Warning: This is a recap and contains spoilers, so do not read this until you have watched the episode. For information on how to watch it, click here.
After the madcap fun of the George Lucas episode, Legends of Tomorrow sends a clear signal that it intends to continue mixing things up a bit from now on, with an enjoyably offbeat episode that’s primarily focused on this season’s trio of villains, The Legion of Doom. The result is yet another winner of an episode that delivers action, humour, emotion and a pleasing amount of comic book-based nerdery.
The episode begins with a touch of genius, whereby Damien Darhk does the opening pre-credits intro narration instead of one of the Legends. That immediately tips the audience off that this isn’t going to be an ordinary episode. It’s fair to say that the season-long plot isn’t significantly advanced this week, but the episode goes a long way towards answering some nagging questions, most notably the issue of what Thawne needs Merlyn and Darhk for, if he’s so gosh-darn powerful.
The episode opens in the past (or rather, the present), with Thawne and Darhk popping in on a despondent Malcolm in 2016, who’s passing the time by watching Damien Darhk get killed on TV by Green Arrow. Having lost everything, Malcolm is anxious to change his circumstances, while Darhk (who’s been plucked from the 1980s) is keen to avoid dying in the future. Presumably the Spear of Destiny can do all that, although nobody’s actually specifically stated that’s what they’ll be using it for just yet.
However, being super-villains with monstrous egos, neither Malcolm nor Damien can handle having to take orders from Thawne, and a captured Rip Hunter (sorry, a captured Phil Gasmer) cleverly manipulates them into fighting each other, when they’re supposed to be torturing him. The pair are so fired up they actually get into a knife fight (“League of Assassin rules”), before coming to their senses and realising that Thawne is banking on them fighting each other rather than questioning his authority.
With that in mind, Malcolm and Damien devise a plan to find out exactly why Reverse-Flash keeps zipping off, after giving them his instructions. After torturing Rip (sorry, Phil), they get hold of a tooth (ouch) with a code on it that leads them to a bank vault in 2025. Once there, they trap Thawne in the vault until he tells them what they want to know. (Why Thawne can’t just phase out of the vault is unclear, but let’s not go there just now.) We then discover that Thawne is being pursued by Black Flash, who’s sort of like a Speedster version of the Grim Reaper. Basically, when Eddie Thawne killed himself at the end of The Flash Season 1, Eobard Thawne ceased to exist, but because he’s a speedster, this alternate version of Thawne from the Flashpoint timeline (or something) has been able to stay one step ahead of Death / Black Flash’s clutches. Everyone got that?
Thawne is clearly terrified of Black Flash, which humanises him to some extent. At any rate, Malcolm and Damien agree to help him in return for some equality and respect within the trio and we then get a nicely tense sequence that owes a nod to Jurassic Park, because they figure out that Black Flash can only sense Eobard when he’s running, so he has to stay stock still while Black Flash prowls around. (Bonus points to the production team: Black Flash is pretty damn creepy.)
With their differences resolved, the Legion of Doom turn their attention back to Rip and decide to restore his memory… with a few modifications. Cut to the cliff-hanger for this week, which has a now-evil Rip (let’s call him Dark Rip) shooting George Washington in 1776. So, no prizes for guessing where we’re going next week.
Meanwhile, back on board the Waverider, most of the crew pretty much get the week off. The key plot involves the Legends trying to work out how to use the Medallion that they made off with last episode. Stein realises that he knows the perfect person for the job and picks up his daughter Lily, which confuses the hell out of most of the crew, because this is the first they’re hearing about old man Stein having a daughter. He gives them strict instructions not to tell Lily she’s a time aberration, but, of course, Mick ignores those instructions and tells her anyway. This leads to a touching heart-to-heart between Stein and Lily, during which we get some very funny lines, such as Martin trying to explain how Lily came about (“When two former selves love each other very much…”) or Lily telling him no more secrets from now on and Martin replying, “Well in that spirit, I suppose I should tell you that I am one half of a nuclear-powered superhero called Firestorm.”
Basically, it’s a great episode for Victor Garber. He has genuinely charming father-daughter chemistry with Christina Brucato, and sells the hell out of his comedy lines. There’s also a clever parallel between the Legends story and the Legion story, because Lily and Thawne are both time aberrations, although only one of them is being pursued through time by a decaying wraith monster.
There are a few notable moments with the rest of the Legends, other than Mick spilling the beans about Lily. The first is a nice little moment with Lily and Ray bonding over nerdy science stuff. There are sparks between them, which suggests a possible new love interest for Ray, although knowing this show (and the track record of Ray Palmer’s love life), they’ll probably kill her off (or make it so that she was never born) by the end of the season. The second is a moving conversation between Stein and Jax, where he reveals that the reason he didn’t want children (in his original timeline) was because he feared he’d become a cold, emotionless father, like his own dad. Jax has the perfect response – “Changing history is what we do” – not only because it pulls Stein out of his melancholia, but also because it subtly restates the show’s new mantra, after largely failing to protect the status quo, they’re now actively dedicated to changing it for the better. (Fair play to the writers: this was seeded, by Jax, back in the Civil War zombies episode.)
All in all, this is a hugely entertaining episode that benefits greatly from the shift in focus, with Barrowman and McDonough proving a terrific double act. The episode also delivers creepy comic book stuff with Black Flash and powerful emotion with Stein and Lily, making this one of the best chapters in the second season to date. Come back next time for, you guessed it, Dark Rip and the American Revolution!
Footnotes of Tomorrow
– There are plenty of great lines in Malcolm and Damien’s constant bickering, but I particularly like this playground-worthy exchange: “At least I still have both hands!” / “Yeah? Well, at least I’m still alive!”
– Another shout-out to Arthur Darvill, who’s turning out to be a much better actor than I’ve given him credit for. It’s a shame Phil Gasmer can’t stick around for a few more episodes.
– Also worth pointing out – the subtle changes to the title sequence, substituting the Legends’ logos with Legion equivalents.
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