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.
There are just three episodes left in this season of Legends of Tomorrow and there’s a definite sense of the action ramping up in this space-based adventure. For one thing, the plot involves the Legends getting their hands on the final fragment of the Spear of Destiny and next week’s episode is called The Fellowship of the Spear, so it’s safe to say things are nearing the endgame.
Moonshot begins with the team trying to track down Nate’s grandfather, Henry Heywood, aka. the Justice Society’s Commander Steel. We see a flashback to Rip leaving Henry in the 1960s and then there’s a cleverly edited moment where the Legends arrive just after Rip and Henry part ways (it’s a busy longshot of a crowd scene and they’re briefly all in shot at the same time), but Henry has disappeared, since apparently he’s a master of disguise or something. (Is that his superpower? Because it seems like no one even mentions whatever his superpower is supposed to be otherwise.)
The Legends head back to the ship to try and figure out where Henry would have gone and they find an image of him at NASA in 1970. Ray figures out that’s the exact date of the Apollo 13 mission and, in a nice twist to the way things usually go on this show, it turns out that the time aberration this week is that the Apollo 13 mission actually goes off as planned, rather than ending in narrowly-averted disaster.
So, after meeting Henry at NASA, the team learn that he planted the Spear fragment in the safest place he could imagine: inside the flag that Neil Armstrong planted on the Moon. Stein, Jax and Mick stay behind at Mission Control, posing as British scientists (allowing Franz Drameh to use his native accent for once), while the rest of the team head into space, with Henry along for the ride.
Once they’re in space, there are essentially three main elements to the plot. In the first, Ray shrinks down to tiny size and flies into space, infiltrating the Apollo 13 spacecraft. Inside, Eobard has taken the place of one of the crew members, so he drugs the other two (Lovell and Haise – if it helps, Eobard has drugged Tom Hanks and Bill Paxton and was posing as Kevin Bacon) and heads to the Moon in the lunar module. Ray manages to get aboard the ship and they fight in zero gravity (where apparently super-speed doesn’t work, for some reason) and Ray wins. He makes it to the Moon and retrieves the flag (cue yet another moment of nerdy wish-fulfilment for Ray, who really has been living his best life since joining the Legends), but the module has been damaged in the process, so he’s stranded on the Moon with Eobard.
Aboard the Waverider, there’s some unspoken tension, because Rip keeps behaving like the Captain (Gideon still calls him Captain, just to pour salt on the wound) instead of Sara. Rip receives some food for thought when Henry congratulates him on the great job he’s done with the team since he met them in 1941 – when they were all bickering with each other and couldn’t follow orders – and Rip graciously admits that’s not down to him. Anyway, Sara makes the decision to use the Waverider to shield the ship (with an unconscious Lovell and Haise still aboard) from a meteor shower, which damages the Waverider, meaning they are unable to help Ray.
Back aboard the lunar module, Ray goes all Matt Damon from The Martian (a deliberate and acknowledged reference), but Eobard persuades him that they’ll have to work together to survive. Ray has the idea of channelling his suit’s dwarf star energy into fuelling the module and Eobard helps him, as it’s a two-man job.
The enforced relationship between Eobard and Ray is one of the strongest elements of the episode and we get a lot of insight into Eobard as a result. One particularly nice moment comes when he admits that he misses the camaraderie of working alongside Cisco and Caitlin at StarLabs, when he was posing as Harrison Wells. He insists that he’s met a lot of history’s monsters and that he’s not one of them, but Ray points out that he murdered both Wells and Rex Tyler in cold blood. Ray also figures out that Eobard is a time remnant and that he should have died when Eddie Thawne sacrificed himself at the end of The Flash Season 1.
The third of this week’s main plot elements involves Nate, Henry and Amaya. Nate recalls how his father, Hank, was cold and distant and unhappy without his own father (Henry) around as a child, and he realises that this Spear-related mission is the reason for that. He plans to have Rip take Henry back to 1956 when it’s all over, but Amaya points out that if he does that, he could fundamentally alter the man Nate himself becomes a result, and that there’s a strong chance he wouldn’t become the historian who found the Waverider. When she points this out to Henry, he reluctantly agrees, which leaves Nate feeling both sad and annoyed with Amaya, so much so that he tells her they can’t be together, because of her own destiny and that she should ask Ray about what happens to her. That’s a pretty mean thing to do, considering most of Amaya’s former friends are either scattered in time or dead, and she was seriously considering a new life with Nate and the Legends.
For the moment, though, there are more important things to worry about. Ray and Eobard successfully dock the lunar module with the Waverider and the Apollo 13 crew are revived and head back safely. Although… they don’t seem to question that one of their crew members is missing, for some reason. Come to think of it, the show never establishes what happened to Swigert (the other astronaut) and whether or not Eobard killed him or just locked him in a broom cupboard somewhere.
Once aboard the Waverider, there’s another problem, in that the ship is on reserve power after being hit by the meteoroid shower and needs to channel everything into the heat shield if they’re going to survive re-entry into Earth’s atmosphere. There’s some stuff about needing the correct angle of re-entry and trusting Eobard to give them the right calculation – Ray says he trusts Eobard and Sara says she trusts Ray, so they use his figures for the angle. However, at a certain point, the ship needs to be re-pressurised for them to survive, meaning that someone will have to sacrifice themselves by manually opening an airlock door (because the power is reduced everywhere else). While the Legends are trying to decide amongst themselves, Commander Steel sacrifices himself and Nate arrives at the airlock just in time to say a tearful goodbye. It’s a powerful moment, made stronger by a fine overall performance from Matthew MacCaull.
Back at Mission Control, it turns out that Henry had fixed it for his teen son, Hank (Nate’s future father), to win an essay writing competition and visit NASA so they could meet. Nate finds the teenaged Hank and has a heart-to-heart with him, which doesn’t necessarily change anything, but it makes Nate feel better. After that, he apologises to Amaya (quite right too), but the damage is done, because the cliffhanger for the episode has her demanding that Gideon show her what happens to her and her village in the future. The expression on her face suggests this will be Important For Later.
That’s pretty much it for the episode, other than Sara and Rip addressing the whole question of who should be Captain now that Rip is back to his old self. Rip agrees that Sara’s a better Captain than he ever was (and he’s right), but worries about his place on the team now. Sara reminds him that as a misfit and an outcast, he’s as much a Legend as the rest of them.
All in all, is was an excellent episode in what has been an impressively strong second season, delivering satisfying amounts of humour (Ray’s space nerdery), action (all the space stuff) and emotion (Nate, Henry and Amaya), while playing with history and audience expectations in interesting ways. Tune in next week when the Legends head to WWI to track down a soldier named J.R.R. Tolkein.
Footnotes of Tomorrow
– Oh, right, the bit with Martin bursting into song. That happens because they need a distraction at Mission Control during the lunar module separation, so Martin sings The Banana Boat Song (Day O), with Mick reluctantly joining in. It’s weird, but it’s also pretty great. The showrunners obviously think so, because they repeat it over the end credits and that almost never happens.
– We get Mick’s “Seriously, you idiots haven’t figured this out yet?” opening introduction again. It loses its impact the second time round, but it’s still fun.
– We’re curious to know how many regular viewers of Legends of Tomorrow are aware that Franz Drameh is British. Personally, we’re forgotten he was in Attack the Block, so we only realised when he popped up recently on a British drama called 100 Streets. Impressive accent work, Drameh! Also, fun fact, when he introduces himself at NASA, he uses the lyrics from Elton John’s Rocket Man, as popularised by William Shatner.
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