This Legends of Tomorrow review contains spoilers.
Legends of Tomorrow Season 2 Episode 10
Usually it takes me until the last third of an episode to start writing it up, but “The Legion of Doom” started so well that I couldn’t hold back. From the opening to the first commercial, I must have written at least eight lines in all caps:
DARHK DOES THE INTRO! THAT’S NEW! And THE LEGION IS BICKERING AND INFIGHTING! THIS IS PERFECT! Or OH SHIT, THAT’S HOW THEY’RE GONNA DEAL WITH LILY!
This episode was pure fanservice from the very beginning, and I loved every second of it.
Much like how the best parts of last season were Len and Mick Taste The Scenery, this episode’s A story follows Damien Darhk and Malcolm Merlyn as they shit talk each other, try and figure out Thawne’s deal, vamp, shit talk each other some more, and generally be Bad Guys (capitalized because here they are the Platonic form of comic book villainy). John Barrowman and Neal McDonough are delightful, as they have been for their entire time on this show. The writers are really taking to heart the tone differences from show to show that I talked about last week – on Arrow, Merlyn and Darhk are the same characters, but a little grimmer, a little less gleeful. On Legends, they’re having as much fun making the show as I am watching it.
That’s a LOT of fun, btw.
The episode was only helped by the fact that it was, plot-wise, maybe the most important episode of the season. The macguffin chase that will close out this season was set up last episode, with the Spear of Destiny and the hunt for Rip looking like they were going to dominate the Legends’ goals for the last handful of episodes, but the why of everything was left unanswered until tonight. Darhk is dead at the hands of Oliver Queen; Malcolm has lost everything at the hands of Oliver; and Thawne…it never ceases to amaze me how a show that can bounce around time, one that follows a series that has fights that span multiple parallel dimensions, can get MORE comic book-y, but I will be damned if Legends didn’t do it here. The Thawne plot development couldn’t have felt more like watching a living comic if they’d put a box at the bottom of the screen that said “See Flash Season 2 Episode 11 for more details – Ed.” as he was explaining it.
Thawne doesn’t exist anymore. Or at least he shouldn’t – the show slides in footage of Eddie shooting himself to stop Eobard from ever existing, from the last episode of season 1 of The Flash. We find out that Thawne is the one who ran off at the end of that season 2 episode, the aberration imprisoned by Barry who existed in a hypertime branch off of the main timestream. He is running from Black Flash, who he says is going to kill him, and like Merlyn and Darhk, he wants to use the Spear to change his fate.
The Legends are in the same figuring-stuff-out mode, and to help them make sense of the amulet, they meet up with Lily Stein back in 2017, and the B plot plows through every point you knew they’d have to hit with her. But by paralleling her story – she’s also an aberration who will cease to exist if they fix the timeline – with Thawne, Merlyn, and Darhk’s, they lampshade a potential (even likely) outcome for her story, too: the Legends rewrite time with the Spear so that Lily always existed.
Despite the Lily story being somewhat predictable, it’s still pretty engaging because of the quality of the acting. Christina Brucato and Victor Garber do a great job selling the emotions of their arc – Lily helps them run the amulet through Gideon, but in the process finds out that she’s an aberration, but Martin and Lily have a moment and it all gets better. Brucato does nerdy very well, well enough to be a believable peer to her TV father. Garber gets to show more range and tenderness than he usually would in working with his daughter. And Franz Drameh, Jax, gets to remind the audience that while he isn’t often the focal character of any of these stories, he’s usually one of the most important ones. His backstory is less developed, but Jax is the heart (and often the emotional spine) of this team.
This was easily the best episode of the season, and maybe of the entire series, and it’s the fourth really strong episode in a row. It’s like we’re over the first climb on the roller coaster: all the setup is done, and now we just have to speed along for the rest of the season. I’m excited.
DC UNIVERSE TIME BUBBLES
– The intro was new and kind of unprecedented, so it’s worth going through all the notable points at once. Darhk narrates and explains that he was killed by Green Arrow in 2016 – that happened at the end of last season in Arrow.
– We then see him sitting in a Time Bubble with Thawne running really fast around him – that hasn’t happened on the show, but Darhk’s narration says it was 31 years ago, so 1986.
That’s kind of a turning point year for the comics industry as a whole. That’s the year Crisis on Infinite Earths ended, merging the entire DC multiverse into one Earth with one shared history that remained a continuity clusterfuck for 30 years. It’s also the year we got Watchmen, The Dark Knight Returns, Maus, and Daredevil: Born Again.
– Have we been over Time Bubbles? The Time Sphere is how Rip travels through time in the comics. It’s looped into all sorts of different DC mythologies, from the Legion of Super Heroes to Booster Gold to various incarnations of Superman on TV. It even saved Batman from THE DEATH THAT IS LIFE! in Grant Morrison’s run. I’m kidding, Batman was saved from that by Friendship.
– Later in the episode, Merlyn tells Darhk “The League didn’t call me The Magician for nothing.” I think that’s the first time his supervillain name from the comics was uttered on TV, right? He’s typically Green Arrow’s arch-nemesis in the comics, and he was Merlyn the Magician until early in the modern era, when it was mostly shortened to just Merlyn.
– Darhk makes fun of British smiles just like The Simpsons.
– MISSED OPPORTUNITY: It turns out Rip stored his memories in a safety deposit box in a Swiss bank in 2025. I would have put a $10 bill in the mail to the writers’ room if they had snuck a Per Degaton reference in there.
– Rip’s Swiss safety deposit box is number 4587. There’s something there, but I can’t figure out what it is. Help me out in the comments!
– The champagne is a 1998 Guggenheim, named presumably for Marc Guggenheim, writer and producer extraordinaire within the Berlantiverse, and writer of the upcoming X-Men: Gold series at Marvel.
– Stein’s explanation of the time-displaced birds and bees (“When two former selves love each other very much”) made me laugh at this show harder than I ever have before.
– They totally borrowed stuntmen from Arrow for the sword fight scene. Because it was really good.
– It’s Grant Morrison night on the CW – after The Flash gives us a tour of the Multiverse based on Morrison’s numbering of the dimensions in Multiversity, we get to meet Black Flash in Legends of Tomorrow. Black Flash is like the Speed Force’s Grim Reaper. He takes any dying speedster back into the Speed Force. It was introduced in Morrison, Millar, and Ron Wagner’s Flash #138 in 1998. He’s also part of the Black Racer, the avatar of death for the New Gods, but we’ll get into that when the Berlantiverse gets to the Fourth World. So probably next season.
– Next week, Legends makes me chortle and shout “oh fuck off” as a brainwashed Rip Hunter kills George Washington at Valley Forge!