Sunday, April 24, 2016

Legends Of Tomorrow Season 1, Episode 12: Last Refuge

It was inevitable that Legends Of Tomorrow would eventually get around to doing their own version of The Terminator franchise. Unfortunately The Terminator and its sequels handled the whole "Killing A Person In The Past To Erase Them In The Present" thing much, much better, not to mention more coherently. 

The time travel in The Terminator was well thought out, internally consistent and actually made sense. On Legends Of Tomorrow the rules of time travel change from week to week (sometimes in the same episode!) depending on the needs of the script. It's hard to use time travel as a dramatic device when there are no boundaries and literally anything can happen for any reason. I understand it would be limiting, but this show really needs to lay down some ground rules about time travel and then stick with them.

The series has done its best to set up the Time Masters as secondary villains, to be the Big Bad when Savage isn't around. But the thing is, they're not inherently evil. Savage just wants to watch the world burn. The Time Masters are simply trying to keep the timeline safe from Rip Hunter and his blundering Legends, whose constant, clumsy meddling threatens all of reality. I can understand their point. Their methods may be extreme, but... they're not villains!

I could have sworn I read that Season 1 of Legends would consist of just thirteen episodes, but now I'm seeing it's actually sixteen. Chalk it up to my faulty memory, I guess.


The Plot:
The Time Lords, er, I mean Time Masters sentence space pirate Kaylex Druzan to death by the Omega Protocol. They send The Pilgrim to kill him at some point in the past, which kills him in the present. Don't think too hard about that; just roll with it. They give The Pilgrim her next assignment eliminating the Legends by killing their younger selves.

In Central City in 1990, a young Heat Wave watches his home burn, with his parents inside (yikes!). The Pilgrim sneaks up behind him and draws her blaster. At the last second Atom appears and blasts her, saving Young Heat Wave. They bring him onboard the Waverider for safe keeping.

Their next stop is Starling City in 2007, to rescue younger White Canary. Her father, Sgt. Quentin Lance, has brought her to the police station as part of "Bring Your Daughter To Work Day." The Pilgrim appears and Present Canary and Heat Wave stop her. They bring Young Canary onto the Waverider and toss her in with Young Heat Wave, which seems like a bad idea.

Gideon then announces she's lost The Pilgrim's trail, and has no idea where she'll strike next. Atom suddenly collapses, and develops internal injuries. Gideon detects a temporal anomaly two years in the past. Apparently The Pilgrim's trying to kill Atom in 2014. 
Hunter and Firestorm arrive at Palmer Tech in 2014, and blast The Pilgrim out of the building, saving Atom just in time.

OK, let's just plow through this and get it over with. After his near death experience, Atom proposes to Hawkgirl and gives her the engagement ring he bought when they were stuck in the 1950s. She hems and haws through most of the episode, he realizes it was a mistake and tries to take back the proposal, and in the end she agrees to marry him. Yawn.

To prevent a repeat of Atom's near-death, Hunter decides to abduct Captain Cold, Professor Stein and Jackson shortly after they're born, to prevent The Pilgrim from finding them. He says it's a risky move, as leaving them out of the timestream for two long can cause their friends and families to forget they ever existed.

Hawkgirl and Canary steal Baby Cold, while Hunter and Heat Wave take Baby Stein. Atom and Stein go to take Baby Jackson. Stein sees Jackson's father, a soldier who was killed in action two weeks after his son's birth. He brazenly flaunts the rules of time travel by fetching Jackson so he can talk to his father. Jackson does so, but seems more upset than happy to meet the father he never knew.

Hunter then takes all the Legends' younger selves to "The Refuge," the Time Master orphanage where he grew up. It's run by a stern headmistress, who's Hunter's adoptive mother. She says her loyalty is to the children under her care, not the Time Masters, which makes one wonder how she's kept her job all these years. She gladly takes in all the kids.

The Pilgrim sends a message to Hunter. She says since he's prevented her from killing the Legends' younger selves, she's abducted their various loved ones, including Sgt. Lance, Stein's wife, Cold's sister and Jackson's father. She says she'll execute Jackson's father first, unless they hand over their younger selves. Hunter makes her a counter offer he'll turn himself over to The Pilgrim, which will prevent the team from ever being formed.

Hunter sets up a meeting in an abandoned Time Masters outpost. His "mother" brings Young Hunter (who was one of the kids we saw at the orphanage) to the meeting. The Pilgrim arrives and hands over Jackson's father, as Hunter hands over his younger self. Atom has been secretly hiding on Young Hunter's back, and flies out and attacks The Pilgrim. The rest of the Legends then appear and attack. The Pilgrim uses her time-stopping ability to freeze them all and their various energy blasts in midair. She promises to kill all their loved ones as revenge, but forgets about Young Hunter, who repeatedly stabs her in the gut with a knife. Her concentration broken, the Legends are unfrozen and fry The Pilgrim into oblivion. 

At the orphanage, Hunter's mom says she'll keep the young Legends safe. Hunter gives the Legends' various loved ones amnesia pills before returning them to their respective times. Professor Stein notes that his wife doesn't recognize him even before the pill. Hunter says due to their younger selves being absent from the timeline for so long, they're fading from existence. He says they need to hurry and kill Vandal Savage once and for all before it's too late. They now have to go to the one time they know he exists  the year 2166, when he's at the one place in time where they'll know he'll be: 2166 at the height of his powers. And thus the stage is set for the season finale.

• As is typical for this series, the rules and mechanics of time and time travel are wildly inconsistent and make no logical sense. The Time Masters sentence Kaylex Druzan to death. He's standing right there before them. The Pilgrim then kills him at some point in the past, which erases him from existence in the present.

But if he was killed when he was ten years old, then how the hell could he be standing in front of the Time Masters as a thirty year old man? See what I mean? Kaylex Druzan ceased to exist at age ten. There's no way he could have grown to adulthood and took up pirating for a living.

The writers attempt to smooth over this anomaly by having Rip Hunter say that it takes a while for time to "cement" and adjust itself after a major change. Nice try, guys, but I ain't buying it.

This is one of those time where we should probably stop trying to figure it out, and just follow Basil Exposition's advice in Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me, where he says, "I suggest you don't worry about those things and just enjoy yourself. (To audience) That goes for you all, too."

 At the beginning of the episode, the Time Masters execute a space pirate named Kaylex Druzan. That's such a specifically bizarre name that I was sure it was a shoutout to a character from the comics, but as near as I can tell he was made up for the show.

• Good news for Apple, Inc.! Apparently iPads will still exist in the 22nd Century, as the Time Masters hand one to The Pilgrim and she swipes left through her targets, like a deadly version of Tinder.

In 1990, Atom uses his Iron Man blasters to knock The Pilgrim on her ass, saving Young Heat Wave. Why didn't he just go ahead and kill her while he had the chance? I get that that's not very heroic, and we're straying into Dark Knight V Hopeman territory here, but... she's trying to wipe out the entire team by murdering them when they were defenseless children. Doesn't that justify deadly force this one time?

OK, so they don't want to kill her. So then why not grab her while she's knocked out and throw her into the brig? Then drop her off someplace in the Jurassic era, where she'll no longer be a threat. Problem solved. 

Of course if they did that then this episode would have lasted about ten minutes, so... the writers are no doubt hoping the audience doesn't think too much about this.

• After saving Young Heat Wave from The Pilgrim, Atom asks what's to stop her from going back in time a day or two earlier and killing him then? Good question! Hunter and Heat Wave (who, after becoming Chronos, is now also an expert on the Time Masters) explain:

Hunter: "'Cause the Omega Protocol calls for precision. Multiple attempts from The Pilgrim could do irreparable temporal damage."

Heat Wave: "Which means she's only got one shot at killing each and every one of us."

Hunter: And we only have one shot to extract your younger selves from the timeline before she pulls the trigger."

Wow. That is a glorious example of technobabble bullsh*t that makes absolutely zero sense, but at least shows the writers realized there was a plot hole in their script and they tried their best to plug it. I'm willing to give them this one.

• This episode establishes the age of several of the Legends.

They pick up Heat Wave's younger self in 1990. That was twenty six years ago, and Young Heat Wave looks to be about fifteen. That would make him forty one years old in 2016, which seems about right. Actor Dominic Purcell, who plays Heat Wave, is currently forty six.

Next they rescue White Canary's younger self, "circa 2007." That was nine years ago, and she appears to be around fifteen or sixteen. That would make Canary around twenty five now. Actress Caity Lotz is currently twenty nine.

Captain Cold was born in 1972, which makes him forty four. For some reason I assumed he was younger than that, but I'll take the show's word for it. Actor Wentworth Miller is currently forty three.

Professor Stein was born in Ivy Town in 1950, which makes him sixty six. Actor Victor Garber is currently sixty seven.

Jefferson Jackson was born in 1993, making him twenty three. Actor Franz Drameh is also twenty three.

• Arrow has a long running tradition of featuring some of the most god-awful, unconvincing wigs in the history of TV hairpieces. That said, Sgt. Lance's wig looks pretty darned good in this episode (at least to my eyes). It's definitely better than that dead possum Stephen Amell wears on his head during the Arrow island flashbacks.

• Actress Caity Lotz plays a very convincing younger version of herself in this episode. Somehow she even sounded younger!

• Apparently Rip Hunter's a fan of discontinued breakfast cereals. At one point we see Atom eating a bowl of Fruit Brute cereal that he got from Hunter's secret stash.

I have to assume this means Hunter is actually using his time machine to buy cereal in the past (!). Just think about how he's trampling on the timeline by doing so. How many kids from the 1970s were denied their boxes of Fruit Brute because a grown-ass adult from the future bought the last box in their local store?

• Was Young Heat Wave's outfit an homage to Marty McFly in Back To The Future Part II?

• For some reason The Pilgrim attacks the adult version of Atom from two years ago, instead of his younger self. I have a feeling that was due to budget restrictions, so they didn't have to hire a child actor who resembled Brandon Routh.

• At The Refuge, Hunter's "mom" says his first name is Michael.

In the comics, Rip Hunter's father is Michael John Carter, aka Booster Gold. Carter was born in the 25th Century, and went back in time to 1986, where he became a superhero.
I'm betting the TV version of Rip Hunter was named after his famous father.

• Cold's sister Lisa was apparently kidnapped by The Pilgrim, but once again, there must not have been room in the budget for one more speaking part, because we were told rather than shown that she's been taken.

• At one point we see Professor Stein standing near a locker, with a couple of helmets stacked on top.

I don't know whose helmet's on the right, but the one on the left that looks like a kettle belongs to Ma Hunkel, who was the Red Tornado in the comics. Note that she was the Golden Age version of the character, not to be confused with the Red Tornado who appeared in Season 1 of Supergirl. I assume this means we'll see the Red Tornado before the season's over?

 Jackson travelling back in time and interacting with his late father was very reminiscent of Agent J doing the same thing in Men In Black 3. And not just because the characters are all black.

Their scenes together were pretty well done, but they'd have been even better if this wasn't the first time we'd ever heard of Jackson's father. He'd never been mentioned even once before this week. Maybe if Jackson had ever wistfully mentioned him before now, their meet-up would have been even more poignant.

 Looks like someone on the writing staff really likes Kylo Ren from Star Wars: The Force Awakens. The Pilgrim is able to use "temporal micro-manipulation" to freeze the various Legends' blasts in mid air, allowing her to waltz away unharmed.

• By the way, this does not seem like a wise tactical move on the part of the Legends. All The Pilgrim has to do is duck, and they'll end up frying one another.

• Professor Stein gets the best line of the episode. Seconds after he's born in 1950 (in a car, yet!), Hunter and Heat Wave show up in an ambulance, claiming to be from the hospital. They take Baby Stein with them and vanish. Stein says, "It's somewhat disconcerting that my father would give me up so willingly to two complete strangers."

• At the end of the episode, Hunter says have to act quickly and destroy Savage before the Legends are erased from history. The only way to do that is to go to the one time in which they're certain he exists 2166, when he's at the height of his power, and the most dangerous.

Um... why not just take a page from the Time Masters Handbook and kill Savage as a child? Hawkgirl could probably come up with a pretty good guess as to when he was born. Just go back five thousand years or so to ancient Eqypt, kill him in his wooden crib and be done with it.

I suppose that might alter the timeline quite a bit, since Savage has played a part in many key moments in history, but so what? For all his blustering, Hunter's never seemed all that worried about it before. I guess they might also be reluctant to implement this plan because it would involve killing a baby or a kid, which they all went through a couple weeks ago. Still, if they're serious about eliminating Savage, that seems like the way to go to me.

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