This Legends of Tomorrow review contains spoilers.
Legends of Tomorrow Season 2 Episode 16
You know what the best thing about Legends of Tomorrow is right now? That the show has found its groove, and everyone working on it knows it.
Legends’ biggest strength is that it’s unashamed of how nerdy it is. It doesn’t just try and subvert nerd tropes or apologize for comic book melodrama: it cranks all of that to 12. And when you have buy in from an ensemble of talented actors and writers who know how to do those nerd tropes and melodrama well, what you get is probably the best comic book show on TV right now (yes, that includes Legion, though that’s like comparing apples to psychotic oranges). This episode is probably the nerdiest thing I’ve ever seen on TV, and it was glorious.
Last week, Mick betrayed the Legends, brought the Spear of Destiny to the Legion of Doom, and let Eobard Thawne rewrite reality. This week, we got to spend some time in that new reality: Thawne runs STAR Labs, Merlyn has his family and his hand back, Damien Darhk is the Mayor of Star City, and Snart and Rory are robbing banks in Central City. But Rory’s unhappy because everything is easy and unchallenging, and also because they’re Thawne’s lackeys. When Nate shows up at Thawne’s office, he’s clearly not the same, but he’s figuring out that there’s something wrong and he’s begging Thawne to help him fix it. Thawne tells Rory and Snart to kill him, and that’s where the episode takes off.
Rory refuses to kill him and smacks Snart around to free Nate, and then they head off to reunite the team. Amaya and Sarah are henchpeople for Darhk; Ray is a janitor at STAR Labs; and Jax is the a-hole project manager on Thawne’s secret construction project at the old particle accelerator, tormenting a nebbish Stein into speeding up his work. They go to Ray first, who has compulsively built a gun that fixes the brains of people whose minds have been altered by the change. After some great fights and a running bit where everyone punches Mick in the face after they get their memories back, almost the whole team is reunited, and they figure out that Thawne’s project is to build a fusion generator that burns hot enough to melt the Spear and lock in this reality forever.
That’s just a sketch of the plot, though. The way the writers and the actors fill in the meat of the story is where the show shines. Thawne spends most of the episode villain monloguing. He even gets called on it, but that doesn’t stop him from doing it. And Merlyn and Darhk get in on it too. Or take the old alternate reality trope of killing a hero to prove you’re serious: our introduction to Amaya and Sarah comes as they chase down a masked vigilante in Star City. They capture her, and we find out that she’s Felicity, and then they kill her in Darhk’s office immediately. And then Darhk puts her domino mask in a glass case next to the masks of the rest of the heroes he’s killed. This is classic comic book shit, and it’s perfect!
Speaking of classic comic book shit: Captain Cold kills Amaya. After maybe the most entertaining fight this show has ever put on, Amaya ends up with the spear and starts putting things back right again, but Snart freezes her, takes the spear and shatters her on the ground, rubbing it in Mick’s face. It’s another sign of how confident and skilled the storytelling is on this show that they could get away with not seeding her death anywhere in the episode and have it come off without feeling like a BS shock fridging.
The only quibble I have is that the whole “We don’t trust you, Mick” thing carries over from last episode. But I can move past that much easier this week because he kinda earned it when he double crossed the Legends and handed the Spear off to the Legion of Doom. And Amaya ends up getting the Spear back from him after the big fight – they sold her emotional process over the two episodes really well. Before…you know…the unpleasantness. Plus, everything else is so great about the show that I can live with it. Considering how much of my notes was written in shouty all-caps, I’m doing much better than living with it. I’m loving every second of it.
DC UNIVERSE TIME BUBBLES
– Don’t worry, she’ll get better. Normally I’d wait until the end of the reference roundup to talk about next week, but this episode is essentially a two-parter: after Thawne leaves everyone alive (AGAIN) they decide they’re going to find the Waverider and go back in time to World War I and stop everyone from handing off the Spear again, so the change never goes through. Rip spends the episode being a drunk Cake Boss on the ship until Gideon whips him into shape, and at the end of the episode we find out that the ship has been miniaturized and is kept on Thawne’s desk.
– Felicity breaks her ankle in the fight with Sarah and Amaya, and it is almost Joe Theismann-level grusome. They shot her in the head not 2 minutes later, and that was less disturbing.
– Thawne’s keeping Black Flash in one of the holding cells in the particle accelerator. Interesting that apparently the Speed Force is unaffected by the Spear of Destiny.
– Thawne is on the phone with “The President” when he first meets up with Mick and Snart, and he talks about golfing and tells him “Say hi to Mel for me.” So, to be clear, the Legion of Doom rewrote reality to make things easy for them, and they decided to make Donald Trump president of that dark timeline. I love this show so much.
– Ray is playing a Doom-style FPS where he shoots Dominators on their ship. I hope that someday I love my job as much as these writers do.
– Thawne’s monologuing this episode is the first time I really felt “oh that’s the smarmy fuck who put Toby Ziegler in jail.”
– Mick’s mouse is named Axel – is that for Trickster?
– I would like to point out that the climax of this episode is where the good guys get back together to fight one bad guy while the rest of the bad guys double cross him. Again: perfect show.
– Line of the night: Nate whacks Thawne with the spear while he’s fighting with Darhk, and then they almost high five. Runner up: Nate, trying to get Amaya to remember the regular reality: “You and I had sex and we both liked it very much.”
– Best running bit is everyone punching Mick in the face when they get their memories back. But Nate’s mom’s sandwiches is a close second.
– The particle accelerator in Central City is basically the Legion of Doom’s headquarters from the old Superfriends cartoon (and they used it for like 10 minutes in Justice League Unlimited).
– This ran super long, so I’ll save my theory for next season for next week’s episode, the finale.