This Legends of Tomorrow review contains spoilers.
Legends of Tomorrow: Season 2, Episode 17
The end of this season of Legends functions as a summing up of everything great about this show. And part of what’s so entertaining about it is that I’m going to need at LEAST a flowchart, and maybe flash cards, to explain what the hell happened here.
Seriously. A plot summary of the episode would read more like a physics equation. There are at least two of half the crew for half the episode, and the emotional core of the episode hinges on conversations between duplicate copies of the heroes. Rip, being used as a desk decoration by Thawne in Doomworld STAR Labs fixes the ship, escapes and gets back to the remaining crew.
They then go BACK into STAR Labs to get Ray’s Atom suit so he can make the Waverider big again, which they do, and then escape back to 1917 so they can help their past selves destroy the Spear. Through a series of mishaps, they end up on the ship with their counterparts, tearing apart the fabric of space-time, but eventually convincing their predecessors to escape with the Spear to keep it out of the hands of the Legion of Doom.
Here’s where it gets weird. Thawne from the future (we’ll call him Doomworld Thawne) comes back to tell the Legion that they have to stop the team from the future (we’ll call them Doomworld Legends). They pull a “who’s on first” bit but with time travel for a minute, while the emotional crux of the episode is when Doomworld Sarah and Doomworld Nate have deep conversations with their past selves.
The Doomworld Legends agree to basically sacrifice themselves so the Past Legends have a chance at escaping, but before they can get away, Thawne shows up with an army of future Thawnes to stop them. Sarah ends up using the Spear to win the fight – she has a vision of Laurel where they talk about how strong Sarah is, and then rearranges reality so the Spear doesn’t work, and Thawne gets killed by a super-pissed Black Flash.
Legends has succeeded in large part by leaning into literally everything about it, from the high concept to the character quirks to the fundamental comic book essence. The first half of this season was thoroughly mediocre because it felt a little rote and aimless, but the character interactions were always strong and the dialogue and wit were always sharp.
When they stopped dicking around with fancy period costumes and started focusing on building a strong overarching story, they leaned as heavily into the comic bookiness of the concept as they did into the character interplay and the show started to sing. They managed to integrate the complex, absurd plots into the characterization they were already doing well, and the amplification effect between the two made it the best comic book show on TV (and I finished Legion last night so I can now say that with confidence).
This episode is a perfect example of the cast and crew’s skill: with about 10 minutes to go, my brain started ticking off all the stuff that was still dangling. Almost as fast as I thought of them, the show dealt with them.
“You know, they never really did anything with the Black Flash Thawne had trapped in Doomworld,” and then Black Flash showed up to torch Thawne. “Which Sarah is that talking?” and then she fades to nothing. “They made Mick do a lot in the episode, but they haven’t really finished his arc from the last two episodes yet.” Almost immediately after that, we got maybe the best scene in the episode, where Mick drops Snart back where the Legion picked him up, and Mick shows genuine heartwarming character development. He tells Snart “You know what your punishment is, Leonard? You end up being a better man. And so do I.” That was economical and effective as hell coming from Dominic Purcell’s growl.
In the end, Rip leaves the ship before their big Season 3 preview-slash-catastrophe, and that’s maybe the boldest choice the writers made all year. Rip doesn’t have a place with Sarah running the show, and rather than keep him there, redundant but for nostalgia purposes, they have him take off for good. That’s strong, confident plotting, and everything I’ve come to expect from such a great show.
DC UNIVERSE TIME BUBBLES
- What kind of dipshit moves ONLY the season finale of a show to a different time slot? Thank God for my…uh…DVR. Yeah, I DVRed it. Seriously, though, I can’t have been the only one who sat down at 8:55 and screamed at the TV as I turned it on for the last 5 minutes.
- Let’s talk fan service: if there was any chance that the writers had to insert something fanboyish into the show, not only did they take it, but they rolled around in it for a little while. If the fans started calling something by a name, the writers would co-opt it and put it in the show. If there was a nerdy reference that they could include, not only would they include it, but they’d have someone on the show lampshade it. They were calling their dark future Doomworld, for Highfather’s sake. They named their dark future after the Legion of Doom, the name they gave their arch nemesisesesses. That’s RIDICULOUS.
- Not for nothing, but if Doomworld Sarah disappeared after Thawne got shaken to death by Black Flash, wouldn’t Doomworld Waverider have disappeared too? Fuck you, time travel.
- This episode was a bloodbath. Doomworld Ray got his heart ripped out by Thawne (props to Doomworld Nate for not shouting KALI MA). Doomworld Nate got stabbed in the chest by Darhk. Doomworld Jax got an arrow in his chest from Merlyn. And Doomworld Mick got an icicle through his chest by Snart. Brutal.
- ”What’s a Goonie?” Goonies never say die, that’s what a Goonie is AMAYA.
- Seriously if you need me to explain the Goonies reference how did you find your way to this website.
- They drop the Legion back where they came from – Merlyn in his shitty apartment, Snart in 2014, Darhk in 1987 Miami.
- As the team is headed to Aruba (hence the name), they get caught in another timestorm and ejected into 2017 Los Angeles, where they fly through a big building and crash in a pit of dinosaurs in front of Big Ben and some futuristic buildings and maybe Wayne Tower? The Legends say they “broke time,” but since the scene looks a TON like Chronos’ home in the future in “The Once and Future Thing” episodes of Justice League, I’m not buying it. RAMPANT, IRRESPONSIBLE, AND LIKELY WRONG SPECULATION TIME.
- Mike is convinced that next season of The Flash will be “The Trial of Barry Allen.” I think he’s right, for two reasons: it makes sense with where the show is headed now, and it makes sense for what comes next for Barry. Crisis on Infinite Earths.
- Supergirl currently exists on an alternate earth, alongside a horde of Legion of Superheroes alien races, including a soon-to-be repopulated planet of Daxamites. This is an ultimately untenable position, because you have to set up every crossover or reference by explaining the alternate Earths situation. And Supergirl was maybe the second most important character in Crisis behind Barry. It’s only a matter of time before the writers decide to merge the shows like that. AND I’m convinced we’ve already seen a Monitor on the show: Music Meister, who said he wasn’t an alien, but something they’d never seen before.
- Legends can’t keep doing period episodes. There are only so many of them they can go to, and the time travel logic holes are all solved by parallel Earths. So here’s what I think happens next season:
- Barry goes through his trial for the front two-thirds of the season, and then we start getting a lead-in to Crisis.
- Supergirl needs a thematic link, and they have all these Daxamites laying around, so I think they do the Legion and The Great Darkness Saga, introducing extradimensional beings who exist outside the known structure of the Multiverse (that is, by the way, the canon explanation for the New Gods and the Apokaliptians in the current DC cosmology: that they’re facets of the Ur New God reflecting into that Earth. That’s why Darkseid can invade Earth-2 and know about the invasion on Earth-1).
- The Legends set about to put time back together and find themselves dealing with some smashed up realities because of what they think is their timestorm, but ends up being the collapse of the larger multiverse.
- Arrow might as well be a Batman show, so they might as well do a Batman/Crisis story. Ollie has his kid around and brings him in on the crimefighting fam, a la Grant Morrison’s Batman & Son. That led directly into Final Crisis, btw.
- And I think we end next season of all these shows on a big mega crossover. Don’t forget that Black Lightning played a pretty big role in Final Crisis too, and his show could easily be incorporated into this plan.
- I’m likely wrong about most of this, but considering how often the writers room for Legends seemed to think of the nerdiest story beat they could, then find a way to make it nerdier and then put it on air, I don’t think I’m completely off base here.
Check back next season (later this year! Yay!) and we can talk about how wrong I was!