This Legends of Tomorrow review contains spoilers.
Legends of Tomorrow Episode 11
“I refuse to live with the regret I see on your face right now.”
And that, right there, in an episode that could have just been a convenient gimmick exercise, was one of the highlights of the season. Too bad they blew it at the end. Legends of Tomorrow is about deeply flawed characters who make the wrong choices, and even someone as smart as Professor Stein is capable of succumbing to attacks of conscience or arrogance. This week, it could have been a little of both, although I have to admit, they ruined it all with the reveal at the end about the boy’s identity.
Stein’s little side quest to save that little boy in Salvation was far from the focus of the episode. But it was (again, the dopey moment at the end aside) an effective illustration of so much about what makes this show work, even when the writing is as flawed as its characters.
Now, this is going to sound weird, but I promise I mean it as a compliment. When Legends of Tomorrow hops into the past, it reminds me of episodes of the original Star Trek that did the same thing. Need to save budget for an episode? Kirk and the gang go to a planet that’s like the Old West, or Ancient Rome, or the 1920s, or any number of other periods where there are sets and costumes laying around from any number of other productions! In 1968, it was simply what you did. But Legends has been embracing the anachronistic qualities of the practice itself and not just in the way that its characters stand out when they do this. Things just stick out a little more because, well, there aren’t any shows on TV right now set in the Old West, or the 1950s, or whatever.
But those anachronistic storytelling elements were out in force, especially in the early part of the episode. Every Old West cliche was promptly hit on, right down to the frantic piano playing during the barroom brawl, punctuated by a Wilhelm scream. Does anybody have a Wilhelm scream tally for this season? I feel like in a show like this they could get away with one per episode if they wanted to.
I appreciate how they didn’t let Jonah Hex steal the show this week. This could very easily have played like a pilot for a Jonah Hex TV series or a straight up novelty episode, and that wasn’t the case. Everything was in service to the characters, particularly Rip and Stein. As is usually the case with Legends, we did bump up against the too many characters with too much going on problem, and tying Kendra’s ongoing past life issues this week just to torture her relationship with Ray even further seemed like a little too much. I would much rather have spent the time with Sara and Mick getting loaded. In fact, I could watch an entire series where Sara just pops into different time periods to get fucked up with the locals, now that I think about it.
It’s tough to tell most of the time, but I do feel there has been a change in Mick. I don’t know why it didn’t occur to me (it should have been obvious) that his time as Kronos lasted years. So now, of the crew (not counting Rip), we have four people who have had long term sidequests in other time periods that have affected them. I wonder if anyone will come out of the season without experiencing something similar? They’d better be careful with this, it’s a neat idea, but it’s also too easy to just sweep it under the rug.
Ray’s little obsession with the Old West could have turned out to be just another “look how dorky Ray is” kinda thing, but powers and time travel or no powers and time travel, it took serious backbone to call that gang out in the middle of the street. He could easily have been shot and killed. While Ray is certainly courageous and heroic, this was a different context for it, and I found it surprisingly effective.
But yeah, that HG Wells reveal at the end was some hack ass nonsense. I knew there was no way that kid wasn’t going to turn out to be “somebody” and there was at least a 60% chance that it would be something annoying. I didn’t quite expect it to be that dopey and saccharine, though. C’mon, Legends.
DC Universe Time Bubble
– Jonah Hex first appeared in All-Star Western #10 in 1972, where he was created by John Albana and Tony DeZuniga. He has since had his adventures guided by the likes of Joe Lansdale and Justin Gray and Jimmy Palmiotti.
You can see some military garb in Jonah’s costume (and the historians among you can tell me if any of it was accurate). Jonah fought for the wrong side in the Civil War, but wasn’t fond of slavery, and it eventually led to him trying to do the right thing and getting everyone killed. He’s never really been a happy character.
But for real, Joe Kubert is an all time comic book genius, and you should just seek out his work and cherish it.
– Hex and Rip obviously spent some quality time together (and I have to love that Rip is wearing Jonah’s old coat), but it’s possible that Jonah’s time traveling days aren’t over. The character spent a brief period in the ’80s in a Mad Max inspired post-apocalyptic wasteland. Maybe the next time we see Jonah, that’s where he’ll be.
– Did you spot Kubert’s Barber Shop in town there? Joe Kubert is the artist most associated with Jonah Hex, and with good reason. He’s also the artist most associated with Hawkman, also for good reason. He’s also the co-creator of DC Comics WWII hero Sgt. Rock, who absolutely needs to make an appearance in a future Legends of Tomorrow episode.
– Ray introducing himself as “John Wayne” reminds of Marty McFly introducing himself as “Clint Eastwood” in Back to the Future III. There’s no way this wasn’t on purpose.
– So, Hawkman, when he lived in this period, was known as “Hannibal Hawkes.” Hannibal Hawkes was also the DC western hero known as Nighthawk. This is no coincidence, either.
– Did anybody else feel like Snart’s garb made him look a little like Yul Brynner’s famously relentless cyborg in Westworld?
By the way, not just the western setting, but the overall tone of this episode made me nostalgic for one of my favorite TV shows of all time: The Adventures of Brisco County Jr, which starred Bruce Campbell. There’s only one season, track it down and watch it. It’s amazing.
As usual, if I missed anything, drop ’em in the comments or meet me at high noon on Twitter!