UK TV recap: DC’s Legends of Tomorrow Season 1, Episode 4 (White Knights)
Ray & Leonard8
Sara & Kendra5
Martin & Jax6
Matthew Turner | On 26, Mar 2016
Warning: This contains spoilers.
After spending the first three episodes in 1975, the Legends of Tomorrow gang (hereafter known as the Legends) finally fire up the Waverider’s time-travel circuits and head to Soviet Russia in 1986, for the first instalment of a two-parter. With the team once again split into various different pairings for the majority of the episode, it’s a patchier affair than the three previous outings, with some segments working better than others.
The episode gets off to a good start, with the entire team working together as they infiltrate the Pentagon and steal a classified file that leads them to Russia. This is a fun sequence that showcases what each member brings to the team, even if it’s a little hard to believe that the entire Pentagon security staff would be distracted by Mick Rory challenging people to arm-wrestling matches in the lobby. Still, they get what they came for, with only one slight hiccup, namely that Kendra “hawks out” as they’re leaving, seemingly unable to control her Hawk Goddess-related rage issues.
Despite the fact that both Sara and Kendra could come in mighty handy in their Russian mission, Rip orders the pair of them to stay behind and work out their rage issues on each other, basically by fighting. There’s the germ of a good idea here – Kendra needs to embrace her hawk side, Sara needs to regain her humanity – but it’s poorly served by the script and Sara and Kendra aren’t that exciting as a pair, which is disappointing in itself, given that they’re the only women on the team. Similarly, it’s a little worrying that the defining trait of both women is that they both have berserker rage issues.
So Kendra and Sara fight, calm down, fight some more, and that’s basically it for them this week. It feels like the writers don’t quite have a handle on Kendra yet, as she’s easily the most under-written character at this point. Hopefully, she’ll be allowed to interact with more characters in future, something that’s already paid great dividends with Sara, as her interactions with both Leonard and Martin in previous episodes have been a lot of fun.
We’ll get to the main Soviet-related plot in a minute, but there’s a whole other subplot to get out of the way first. As they fly into Soviet air-space, they’re attacked once again by time-travelling bounty hunter Kronos and Rip cleverly manipulates Soviet missile systems so that Kronos is shot down. Heading into the woods to find Kronos’ ship, Rip is confronted by Time Master Druce (Martin Donovan), who offers Rip a deal: if he abandons his quest to kill Savage, he and the team will be returned to their time-lines, no questions asked. However, Rory knows a double-crosser when he meets one and he warns Rip that Hunter intends to have him killed.
Sure enough, Rory is bang on, and Druce lures Rip into an ambush by a still-alive Kronos (whose mask makes us wonder whether there’s an alternate time version of someone we know under there), during which Druce escapes and Jax gets hurt after Firestorm and Rory come to Rip’s rescue. This leads to another rehash of Martin and Jax’s regular argument, where Jax complains that Martin drugged him and took him away from his single mother (although, duh, they’re in a time-machine, so Rip can just take them back to moments after they first left when they’re all done and it’s actually quite annoying that nobody has pointed this out yet). Martin once again deploys similar emotional manipulation techniques to the ones he used on Ray last week and admits that he’s scared to lose Jax the way he lost former partner Ronnie Raymond on The Flash. All this would be fine if it didn’t feel like we’ve already watched this self-same argument several times already and we’re only four episodes in. If this constant bickering is going to be their thing, then they’re going to need to find some more interesting topics to argue about.
As for Rip, Druce’s deal-slash-double-cross lacks dramatic or emotional impact because we’ve spent no time at all with the Time Masters, so we have no concept of the stakes involved, or why Druce might want Rip dead in the first place. It’s surely not just for stealing a time machine and general disobedience? No doubt Druce will be back in a few episodes’ time, so maybe he’ll bring some exposition with him.
Now, the main plot. This week, it involves tracking down Russian scientist Valentina Vostok (Mr Robot’s Stephanie Corneliussen) and uncovering her connection to Savage. Charged with the task of charming Valentina at the Russian Opera, Ray relishes the chance to play James Bond, only to fail miserably at the chat-up stage and have Leonard swoop in and sweep Valentina off her feet, while lifting both her identity card and her wallet in the process. (Ray: “Really? We’re trying to save the world and you’re lifting wallets?” Leonard: “It’s called multitasking.”)
With Valentina’s intel, Ray, Leonard, Mick and Stein realise that Savage intends to create his own Soviet Firestorm, something that’s confirmed when Stein infiltrates Luskavic Labs and discovers photographs of himself (and Jax) as Firestorm in 1975. He quickly locates something called a “thermacore” (a necessary component when building your own Firestorm, apparently) and absorbs the energy from it, but he ends up being captured along with Ray and Rory, after Valentina twigs what they’re all up to. So the episode ends on a welcome cliff-hanger (the first of the series so far), with the three prisoners about to be tortured in a gulag and Valentina realising that they don’t need the thermacore (which Leonard escaped with), because now they’ve got a Firestorm of their own.
Once again, this is a great episode for Wentworth Miller, who’s rapidly turning out to be the show’s most interesting character. He gets to play suave and sophisticated with Valentina (showing up Ray in the process) and demonstrates real loyalty to both the team and the mission, being ready to take a bullet so that Martin could get away. He also gets all the best lines: “I guess I’ll bone up on the ballet. Gideon: bone me.”
However, the episode isn’t without its annoying mis-steps – for example, why is Ray going out on missions without his shrinking suit? That might come in pretty handy when getting captured by Soviet goons. If it’s because they were paranoid after Ray’s tech getting found in 1975 last week, then somebody should have mentioned it.
All in all, this is a patchy episode that suffers from the team being split up, particularly after showing them all working together so well in the opening heist sequence. Fingers crossed they can all come together for a team rescue next week.
– Valentina Vostok and Soviet Firestorm both have their origins in the comics. Vostok first appeared in 1977 and was known as Negative Woman (after being fused with a creature made of negative energy), while Soviet Firestorm was a character called Mikhail Arkadin, who first appeared in 1987. However, it’s a fairly safe bet that if anyone’s going to become Soviet Firestorm next week, it’ll be Valentina.
– No funky 80s music this week, which after Ray’s parachute pants joke last week has to count as a massive disappointment. Hopefully, the show hasn’t blown its entire soundtrack budget on the opening three episodes.
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Photo: © 2016 DC Comics. © 2016 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. All rights reserved.