Warning: This contains spoilers. For how to watch Legends of Tomorrow, click here.
Season 2 of Legends of Tomorrow ended with our heroes defeating the Legion of Doom but screwing up the entire time-line in the process, crash-landing in Los Angeles 2017 to discover dinosaurs running in the streets and Big Ben on the skyline for some reason. That exciting cliff-hanger did exactly what it was supposed to do, posing the question, “Just how will the Legends get out of THAT?” Unfortunately, in the first of the Season 3 premiere, the resolution is both frustrating and disappointing.
Amaya is about to summon a T-Rex spirit to take on the dinosaurs when Rip Hunter appears through a time portal, opens a bunch of other time portals and immediately shoos the dinosaurs back to where they came from. We don’t see what he does to Big Ben, but no doubt he takes care of that too. He then rather brusquely informs the Legends that in his absence (15 minutes for them, five years for him) he has formed a new Time Bureau, to track down and deal with time anomalies and anachronisms that are now basically everywhere. What’s more, he says, since the Legends are the ones that screwed everything up in the first place, they are officially fired and he’ll be taking the Waverider back while he’s about it.
If the Legends put up any kind of fight, it’s a fight we don’t get to see, because we then cut to six months later, to find them all separated and in various states of misery. Sara is working in Showers, Sinks and Stuff (a variation on Bed, Bath and Beyond), practicing her knife skills in the kitchen section and fantasising about killing her manager. Ray is working for a Tinder clone app called Upswipez (the only different being that you swipe up instead of left) and is frustrated, because no-one wants to hear about his shrinking technology. Nate is living the superhero life as Commander Steel (with a new costume and everything), but, for some reason, he’s chosen to do it in Central City, so he keeps getting beaten to the punch by Kid Flash (a briefly cameoing Keiynan Lonsdale, Grant Gustin being presumably unavailable). Meanwhile, Jax has dropped out of engineering college, because he misses being an actual engineer on an actual spaceship. The only Legends who seem happy with their lot are Martin – who’s happily back home with his wife, Clarissa (whom we don’t see), and his time anomaly daughter, Lily, who has just told him she’s pregnant – and Mick, who finally made it to Aruba and is living the good life, sipping cocktails on the beach, just like he wanted. That is, until Julius Caesar (Spartacus’ Simon Merrells – see what they did there?) shows up and kicks off the main plot for the episode.
After tying Caesar up in his cabana, Mick calls Sara and asks her what he should do. Sara sees this as a chance to put the band back together, so she immediately quits her job (heroically managing not to kill or injure her boss on the way out) and picks up Ray and Nate. The three of them then head to the Time Bureau (which has a totally accessible, not-at-all-hidden central office, which seems a bit odd) and get the grand tour from Rip, at which point we meet his frosty second-in-command Ava Sharpe (Jes Macallan), who takes the sort of instant dislike to Sara that screams “Possible Future Love Interest”. During the tour, they discover that the Waverider is now being used as a training simulator for students and that their earlier exploits are jokingly used as examples of what not to do in any given situation.
Irritated by the idea that the Time Bureau sees them as a joke, Sara, Ray and Nate steal the Waverider, re-activate Gideon and head for Aruba, stopping to pick up Martin and Jax on the way, so Jax can make repairs to the ship. Sara’s intention is to return Caesar to the timeline themselves, so the Bureau take them seriously again, but, of course, they only end up making things worse, because Nate somehow doesn’t notice when Caesar nicks his enormous History Of Rome book and he ends up using it to pre-emptively kill his enemies and take over the world. (It’s a shame we don’t get to see the United States of Rome, or whatever Caesar calls it – presumably the budget didn’t quite stretch that far.)
The nonsense with the History of Rome book is the second of the premiere’s disappointments, because it’s such a horrifically lazy bit of writing. If the book was pocket-sized, then maybe we’d buy the idea that Caesar could steal it from Nate without him noticing, but it’s a massive book and he’d carried it all the way to the Roman camp where they drop Caesar off, so the idea that he wouldn’t notice it being stolen and would go back without it is frankly ludicrous. And we’re supposed to believe that Nate was distracted, because he took a selfie with Caesar? Please.
Anyway, the Time Bureau get wind of what’s happened and arrive to help, but they don’t realise they’re walking into a trap set by Caesar, so it’s up to the Legends to rescue them and save the day. Hilariously, Sara works out that it’s a trap because of her retail training at Showers, Sinks and Stuff, which was all about luring in customers or something.
Anyway, things pick up massively at that point, because there’s a great battle scene with the Roman centurions, during which Sara pulls off a belter of a fight move that’s up there with the best moments the show has done to date. Basically, using Ava Sharpe as an anchor, she swings off a length of chain and kicks in two centurions’ shields, using them as stepping stones before kicking a third soldier in the face. Seriously, we defy anybody to watch that scene and not punch the air with delight afterwards. (It is, of course, already available in GIF form.)
With the Time Bureau rescued and Caesar safely returned to the timeline – and his memory wiped by one of those Men In Black flashing light things, which appear to be standard issue in the Time Bureau – Rip relents and decides that the Legends can keep the Waverider and go about their usual business, putting time anomalies right that once went wrong and that sort of thing. The Legends agree that “sometimes, we screw things up for the better”, which Sara says should be their new catchphrase, so what’s the betting they start using it in the opening credits voiceover bit next week? However, Rip has something of an ulterior motive, as he tells Ava that the Legends will be useful when they face off against something called “Mallus” in the future. We don’t yet know whether Mallus is a person or a thing, but it sounds bad… because “mal” is bad in French, yeah? (While we’re in the business of explaining Legends’ attempts at word-play, the episode is called Aruba-Con because of the Rubicon, innit?)
By the end of the episode, then, the status quo for the show is effectively restored, with the Legends working at least in conjunction with the Time Bureau, if not actively deputised by them. No doubt we’ll be seeing a lot more of them, anyway. It’s a smart move to switch up Rip’s role – after having him be a not-very-good captain in the first season and then the brain-washed villain in the second, having him as their exasperated sort-of-but-not-really boss creates an interesting dynamic for future episodes. They’ve also given him a rather severe haircut, just to show they mean business.
The only other minor tweak to the status quo – at least for this week – is that Amaya has apparently dumped Nate and gone back to Zambezi to fulfil her destiny. This is another example of the show blatantly disregarding its own set-up in the Season 2 cliffhanger, which had Nate and Amaya pledging their love for each other and her deciding her destiny could wait and she’d stick around and be a superhero for a bit. However, it turns out that Amaya’s time in Zambezi has actually done her some good, because she shows up in the episode’s cliffhanger and appears to have had a significant power-boost, seeing as she’s now able to summon multiple animal spirits simultaneously. No doubt she’ll be back on the team next week, although let’s hope she and Nate are able to just pick up where they left off, otherwise we’ll be in for a lot of tedious will-they-won’t-they stuff that the show has basically already done.
All in all, Legends’ Season 3 premiere serves as a promise that the show isn’t about to mess with its tried-and-tested formula of general superhero silliness, mixed with time travel shenanigans and whichever historical figure they happen to be bumping into each week. Basically, the show has found its groove and it works, thanks to the likeable ensemble cast, great character dynamics, a nice line in humour and entertaining action sequences. Come back next week for Billy Zane as P.T. Barnum!
Footnotes of tomorrow
– Martin hasn’t yet met the father of Lily’s baby, so what’s the betting it will be someone we know? An alternate timeline version of one of the main characters, perhaps? Just as long as it’s not Vandal ruddy Savage.
– The other disappointing moment is the rather smutty pay-off to Ray’s Upswipez app, where they use it to disperse a crowd of frat boys by creating a fake hot lady ID (using a photo of Amy Pemberton, the actor who voices Gideon) and sending a sexy message to every match on the beach. No more Upswipez, pleaze, Legendz.
– Line of the week: Mick telling Caesar that his salad sucks.
Legends of Tomorrow Season 3 is available on Sky 1 every Wednesday, within a week of its US broadcast. Don’t have Sky? You can stream it live or catch up on-demand through NOW TV, as part of a £7.99 monthly subscription, no contract. A 7-day free trial is available for new subscribers.