Saturday, February 4, 2017

Legends Of Tomorrow Season 2, Episode 10: The Legion Of Doom

This week on a fun and very satisfying Legends Of Tommorow, the villains get to shine as the Legion Of Doom takes the spotlight.

I haven't been too awfully impressed with the low-rent Legion Of Doom the show's given us this season. So far all they've done is stand around in their starched and pressed overcoats and leer at the camera, trying to look menacing. 

That all changed this week, as they finally stepped up and showed us why they deserve the name. We even got to see their origin story as well!

I was also getting tired of seeing the Reverse Flash show up at the last second and saving Malcolm Merlyn and Damien Darhk in every single episode. That plotline would be fine once or twice, but not ten times. This week we get to see there's a reason why he never seems to stay in the same place for very long. Hey, maybe they actually plan this stuff out after all!

I just read that Captain Cold is eventually going to join the Legion sometime this season (Whoops, spoilers!). I can't wait for that, as Legends has suffered from a definite Cold-deficiency of late.

It was nice to see the return of Lily, Professor Stein's time aberration daughter. Her random reappearance here has to mean she's going to become a semi-regular on the show. There'd be no reason for her to pop up unless it's setup for a future plotline. I foresee her story ending in tragedy though, as she's killed by the Legion and Professor Stein is tempted to use the Spear Of Destiny to alter reality and resurrect her.

This episode also gave us our first look at the Black Flash. He was originally Zoom, aka Hunter Zolomon, until he became a Time Wraith at the end of The Flash's second season. Now there's a sentence I never thought I'd type! His appearance was pretty darned cool, and he looked suitably creepy. Well done, producers! Odd that he appeared first on Legends Of Tomorrow instead of The Flash though, since he's a speedster and all. 


The Plot: 

We open with a flashback to the formation of the Legion Of Doom in 2016. Malcolm Merlyn sits despondently in his apartment, watching a news report on the death of Damien Darhk. Suddenly Eobard Thawne, aka the Reverse Flash, zooms in with Darhk in tow. It seems Thawne's plucked Darhk from the time stream several decades before his death (confused yet?). Thawne says he has a plan to reverse all their fates, and he needs Merlyn's help.

Cut to the present day, where the Legion is holding Rip Hunter captive, believing he knows the location of the Spear Of Destiny. They argue over the best way to torture the info out of him. Unfortunately Rip is no longer Rip, as his memories are completely gone, replaced by the persona of Phil Gasmer, a film director from 1967. Undeterred, Merlyn tries hypnotizing Rip/Phil, to no avail. Darhk says it's time for some good old fashioned torture, and starts sharpening his knives.

On the Waverider, the Legends discuss how to rescue Rip/Phil. They possess the Longinus Medallion, which is the most crucial part of the Spear Of Destiny. White Canary says they should use the Medallion as leverage against the Legion to get Rip/Phil back. Professor Stein says it might help if they could somehow activate the Medallion, and says he knows someone who might be able to help with that.

Back at Legion Headquarters, Darhk tortures Rip/Phil by extracting one of his teeth. Closer examination of the tooth reveals it's engraved with the location of a safety deposit box in Switzerland (I guess engraving your teeth with secret info is a Time Lord Time Master thing). Thawne thinks the box may contain the Spear, so Darhk and Merlyn take their Time Sphere to 2025 Switzerland.

In Central City, Stein meets his time aberration daughter Lily at the Flash's favorite hangout, CC Jitters (no doubt so the Legends crew doesn't have to build a new set). He shows the Medallion to her, and she scans it with a high tech device of her own design, which causes it to project a holographic map into the air. He suggests they examine the Medallion somewhere more private, and takes her to the Waverider.

Lily's amazed by the Waverider's futuristic technology. The other Legends are surprised to see Stein has a daughter he never spoke of before. Canary, who DOES know about Lily, asks if Stein's lost his mind by bringing her on board. Stein asks the other not to mention that Lily's a time aberration.

Meanwhile, Merlyn and Darhk dress up Rip/Phil in a suit and take him to his Swiss bank. Rip/Phil asks for his safety deposit box, and a helpful clerk takes him to the vault. While this is going on, Darhk and Merlyn discuss Thawne, and why he never seems to be around for the dirty work. At the vault, Rip/Phil passes a retina scan, but doesn't know his access code. The clerk calls for security, and Darhk and Merlyn easily wipe out all the guards. They take Rip/Phil back to the Time Sphere. Well, that was all pointless!

Back on the Waverider, the Legends review all known speedsters, trying to figure out who's the leader of the Legion Of Doom, and why he wants the Spear so badly. Atom works with Lily to unlock the Medallion. They figure out a way to plug it into Gideon's main console, which somehow works. They celebrate with champagne, possibly hinting at a potential romance between them. Heat Wave accidentally mentions that Lily's a "fake person." She confronts Stein, and asks him what's going on. He tells her he and his wife never had a daughter until he accidentally interacted with his younger self. He tries to assure Lily that he still loves her, but she questions which of their realities are "real" and stalks off.

Back at Legion Headquarters, Darhk and Merlyn begin arguing again. They challenge one another to a League Of Assassins-style duel (there're a lot of groups beginning with "L" on this show) and engage in a stunt-filled fight scene. Rip/Phil watches, and finally points out to them that this is exactly what Thawne wants. By fighting each other, their attention is turned away from him. They realize he's right, and vow they're going to become equal partners with Thawne
 or else.

On the Waverider, Steel, Vixen and Canary try to figure out why the mysterious speedster wants the Spear so badly. Steel makes an incredibly huge intuitive leap and says the speedster must have been erased from existence, and wants to use the Spear to rewrite reality. Stein remembers that in Season 1 of The Flash, Eddie Thawne killed himself to prevent Eobard Thawne from ever being born. Eobard Thawne was temporarily preserved by the Speed Force, but time's catching up to him now, and he needs the Spear to solidify his existence. Steel theorizes that if they could keep Thawne in one place long enough, he might cease to exist. Man, lots of heavy duty theorizing based on nothing this week!

Darhk and Merlyn return to the vault in Switzerland and this time override Rip/Phil's access code (I won't ask why they didn't just do that the first time they were there). They anxiously open Rip/Phil's safety deposit box. They don't find the Spear inside, but they do find a piece of future tech that contains Rip Hunter's memories.

Back at Legion HQ, Rip/Phil breaks free and tries to escape, but is stopped by Thawne. He asks Rip/Phil where the others are, and he says they went to Switzerland. Thawne zooms there in a flash (see what I did there?) and confronts Merlyn and Darhk. They close the massive safe door, locking them all inside (um... is there any reason why Thawne doesn't just vibrate through the door?).

Suddenly something begins pounding on the vault door. Thawne panics and says he needs to leave now. The others tell him he ain't going anywhere unless he explains why he never stays still for more than a few minutes. He finally admits that he shouldn't exist, but was saved by the Speed Force. He's being pursued by the Black Flash (sort of like the Grim Reaper for speedsters), who's right outside the door. Merlyn and Darhk say they'll let him out if he treats them as equal partners. Thawne agrees.

Merlyn suggest that the Black Flash won't be able to sense Thawne if he doesn't use his superspeed (more outlandish theorizing!). They open the door and Thawne stands rock still. The Black Flash sniffs around the room and walks right past him. Suddenly it turns and roars in Thawne's face. Merlyn shoots it with an arrow, and Thawne shoves it into the vault, locking it inside (um... is there any reason why Black Flash doesn't just vibrate through the door?). Thawne says the vault won't hold Black Flash for long, and they get the hell out of Switzerland.

Stein finds Lily and says he originally decided not to have children because his own father was a jerk, and he didn't want history to repeat itself. He assures her he loves her and is happy she's now here. She accepts his apology, and says no more secrets between them. He then tells her he's half of Firestorm, but she thinks he's joking.

Back at Legion HQ, Thawne studies Rip's memory disk. He says he thinks he can upload it back into Rip/Phil's brain, but wants to make a few adjustments first.

Cut to December 25, 1776, in the midst of the Revolutionary War. A restored Rip Hunter (complete with British accent) enters the tent of George Washington, and shoots him dead!


• l like that the Arrowverse shows seem to be happening RIGHT NOW, in the immediate present. It's currently 2017 on Legends Of Tomorrow, and over on The Flash, Iris West is fated to die four months from now, in May.

It's kind of cool that the shows are happening more or less in real time, as it gives them a certain reality. On the other hand... these shows are NOT gonna age well. Even five years from now viewers will chuckle when they hear "it's 2017" come out of a character's mouth.

• This week Damian Darhk does the opening narration! That was certainly a switch! It's usually done by one of the Legends. This is the first time they've ever let one of the villains do the intro.

Darhk gives us a brief rundown of his origin, saying, "My name is Damien Darhk. In 2016, I was murdered by the Green Arrow (Spoilers, Damien!). But I was removed from the timeline 31 years before my death by a speedster from the future named Eobard Thawne."

If my math is correct, that means Thawne plucked Darhk out of the timeline in 1986. So does that mean that at some point he'll return to 1986? He'd pretty much have to, because if he doesn't, then Thawne just changed the future and wiped out Season 4 of Arrow.

Supposedly Darhk wants to find the Spear Of Destiny so he can alter reality and prevent Arrow from killing him in 2016. But wait a minute... hasn't Thawne already changed Darhk's fate by changing the timeline? Darhk knows when & how he's going to die at Arrow's hand, so all he has to do is avoid him. Seems like he doesn't really need the Spear now.

By the way, I like the opening narrations on the various Arrowverse series. It's a nice little introduction fpr viewers who aren't familiar with the shows, and a good refresher to people like me who can't remember what the hell happened last week.

• Each week after the cold open, we see the symbols of the various Legends fly into frame and form the Legends Of Tomorrow logo. These symbols change from time to time, depending on the lineup of the team. 

Currently there are six symbols. The entire title sequence lasts under five seconds, so they move pretty fast and are kind of tough to see.

The first symbol that flies onto the screen is Firestorm's. I guess the design is supposed to echo the "nuclear" lines on his costume.

Next is a glowing, cartoony atom, for you guessed it, the Atom.

Vixen's symbol is next. It's shaped like the magic amulet that gives her her animal powers.

Up next is a stylized bird, which is obviously White Canary's symbol.

Next is a star, which I think is for Steel? He's kind of the Captain America of the group, and there's a large white star on the chest of his costume, so it has to be his.

Lastly there's an hourglass design, which I assume represents Rip Hunter. You know, hourglass equals time and all that?

Note that Heat Wave doesn't seem to have a symbol (unless it moves so fast I just can't see it). Does his exclusion have a hidden meaning, or was it just an oversight? There's seven members of the team, and seven letters in "Legends," so it's not like there ain't room.

Anyway, the producers decided to change things up a bit this week. Since this is a villain-centric episode, we see the symbols of the Legion Of Doom instead of the Legends.

First up is what I assume (through process of elimination) is Damien Darhk's symbol. It looks sort of like a very stylized bird. Maybe it's a Phoenix? Because he's hundreds of years old? I dunno.

Next we see an arrow, which is obviously Malcolm Merlyn's symbol, since he was the "Dark Archer" over on Arrow.

And lastly we see a lightning bolt symbol for Eobard Thawne, aka the Reverse Flash.

• Darhk tortures Rip by extracting one of his teeth. Why does that sound worse than saying he pulled one of his teeth? Anyway, the tooth he extracts just happens to have a secret code on it, placed there by the Time Masters. Hmm. So do ALL of Rip's teeth have codes on them, or did Darhk luck out and pull just the right one?

• Darhk discovers a secret code on Rip/Phil's tooth that indicates a safety deposit box in 2025 Switzerland. Thawne tells Darhk and Merlyn, "Take the Time Sphere back to 2025 and secure the rest of the Spear."

Back to 2025? So they're currently hanging out in the future? But why?

• Heh. Some people store money in Swiss bank accounts. Rip puts his memories in one!

• Last week Professor Stein discovered an implant in Heat Wave's brain, placed there by the Time Masters during the time he was Chronos. Stein theorized the implant was used to broadcast and store information inside Heat Wave's head.

I said that since Rip was a Time Master, he'd likely have an implant in his brain as well, and theorized that he backed up his memories and consciousness in it, before his mind was erased and he became Phil Gasmer. The Legends would then use the implant to download Rip's consciousness back into his brain, restoring his original self.

Welp, it looks like I was wrong about that. In this episode we find out that Rip stored his consciousness inside a mnemonic archive disk instead, which Thawne uses to restore him.

Last week we found out that the brain implant didn't cause Heat Wave's hallucinations, and it had nothing to do with Rip's storyline either. So why the heck did the writers ever bring it up in the first place? Why waste valuable screen time on a subplot that has nothing to do with anything?

• Atom and Lily somehow hook up the Longinus Medallion to Gideon, so she can access the data it contains. Lily marvels at this, saying, "It's pretty remarkable considering we just mainlined 1.2 zettabytes directly into her brain."

At first I assumed they made up a computer term, similar to the "killoquads" on Star Trek: The Next Generation. But believe it or not, a zettabyte is a real unit of data storage! There are megabytes, then gigabytes, terabytes, petabytes, exabytes and then zettabytes. One zettabyte is pretty darned big, equal to ONE TRILLION gigabytes!

• After their experiment is a success, Lily asks if there's any champagne on the ship. Atom has Gideon replicate a bottle. Note that the label reads "Guggenheim Champagne."

That's a shoutout to Marc Guggenheim, one of the executive producers of Legends Of Tomorrow, and co-writer of this episode.

• There was some definite flirting going on between Atom and Lily in this episode. I'm calling it right now
 Lily's gonna return, she and Atom will become closer and Stein won't be happy about his daughter hooking up with one of his teammates.

• Stein has a heart-to-heart talk with Jefferson, telling him about his cold, uncaring father, and how he never felt good enough for him. Oddly enough, Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. set up an identical backstory for Fitz just an hour after this episode aired. Weird!

• As the Legends theorize about why Thawne wants the Spear Of Destiny so badly, we get one of the most stunning bits of comic book science I think I've ever seen. Here's the exact exchange:

Steel: "Okay. What if Thawne isn't just chasing us? What if he's running from something?"
Vixen: "But running from what?"
Steel: "Time."
Canary: "Time takes time to harden."
Steel: "And if Thawne ceased to exist the moment his great-great-whatever killed himself, then, maybe, he has to keep moving in order for his own nonexistence not to catch up with him. Poof!:
Vixen: "That doesn't even begin to make any kind of sense."
Canary: "I don't know, it could work (!!!)."

You've got to admire a show that's as committed to being completely ridiculous as this one is!

• Last week I noted that the wooden portion of the Spear Of Destiny looked a bit stumpy, as it was less than two feet long. I said it looked more like the Scepter Of Destiny.

This week Thawne mentions hoping that Rip's restored memories might lead them to the locations of the other pieces of the Spear. I guess that's why the Spear we saw was so small it wasn't complete.

• At one point Merlyn and Darhk have had enough of one another, and start fighting to the death. Rip/Phil has to point out to them that they're playing right into Thawne's hands, as their constant bickering keeps them from turning on him.

It was a fun, well-acted scene, but... it kind of made Merlyn and Darhk look like idiots. A child could have seen that Thawne was trying to pit them against one another.

By the way, Rip/Phil compares Merlyn and Darhk to characters in The Good, The Bad And The Ugly. Phil Gasmer lived in 1967. Is it possible for him to know about that film? I checked, and yes it is! The Good, The Bad And The Ugly came out in 1966. Good job, writers!

• At the end of the episode, we find out that Thawne is being pursued by the Black Flash. Just who or what is he?

Over on The Flash, in the Season 2 finale The Race Of His Life, Barry's battling against the evil speedster Zoom. Barry defeats him, and just as he's about to deliver the killing blow, a couple of Time Wraiths appear, grab Zoom and haul him away into the Speed Force. This is presumably his punishment for using the Speed Force to alter time. As he's carried away, his body begins withering and desiccating, making him look like some sort of zombie.

He's now apparently returned as the Black Flash, who's sort of a Grim Reaper for speedsters. He's apparently blind, and hunts his prey by sensing their use of the Speed Force. 

The Black Flash first appeared in the comics in 1988, in The Flash (Vol. 2) #138.

By the way, the Time Wraiths' sole job is to hunt down anyone who alters the past. They seem to be pretty selective about it though, as the Flash has changed history numerous times and they've completely ignored him. Heck, the Legends alter time on a weekly basis, and they've never heard so much as a peep from the Wraiths!

• During the scenes of the Black Flash running around, the closed captioning reads, "(sinister whooshing)." Not just regular "whooshing," mind you, but "sinister whoosing!"

• Over on The Flash, one of Barry Allen's many powers is the ability to vibrate his body so rapidly that he can run through solid walls. Near the end of this episode, Merlyn and Darhk trap Thawne inside a bank vault so they can discuss their business arrangement with him. Thawne's visibly upset, as he can't stay in the same place or the Black Flash will find him.

Why doesn't Thawne just phase through the door of the vault?

Same goes with the Black Flash. The Legion lures him into the vault and traps him inside. Why doesn't he just vibrate himself out as well?

Did the writers forget that speedsters have this ability? Or did they hope WE forgot about it, because the power to phase through walls makes it impossible to come up with a scenario that a speedster couldn't easily escape?

• Best lines this week:
Stein: (to Lily, as she pulls some sort of high-tech device out of her purse) "I
s that an ionic transmographer? I've never seen one smaller than a house!"

Heat Wave: (after finding out about Lily) "What's the big deal? The professor didn't have a kid, now he does. Mazel tov!"

Stein: (referring to Lily) "Then I would appreciate it if you... If none of you would reveal to her that she's an Aberration."
Heat Wave: "Why you looking at me?"

Heat Wave: (spilling the beans to Lily) "Sweetheart, I don't wanna rain on your parade, but you're a, uh... how would the Professor put it? An abrasion... no, that's not it, um... an asphyxiation, hmm... aber... aberration! You're a Time Aberration. You're a Time Aberration."

Lily: (asking Stein if she's a time aberration) "How could this be happening?"
Stein: "But it's... it's... it's really quite simple. You see, I interacted with my younger self back in 1987. Who then interacted with your mother's former self. And, and... when two former selves love each other..."
Lily: "Okay, Dad. We've already had the birds and bees talk."

Jefferson: (to Stein) "Is that whiskey?"
Stein: "Of course it's not whiskey. It's brandy. What do you take me for, a sailor?"

Steel: "Okay. What if Thawne isn't just chasing us? What if he's running from something?"
Vixen: "But running from what?"
Steel: "Time."
Canary: "Time takes time to harden."
Steel: "And if Thawne ceased to exist the moment his great-great-whatever killed himself, then, maybe, he has to keep moving in order for his own nonexistence not to catch up with him. Poof!:
Vixen: "That doesn't even begin to make any kind of sense."
Canary: "I don't know, it could work."

Lily: "I just don't want there to be any more secrets between us.:
Stein: "Well, in that spirit, I suppose I should tell you that I am one half of a nuclear powered superhero called Firestorm."
Lily: "So not funny, Dad."

Thawne: "Well, we would hardly be doing Captain Hunter any favors if we just restored the memories without taking the liberty to address some of his shortcomings.:

Merlyn: "What, like, stopping him biting his nails?"
Thawne: "Not exactly."

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