Warning: This contains spoilers.
After spending the previous five episodes in the past, the Legends of Tomorrow head to the future in Episode 6, crash-landing, as the title indicates, in Star City, 2046. Fans of sister show Arrow will already be intimately familiar with Star City, and this episode very much assumes a working knowledge of that show. The result is largely entertaining (particularly if you’re fully up to speed on Oliver Queen and company), but not without its problems, most notably the way in which the show keeps changing its mind about time-travel rules.
Last week’s cliff-hanger saw the Legends crash-land in the ravaged-city, where they were immediately confronted with a black Green Arrow. It transpires that Grant Wilson (son of Slade Wilson, from Arrow Season 2) took up his father’s mantle and successfully invaded the city with an army of wrong’uns. A horrified Sara refuses to stand by and watch her home city get smashed up by crims, so she decides to search for Oliver Queen (still alive, but missing), aided by the new Green Arrow.
Meanwhile, in this week’s subplots, Rip heads to Smoak Industries (formerly PalmerTech, cue a sad face from Ray) to search for technology to repair the Waverider (again), Snart and Rory have a falling-out, and Jax and Ray form an awkward love triangle with Kendra, with Stein attempting to play Cupid.
But first, the main plot. Sara and black Green Arrow find Old Man Oliver moping in what remains of the Arrow Cave (an underground bunker under his Mayoral campaign headquarters), so presumably no one was looking for him all that hard. Old Man Oliver has a long-ish beard and one arm (as well as – yes! – a robotic arm) that basically makes him look exactly like he does in Frank Miller’s classic Batman story, The Dark Knight Returns (also, incidentally, the origin for the images of an armoured, Kryptonite-enhanced Batman thumping Superman, but that’s not important right now). It turns out that all the other members of Team Arrow are dead, but Sara re-awakens some of the old fight in Oliver and when black Green Arrow gets kidnapped by Grant Wilson, they head off to save him, kicking ass just like in the old days.
Speaking of black Green Arrow, in a nod to the Green Arrow comics, he turns out to be Connor Hawke, who, in the comics, is Oliver Queen’s son. However, this Connor Hawke is actually the son of (Arrow regular) John Diggle, who decided, after failing to save both his father and the city he loved, that he wasn’t worthy of the name, so he chose the name Connor Hawke instead. This is one of those bits of fan-service that would barely work in Arrow, let alone in Legends of Tomorrow. It’s nice that they did it and I’m personally all for race-swapping comics characters, but it doesn’t really mean anything.
In fact, it turns out that the entire episode doesn’t either, because Rip informs everyone that this is just one possible future and that meddling with the future can be just as dangerous as meddling with the past. This is something to do with time solidifying around key events, but like Rip’s explanation of that idea a couple of weeks ago, it feels very much like the writers still haven’t quite figured out a clear set of rules for their time-travelling shenanigans and might even be making things up as they go along. A better idea would be to have Rip making up these rules to ensure everyone does what he says, but the show hasn’t established that, even if it has occasionally cast Rip as slightly unreliable when it comes to the truth.
This is doubly frustrating because, once again, the Legends completely ignore Rip and his time-rules and go charging off, getting involved in future events and so on, yet there are no discernible consequences. And again, it’s difficult to get too involved in the episode, given that the entire time-line may never come to pass. Still, it gives Sara a nice hero moment, where she points out that if they are truly going to be Legends then they need to fight evil wherever it occurs, whatever the cost.
What’s more interesting is the strongly hinted idea that this version of the future came about in the first place because Ray and Sara weren’t there to help Oliver fight Grant Wilson. Rip assures Sara that this version of Star City won’t become a reality as long as he returns Sara and Ray to Star City at the exact moment that they left it, but that seems a bit odd, given that he told them in the pilot episode that their lives had no impact whatsoever on the timeline. Make your mind up, Rip!
As for the new Deathstroke, he’s a bit underwhelming, really, especially compared to his predecessor. (Season 2 of Arrow is widely regarded to be the show’s best season, largely because Manu Bennett’s Slade is such a great villain.) They may also have miscast him a bit, because Jamie Andrew Cutler doesn’t have Bennett’s air of authority or menace and doesn’t even look old enough to have led an army into Star City over a decade ago. Not only that, but he barely even gets to display any fighting skills. Still, the main thing is that he’s a good excuse for another of the show’s punch-the-air moments, when the entire team unite to help Sara and Oliver rescue black Green Arrow, despite Rip’s warnings not to get involved.
Meanwhile, in the show’s main sub-plot, Mick takes one look at the chaos of Star City 2046 and decides it’s all he’s ever wanted – Leonard: “It’s like World War III out there…”, Mick: “It’s beautiful!” – so he sets about taking out the leader of a gang of thugs in order to take his place and reap the spoils. Within moments, he’s striding around wearing a fur coat, carrying a chalice (Mick just likes chalices, okay?) and giving his new henchmen nicknames like Fonzie and Kenickie. He’s basically the happiest we’ve seen him all season. So, naturally, Leonard knocks him out and brings him back to the Waverider against his will, something that’s certain to come back and bite him at a later date.
Leonard’s gradual movement towards embracing his destiny as a hero is one of the show’s most compelling elements, but the split between former partners-in-crime Leonard (who wants to continue their mission and defeat Savage) and Mick (who just wants to “watch things burn”, as Leonard says) adds a great new wrinkle to that idea. It also gives Dominic Purcell a chance to cut loose in a way that we haven’t seen before and it’s joyous to behold – he was certainly never allowed to have this much fun on Prison Break. In fact, the way that the show has developed Leonard and Mick so far is extremely impressive, transforming them from the snarky villains they were on The Flash into the show’s most interesting characters, with Leonard, in particular, proving to have real emotional depth. At any rate, there’s a genuinely fascinating tension between them now and that’s sure to get exploited further in future episodes.
Meanwhile, Ray, Jax, Kendra and Stein are all ordered to stay behind on the Waverider, where Jax inexplicably develops an out-of-nowhere crush on Kendra, despite the fact that the supposed love of her life died just a few episodes ago. Jax worries that she might prefer Ray instead, so Stein offers to play wing-man and sound Ray out on the issue… thereby inadvertently suggesting to Ray that Kendra might like him, whereupon he starts thinking about her romantically for the first time. Happily, Kendra shuts the whole thing down, reminding everyone that she’s dealing with quite a lot right now and isn’t ready for a relationship, thank you very much.
Despite the rather inappropriate timing, the whole business does, at least, allow for some nice comedy moments, as Stein realises how badly he’s messing up the whole wing-man thing. (I also like the idea that this is kind of like a classic time-travel problem in micro-cosm, e.g. inadvertently suggesting something to someone in the past that then goes on to be a big thing in the future.)
All in all, this is an entertaining episode that lacks consequence in the main plot but introduces a potentially rewarding development in the relationship between Snart and Rory. Tune in next week for… wait for it… Space Pirates!
– No Vandal Savage this week and did anyone actually miss him? No. More Savage-less episodes please, scriptwriters.
– Continuing Arrow’s tendency to name-drop the names of comic characters or creative talent, someone mentions “a warehouse on Adams and O’Neill” tonight, a reference to Denny O’Neill and Neal Adams, the writer and artist behind several classic Green Arrow stories.
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Photo: © 2016 DC Comics. © 2016 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. All rights reserved.