This Legends of Tomorrow review contains spoilers.
Legends of Tomorrow Season 2 Episode 14
I wasn’t really sure what I was going to write about this episode until the end. For about 55 minutes, this was another very good episode of Legends of Tomorrow, but after gushing about the show for the past couple of weeks, I didn’t know how much more I had to say about it.
Then Commander Steel sacrificed himself with Nate right there, and I ended up tearing up at a goofy TV show where Victor Garber was humiliating himself on TV not 20 minutes ago. I continue to be impressed at how good this show is. It doesn’t have the flash or style of Legion, but it’s well acted, smartly written, and extremely effective at telling emotional stories packed with all of the trappings you could hope for from such an incredibly nerdy show.
We picked up in 1970 after discovering last week that the last fragment of the Spear of Destiny was left with Commander Steel, Nate’s grandfather. Nick Zano’s affable doof/bro gets to do more than make out with Vixen and nerd out with Atom: this episode is turned over almost entirely to him, and he does a great job with it. Steel gets a ton of development – backstory sneaks out when we hear about his relationship with his father and how this mission might have caused it, and movement on his relationship with Amaya.
Everything about this story is great, starting with planting Matthew MacCaull in Apollo-era NASA. His outfit and his demeanor are note perfect – he is channeling The Right Stuff Ed Harris so hard I’m stunned they didn’t reference that movie at all. He is a classic, square-jawed, all-American test pilot and…oh man, now I’m upset they didn’t make him Hal Jordan.
Seriously, he sets himself up as a classic American archetype and despite what we find out about Nate’s difficult family life, it’s really impressive that neither Nate or Henry went overboard to compensate for that. They were both fairly understated in their interactions (especially for this show), but sold the relationship well enough that the end of the episode was heartbreaking.
The B plot is really light, but plays to the strengths of the show: the really easy chemistry between Sarah and Rip (and the entire cast, really). Rip is uncomfortable on his return to the Legends because Sarah is the leader of the team now, leaving him without a clear role. This takes up all of maybe four total minutes in the entire episode: one argument early, a flash towards the climax, and a quick chat at the end. But like a good comic book, they manage to convey a ton of information quickly without a lot of words, and when they tap their glasses together at the end of the episode it’s a satisfying conclusion to a mini-arc.
DC UNIVERSE TIME BUBBLES
– The rule with the old Teen Titans cartoon was when the theme song was in Japanese, the episode was going to be comedy. I think that’s the same thing on Legends: when Mick does the introduction, something amazing is going to happen.
– That amazing thing would be the Victor Garber (with backing vocals from Dominick Purcell) singing “Day-O” to distract mission control from the fact that they were about to be unable to contact Apollo 13. Normally replaying that clip over the end credits would have felt a little self-indulgent, but…this was incredible. You really need to see it.
– I feel like I’ve been making Evangelion jokes about the Spear of Destiny since the first time it showed up on this show, and now I’m sure one of the writers has been biding their time with me waiting to drop an Eva reference in here. They finally did! The Evangelion Spear ends up on the moon after a battle with an orbiting Angel, and gets called back by Shinji in the last couple of episodes.
– Rocket man! Jax uses lyrics to William Shatner (and Elton John)’s classic song to introduce himself.
– I think we should just have one entry for all the ways space is terrible in this episode, right? So Ray somehow flies into the lander despite you know, space. I’m pretty sure you can’t squeeze an action figure into a sealed space module. Then Thawne can’t use his super speed in zero gravity, which…nope. Then they HAVE gravity on the moon, but Thawne still can’t use his super speed. Or maybe only ⅙ of it.
Also, at some point Ray leaves the lander to go get the Spear chunk from Neal Armstrong’s flag, but I’m pretty sure they didn’t have an airlock on the lander, so wouldn’t that have spaced Thawne? And then nobody is going to say anything about one astronaut going missing in space?
(deep breath) Let it go, Jim.
– Ray lifts the entire bit sandwiching the midpoint break from The Martian, Matt Damon’s movie about getting stranded on Mars that was an absolute delight. Otherwise this is mostly Ron Howard and Tom Hanks’ Apollo 13.
– Stein: “I won 6 Carlin awards.” Mike Carlin is a former executive editor of DC, and he ran the Superman books for a long while.
– Next week: OH MAN IS SNART REALLY BACK?