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.
Last episode of Legends of Tomorrow Season 2 ended with Rex Tyler / Hourman getting killed by Reverse-Flash. Tyler manages to say “Time…traveller…” to Amaya / Vixen before he dies, so, naturally, she assumes he means one of the Legends and stows away aboard the Waverider. It’s not entirely clear how she does this, since it seemed very much like the Legends had already left 1942 when Hourman got killed last week, but let’s not go there right now.
Believing that Mick killed Hourman – because he’s the self-confessed criminal of the group, although… hang on…isn’t Sara a self-confessed assassin? Amaya doesn’t really think this through – Amaya stalks around the Waverider and knocks out the entire team, one by one, until she meets Mick and puts a knife to his throat. Fortunately, Nate (who’s been recovering from a serious injury, after Ray saved his life by injecting him with Nazi super-serum) suddenly discovers his powers and turns to steel, in time to save Mick’s life by knocking Amaya out.
Given his emotive backstory about always having to stay indoors because of his haemophilia as a kid, Nate is absolutely thrilled to get super-powers and he quickly settles on the name “Steel” for himself, trying out a few names beforehand (“Corporal… Mister… Citizen Steel?”). Citizen Steel is the character’s name in the comics, so it’s uncertain whether he’ll adopt Citizen Steel as his official name or just stick to Steel, but at least they name-dropped the reference early.
The problem is that Nate hasn’t yet learned the extent of his powers yet, so he accidentally punches a hole in the Waverider and gets sucked out into the time-stream. Ray goes after him in the ATOM suit and the pair land with a bump in Feudal Japan, 1641, kicking off the main plot for the episode.
Having convinced Amaya that Mick didn’t kill Hourman, and promising her that the team will help track down his killer, new captain Sara heads out to rescue Nate and Ray, accompanied by Vixen and Mick. Meanwhile, Jax and Stein stay behind to fix something on the Waverider and discover a secret room that we’ll get to in a moment.
In Feudal Japan, an injured Nate (whose haemophilia has disappeared with the introduction of his powers) meets the beautiful Masako (Mei Melancon), whose village is being terrorised by evil Shogun Tokugawa (Stephen Oyoung). Worse, Masako is expected to marry Tokugawa to save her village. Of course, Nate isn’t having that, especially after the sexy bath-time she gives him, so he decides to use his new-found powers to save her. There’s only one problem – he discovers he has performance anxiety and can’t activate his steel powers on demand. So he can’t… get hard? (Thankfully, no one actually says that, but you can tell they’re all thinking it.)
Meanwhile, Tokugawa captures Ray, steals his suit and, somewhat surprisingly, learns to use it in record time. This is particularly odd, given that he didn’t actually see Ray use any of its powers beforehand. Anyway, Ray eventually gets free and decides that the only way to defeat an ATOM-suited samurai is to blow up the suit, so he trains Steel and lets him know the exact spot to hit in order to make that happen.
Annoyingly, no-one suggests trying to hit the ATOM suit’s shrink-button instead, which would make a tiny samurai that would presumably be a lot easier to capture and subdue and it’s quite irritating that supposed genius Ray can’t come up with a better plan involving his own suit than blowing it up. The writers are clearly fixated on having Ray moan and fret about his place on the team (clumsily foreshadowed last week) for a few more episodes, so here we are. Still, Ray’s selflessness is an interesting character note here.
How long do we think Ray will be without his super-suit? Presumably, he’ll have to have at least some version of it up and running in time for the upcoming four-way crossover? (He’s posed for Entertainment Weekly photos in it and everything!) Can’t they go and find a working model of it in a museum in the future or something? At the very least, it’s the chance to get a new, redesigned suit that makes him look less like Iron Man (he does look a lot like Iron Man).
Mick doesn’t have much to do this week, other than eating a lot (rapidly becoming a fun running gag) and engaging in ninja-related banter with Vixen. Yes, for some reason, Mick is obsessed with proving ninjas exist and practically every line he speaks in Japan is about ninjas in some way. Eventually, he gets his wish and the team are attacked by ninjas, to his evident delight – “You see? I told you ninjas exist!” – but the ninjas are a bit rubbish, especially if you’ve seen the latest season of Daredevil.
As for Sara, it’s fun to see her bond with Vixen, and we get to learn a little more about Vixen’s background, which informs her own desire to help the Japanese villagers, because she feels guilty about not being able to help her own village back in Africa.
The action is pretty great, too, courtesy of Kevin Tancharoen, who has directed episodes of every network TV superhero show (including Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.) and is consistently stylish and inventive when it comes to fight scenes. In particular, he does a terrific job of recreating the choreography of samurai battles, particularly in Sara’s climactic encounter and the photography and angles he uses are really striking.
So, with Tokugawa blown up and his lead samurai skewered by Sara, the Legends save the day and we learn that Masako goes on to be the benevolent Mayor of the village or something. There’s no real cliffhanger ending this week, which is an odd decision, given that they’re up against Civil War zombies next week – you’d think that would be something they’d want to shout about as much as possible.
Oh, right, Jax and Stein. Back aboard the Waverider, they discover a secret room behind a hatch, allowing Jax to get in a nice Lost reference – “If I’ve learned one thing from Lost, it’s that you don’t go opening secret hatches” – which contains a huge cache of weapons and a message from Barry Allen / The Flash in 2056, which we don’t get to hear, but which scares Jax and Stein enough that they decide to keep it to themselves for the moment. Because, you know, tension, intrigue, set-up for the crossover, that sort of thing. Oddly, Barry’s 2056 voice is an awful lot deeper than his current voice (second puberty?), but then, how would they know it’s from 2056 otherwise?
All in all, this is a very enjoyable episode of Legends of Tomorrow, and if it basically hit all the same beats as last season’s The Magnificent Eight (Legends save village in fun time period), that seems entirely appropriate, given that The Magnificent Seven was itself a remake of Seven Samurai. We also got some terrific fight sequences and the status quo for the season is firmly established, with Steel gaining his super-powers and Vixen becoming a permanent member of the team.
Footnotes of Tomorrow
– Lots of great lines this week, but my favourite is Mick’s delivery of, “Konichiwa, scumbags”.
– You may miss it (I did), but it turns out that Masako and her father, Ichiro (Sab Shimono), are distant ancestors of Tatsu Yamashiro (aka. Katana), who we’ve seen in Arrow a lot and who’s character was also featured in the Suicide Squad movie.
– Oddly, no one seems that interested in looking for Rip, or mourning him, if they think he’s dead. Will he be back in time for the crossover event? Or is he basically gone for good now? Time will tell.
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