This Legends of Tomorrow review contains spoilers.
Legends of Tomorrow Episode 4
I still don’t know what to make of Legends of Tomorrow. I mean, I like it a lot. Hell, I love it. Who am I kidding, right?
But it’s just so different from what I expected, and tonally, it really is a thorough departure from The Flash and Arrow. After four episodes, I think I’m getting a better idea of what this show is about. And what it’s about is telling me to leave my expectations at the door.
For one thing, there’s no villain of the week, which is wonderful. Instead, it’s more like specific “heist” stories told within particular eras.
Then first act of “White Knights” moved at the kinda breakneck pace that last week’s episode did, but then everything slowed down and unfolded more deliberately. And while my notes from about ten minutes into this one clearly read “ah, this is the obligatory we don’t have to like each other but we do have to work as a team episode” that isn’t what this is. At all.
But there’s something else at work here, too. Our CW superhero shows have always skewed a little young. Until recently, that was kinda the CW’s thing, right? It was like Logan’s Run at casting over there. But Legends of Tomorrow not only has a solid balance of races and genders (something that the CW excels at across the board), but ages, as well. Aside from Professor Stein, Ray Palmer, Captain Cold, and Heat Wave aren’t kids, either. Ray continually makes references to stuff that dates him as an ’80s kid, too (last week it was all that time he spent playing Asteroids).
So I suppose it’s the fact that Legends is clearly comfortable with playing with expectations that makes “White Knights” work so well. It’s handling the ensemble cast better than I expected, and we’re getting less uncomfortable exposition every week, although I could see how Stein’s moment referencing Ronnie Raymond could have taken a new viewer right out of things. It was awkward. Perhaps not quite as awkward as how completely unconvinced I were that we were ever in Russia. We’re just forever in Vancouver on these shows, aren’t we?
This could easily become the Wentworth Miller show if they aren’t careful. I mean, he is supposed to be a bad guy, right?
In some ways, Legends of Tomorrow is doing things that I kinda wish Flash and Arrow would do. It’s clearly willing to take its time telling its bigger story without the overwhelming need to give us somebody obvious to punch in every episode. The fact that this has fewer episodes to work with means they don’t have room for filler. I’m willing to give any show willing to not show you the series big bad for an entire episode and not swap in someone completely disposable as a consolation prize the benefit of the doubt. My DC Comics, Doctor Who, and sci-fi loving self is going to get a kick out of Legends no matter what, but what’s really impressing me right now is the lengths this show is willing to go to in order to surprise me.
You know what I was bummed about, though? No tunes this week. The soundtrack for this show has been killer so far, so I was looking forward to seeing what songs from the era they would pick out. I mean, c’mon, can’t you just see them doing something really frakkin’ cool with Peter Schilling’s 1983 sci-fi pop song epic “Major Tom (Coming Home)”? There’s still time. We’re still in the ’80s next week.
DC Universe Time Bubble
– 1986 was a really good year for DC Comics. Crisis on Infinite Earths ended. The Dark Knight Returns was published. Watchmen was published. Alan Moore wrote an amazing Superman story. John Byrne rebooted Superman with The Man of Steel limited series. I could go on and on and on…
– Valentina Vostok was a member of the team of DC Comics misfits known as the Doom Patrol and first appeared in 1977. She was known as Negative Woman, having been fused with a being made of negative energy. Something is clearly going to happen to her next week, but that may not be it. Valentine kicked around the DC Universe for about 30 years before apparently taking the ol’ dirt nap at the end of the events of Blackest Night. As far as I know, she hasn’t shown up since.
– The idea of a “Soviet Firestorm” is one that was explored in the comics back in the day. Mikhail Arkadin first appeared in Firestorm #64 in 1987. I didn’t spot his name anywhere this week. Maybe next week?
– The episode title is “White Knights” but White Nights was a 1985 Cold War thriller that starred Russian ballet star Mikhail Baryshnikov. Considering how much this show loves the ’80s (even in episodes where they aren’t on a mission there), I refuse to believe that this is an accident.
– You ready for possibly the nerdiest thing I will type all week (and for me doing this job, you know that’s saying something). Listening to former Superman Brandon Routh speak Russian made me think of the opening scene of Superman IV: The Quest For Peace, where Christopher Reeve saves some Russian Cosmonauts and then addresses them in their language.
– Speaking of Brandon’s Superman connections, he gets made fun of for being a “boy scout.” That’s usually a “criticism” leveled at Superman himself by people who don’t know any better.
– Ray “always wanted to be a spy.” And he was! On Chuck!
Alright, Waveriders! What did I miss? Let me know in the comments or on Twitter. Also, I’m still taking suggestions for a better name for the nerdy bottom section of these reviews, so hit me up.