This Legends of Tomorrow review contains spoilers.
Legends of Tomorrow: Season 1, Episode 3
You know what Legends of Tomorrow reminds me of? Brooklyn Nine Nine. Weird comparison, I know, but subject matter and genre aside, Legends of Tomorrow is three episodes in, and yet the characters feel so complete and fully formed, like the writing staff and actors have such a solid grasp of them, that the show seems confident very early. Brooklyn Nine Nine is the last show that did that for me.
I’m sure it’s because so many of the actors have had extended face time on Flash or Arrow, but still, the group dynamic is completely fresh, and about half the cast (Jackson, Kendra, Rip and the current incarnation of Sara) are almost entirely new characters who are rounded and interesting and still only defined by shorthand. They writers took one from each group this week and gave us some quality time with them, while starting to define them more.
The group is still reeling from Carter’s death at the hands of Vandal Savage last week, and Rip and Sara talk about how they might be able to cripple Savage’s operation. They decide to go after his money. So they find an ancient bank (it’s probably Swiss. They’re the only ones who’d launder money for an immortal warlord), and try to deposit a briefcase full of Spanish doubloons. They get made by the bank staff, all of whom are some kind of assassin, and Sara goes to town on all of them. Rip is no schlub when it comes to fighting, but Sara demolishes all of them, only stopping herself from killing the branch manager/swordsman because Rip is screaming at her to stop.
The first two episodes spent some time dancing around what I think is going to be an ongoing issue for Sara: addiction. She’s very conspicuously drinking in the first episode, and in the second, she’s the one who swipes the joints from young Stein’s ashtray. It’s not really surprising that they’d go there with her — after all, her sister and her dad are both alcoholics over on Arrow, but rather than try and deal with substance abuse issues, they talk about her bloodlust in the same tones and with some of the same language as they might if she were an alcoholic (“tortured by an appetite that she cannot control”).
Meanwhile, Captain Cold, Heat Wave and Jackson all dart off in the Phantom to steal the Maximilian Emerald from the Central City museum. Of COURSE they do, after last week’s shenanigans inspired the “let’s not complain about time travel logic breaking the story,” but we agreed not to talk about that, sooooooooooooo the two bad guys rope Jackson into driving their getaway spaceship, and unlike last week, the theft goes smoothly. That’s when we find out their goal — it’s not personal enrichment. Rory dimes out Snart to Jackson about the real reason: Snart stole the emerald because his father gets arrested for stealing it two days later and spends five years in the clink for it, then comes back the abusive asshole we saw in Flash.
Meanwhile, the C story has Atom and Professor Stein in an Iron Man/Fantastic Voyage mash up, with Ray having to shrink down and vaporize tiny metal shards in Kendra’s bloodstream. It’s…kinda boring, to be honest, but it’s also the least significant part of the story. Ray loses confidence, Stein gives him a pep talk, Ray blows up the metal. If the episode had this as more than a tertiary story, it would have negatively impacted it. As it stands, it was just a few minutes that could have been better spent with Wentworth Miller smoldering or Caity Lotz kicking people in the face.
A lot has been made over the first two episodes about Wentworth Miller’s Captain Cold and Dominick Purcell’s Heat Wave and how there is literally no one on television right now having a better time doing their jobs than these two. Miller especially says every line through a mouthful of scenery, and if it was even an iota less joyful, it would be unforgivably campy. But he’s a riot to watch, and he gets a couple of minutes to dial it back in this week’s episode, and it’s the best part of the show so far.
Snart goes to his childhood home to drop off the emerald, and he sees his five year old self. He gives the kid some advice (“Never ever let anyone hurt you”) before his younger father puts a gun on him. The look in Snart’s eyes when he wheels on his father is sad and terrifying at the same time — he packs a ton of hurt and hate into that look, and it is intense. But he does give his father the emerald so that he won’t get picked up for stealing it.
Sara and Rip have captured the bank swordsmanager, who reveals both that Savage is having a gathering at what I think was called the Green Hill Building (can’t wait until they get to the Casino Night building), celebrating the death of Carter and somehow desecrating his body, and that Hunter has already tried to kill Savage in ancient Egypt, and he failed. After him and Sara sort through both her addiction issues and Rip’s lack of trust, they head off to the gathering, which turns out to be the party from Eyes Wide Shut.
Savage is draining Carter’s blood and giving it to his lackeys, and when they drink it, they gain like, a century of life. This is obviously unacceptable, so Sara and Rip, joined by Jackson, Heat Wave and Captain Cold, start beating the hell out of the room. Cold takes Carter’s body back to the ship, Sara turns into Bishop from Aliens with the swordsmanager’s head, and Rip slits Savage’s throat. It’s a good death scene for a character who can’t die.
The episode wraps with a funeral for Carter, news that Snart’s dad got pinched trying to fence the emerald and is going to jail anyway, and Atom saying “sooory” to Stein which is BULLSHIT because Ray Palmer’s not Canadian, he’s a Yalie. Hunter has Gideon search the records for Savage’s next appearance, and we find out that the team is going to 1986 next week.
DC UNIVERSE TIME BUBBLE:
— The emerald Snart steals is real (the Maximilian Emerald is at the American Museum of Natural History, apparently), and not Kryptonite like many were speculating when the trailer came out.
— Remember how I was talking about the confidence the writers have? They made the same Eyes Wide Shut joke through Heat Wave’s mouth, and it was hilarious. You don’t lampshade something like that unless you’re sure it’s going to land.
— They must spend an obscene amount of money on those ‘70s songs.
— Sara has more knives in her jacket than the Joker.
— I can’t believe there’s going to be a Mortal Kombat tournament on network television.
— The show strongly implies some kind of psychic connection between Kendra and Savage. She starts chanting the same thing from her hospital bed that the Eyes Wide Shut party attendees are at Carter’s corpse.
— The team is heading to a big year for comics, and DC comics especially. In 1986, Crisis on Infinite Earths ended with the first full reboot of the DC Universe; Dark Knight Returns and Watchmen were both published; and John Byrne retold Superman’s origin with Man of Steel.