Saturday, February 11, 2017

Legends Of Tomorrow Season 2, Episode 11: Turncoat

This week on Legends Of Tomorrow, the team has to save another historical figure played by the blandest actor possible, Steel and Vixen shame themselves irreparably, and we get the full debut of Evil Rip Hunter!

For the first time in weeks, the writers finally remembered that Vixen is supposed to be from the 1940s, and actually wrote her that way. Most of the time she's indistinguishable from a modern woman, so it was nice to see her speak and act in a way appropriate for her era.

That said, her roll in the hay with Steel was gratuitous, cringe-worthy and made me actively hate their characters. I'm guessing this must be Sweeps Week, so the writers felt it was necessary to inject some sex into the show to shore up the ratings. Hope it was worth it, guys, as you just ruined two of your characters.

The Patented The CW Pep Talk moves from The Flash and infects Legends this week. At this point in time these scenes of bland and tedious bromides don't even register in my brain anymore. It's like white noise to me.

Kudos this week to actor Arthur Darvill as Evil Rip Hunter. He's obviously having a ball playing a villain, and his enthusiasm shows onscreen. I especially liked the scenes in which he reminisced about his former self's failure to save his wife and child, and why he should care if history burns. There was a lot of uncomfortable truth in those words.

Now that Rip's back, sort of, I'm wondering how the writers will handle his character. There's no way in hell he's going to stay evil from now on. I have no doubt he'll return to his old ineffectual self in the season finale. 

This brings up a potential problem though. When Rip first disappeared, I was afraid his absence would harm the show, but instead it had just the opposite effect. The show's never been better! In fact I like White Canary as the Captain of the Waverider, and thinks shes been a far more effective leader than Rip ever was. 

It would be a mistake to just shoulder her aside and return Rip to his former position, and I really hope that's not where the story's headed. Hopefully they'll keep Canary as Captain and let Rip become second in command, or maybe even kill him off. I'd hate to see him leave the show, but I'd hate to see him become Captain again even more.


The Plot:
At the end of last week's episode, Rip Hunter, who's been turned evil by the Legion Of Doom, marched into George Washington's tent and shot him dead on Christmas Day, 1776. 

This week Evil Rip goes back in time a day to December 24, 1776 (when Washington is still alive). He tells Eobard Thawne that the Legends will detect Washington's death on the 25th, and will likely travel to the 24th to prevent it. He'll be waiting for them and kill the Legends the minute they show up and recover the second fragment of the Spear Of Destiny from the Waverider. Thawne congratulates Evil Rip on his convoluted plan.

Evil Rip tells a brigade of British Redcoats that Washington is dead (He's not. At least not yet), but there's still a lot of mopping up to do. He then hands out modern M-16 rifles to the troops.

On the Waverider, Steel and Vixen flirt in the kitchen. Atom complains that the ship's infested with rats, due to Heat Wave's sloppy eating habits. Suddenly a time quake rocks the ship. Gideon says the quake was caused by Washington's death, which will severely alter American history. 

Canary says it's obviously a trap set by the Legion, so they'll have to be careful. Steel says Washington spent Christmas Eve at a party thrown by a wealthy landowner in Pennsylvania. Canary tells Heat Wave he's to pose as a private in the Revolutionary army. Steel and Vixen will pretend to be a married couple at the party (!), Atom will shrink and run reconnaissance, and Professor Stein and Jackson will stay onboard the ship, ready to merge into Firestorm if needed.

At the party, Canary and the others mingle with the guests. Canary runs into Washington, and tells him his life is in danger. Just then the Redcoats burst into the house and attack with their machine guns. The Legends fight them off while Canary tries to get Washington to safety.

Outside the house, Evil Rip sets off an EMP that shuts down all electronics in the area. Heat Wave's gun, Atom's suit and the Waverider all go completely dead. The EMP even affects Stein and Jackson's Quantum Splicer, meaning they can't merge into Firestorm. Evil Rip confronts Canary, Heat Wave and Washington as they try to make their way back to the ship. Evil Rip shoots Canary in the gut and captures Washington and Heat Wave.

Steel and Vixen take Canary and Atom (who's stuck in shrunken mode) back to the ship. Stein struggles to save the wounded Canary, but says she'll die without Gideon's advanced medical help. For some reason, Canary tells Jackson he's now the captain. He tells Steel and Vixen to find Washington and rescue him, while he tries to get the ship running again.

Heat Wave and Washington are being marched along by British troops, who are taking them to General Cornwallis. Steel and Vixen saunter along, casually following their tracks. Vixen asks about dating in the modern world, as the writers suddenly remember she's from the 1940s. Suddenly they're attacked by Hessians, and Steel's knocked off a cliff into a river far below. Vixen summons the power of a seal and jumps after him.

Back on the Waverider, Evil Rip and his men are trying to get in by manually prying open the cargo hold.

Vixen drags a semi-conscious Steel out of the water. They find the Hessians' abandoned tent and enter. Vixen realizes that Steel has hypothermia from the freezing water (it's Christmas Eve in Pennsylvania, remember) so she undresses and lies on top of him to share her body heat. Oy gevalt!

On the Waverider, Stein has no choice but to try to remove the bullet from Canary's gut. Jackson sets up several Home Alone-style traps in the cargo hold. Just then, Evil Rip and his men succeed in prying open the door. The troops enter the cargo hold, set off Kevin's, er I mean Jackson's traps, and are knocked out by some sort of smoke bomb. Evil Rip enters and searches for the Spear fragment.

Heat Wave and Washington are handed over to General Cornwallis, who says they'll be hanged for treason in the morning. Merry Christmas, everyone!

Steel wakes up in the tent and sees he's naked, much to his embarrassment. Vixen waits outside drying their clothes over a fire. Steel sweet talks her into coming back in. Amazingly she does, and even more amazingly, she falls into his arms and they have sex. That's right, folks, even though they're supposed to be out rescuing George Washington and restoring the future of our country, they'd rather stay in a tent and screw. Our heroes, ladies and gentlemen!

Evil Rip chases Jackson through the incredibly spacious Waverider, which I am now 100% convinced is much bigger on the inside, just like the Doctor's TARDIS. Jackson fiddles around with some tech and repairs the ship's damaged circuits, but the main power switch still needs to be turned on. Evil Rip shouts to Jackson, trying to temp him into handing over the Spear Of Destiny. Evil Rip says that with it, he could rewrite reality and prevent the death of Jackson's father. Fortunately Jackson refuses to take him up on his offer, and Evil Rip shoots him in the arm.

Heat Wave tells Washington they need to find a way to escape. Washington says that wouldn't be the noble thing to do, and he'd rather die like a gentleman. Heat Wave gives him a lecture on the "American Way," saying we're a country of misfits and outcasts who never give up. Well, unless there's something good on TV.

Evil Rip follows Jackson's trail of blood to the infirmary, where Stein has just finished performing surgery on Canary. Evil Rip knocks out Stein, and puts his hand around Canary's throat. He orders Jackson to tell him where the Spear fragment is, or he'll kill Canary. Jackson says it's hidden in an old telescope in Rip's office. Evil Rip thanks him and breaks Canary's neck anyway (!). Merry Christmas, everyone! Evil Rip finds the Spear fragment and leaves.

Stein wakes up and tells Atom, who's still shrunken and has been wandering around the ship's air ducts all episode, to turn the power back on. Unfortunately, Atom's a bit busy, being chased through the ducts by a giant (to him) rat. He eventually escapes it and makes it to the power switch. He turns it on and the Waverider powers up. Gideon comes back online and uses the medbay to repair Canary's fatal injuries (!). 

Just as Washington's about to be executed, Heat Wave rescues him. The two fight the Redcoats (who luckily aren't carrying M-16s). Just then, Steel and Vixen, who are apparently done f*cking, arrive and defeat the troops.

Meanwhile, Evil Rip walks back to his Time Sphere, carrying the Spear fragment. Jackson catches up, intent on shooting and killing him. Evil Rip gives him the old, "If you're going to kill me, do it already" villain speech. Just as Jackson's about to pull the trigger, the now fully-healed Canary (!) appears and talks him out of it. For some reason Jackson and Canary just stand and glare at Evil Rip as he saunters away with the Spear fragment!

Heat Wave and Washington toast their victory, and Steel and Vixen retrieve the M-16s to keep them from polluting history any further. Gideon reports that the timeline has been restored, which makes no sense, since Evil Rip already killed Washington tomorrow (it's hard to write coherent sentences about time travel).

The Legends then celebrate Christmas in February. Atom gives Heat Wave the rat that almost killed him, and Steel gives Vixen a replicated pair of ruby slippers from The Wizard Of Oz. She tells him that what happened in the tent when they were supposed to be rescuing Washington was nice, but she'd rather keep things casual. Ouch!

Canary then makes a toast, saying even though they lost horribly in this episode, they'll defeat the Legion because the Legends are "family." Hey, Canary! Dominic Toretto called and wants his catchphrase back!


• This week, for the first time ever, Heat Wave does the opening narration, and it is hilarious. It actually made me laugh out loud, which is rare these days. Here's the full narration:

"Seriously, you idiots haven't figured this out by now? It all started when we blew up the time pigs, the Time Masters. Now history's all screwed up, and it's up to us to unscrew it up. Half the time, we screw things up even worse. So don't call us heroes, we're something else. We're legends. Who writes this crap anyway?"
• Odd that they did a Christmas episode in February. I guess they're time travelers, so they can have celebrate the holidays any time they want.

I almost suspect this episode was meant to air at Christmas/ By now though the producers have to know there's going to be a months-long break in the middle of the season, and this episode would never air anywhere near December. 

• I'm having trouble understanding the timeline in this episode, which is fine, because I think the writers did as well. OK, Evil Rip goes back in time and kills Washington on Christmas Day, 1776. He knows this event will attract the Legends, who will likely time travel to Christmas Eve, 1776 to prevent Washington's death. Evil Rip then goes back in time to Christmas Eve himself, to wait for the Legends arrival. So far so good.

Then at the end of the episode, Gideon reports that Washington no longer dies and history is restored. But how? Evil Rip has ALREADY killed Washington! See what I mean? He killed him on the 25th, then went to the 24th and stole the Spear and got away. The 25th arrives, and for some reason Gideon says Washington's now OK. Shouldn't Evil Rip still appear and kill him?

I guess they somehow stopped Evil Rip from killing Washington on the 25th when we weren't looking? Or maybe Evil Rip went back in time a day and changed his own past?

• Canary tells Steel and Vixen to infiltrate the party of a wealthy Pennsylvania landowner and pose as a wealthy newlywed couple sympathetic to the Revolution. 

An interracial couple. In 1776. Riiiiight. The second they walked in together she'd likely have been hanged and he'd have been flogged to within an inch of his life. Hey writers, it's great that you guys don't "see colors" and all, but you've got to take the historical era into account here.

• When Canary spots George Washington at the party, they have the following exchange:

Canary: "You're George Washington.
Washington: "At your service. Now tell me, from which of our thirteen fair colonies do you hail from?"

Canary: "The first one."

Hmmm. Virginia was the first colony, and where Washington was born. I don't know if Canary knew that or not though. She kind of sounds like she's just guessing. If she did know, then why not just say "Virginia" instead of "the first one?" 

If she was just bluffing, she lucked out and gave him an inadvertently correct response.

• Evil Rip sets off an EMP device to fry all electronics in the area, including the Waverider. Later in the episode Jackson restores power to the ship, and it works fine. Is that really possible?

Eh, it depends. As I understand it, an EMP will permanently overload and incapacitate any electronics within a certain radius. The only way to fix an affected device after the pulse is to replace its damaged components.

If an electronic device is shielded or "hardened" against an EMP, it'll be disabled for the duration of the attack. Once it's over, the device should work again.

It's likely that a futuristic ship like the Waverider would be hardened against EMPs. Same goes for advanced tech like Atom's suit. Heat Wave's heat gun will probably need some serious repair before it'll work again though.

• After the EMP blast, Stein and Jackson try to form Firestorm, but can't. Jackson says, "Whatever fried the ship must've done the same thing to our Quantum Splicer."

I guess I forgot that Stein and Jackson have a "Quantum Splicer." I thought their merging ability was organic, not electronic.

• Why are the historical figures on this show so consistently awful? In this episode, George Washington was about a bland, vanilla cipher who couldn't act his way out of a wet paper bag. The same thing happened earlier this season when the Legends met a similarly dull General Ulysses S. Grant.

Is this part of a joke I don't get? Are they trying to show us that these larger-than-life historical figures are just normal everyday people like you and me? Or is the acting pool in Vancouver (where the series is filmed) reeeeally shallow?

• In addition to being incredibly bland, the George Washington we see in this episode speaks with a normal, everyday American accent. Shouldn't he have at least a bit of a British accent?

I looked it up, and no one knows for sure. In the early years of colonization, American and British accents were basically the same. Gradually the American accent diverged from the British, but it took many decades.

Washington was born in Virginia, and most scholars believe the accent there remained extremely close to British through the 1740s. So in 1776, Washington most likely would have had an accent that was very similar to a British one.

• This week Vixen tells Steel that she's from the Zambesi tribe. Has she ever mentioned that before, or is this new info?

• This week when Vixen activates her animal power, she says she "summoned the 'ashe' of a seal." 

I've never heard the word ashe (rhymes with "sashay") before, so I looked it up. Turns out "ashe" is an African philosophical concept through which the Yoruba people of Nigeria summon the power to make things happen or cause change. And that's one to grow on!

• In the right light, Steel looks somewhat like a young Brad Pitt.

• Man, Steel and Vixen are the absolute worst. Jackson sends them on a mission to rescue George Washington, but instead they decide it'd be more fun to f*ck in a tent. Are you freakin' kidding me? These two are supposed to be superheroes?

The scene in which Steel's freezing to death and Vixen strips off her clothes and lays on him to warm him up was positively cringe-worthy. There was absolutely no point to this interlude, and it didn't advance the plot one inch. The only reason this scene exists is so the producers could inject some skin and sex into the episode. Trouble was, it wasn't cute, it wasn't romantic and it wasn't the least bit sexy. I thought it was sickening. It gave new meaning to the word "gratuitous."

The whole thing reminded me of the early episodes of Enterprise, in which the crew would return from an away mission and then have to strip to their underwear and rub blue disinfectant gel on one another's bodies so they didn't infect the ship with an alien bug. Yes, that really happened on that series; look it up.

Even worse, minutes earlier, Vixen's telling Steel about how people "courted" in the 1940s, and how it reserved and formal it was. Then a few scenes later she throws all her social mores out the window as she ruts like a horny teen with a man she barely knows. 

They both really pissed me off this week and I hope they're kicked off the team.

• So Steel falls in a freezing cold river and has hypothermia. What if he switched to his metallic form? Surely he couldn't feel the cold then? I guess maybe he was too shaken up to transform?

• Early in the episode, Evil Rip outfits a squad of Redcoats with modern M-16 rifles. Later on, Heat Wave and Washington are captured by a different group of Redcoats. Heat Wave and Washington start punching them and escape. 

Fortunately for them, this particular group of soldiers is armed with muskets, which take forever to load, allowing them to easily escape. Good thing Evil Rip didn't arm ALL the Redcoats with machine guns!

• Professor Stein gets in a Star Trek reference in this episode. When Jackson tells him he's going to have to operate on Canary, Stein says, "Damn it, Jefferson, I'm a physicist, not a doctor!"

• Stein's forced to operate on Canary by candlelight. Boy, there sure are a lot of candles on the Waverider. Hundreds of them. Maybe even thousands. Where the hell'd they get so many candles?

We know there's a Star Trek replicator on board, but it couldn't have made them, as it's currently inoperable like everything on the ship. That means the Legends had to have hundreds of candles lying around before the EMP pulse knocked out everything.

Since this was a Christmas episode, where Jackson's hasitly-rigged traps supposed to remind us of Home Alone? And was Atom running through the air vents a subtle reference to Die Hard (which is also technically a Christmas movie)?

• Credit where credit's due: the "Tiny Atom Vs The Rat" scenes were VERY well done. The CGI rat looked absolutely real to me. In fact, all the shrunken Atom scenes in this episode wouldn't have looked out of place in Ant-Man.

• Here's some heavy-duty nitpicking for you Atom is miniaturized when Rip sets off his EMP. The pulse then fries Atom's suit, rendering it inoperable.

Shouldn't Atom automatically revert to normal size once his suit's kaput? I don't know exactly how it works, but it seems like it's probably actively shrinking him, and once it stops he should grow again.

Does this mean that if Atom shrinks and takes off the suit, he'd still be six inches tall? Weird.

• Some more heavy duty nitpicking— this episode features a subplot about rats infesting the Waverider. You'd think a ship with a futuristic medbay that can regrow a patient's limbs, repair a broken neck and bring a person back to life would have some automatic way of killing rats or other vermin.

• In order to save Canary, Jackson tells Rip there's a piece of the Staff Of Ra Spear Of Destiny hidden in his telescope. Um... did we know there was more than one piece of the Spear before this episode? A few weeks back we saw Rip lift a floor panel and remove a piece of the Spear, but I don't remember any mention of there being a second piece onboard the ship.

 This week we find out that Gideon can bring a person back to life after their neck's been broken. I guess that's not completely out of the question, since she did once regrow Captain Cold's hand, but it's still pretty surprising.

• During the climax, Jackson points a gun at Evil Rip, who's making off with the Spear fragment. Canary appears and talks Jackson out of killing him. Evil Rip then casually strolls off with the Spear fragment.

Can anyone explain to me why Jackson and Canary seemed powerless to stop Evil Rip from getting away? They both stand rock still, glowering at him as he saunters off. Neither one lifts so much as a finger to stop him. Jesus Christ, tackle him or something. Throw a rock at his head at least! He's stealing an artifact that can alter reality for poop's sake!

• At the end of the episode, Steel and Vixen take time out from screwing long enough to collect the M-16's that Evil Rip passed out to the Redcoats, to keep history from being altered even further. 

It's way too late for that! Sure, they were right to take back the guns, but the soldiers have already seen them, and no doubt examined them. How long before one with a talent for mechanical engineering figures out how to build a crude machine gun a couple hundred hears early?

Also, at one point General Cornwallis refers to Evil Rip, saying he's "ahead of his time." That implies that Cornwallis knows Evil Rip's a time traveler. How's that little kernel of knowledge going to alter the future?

 This week's best lines:

Evil Rip: (giving machine guns to Hessian soldiers) "Grab yourselves a rifle, lads. After all, it's Christmas."

Stein: "You wish to speak, Mr. Rory? I noticed the death of our forefather hasn't diminished your appetite."
Heat Wave: "Mm, Washington's a punk."

Heat Wave: "If Washington's so cool, why his he on the one dollar bill and Franklin's on the hundred dollar bill? Now he's cool."

There was a little running joke this week, involving Heat Wave:

Stein: "We must save Washington."
Canary: "And Rory."
Stein: "That was implied."

Steel: "Saving a nation, a president and Christmas."
Vixen: "And Rory."
Steel: "That was implied."

Heat Wave: (to Washington) "Now I know why Franklin's on the hundred dollar bill. I bet you one hundred yous you're wrong."

Steel: "We are not in Kansas anymore."
Vixen: "Wait, I know that one. That's from a movie called The Wizard of Oz."
That had to be a little shoutout to The Avengers, in which Captain America said almost the exact same line.

Washington: "Lieutenant General Cornwallis. I would've preferred to meet you on the field of battle."
Cornwallis: (referring to Evil Rip here) "I must give credit where credit is due. I have a new colonel who's most impressive. One might say he's ahead of his time."

Heat Wave: (to Washington) "Listen, you fop."

I'm honestly surprised that Heat Wave knows what a "fop" is.

Washington: "The British may be dishonorable, but I am not. By my death, I will prove to the Crown what it means to be an American."
Heat Wave: "You don't know the first thing about being an American. We're misfits, outcasts, and we're proud of it. If they attack in formation, we pop them off from the trees. If they challenge you to a duel, you raid their camp at night. And if they're gonna hang you, you fight dirty and you never, ever give up. That's the American way."

Jackson: "You're Captain Rip Hunter."
Evil Rip: "The man who recruited a bunch of reject super heroes to not save his family? Don't tell me you miss that self-righteous idiot."
Jackson: "This isn't you. Whatever the Legion's done to turn you into their puppet, you
Evil Rip: "Captain Rip Hunter was the puppet! First of the Time Masters, and then to some misguided duty to protect history. Can't you see, Jax? My new allies, they freed me!"

Evil Rip: "History is war and slavery and holding your dead son in your arms. There's no point in protecting history, so we might as well just burn it all down."

Atom: (seeing a giant to him rat in the air duct) "Oh, rats."

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