This DC’s Legends of Tomorrow review contains spoilers.
Legends of Tomorrow Season 7 Episode 10
I feel like I saw set photos of Matt Letscher showing up in “The Fixed Point” before I saw the episode, but because both my brain is mush from the last two years of low-grade background stress AND because DC’s Legends of Tomorrow has a long tradition of having the same actors play different characters, it never really registered for me what might be going down. So when Eobard Thawne turned up in the crowd, trying to make sure the Archduke Franz Ferdinand’s assassination went down as planned, it was probably the biggest “holy shit” moment I’ve had with this show.
The Return of Eobard Thawne Explained
Thawne is, of course, a big deal. In fact, the Reverse-Flash is one of biggest deal villains the CW shows have put on screen. If you were making a list of the top tier villains in the entire DCU, he’s arguably fourth or fifth – Joker, Luthor, Darkseid, and maybe Ares are ahead of him, but Ares is a very edge case. On television, you might remember Thawne from his recurring villainy on The Flash. Or his brief stint as a member of the Legion of Doom on Legends, where he shifted from menacing to menacing and also kind of funny, terrorizing the Waverider as the show developed into the stoner workplace comedy we love today.
So while Thawne is a big deal addition to the show, and a link to its past and the broader DC television universe, could he also be a bridge to its future?
The Legends’ plan to get the Waverider back involves saving the Archduke Franz Ferdinand, thus drawing the ire of Dark Gideon and her robot duplicates, enabling them to steal the ship out from under the bad guys. However, the gang discovers that points in time like this one, the start of World War I and its tsunami of horrific brutality, are both quite popular as time travel tourist destinations, and also cannot be changed. Time protects itself. Or at least that’s the thought, which throws Gideon into a minor existential crisis.
It turns out, though, time doesn’t actually protect itself. Someone does the protecting. Specifically, in this case, former Flash villain Eobard Thawne, who after a quick time-stopped fight with Sara, loops her in on his recent history over a beer. We find out that instead of dying at the hands of Black Flash, Thawne was grabbed by the Time Wraiths, “re-educated,” and parked at this particular moment, sworn to protect it.
This fits with this show’s history of rehabilitating long-term villains. Hell, even Vandal Savage, in the deepest pits of hell, turned into a board game nerd and Ray Palmer’s best friend by the time they were done with him. It shouldn’t be surprising that time terror Professor Zoom came around eventually.
What is surprising is how it was done: forcibly. Or at least it sounds that way. “Re-education” isn’t something that sounds particularly fun (or compatible with free will if we’re nitpicking). Zoom’s return asks a whole BUNCH of questions, some of which are fundamental to the premise of the show. If the Time Wraiths are protecting the timeline, then what the hell have the Legends been doing all along? Why are they only just finding out about these ghostly, atemporal fascists? We know the show only cares about time travel rules when it furthers the story (as they should! No criticism), so did the Time Wraiths take on stewardship of fixed points because of something Gideon (or Dark Gideon) did?
The good thing about these questions is they all feel like ones we’re supposed to ask. I think the crew of DC’s Legends of Tomorrow has done enough good work where we can trust they know what they’re doing and get ready to enjoy the ride. Every season of this show has a couple of plot-mover episodes, and this one was one of the most entertaining it’s ever done.
There was a good bit of character development going on during this fixed point, too. The biggest deal is Spooner coming out as asexual, soemthing I’m certain has never happened on a superhero show before, and I think she might be the highest profile ace person on all of TV. I’m not thrilled with how it was handled – it felt a *tiny* bit after school special-ey, as Zari’s explanation of what Spoons was feeling felt like she was reading a Wikipedia entry. That said, I suspect ace folks are much less understood than even trans people, so it’s not a huge problem that the show’s description of what ace is was a touch on the nose. And Spooner came out in the context of a great bit of character interaction between her and Zari, so I’m very forgiving.
I’m also fascinated by Gwyn’s religious self-loathing. Ava and Gwyn are hanging out in the House of Mystery, trying to figure out how they can save Gwyn’s love without completely breaking time, causing Gwyn to never invent a time machine and destroying the universe in a cascading paradox. Gwyn sees himself as an unholy abomination, so his plan is to just save Alon and never see him again, as it’s a just punishment for someone like him.
Matt Ryan does a truly masterful bit of acting here, as you see his conflict in his whole body. I loved him as John Constantine, but what a blessing it is to get to see him almost playing against his old character and doing it so well in this new season. I feel like this bit of characterization was dismissed a little too tidily, but I’m not sure if we’re completely done with it.
In a lot of ways, this week was the inverse of the prior episode. Where “Lowest Common Demoninator” screwed around for 45 minutes, then jammed so much character into the last 15 and ended up being a nearly perfect episode, “The Fixed Point” spent most of its run time on great character work and plot propulsion, and took five minutes off to mess around and put Sara into a Wile E. Coyote cartoon.
The break in the middle was hilarious and answered a big question I had while watching – “If you’re trying to break time, why go to World War I instead of trying to kill baby Hitler?” Can you imagine how tasteless this Sara montage would have been if it was about her trying to murder a baby? Awesome, sure, but also very tasteless.