This Legends of Tomorrow review contains spoilers.
Legends of Tomorrow Episode 2 “Pilot – Part 2”
So, perhaps you read my spoiler-free review of the first two episodes of Legends of Tomorrow. The problem with that was, well, in order to keep it spoiler free, I couldn’t talk much about the second episode. See, this is the half of the story when all the set-up and talking is finished and actual fun gets had.
And there was a lot more fun to be had in this one. I’m still not clear on whether or not viewers who aren’t already invested in this world or these characters by virtue of being Flash or Arrow fans will take as much of a shine to Legends of Tomorrow as I have, but I’m willing to give the show the benefit of the doubt for now. Incidentally, if you’re one of those viewers, sound off in the comments and let me know. I’m genuinely curious about this one.
The thing is Legends is such a bonkers concept that it’s going to live or die by that cast and these characters. And this show has so much work to do every week to make sure everyone gets their time to shine. For the most part, that’s what we got in this episode, although the real winners this week are fans of Victor Garber and Caity Lotz.
I will also make a deal with you all right now. Let’s not talk about the usual time-travel headaches too much. There are no perfect time travel stories, and if I start nitpicking that particular element we’ll never get anything done. So, let’s get into exactly the kind of thing that will give you a headache (but only if you let it).
Something tells me that we won’t be doing too much of the whole Back to the Future “here’s a younger version of a character you already know” with our core team, so it’s good they got it out of the way early. It’s even better that Graeme McComb is so completely perfect as a young Victor Garber/Martin Stein. Nothing about the idea of White Canary getting high with one half of Firestorm in the ’70s should work on screen, but here we are. It’s all played for laughs, Garber and McComb have excellent comic timing, and Caity Lotz makes sparks fly with the both of them. I’ll say this, Arrow and Flash took longer than two episodes to find their footing when it came to things like comedy and chemistry, so this is a great sign.
The fun had to end, though, which is why we got that resounding defeat of the Hawks in the final act. Look, if you have to establish that not everyone is going to survive these missions, you could do a hell of a lot worse than killing off Hawkman in the second episode. Things are so complicated with those two that an entire show could revolve around them, so one of ’em had to go. Hawkmen get reincarnated, it’s what they do, and I’m sure he’ll be back by season’s end. But really, Hawkgirl is probably going to make a more interesting character without her lover/mentor around, at least for a little while. The “regression” stuff felt a little weird to me anyway, so I’m glad we won’t have to see too much of that for a little while.
While it’s tough for me to really, truly, fairly consider this episode as its own thing when it really should have just been hour two of a two-hour TV event, I’m just gonna go for it. It’s a huge improvement over the first installment, and it gets so very many bonus points for showing us Caity Lotz getting blazed and then knocking somebody out with a bong. Never in my life did I ever think that combination of words would come out of my keyboard. For this, I salute you, Legends of Tomorrow.
But if this is an indication of the kind of formula we can expect from future episodes, there’s a lot of reason to be hopeful. The time-hopping format and very prominent main villain should help keep this from straying too far into villain-of-the-week territory (even though that’s unavoidable). More importantly, if future episodes allow everyone extra moments of excellence like Professor Stein angrily talking his way into a meeting of arms dealers or the aforementioned White Canary/bong incident, then there’s a lot to look forward to.
DC Universe Time Bubble
If you’re looking for all the DC Comics references in episode one, click here instead.
– Ivy Town University is Ray Palmer’s alma mater. This place has been kicking around the DCU for as long as the Atom has. In the comics, Ray was a professor here when he first developed his shrinking technology.
Speaking of that, Ray brings up the white dwarf star matter and the alpha particles they generate, which is all straight out of the first Atom comic book story.
– Damien Darhk showing up is fun fan service, and whatever that’s cool. Damien Darhk showing up dressed like Ernst Stavro Blofeld (and not the fake-ass Christoph Waltz version from that dreadful Spectre movie) on the other hand, is genius, and possibly my single favorite thing we’ve seen Darhk do since he was introduced.
It’s interesting that Darhk has HIVE drones with him, though. His split from the League came further back than we thought, and even though they downplayed a little of the immortality angle on Arrow, clearly the Lazarus Pits’ effects are as long-lasting as their comic book counterparts.
– Who’s on the Wanted poster in Rip’s cool little early 20th Century study/library? Wanna take bets on it being Jonah Hex? Also, the fact that Rip has a “study” like that just makes him even more nerdy and awesome in my book, so we’re cool.
– There’s discussion of a “Carlin Award.” I wonder if that’s a nod to legendary Superman editor, Mike Carlin?
What did I miss? Let me know in the comments or on Twitter. I’m also willing to listen on more sensible names for this section, too. See you next week!