UK TV recap: DC’s Legends of Tomorrow Season 1, Episode 9 (Left Behind)
Matthew Turner | On 30, Apr 2016
Warning: This contains spoilers.
It may have struggled to find its feet in the early stages, but after three superb episodes in a row (Marooned, Night of the Hawk and this week’s Left Behind), Legends of Tomorrow is firing on all cylinders, embracing its potential and delivering some genuine surprises. At the same time, Episode 9 deepens the emotional stakes for several of the characters, significantly shifts the character dynamics and pulls off some of the best action sequences to date.
The episode picks up right where last week’s exciting cliff-hanger left off, with Rip, Stein, Jax and Leonard getting attacked by Kronos and being forced to take off, stranding Ray, Sara and Kendra in 1958. Kronos’ attack sends the Waverider into freefall in time and space, making it impossible (don’t ask why – reasons) for Rip to return to 1958 to pick them up again. Figuring that all they have to do is wait a few minutes, the left behind trio do exactly that, but when Rip doesn’t show, they realise they’re going to have to make the best of it and end up spending two years in neighbouring Hub City.
Well, Ray and Kendra do, anyway. Sara quickly gets bored and decides to return to Ra’s Al Ghul (Matt Nable, reprising his role from Arrow S3) and rejoin the League of Assassins (50 years before she originally met them, but let’s not think about that right now) as Ta-er al-Sahfer. Meanwhile, Ray and Kendra deepen their relationship to the point where Ray is about to propose, just as they finally get rescued by a frankly-not-nearly-apologetic-enough Rip. In the meantime, Ray’s been working as a lecturer (with Bill Gates’ dad as one of his students in a nice moment that recalls Quantum Leap’s “kiss with history” cameos) and Kendra has repressed her powers and begun forgetting her past lives, owing to something called Time Drift, which Rip mentions for the first time.
This is a great way to handle the Ray and Kendra relationship, which felt forced and rushed a couple of weeks ago, but now feels like a genuinely interesting part of the show, particularly as their attitudes once they are back aboard the Waverider are significantly different – Ray misses their life together, but Kendra is positively thrilled to be getting her powers and memories back and doesn’t seem to have viewed their relationship the same way as Ray. Up to a point, anyway – the resolution of the episode makes it clear that Ray and Kendra are now together, which is obviously set to cause problems when Carter eventually reappears, but either way, it’s given both Brandon Routh and Ciara Renee their most interesting character notes to date and it will be interesting to see where they go from here.
In particular, the show deserves enormous praise for not simply resetting them somehow – it marks a bold story-telling step and it shows that the show is really, finally, embracing the potential of the time-travel gimmick it has at its disposal. It also shows the dangers and consequences of time-travel (or the lack of it) in a new light.
However, the whole thing with Ray and Kendra, as great as it is, isn’t even the biggest surprise of the episode. When Kronos attacks the Waverider, he ends up kidnapping not, as you might expect, Rip, but Leonard, which is pretty much the only clue the show gives you before the reveal that Kronos is, in fact, Mick Rory, who had been picked up by the Time Masters, taken to the Vanishing Point and trained in the art of becoming an assassin for a ridiculously long period of time – perhaps decades, perhaps longer. Mick’s seething hunger for revenge has kept him going all that time, and he’s a proper force to be reckoned with now, taunting a now handcuffed Leonard that he intends to torture him by killing his sister in front of him over and over again. That’s dark, dude. Even Leonard is genuinely panicked, a moment Wentworth Miller sells brilliantly, his usual mode of snarky cynicism wiped off his face, as he realises the full horror of what has happened.
Once again, this is a dramatic shift in the character dynamics for the show to take and it’s one I whole-heartedly applaud. Mick was already a fun character, but now he’s genuinely dangerous, his bond with Leonard seemingly shattered forever. And yet the episode ends with the team vowing to rehabilitate him, because he’s one of their own. Almost brings a tear to your eye, doesn’t it?
Before that, however, there’s some even more exciting stuff to get to. Leaving Leonard handcuffed to a solid metal something or other, Kronos heads off to capture and / or kill the rest of the Legends, who are all headed to Nanda Parbat to rescue Sara. (There’s an over-laboured gag about how Ray can’t believe he’s back in Nanda Parbat, but it doesn’t land all that well, so let’s pretend it didn’t happen.) The only problem is that Sara doesn’t want to be rescued, which leads to a fun fight between her and Kendra, with Caity Lotz once again displaying her formidable ass-kicking abilities.
At the same time, Leonard is desperately trying to free himself and ends up pointing his cold gun at his cuffs with his feet and firing it, only to end up freezing and then shattering his hand. It’s a really cool (sorry) moment that speaks volumes about Leonard’s state of desperation (it’s possible he actually meant to freeze and shatter his hand – it’s not entirely clear), so it’s a shame that the episode cops out by Rip sticking Leonard in a flesh-regeneration machine at the end. What was wrong with a robot hand? Leonard would have rocked a robot hand. Ah, well.
Anyway, Leonard arrives just in time to stop everyone from killing Kronos by revealing that he’s Mick. Happily, the fight scene leading up to that moment is the best action sequence the show has done so far (courtesy of director John F. Showalter), showing the team working together to defeat their opponent and showcasing some killer moves for Sara (double pirouette while swinging a sword), Kendra (flying headlock-in-thighs) and Ray (atomic-punching Kronos up into the air and across the room – easily Ray’s coolest moment to date). At any rate, it’s a terrific climax to a an equally terrific episode.
There is one small, nagging issue, however, and that’s Ra’s al Ghul, who’s almost ludicrously under-used here. Maybe he was mellower in his younger years or something, but it seems like he lets Sara go way too easily, especially given all the fuss he made over her in Season 3 of Arrow. He’s also not really involved in the fight sequence, which seems like a waste. Still, at least we get the Arrowverse debut of Talia al Ghul, Nyssa’s older sister (and a frequent Batman love interest), whose existence had previously been ignored, or at least unreferenced on Arrow. That could mean she’ll show up again in a later season of either Arrow or Legends – or it could just be a neat cameo, like Harley Quinn’s voice being heard in Arrow.
All in all, this is a fantastic episode that fully exploits the show’s potential and delivers a winning combination of shocking twists, emotion and thrilling action. Can the show maintain its current hot streak after three terrific episodes in a row? Time will tell.
– It’s worth pointing out that Dominic Purcell does some top-notch acting in this episode – he was such a dull, one-note character in Prison Break, so I’d never really rated him as an actor before, but boy, is he good when it comes to channelling decades of pent-up fury and a lust for revenge.
– The bit where Ray, Sara and Kendra get left behind is a great moment, brought home by a lovely long shot of them standing alone, surrounded by snowy woodland. The direction is generally excellent this week, but that’s a stand-out image, so kudos again to Showalter.
– I did wonder why the team didn’t attempt to find and kill Vandal Savage again, but I was also glad that he wasn’t in this episode, so small mercies, etc. Apparently Ray, Kendra and Sara move to (D.C. comics staple) Hub City rather than staying in Pleasant Falls.
– Quality Leonard moment of the week: “The ladies will be left in 1958!” Jax: “What about Ray?” Leonard: “Like I said.”
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Photo: © 2016 DC Comics. © 2016 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. All rights reserved.