Sunday, March 26, 2017

Legends Of Tomorrow Season 2, Episode 15: Fellowship Of The Spear

This week on Legends Of Tomorrow we get another batsh*t insane (but in a good way) episode, in which the team finally recovers the Spear Of Destiny, visits WWI and meets J.R.R. Tolkien (yes, that J.R.R. Tolkien). Oh, and we also get the long-promised return of Captain Cold. Whew! And all that in just under forty five minutes!

Since last season consisted of sixteen episodes, I naturally assumed that next week would be the big season finale. Nope! For some reason there's an extra episode this season, for a total of seventeen. Cool! The more Legends, the better, I say!

A few months ago in Raiders Of The Lost Art, the Legends met George Lucas (yes, that George Lucas) and accidentally scared him out of writing and directing Star Wars, which had a huge impact on the world. They then had to convince him to create it and restore the timeline.

When I saw that this episode featured J.R.R. Tolkien (yes, that J.R.R. Tolkien), I was afraid we'd get the exact same plotline. Happily, that didn't happen. Instead of preventing Tolkien from writing The Hobbit and The Lord Of The Rings, the Legends actually inspired him, as many of the events he experienced in this episode ended up in his novels. That means this episode is more like the short film George Lucas In Love than the one that actually featured George Lucas!

All that said, I can't decide if the idea that Tolkien's works were inspired by the Legends is fun, or insulting to his legacy.

This week's episode also gives us Heat Wave's sudden but inevitable betrayal. Eh... I dunno. His change of heart felt VERY rushed to me. It would have been nice if they'd set it up a week or two ago, to give his storyline a bit more room to breathe. On the other hand, I suppose if I had to pick between The Walking Dead's penchant for dragging out storylines way too long and Legends Of Tomorrow burning through them, I'd pick the latter every time.


The Plot:
White Canary, Steel, Vixen and Heat Wave are in a trench in WWI, dressed in period-appropriate attire. They're using the restored Spear Of Destiny to locate Christ's blood (?).

Cut to 72 Hours Earlier (ARRRGGGHHH!!!).

The Legends, who now have two pieces of the Spear Of Destiny, discuss how to recover the rest of it and keep the entire thing out of the Legion Of Doom's hands. Rip Hunter says there's only one place the Legion could be hiding— at the Vanishing Point, the former home of the Time Masters, which exists outside of time and space.

Gideon flies them to the Vanishing Point, and the Legends split into two teams and search for the rest of the Spear fragments. Heat Wave finds the spot where Captain Cold sacrificed himself to save the team in last season in Legendary. White Canary sees him staring at the spot, and says she misses him too. Atom shrinks and flies into Eobard Thawne's office (?), where he's apparently updating his Facebook status.

Meanwhile, Rip and Firestorm find a strange obelisk. Rip's fragment of the Spear begins glowing as they get closer, meaning the rest of the pieces are inside it. Firestorm uses his transmutation powers to turn the obelisk into jelly beans (?), revealing the Spear fragments. Rip grabs them, and they head back to the ship. An alarm sounds, and Thawne realizes the Legends are there. He zooms out of his office as the Waverider flies off. He does his best Shatner impression as he shouts, "NOOOOOO!" to the heavens.

Back on the Waverider, Rip lays all the pieces of the Spear on a table, and they miraculously merge into one. He explains that the Spear is extremely dangerous, as it will corrupt anyone who attempts to use it, even if their intentions are good (sounds familiar!). Heat Wave tries to destroy it with fire, but it's unaffected, as Rip mentions it's indestructible (also familiar!). They notice the flames reveal an inscription on the Spear, (familiar!) which reads, "Born Of Blood, Undone By Blood."

Steel says the inscription means that the Spear, which was supercharged by Christ's blood, can only be destroyed by the same. Canary orders Gideon to head for the Crucifixion, but Rip belays the order, saying there are some historical events that Must. Not. Be. Screwed. With. Steel says there may be another way.

He says once heard a legend that Sir Gawain, of The Holy Grail fame, may have been buried with a vial of Christ's blood somewhere in the south of France. He says the author of the book is none other than John Ronald Reuel Tolkien (!). Canary sets a course for WWI.

Meanwhile in the Vanishing Point, Damien Darhk taunts Thawne for losing the Spear. Thawne says the Legends are too goody-goody to actually use the Spear, and will instead want to destroy it, and suggests they be there waiting for them when they do. Darhk says he's calling in reinforcements (no doubt because Malcolm Merlyn is conspicuously absent for most of this episode).

The Waverider arrives in WWI France at the Battle Of Somme, and the Legends infiltrate the battlefield in period uniforms (more on this plot hole later). Vixen and Heat Wave look for Tolkien in a hospital tent. She's overwhelmed by all the suffering she sees inside. 

Heat Wave steps out and has another hallucination of his old partner, Captain Cold. He mocks Heat Wave, saying he's grown soft and become the Legends' errand boy. He says the Legends aren't his friends, and still think of him as a thug. Heat Wave denies this, and tries to ignore Cold, saying he's not real. Suddenly Cold punches Heat Wave in the face! Apparently the Legion Of Doom went back in time and picked up Cold from a period before he joined the Legends. Cold tells Heat Wave if he stole the Spear, he could use it to bring him back to life.

Rip, Atom and Steel search through a trench and miraculously find Tolkien. Unfortunately he's suffering from typhoid fever, and passes out. They carry him away to the Waverider, where they put him in the medbay and cure him. Tolkien wakes up on the ship, and takes it all amazingly in stride. Must be that "stiff upper lip" British attitude. Rip and Steel explain that they took him so he can help them locate Sir Gawain's tomb, and use the Blood Of Christ to destroy the Spear Of Destiny. Amazingly none of this fazes him either.

Meanwhile, Vixen broods in her room, affected by the horror she saw on the battlefield. Heat Wave hears the Spear calling to him and stares at it, debating whether or not to touch it. Professor Stein wanders in, and Heat Wave tells him he's been seeing Cold again. He says this time he thinks Cold is real. Naturally Stein thinks he's nuts, and blows off his concerns.

Tolkien figures out the location of Sir Gawain's tomb, in a church in Amiens, France. The Legends fly to the church, and Rip, Steel, Heat Wave and Tolkien search the ruins. They find the remains of Sir Gawain hidden behind a wall, and see what appears to be a map engraved on his shield.

Suddenly Darhk and Cold interrupt them. Darhk says he knows what they're planning, thanks to Heat Wave spilling the beans to what he thought was an hallucination of Cold. A group of soldiers (no clue where Darhk found them) open fire on the Legends. They fight back, and Tolkien manages to make a rubbing of the map from Gawain's shield just before they retreat.

Back on the Waverider, the team's furious with Heat Wave for telling Cold their plans. He tries to explain that he didn't think he was real, but they dickishly refuse to listen, going so far as to imply they can no longer trust him. Their words eerily echo everything that Cold told him earlier.

Vixen hears the Spear calling to her too. Heat Wave notices her slowly inching toward it (why isn't this thing locked up?), and asks what she hears. She says she hears her mother, begging her to save her village. Heat Wave says he hears his parents too, telling him not to play with fire (and burn them alive). Tolkien studies the map rubbing and figures out where they need to go to find the Blood Of Christ. He says they need to return to the Battle of Somme, "the most violent conflict in human history."

Canary, Steel, Vixen and Heat Wave run through the battlefield, as we catch up to the beginning of the episode (insert eye roll here). Canary carries the Spear with her, as it will glow when it's near Christ's blood (familiar!). Rip & Tolkien try to talk the British commander into a temporary ceasefire, while Stein does the same over on the German side. Neither army will agree to a ceasefire unless the other side does so first. 

Finally Rip's had enough and punches out the British commander. He uses the Waverider to broadcast a heartfelt message to all the troops to lay down their weapons, ostensibly so the injured can be taken care of, but really so the Legends can find the Blood Of Christ without being killed.

Amazingly, the troops on both sides stop fighting momentarily. Canary and the others follow the glowing Spear to an ornate box that's sticking out of the ground (I'm going to be generous here and guess that a bomb partially exposed it, and that it wasn't actually "buried" two inches underground for several thousand years). Canary hands the Spear to Heat Wave (uh-oh), and helps Steel uncover the box. Steel opens the box, and is astonished to see it actually contains a vial of what is presumably Christ's blood.

Just then, Darhk and Cold appear, threatening to kill the Legends if they don't hand over the Spear. Canary sees Heat Wave staring at the Spear, and tells him to hand it back to her. Cold messes with Heat Wave's head again, telling him they're not his friends. Canary tries to convince him otherwise, but frankly, their past actions prove her a liar. Heat Wave joins Cold and Darhk with the Spear. He asks Vixen to come with, saying they can both fix their pasts with the Spear, but she politely declines. Thawne speeds in and whisks the Legion— including Heat Wave— away.

Before he goes, Cold tosses a grenade onto the battlefield, which starts up the war again. The Legends run back to their ship, but Steel's blown off his feet and drops the vial. It's shattered by a stray bullet (!). Welp, so much for that!

By the way, apparently the Legends returned Tolkien to the trenches while we weren't looking, because he's never mentioned again.

Back on the Waverider, the team discusses their failure, as Atom says Heat Wave was right— they never did trust him, or treat him as one of them. Steel says all may not be lost, as the Legion may not understand how to use the Spear.

Back at Legion Headquarters (in the Vanishing Point, I think?), the villains are all pleased with themselves. Suddenly Malcom Merlyn joins them, saying he managed to recover the Kalobros, an ancient book known as the Word Of God. He explains to Heat Wave and Cold that it's like an owner's manual for the Spear. The group all grab hold of the Spear, as Merlyn begins chanting an ancient passage from the book to activate it.

 Ugh... this episode starts with a caption that reads "72 Hours Earlier." This is called the "How We Got Here" trope, and it happens when a TV episode or movie actually begins at a crucial point near the end of the story, often with a character's death. The story then flashes back to the beginning to tell us how the character or characters ended up at that point. 

This particular trope was hugely popular in the mid 1990s and early 2000s, where it was used in numerous movies typically crime & mobster films. The Usual Suspects, Carlito's Way, Goodfellas and Casino all use this trope. It's been used on TV more times in the past ten years or so than I can possibly count.

It's become way overused at this point, and I absolutely hate it. Just show the goddamned scenes in order already and be done with it.

Even worse, there was absolutely no reason to start this episode that way, other than to create a "What The Hell?" moment in the cold open.

 This episode has a definite Raiders Of The Lost Ark feel to it. Finding the pieces of the Spear Of Destiny (a religious relic with mystical powers), tracking down Sir Gawain in the middle of a war and recovering a vial of the Blood Of Christ all that felt like things Indiana Jones would be involved with.

• We get a rare and brief appearance by Firestorm in this episode. I guess his flaming head effects must be too expensive to use him each week.

Even better, he actually used his transmutational powers, as he turned an obelisk into a pile of jellybeans. I don't think he's used that power since the beginning of the season. I was beginning to think the writers had forgotten he could do that!

A few weeks ago I wondered if, once the Legends collected all the pieces of the Spear Of Destiny, they'd have to duct-tape it back together to make it whole. Nope! Once the pieces were all in proximity to one another, the magical artifact magically reformed itself.

 Once the Legends have the Spear, Rip warns them all of its corruptive influence. He tells them to never even touch it, much less try and use it. Later both Vixen and Heat Wave hear the Spear calling to them, and can barely resist grabbing it.

If this thing's as dangerous as Rip says it is, why the hell doesn't he lock it up in the armory or something? Why leave it casually lying on a table out in the open on the bridge?

Answer: Because the script needed Vixen and Heat Wave to be tempted by the Spear, and that couldn't happen if it was locked safely away.

• The inscription on the Spear Of Destiny reads "Natum de sanguine, perditus a sanguine," which Steel says means "Born of blood, undone by blood."

I don't know how much faith you can put in Google Translate, but I typed it in and it says the inscription translates as, "Born of the blood, become an astonishment from the blood."

• When the Legends find out that the Spear can be destroyed by the Blood Of Christ, Canary orders Gideon to set a course for the crucifixion. Rip immediately belays that order, explaining that Christ's Crucifixion is an event they simply can't risk altering. This sounds a lot like the Doctor's "Fixed Points In Time" on Doctor Who. Strike that. It sounds EXACTLY like the Doctor's fixed points.

I'm betting the REAL reason the writers came up with this little dodge is because they imagined the vast mountain of complaints they'd get if they had Canary walk up to the cross, stand under Jesus with a bucket and collect a sample of his dripping blood.

• Steel starts infodumping a legend about how the Holy Grail that Sir Gawain found may not have been a cup, but actually a vial of Christ's blood. Gosh, they were just in Camelot a month ago. Too bad they didn't think to go back there, see if Gawain was around and if so, ask him if he had it or not!

 When Steel talks about a book that may hold the clue to the location of Christ's blood, Vixen reads the title and the author, saying, "The Burden Of The Purest Heart. By J.R.R. Tolkien." She has a "You gotta be kidding me" look on her face as she reads the name, as if she recognizes it.

It's entirely possible she could have. The Hobbit was first published in 1937, and Vixen is from 1942. That means she had five years to pick up the book, although I can't imagine why a superhero like her would want to read a children's story.

While it's slightly possible she's familiar with Tolkien and The Hobbit, she'd be completely unfamiliar with The Lord Of The Rings, as it was published in 1954, twelve years after she stowed away on the Waverider and joined the Legends.

• I like this episode quite a bit, but it contains one huge, massive, whopper of a plot hole. One that's nearly fatal to the entire episode. You've probably already guessed what it is.

Steel says Tolkien was an expert on Sir Gawain, and is the one person in the world who knows where to find his burial place in the north of France. When Canary hears this, she immediately orders Gideon to set course for WWI France.

Seriously? Why the holy hell did they have to go visit Tolkien IN THE MIDDLE OF THE FREAKIN' FIRST WORLD WAR??? I cannot emphasize enough how stupid this is. They needlessly risked their lives dodging bullets and bombs on the battlefield all through this episode for absolutely no reason! Tolkien lived a peaceful life as an Oxford professor for many years after the Great War. Why couldn't the Legends have just visited him sometime in, oh, I don't know, 1930 or any of the other many years he lived until his death in 1973?

I suppose we could say the Legends were afraid that Sir Gawain's tomb might be destroyed by the war, so they wanted to get the blood before that happened. I suppose we could say that, but it still seems kind of iffy.

The writers try to smooth this over a bit, by having Steel say, "John Tolkien was in the North of France in 1916 during the Battle of the Somme as a Second Lieutenant in World War I," to which Canary replies, "Well, looks like we're going back to war." 

Nice try, guys. It didn't work. The only reason for picking up Tolkien during the war was so they could work some action and history into the episode.

• There's also a pretty big secondary plot hole in this episode. After the Legends recover the Spear, Rip warns them against using it. He says he attempted to destroy it when it first came into his possession, but he failed. Heat Wave then tries to burn it, but it's not even singed. 

Rip explains that any damage done to the Spear is temporary, and it will always heal itself.

So how the hell did he split it into four pieces then? 

A bit later he explains that "with much effort and numerous explosives," he managed to divide it into fourths, and then had to keep the pieces separate so it couldn't re-form. 

Eh... I appreciate that the writers actually thought about this and attempted to explain it, but it's still pretty weak sauce.

• I think I brought this up once before, but it's worth a repeat. If the Legends really want to destroy the Spear Of Destiny, once again they're overlooking the easiest and most obvious solution toss it into the sun! Or any star, for that matter, since they've got a damned timeship.

While it's true that Heat Wave's flamethrower didn't char it, I'm pretty sure the nuclear inferno at the heart of a star would. And even if that somehow didn't destroy it, placing it in the heart of our sun would at least keep it out of the reach of the Legion Of Doom.

• Since I first became aware of him in the late 1970s, I've always pronounced Tolkien's name as "Toll-ken," which is the most common pronunciation in America. In Britain they tend to pronounce it "Toll-keen." Oddly enough that's the way all the Legends pronounce it in this episode.

There's supposedly a third way to pronounce it, found in recorded interviews with Tolkien's descendants. They pronounce it "Toll-kyen," almost as if it has three syllables.

Since no one can seem to agree which way's right, I say pronounce his name however you want and don't worry about it.

NOTE: I've been informed by English reader Les Steel that he and all his mates pronounce Tolkien as "Toll-ken," just as we do here in the States. So I have no idea where the show got this weirdo "Toll-keen" pronunciation!

• Rip, Atom and Steel manage to locate Tolkien in a battlefield trench. For some reason, Atom and Steel adopt very bad British accents when they address him. Back on the Waverider, Tolkien points out that their accents were horrendous, especially Steel's. He says, "I'll have you know I played Bert in my high school production of Mary Poppins!"

That's likely a jab at Dick Van Dyke, who played Bert the chimney sweep in Mary Poppins. The Cockney accent Van Dyke used in that film is widely regarded as one of the worst in movie history.

• When the Legends find Tolkien on the battlefield, he's suffering from typhoid fever. They take him on board the Waverider so Gideon can cure him. Tolkien seems to accept the existence of time travelers, spaceships and intelligent computers very, VERY easily! Not even a "'Ello, wot's all this then?"

You'd think a man from the 1910s would curl up in the fetal position when confronted by all the futuristic tech inside the Waverider.

• As you might expect in an episode featuring Tolkien, it contains tons of
Lord Of The Rings references. Here are the ones I caught:
Rip: "The pieces of the Spear are calling to each other. They long to be whole."

(This of course echoes the One Ring in LOTR, which would "call" out to Sauron, and Gandalf's line, "It wants to be found.")

Rip: "Now that the Spear is whole, it will try and lure each of us to use it. It will draw on our weaknesses, our desires, our regrets. It will promise each of us that we can remake the world just as we want it."
(Again, this is almost verbatim how Gandalf describes the corruptive influence of the One Ring. Even a good person who used it would be overwhelmed by its power, and would start reshaping the world according to their rules, and wouldn't be able to stop)

Rip: (again describing the Spear) "Even when used with the best intentions, which is why I'd attempted to destroy it."
Heat Wave: "Well, maybe you didn't try hard enough."

(Heat Wave blasts the Spear with his flame thrower)
Rip: "No, no, no, no, no!"

Jackson: "Not on the ship, bro!"
Heat Wave: "You said destroy, so I destroyed."
Vixen: "It's not destroyed. It's not even charred."
(This scene plays out almost exactly like the Council Of Elrond. He tells everyone assembled there that the One Ring cannot be destroyed. Gimli the Dwarf attempts to chop it in half with his axe in front of the Council, but his blade bounces off the Ring and it isn't even harmed).

Vixen: "There's something written on it."
Rip: "That's odd. That wasn't there before. It must have been revealed by the flames."
(The One Ring featured an inscription that only showed up when it was placed in fire)

WWI Commander: (to Tolkien in the trenches) "On your feet with your weapon, you fool of a Tolkien!"

(In LOTR, Gandalf often uses Pippin's family name as an insult, calling him "Fool of a Took!")

Rip: "And I imagine that the view from the trenches is pretty bleak."
Tolkien: "It looks to me like the end of the world."
Rip: "But it's not. Believe me, this darkness will pass."
(This echoes descriptions of Mordor, and Gandalf's many motivational speeches)

Rip: (to Tolkien) "In short, my fellow travelers and I..."
Steel: "Fellowship, if you will."
Rip: "We're on a journey to destroy an object. One which would bring the bearer unimaginable power."
(Rip basically just described the entire plot of LOTR here)

Tolkien: "Apparently the spear will glow in the presence of divine blood."
Steel: "Yeah, and it also revealed the message when Mick lit it on fire."
Tolkien: "A secret only fire can tell. How marvelous."

(In LOTR, Elven swords glow when Orcs are near. And again, the Spear reveals an inscription when blasted with heat. The "secret only fire can tell" is lifted verbatim from LOTR)

Stein: (commenting on the plan to find the Blood Of Christ on a WWI battlefield) "But one cannot simply walk into the middle of a war zone."

(This is a paraphrasing of Boromir's famous line during the Council Of Elrond, in which he says, "One does not simply walk into Mordor.")

Rip: (addressing both sides of the war) "There may come a day when our courage fails us, when we forsake our friendships and break the bonds of fellowship, but today is not that day. And perhaps in showing our humanity We might just save it."

(This is very similar to Aragorn's "For Frodo" speech at the end of The Return Of The King film).

• Once the Legends find out that Heat Wave blabbed their plan to Captain Cold, I thought they were all a bit too quick to turn on him. They didn't even bother to listen when he tried to explain that he thought Cold was an hallucination. Of them all, Atom was the only one who realized they'd been complete dicks to him ever since he came on board. I feel like they kind of made their own bed here.

• Apparently John Barrowman was too busy farting around over on The Flash's musical episode to appear in this one, as he doesn't show up until the very last scene. Too bad, as that means we don't get to see the full Legion Of Doom membership until the final thirty seconds. Another reason not to like that musical episode.

• This week's best lines (there were a ton of 'em!):

Rip: (talking about a fragment of the Spear Of Destiny) "It's hard to imagine that, when joined with their siblings, they're as powerful as God."
Jackson: "But right now, that's just a useless piece of wood."
Canary: "It's not useless. I know ten different ways to kill somebody with this."
Heat Wave: "Not to mention, it's great for scratching in those hard-to-reach places."
Canary: "Please don't tell me you used the Spear of Destiny as a back scratcher."
Heat Wave: "Who said anything about my back?:
Stein: "Well, as Mr. Rory has demonstrated, in the wrong hands, this divine artifact can be put to truly horrific use."

Darhk: (to Thawne) "You sent me and Malcolm off to find the Kalabros Manuscript while the Legends managed to abscond with the Spear of Destiny. I should have that zombie speedster you're so afraid of eat your brain!"

Canary: (indicating Rip, Atom and Steel, who are all standing next to one another) "Amaya, take the Backstreet Boys, intercept Tolkien, find out what he knows, send him on his way."
(I think this was my favorite line of the episode, because the three guys, with their perfect hair, really did look like they were posing)

Heat Wave: (after seeing what he thinks is an hallucination of Captain Cold) "Stay on mission, now. Gotta find this hobbit guy."
Cold: "J.R.R. Tolkien, why? Hoping for an autograph?"
Heat Wave: "I don't even know who that guy is. All I know is I gotta find this hobbit guy who knows the guy who's buried with Jesus' blood. Then we can destroy the Spear of Destiny."
(I like this line because it perfectly illustrates the Silver Age comic book insanity of this series!)

Heat Wave: (again, to what he thinks is an hallucination of Cold) "You're a... you're an illumination."
Cold: "An hallucination."
Heat Wave: "That's it."
(Cold may be a criminal, but at least he has a bigger vocabulary than Heat Wave!)

Tolkien: "You abducted me from the middle of a battlefield to ask about an old myth? There is a war on, you fools!"

Tolkien: "Tell me, why do you seek the grave of Gawain?"
Rip: "Eh it's a long story."
Tolkien: "I enjoy long stories."
Steel: "Yeah, he does."

Heat Wave: "I saw Snart again."
Stein: "More likely, you took a nasty blow on the battlefield. Perhaps you're suffering some minor brain damage or, at least, more brain damage."
Heat Wave: "Snart did this!"
Stein: "I believe you!"
Heat Wave: "You do?"
Stein: "Of course not. I just don't want you to hurt me!"

Cold: (after the Legends find the tomb of Gawain) "Pretty pathetic, if you ask me."
Rip: "Mr. Snart?"

Heat Wave: "Wait, you can see him?"
Atom: "You're supposed to be dead."
Cold: "Yeah, they told me all about how I get soft and die for you losers. I didn't believe them."
Heat Wave: "Believe who?"
Darhk: "Well, if that's not an entrance line, I don't know what is!"

Heat Wave: (using his flame thrower on the WWI battlefield) "What is it with me and Nazis?" Steel: "Wrong World War, Mick! These are Huns, not Nazis!"
Heat Wave: "I don't care what you wanna call them, just take them out, now!"


  1. I agree with your statement about Heat Wave's betrayal. What if that was the point. Wouldn't it be great if he was actually spying on the Legion of Doom. What a great way to add development to his character

  2. Oooh, that's a good point! I hadn't thought of that. I kind of hope that's where they're going with his plot now!

    What did you think about the fact that they went to WWI to pick up Tolkien, when they could have visited him in 1950 or any year after the war?

  3. English Brit here, I and pretty much everyone I know pronounce "Tolkien" as tol-ken. I thought the legends were using a crazy US pronunciation!

  4. Interesting. When I was writing the review I googled how to pronounce his name, and it said "Toll-Keen" was the preferred British way. I should have known better than to trust the internet!


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