Sunday, April 9, 2017

Legends Of Tomorrow Season 2, Episode 17: Aruba

It's the season finale of Legends Of Tomorrow!

Overall I enjoyed the show quite a bit this season, and am amazed at just how much its improved. Season 1 was pretty dire at times, and a hard slog at times. It was hampered by a lame villain played by the most uncharismatic actor possible, and the less said about the wooden Hawkman and the dull as dishwater Hawkgirl, the better.

To their credit, the producers recognized these problems (even humorously calling them out in Raiders Of The Lost Art!) and took steps to improve the series. They dumped the Hawks and replaced them with the much more likable Citizen Steel and Vixen (well, more likable until they decided to ditch their responsibilities and screw in the middle of a mission).
Best of all, they replaced last season's mediocre Big Bad with the Legion Of Doom, consisting of four, count 'em 4 previously introduced fan-favorite villains. It was a good move, and improved the series exponentially. 

In fact Legends has now become the best of the Arrowverse shows, and possibly my favorite current series period! It's a heck of a lot of fun, and isn't ashamed of the fact that it's a comic book show. It's literally a Silver Age comic book come to life, with all the insanity, outlandish characters and ridiculous plots that entails. That's a good thing, by the way!

The writers also stepped up their game this season, subverting the audience's expectations at every turn. When Rip Hunter disappeared, White Canary took over as Captain of the Waverider. When he returned, most viewers (myself included) figured she'd hand the reigns back over to him. I wasn't looking forward to this, as Canary was a more capable Captain than Rip ever was, and the show improved greatly in his absence (sorry, Arthur Darvill!). Amazingly the writers realized this, and decided to keep Canary as Captain!

The season finale contained its share of unexpected events as well. Based on her story arc, I assumed Vixen would leave at the end of this episode, return to her proper time and fulfill her destiny. And I figured Steel would follow her as well. I was very surprised when that didn't happen, and they both decided to stay.

Even more surprising, Rip Hunter left the ship at the end of the episode, and seemingly the series. I don't for a minute believe he's gone for good, but it was still an unexpected turn of events. It's nice to watch a show which doesn't feature plot lines so obvious you can see them coming down the street from a mile away.

I'm definitely going to miss the Legion Of Doom, as they were the highlight of the entire season. Matt Letscher, Neal McDonough, John Barrowman and Wentworth Miller seemed to be having a ball playing their characters, and made sure not one ounce of scenery was left unchewed.

Best of all, The CW announced that Legends has been renewed for a third season! Awesome! Here's hoping Season 3 is even better! The writers definitely have their work cut out for them!


The Plot:
There's a lot of time travel shenanigans to try and wrap your head around this episode, so I'll try and keep it as simple as I can.

Rip Hunter and Gideon finally get the Waverider up and running, and set off to find the other Legends. As the ship takes off, Rip realizes that it (and he as well) have been miniaturized to the size of a desktop model! He figures out that he's in Thawne's office inside STAR Labs. He engages the cloak and flies the ship out the nearest window.

Meanwhile, Atom and Jackson (in Steel's mother's basement?) try to build a radio to contact Rip, while Steel mopes over Vixen's death. Suddenly the radio picks up Rip's signal, as they realize he & the ship are actually in the same room with them. Heat Wave grabs the ship and shakes it, much to Rip's dismay.

The Legends figure out that Thawne used Atom's suit technology to shrink the ship. White Canary comes up with a plan— sneak into STAR Labs, steal Atom's suit, use it to restore the Waverider to normal size, then fly back to 1916 and steal the Spear Of Destiny before their previous selves can get ahold of it so they can undo Thawne's Doomworld and fix reality. Whew! Got all that?

Cut to Atom and Jackson inside STAR Labs. They find the Atom suit, but are interrupted by Damien Darhk. He levitates them with his magic, and is about to kill them when the still-tiny Waverider shows up and begins firing on him. Darhk laughs at the miniaturized ship's ineffectual blasters, saying, "Awww, isn't that adorable?" Suddenly Heat Wave knocks him out from behind.

Atom returns the Waverider back to normal size and it crashes through the roof of STAR Labs and blasts off into the sky. Onboard the ship, Canary orders Gideon to take them back to 1916. Once again Rip cautions against this, saying returning to a time they've already visited and possibly running into their past selves could have disastrous effects on the time stream. Canary understands the risks, but says they have to try.

These versions of the Legends also realize that by preventing Thawne from getting the Spear and creating Doomworld, they'll effectively erase themselves from existence. They decide to do so anyway, for the good of the world.

The Doomworld Legends arrive in 1916, on the same WWI battlefield from Fellowship Of The Spear. Atom flies out and finds the spot where the Blood Of Christ (the only known substance that can destroy the Spear Of Destiny) is buried. He blasts open the ground, finds a wooden box and recovers the vial containing the Blood.

Unfortunately Thawne figures out the Legends' plan, and uses his superspeed to yoink the vial out of Atom's hand. He crushes the vial, eliminating the only way to destroy the Spear. He then uses his power to pull Atom's heart out of his chest and show it to him before he dies! Holy crap! Fortunately for the rest of the team Thawne flits away instead of doing the same to them. The Doomworld Legends mourn Atom, but vow to complete their mission.

Meanwhile, Doomworld Heat Wave knocks out his past (or Prime) version, and infiltrates the Legion Of Doom in a battlefield tent. Doomworld Thawne enters the tent, and explains to the Prime Darhk and Captain Cold that he's from the future, and is there to warn them that there're now two sets of Legends trying to find the Spear Of Destiny (confusing!) He then zips away to get "backup."

The Doomworld Legends decide their best shot is to wait until their past selves leave the Prime Waverider, then sneak inside and steal the Spear from them. The Prime versions eventually leave, and Doomworld Rip, Steel and Heat Wave enter the ship. They run into Prime Canary and have an awkward exchange with her. Doomworld Steel goes to the library to grab the Spear, but finds Prime Professor Stein, Jackson and Vixen there. They ask why he's back so soon, since he just left the ship. He makes up an excuse, saying the Blood Of Christ isn't on the battlefield after all, but in the Galapagos Islands in 1984. Prime Stein and Jackson leave, and Doomworld Steel embraces Prime Vixen, who's dead in his timeline.

Doomworld Heat Wave grabs the Spear, and he and Doomworld Rip wait for Doomworld Steel to return. He finally joins them and they start to leave, but they see their Prime selves (plus J.R.R. Tolkien!) coming back to the ship! They can't leave or their past selves will see them and time will be destroyed!

Doomworld Canary and Jackson intercept the Prime group and try to prevent them from getting on the ship. Prime Canary calls Prime Steel on his comm, asking what's going on. He says, "I'm uh... talking to you." The Prime Legends then believe that the Doomworld Legends are the Legion Of Doom in disguise!

There's a big battle between the two teams, and the Doomworld Legends finally convince their Prime versions they're who they say they are. They all meet on the bridge of the Prime Waverider to discuss what to do next. The ship shudders, and the Rips both say it's a time quake, caused by all this ill-advised interaction between the teams. Prime Atom and Vixen notice there're no Doomworld versions of them present, and realize their future selves are dead. Doomworld Steel tells Prime Steel to stop dicking around and tell Vixen how he feels about her, or he'll regret it for the rest of his life. Prime Canary asks Doomworld Canary if she's sorry she didn't use the Spear when she had the chance. She says no, as its power is too much for one person to handle, and she'd only make things worse.

Suddenly the Waverider's attacked by the Legion, who are firing futuristic blasters at it. The Canaries order Gideon to take them back to the present, but both Rips warn against trying it with the two teams onboard. The Canaries attempt the jump anyway. The ship takes off, but is instantly engulfed in a "time storm," whatever that is. It crashes to the ground, sustaining permanent damage.

Doomworld Canary tells the Prime Legends to make it to the Doomworld Waverider while they hold off the Legion. They all storm out of the ship, as the Prime Team dodges the Legion while the Doomworld team attacks them. Malcolm Merlyn and Cold fire at Prime Firestorm and Atom, knocking them out of the sky. Firestorm separates, and Merlyn shoots Jackson with an arrow. Doomworld Heat Wave attacks Darhk, but Cold sneaks up behind him and stabs him through the chest with a large icicle (!). Prime Heat Wave shoots Cold.

Darhk kills Doomworld Steel, and then has an epic swordfight with Prime Canary. She finally gets the best of him, and Darhk urges her to kill him. She gives him the old, "Killing's too good for you" line, and knocks him out instead. The remaining Legends, who I think are all the Prime versions, are about to board the Waverider with the Spear, when they're surrounded by an army of Thawnes. Apparently he plucked dozens of versions of himself from the timeline to help him (why's he get to interact with himself, but the Legends are told not to?).

The Main Thawne says he'll spare the Legends' lives if they give him the Spear. Again. With no other way out, Prime Canary reluctantly activates the Spear.

She finds herself in her late sister Laurel's apartment. Canary realizes it's not real, but Laurel says it can be if she alters reality with the Spear. Canary says she's too damaged and dark to use the Spear. Laurel tells her she knows she'll do the right thing.

Canary finds herself back on the battlefield. Thawne takes the Spear from her hand and tries to use it, but nothing happens. He realizes she used the Spear to de-power itself, which I guess is something it can do. Thawne attempts to kill Canary, but the Black Flash appears and vibrates its fist into his chest. He looks around in horror as he slowly fades from existence. Black Flash eliminates all the other Thawnes as well, they roars in Canary's face before disappearing.

The Doomworld Legends fade away as the Prime versions, who were all 
killed by Thawne, come back to life and get up. Doomworld Canary nods to Prime Canary as she's erased from existence as well.

The Legends then erase Merlyn's memory and take him back to his dingy apartment in 2017. Heat Wave takes Cold to Central City in 2014, the date he first joined the Legends. He tells Cold he's about to become a better man, then erases his memory and leaves. Canary takes Darhk to 1987, wipes his memory and leaves him there as well.

Vixen tells Steel that she's ready to go back to her fate in 1942. He offers to go with her, and for some reason she immediately changes her mind and she'd rather stay on the ship with him, history be damned. Canary finds Rip sneaking off the ship and asks him what the hell. He tells her again that she's a better captain than he ever was (true), and there's no place for him on the team anymore (also true). He leaves the ship, but we don't get to see where or when.

To celebrate their victory, Canary orders Gideon to take them to Heat Wave's favorite place— Aruba. Their celebration is short lived of course, as a time storm envelops the ship. The Waverider crashes in 2017 Los Angeles, one that's filled with dinosaurs as well as futuristic buildings. Canary says, "Uh guys? I think we broke time!"

• There's no opening narration this week, as instead we get a "Previously On..." montage of the whole season to get everyone up to speed.

• When Rip finally gets the Waverider up and running, he's stunned to discover that the ship's been miniaturized and has been sitting on a desk in Thawne's office for months.

OK, we have no idea how long Rip's been trapped inside the ship, or even how long Doomworld has existed at this point. We can make a guess though. As we saw in the previous episode, Rip has taken to baking cakes with elaborate fondant icing decorations. 

That means it's reasonable to assume he's been in the Waverider long enough to try to escape, realize it's hopeless, give up, wander aimlessly through the corridors, eventually develop an interest in cake decorating and practice until he becomes an expert at it. I could easily see all that taking six to nine months. Possibly even a year.

And yet in all that time he never realized he was inside a shrunken ship, sitting on Thawne's desk. That means in a year's time he never once so much as glanced out the large window in the middle of the bridge. Never saw or heard Thawne or the other Legionnaires walking around the office. That seems... unlikely.

• My favorite part of the episode was when Rip, in the miniaturized Waverider, attacks Darhk with tiny, ineffective laser blasts— complete with little "pew pew" sound effects!

• Once Heat Wave knocks out Darhk, Atom uses his suit to restore the Waverider— and Rip— to normal size. A few things here...

First of all, Jackson radios a warning to Canary, saying, "Sara! Reinforcements will be on their way!" Listen very closely, and it sounds like actor Franz Drameh momentarily slips into his normal London accent!

Canary then easily dispatches Darhk's goons and says, "We're headed to you Ray. Let's blow the roof off this place!" Atom then fires up his shrink ray...

... points it at the ship and says, "OK, Rip, keep the Waverider steady." By the way, note how Heat Wave's standing literally a foot away from the ship. Hope Atom's got good aim!

We then see an exterior shot of STAR Labs as it begins to shake. Cut to the roof, as the now fully-restored Waverider blasts through.

So apparently Atom chose to enbiggen the ship right there inside Thawne's office! While he and Heat Wave were standing next to it, yet! Yikes! 

The interior walls of STAR Labs appear to be solid concrete. The Waverider no doubt destroyed several of them when it grew to normal size. Apparently it's pretty solidly built, as no important components were damaged when the ship smashed through the walls. And luckily none of the Legends were killed when the ship caused several floors of the building to collapse into rubble.

Wouldn't it have made infinitely more sense to have Rip fly the ship out of the building and into the empty parking lot and enlarge it there? Then the Legends could have simply boarded it and it and blasted off into the sky.

Obviously the only reason they did it their way was because the shot of the ship crashingthrough the roof looked kewl.

• In Fellowship Of The Spear I pointed out a whopper of a plot hole, one that came close to destroying the entire episode. The Legends needed to locate the Blood Of Christ in order to destroy the Spear Of Destiny. The only person who knew where to find the Blood was author J.R.R. Tolkien himself. 

For some insane reason, the Legends time-traveled to the middle of WWI to track down Tolkien in the middle of a huge, bloody battle. But Tolkien lived another fifty seven years after that battle. Fifty seven peace-filled, quiet years. Why the hell did they risk their lives going to the most dangerous point of Tolkien's life, when they could have approached him in 1950?

The answer of course is because the writers wanted to feature an exciting battle on the show. But logically it made no damned sense.

Even worse, they do the same damned thing in this episode! Once again they need to recover the Blood Of Christ to destroy the Spear. This time around though, they already know where it is— on the battlefield in Somme, France. So they go right back to WWI AGAIN! Why not simply go back a few more years to 1900 and dig up the vial while nothing's going on in Somme?

• When the Legends arrive back in 1916 again, Atom flies out of the ship and across the battlefield. He then blasts open the ground to uncover the box containing the Blood Of Christ. Fortunately his blasters don't destroy the fragile, two thousand year old box it's in!

• Seconds after Atom recovers the vial containing the Blood, Thawne appears, grabs it from him and destroys it. The Doomworld Legends are all horrified, as that was their only chance of ever destroying the Spear.

Once again, they're overlooking the easiest and most obvious solution— toss it into the Sun! Even if the nuclear furnace of the Sun isn't hot enough to destroy the Spear, it's unlikely the Legion would ever be able to reach inside & grab it!

• Once the Doomworld Legends decide to steal the Spear from their Prime selves, Steel and Rip have the following exchange:

Steel: "All right, if we're gonna go impersonating ourselves..."
Rip: "You're gonna need a haircut."

Yeah. I would be interested to see how even the world's most skillful stylist could turn that dead raccoon pelt on top of Doomworld Steel's head (as seen at left in the above photo) into the perfect coif of his Prime self!

Also apparently in addition to a medbay, cafeteria, brig and armory, the Waverider also contains a styling salon!

• Day-yum! I was NOT expecting to see Thawne do the old "Rip Your Heart Out Of Your Chest And Show It To You" kung fu move on Atom! This was probably the most violent moment so far on this series.

It was a shocking and cool moment, but it also highlighted just how powerful Thawne is. As a speedster, he could have done this to EVERY ONE of the Legends while they were blinking, any time he wanted. The writers know this, which is why all season long they were constantly making excuses for him NOT to simply kill them in the space of a nanosecond.

• What's better than one Heat Wave? Why, TWO Heat Waves, of course!

By the way, you may have noticed that in my reviews of this show, I always call the Legends by their code names (Heat Wave, Atom, White Canary, etc.) despite the fact that the characters all use their real names on the show. 

That's because it bugs me no end when superheroes do this in movies and TV shows. They do it constantly here, and they did over at Marvel in The Avengers as well. It's like the writers are ashamed of the code names, and think it'll sound silly if they have have a character say "Iron Man" instead of "Tony."

It's a superhero show. There's nothing to be ashamed of. It's an incredibly popular and financially lucrative genre. Use the goddamned superhero name already!

• When the Doomworld and Prime Legends team up and strap themselves in, I would swear the Waverider's bridge suddenly sprouted a few extra chairs. I went back and checked previous episodes, and it didn't. There've always been nine, counting the captain's chair.

• We get a rare Firestorm appearance this week (hey, those flaming head effects ain't cheap!). Unfortunately he makes a pretty week showing, lobbing a couple tiny fireballs at the Legion Of Doom, that cause little or no damage.

You're Firestorm! The Nuclear Man! Quit bothering with the little fire pellets! Surround the Legion with a wall of flame! Or better yet, use your transmuting powers! Turn the ground beneath their feet into glue! Form an impenetrable dome over them! Turn their clothes into granite! Something! Anything except little "pew pew" fire balls!

• All through the episode perpetual wet blanket Rip Hunter warns the Legends not to revisit a time period or interact with their past selves, or time itself will be destroyed. Turns out he's right— once they meet their past selves, a series of time quakes begins rocking the ship.

So why then is Thawne able to pluck fifty or so previous versions of himself from the timeline and freely interact with them, with no apparent side effects?

• Canary's finally forced to use the Spear Of Destiny, against her better judgement. Amazingly she resists the temptation to remake the world in her own image, and simply puts things back the way they were.

Once she's done that, she also comes up with the brilliant idea to make the Spear de-power itself! I have to say that was a pretty cool idea.

It also reminds me a bit of the age-old philosophy question: "Could God create a boulder so heavy that even He couldn't lift it?"

• Thawne's demise at the hands of the Black Flash reminded me a lot of Gollum's death in The Return Of The King. Just like Gollum, Thawne's head and face disappears last!

I have to say, I'm gonna miss Thawne. And the entire Legion Of Doom as well.

• After everything's wrapped up, Canary catches Rip sneaking out of the ship and off the show. I wonder where, or I guess that should be when, he went? We never find out in the episode.

I wouldn't mourn too long for Rip. There's no way in hell he's gone for good, and I have no doubt he'll be back in one form or another in Season 3.

• I'm sure if you charted and graphed the events of this episode, the time travel wouldn't make any sense. That's pretty much par for the course in ANY time travel story. But even if all the causality loops and altered timelines in this episode don't make any logical sense or line up properly, they SEEMED to. 

The Doomworld Legends went back in time to help their Prime selves, and disappeared once they succeeded. Makes sense to me! The Legends then wrapped up everything by wiping the minds of the Legion Of Doom and placing them back in their proper eras, moments after Thawne originally plucked them from the timeline. Again, that seems about right.

These plot points probably break down if you think about them too hard, but as I said, they feel logical, and that's good enough for me.

• At the very end of the episode, the Waverider crashes in 2017 Los Angeles. Unfortunately the Legends discover that all their time travel shenanigans has broken time, as the past, present and future have seemingly merged. It's a cool visual, and a very fun and comic booky way to wrap up the season.

It's also very similar to the premise of the Doctor Who episode The Wedding Of River Song. In that story, the Doctor discovers he's going to die soon, and his death is a "fixed point in time"— an event that cannot possibly be altered.

Of course he goes ahead and alters it anyway, which results in disaster. The world is permanently stuck at 5:02 pm, as all of time— past, present and future— exists simultaneously.

Since it began, Legends Of Tomorrow has always had a lot in common with Doctor Who, so I guess it's inevitable that it'll occasionally borrow plot points and ideas.

• This Week's Best Lines:
Rip: (preparing to escape from STAR Labs) "Can you pinpoint our location, Gideon?"
Gideon: "Central City, 2017."
Rip: "That's odd. We must be in some sort of hangar. One large enough to accommodate the Waverider. Gideon, what is that? Is that another ship?"
Gideon: "Negative. It appears to be a desk lamp."
Rip: "Oh, bollocks. Right. Engage our cloak and plot a course."
Gideon: "Heading, Captain?"
Rip: "The nearest open window."

Heat Wave: (peering into the miniaturized Waverider) "Look, it's the teeny, weenie Englishman!"

Doomworld Atom: (after hearing the plan to help their Prime versions) "So all we have to do is help us I mean, them destroy the Spear without them knowing that we're helping. Kinda like Secret Santa."

Doomworld Heat Wave: (after hearing they're going to steal the Spear from the earlier versions of themselves) "Never stolen anything from myself before. Could be interesting."

Stein: "How could a relic from the Crusades wind up in the Galapagos during the Reagan Administration?"

Jackson: (as the ship shakes) "What the hell was that?"
Rip: "It's a timequake. The result of us interacting with ourselves."
Steel: "Well, that wasn't so bad."
Rip: "Yeah, give it time."

Doomworld Heat Wave (staring at Prime Heat Wave) "What the hell are you staring at?"
Prime Heat Wave: "Just imagining what you'd look like without teeth."
Doomworld and Prime Canaries: (in unison) "Knock it off, Rory!"

Atom: "Uh, I can't help but notice..."
Vixen: "Not all of us came back with you."
Steel: "What happens to us in the future?"
Heat Wave: (pointing at Atom) "Well dead, (pointing at Vixen) dead, (pointing at Stein) good as dead."

Doomworld Canary: "Look, the Spear ended up in the Legion's hands. Bad things happened and it sucked."
(what an odd line, even for this show!)

Atom: (seeing Heat Wave after thinking he was killed) "You're you're alive!"
Heat Wave: "You hug me, I'll kill you."
Atom: "OK. Later."

Doomworld Steel: (giving advice to his other self before he dies) "Don't be a douche..."

Thawne: (to the Legends, as he surrounds them with dozens of past versions of himself) "You know, it's true what they say. If you want something done right, you really have to do it yourself."

Doomworld Canary: (as she's erased from existence) "Remember, Legends never die."
Steel: "Really? Goonies?"
Vixen: (who's from 1942) "What's a goonie?"
Steel: "Ehh..."

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