will kill them the moment he sees them.

Say, Rip, next time you're attacking an evil, insane immortal, maybe keep your motives to yourself.

 Earlier Canary suggested bankrupting Savage to delay his rise to power by a few decades, which is a pretty good idea. Hunter and Canary then attempt it, but get sidetracked by rescuing Hawkman's corpse. Apparently the bankrupting idea is then totally forgotten. I see no reason why they can't go back to that plan and try it again.

 Plot Contrivance Alert! As I mentioned earlier, this episode featured a massive, head-scratching example of poor writing. In the third act, Hunter manages to stab Savage with the magic McGuffin knife, severely wounding him. Savage hisses that this is just a minor setback, and he'll eventually heal and return.

And then Hunter and the rest of the Legends apparently just saunter back to their ship, leaving the evil tyrant lying there on the floor.

Jesus wept! Are you frakin' kidding me?

Their mission, and the entire point of the series, is to kill Savage to prevent him from ruling the world. So they finally get him on the ropes and then just leave him?  

I get that Hawkgirl is the only one who can kill him with the McGuffin knife. Fine. So tie him up, carry him back to the ship and let her stab him in the heart. Better yet, forget about the knife and just cut his goddamned head off! I bet he wouldn't recover from that! Or Hunter could take him for a ride in his spaceship and jettison him into the sun. Do something, anything, but for frak's sake don't just leave him lying on the floor and give him a chance to return.  

I realize those options aren't very heroic, and the series would be over if they did any of that, but doing nothing just defies all logic and good storytelling. C'mon, guys, this type of writing is barely above Power Rangers level!

 Next week, the Legends travel to 1986.


  1. Walking to the bank we can see modern cars in the background and there's no way that desktop was from 1975!

  2. Walking to the bank we can see modern cars in the background and there's no way that desktop was from 1975!


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