This week, Legends finally goes all in and gives us the show we have been waiting for it to be from the start, and breaks our hearts in the process. Spoilers.
Everything was better this episode: the plot, the action scenes, the emotional beats. This show is more fun when it leaves Vandal Savage aside and just tells stories about its characters.
There are so many things to talk about in this episode. The plot is pretty straight-forward which is good, because it allows the show to add some much needed character and relationship development (and a very much unneeded one). Another time ship sends out a distress call, and the team responds, for not completely unselfish reasons (this should be this team’s motto: “Saving the world for selfish reasons!”). Turns out that ship, the Akeron, has been taken over by time pirates, and the team walks into a trap.
This episode is chock-full with absolutely delightful moments. Ray’s geeky excitement to be in the captain’s chair, the Warner brothers and the Warner sister
Dot Sara working out their cabin fever playing cards and stabbing things, Stein’s starry-eyed delight at getting to explore space and playing Space Ranger (and getting just a little bit of shit from Jax and Mick), Rip getting voice commands past the Time Pirate captain twice. Mick saying “parlay.” Stein apparently being a hidden badass.
But it’s the emotional moments that work to raise the stakes and really make this episode work. Rip Hunter is a jerk. A well intentioned one, but a jerk nonetheless, but you have to absolutely feel for him as he dejectedly watches what is undoubtedly the last message he has from his wife and son. As the episode guides us through the flashbacks we get a better understanding of who Rip Hunter is as a character. His wife is a former Time Master who gave up the job because she felt love was more important and because she couldn’t live by the council’s rules of absolutely no attachments. Though they do have point, even if it’s a rule impossible to enforce. (It also seems like this closer look at the Time Masters was a lost opportunity to introduce us to alien species.)
Speaking of attachments, the episode’s most interesting dynamic is the one between Mick and Leonard. This episode also reveals their backstory: they met in juvie, with Mick trying to protect Leon from the other bullies and they’ve been looking out for each other since. It fits perfectly with everything we’ve seen with these two so far, even on the Flash. And of course Mick’s betrayal is framed within the context of this partnership - but I’d argue that’s it’s also the ultimate failure of Rip’s leadership, of bringing the team together and making it work. He has been treating Mick as an accessory that comes with Snart, and has zero qualms in pointing it out to Mick’s face. Even Stein constantly treats him Mick as “the meat’. Of course he feels unwelcome. 2046 was not just about “disneyland for criminals”, it’s also about Mick feeling very comfortable to be himself there.
It’s also interesting that Snart ultimately chooses the team over Mick. We know how important this partnership is to him. We know Leonard is a protector, and it’s possibly something he’s learned from Mick, he is forced to make a split second decision to protect the team from Mick. It’s interesting that he goes from believing Mick would protect Rip and Jax and Stein on the pirate ship to thinking he would go after their families.
The ending is heart wrenching. And you end it THERE? But I don’t believe Len actually killed Mick. He’s the one who talked down Sara from killing Stein a couple of weeks ago. “That’s not you anymore. “ The question is: where the hell did they drop him off that it wouldn’t screw with the timeline. Or endanger their families. Maybe 2046? Anyway, I’m betting we’re going too Mick again before the end ofthe season. It’ll also be interesting to see exactly what Snart thinks he’s doing. I don’t think he actually wants to be a hero - but he might not know what he wants.
But I like that whatever redemption they’re giving him, is mirroring Sara’s fight to find who she wants to be after everything she’s been through. Just as Snart didn’t necessarily choose to be a crook, she didn’t necessarily choose to be an assassin. And the actors are clearly having fun in their roles and playing against each other. Every scene with them is just so enjoyable to watch.
One of the things that I immensely enjoy about this show is that they let their characters be unlikeable and full of hubris and letting them stumble and learn from their mistakes, while not necessarily making them nice. Stein is still a bit of an insufferable prick, Rip still makes really bad decisions, Snart will never give up his thieving.
Unfortunately one of the biggest problems this show has is that it can’t seem to figure out what to do with Kendra. Sure, she’s supposed to be the one who kills Savage, but other than that she doesn’t really do much. First she’s Cisco’s love interest, then Carter’s and Savage’s love obsession, and spends a whole episode being the object of a romantic rivalry between two guys without much input from her at all. And now she’s stalker Ray’s love interest! Whilst this show fails the Bechdel test yet again and her own angry egyptian goddess issues are never brought up again. Why can’t they just let her be her own character for a while?
Another problem is that they sometimes seem to rely on over-used genre tropes to let the audience fill in the blanks instead of actually doing the actual work itself. They utterly fail to establish what time pirates do besides stealing time ships and why they’re supposed to be so scary.
- I want to know what game Sara & Len were playing. I want to know who won. And who cheats more.
- And he gave her his jacket!
- Apparently that trenchcoat Rip is wearing is just standard Time Master issue uniform (and it’s interesting that he doesn’t give it up, even after defecting)
- Jax being all like “I can’t believe Mick actually sold us out. Actually I can. But still!”Cutie pie.
- And the Star Wars reference.
- Ray, honey, you will never be Han Solo.
- The relatively low SFX fight scenes were very well done and a lot of fun. As was the direction. More like this, please.
- Apparently the fandom has taken to calling Rip Time Dad, and it’s hilarious. Actually the whole fandom seems pretty fun.
Next week, the team recruits Agent Carter: