UK TV recap: Legends of Tomorrow, Episode 13
Ray vs GIANT ROBOT10
Impressive special effects10
Matthew Turner | On 28, May 2016
Warning: This contains spoilers.
After the terrific triple episode run of Marooned, Night of the Hawk and Left Behind, Legends of Tomorrow dropped the ball somewhat for the next three, with Progeny, The Magnificent Eight and Last Refuge all failing to satisfy in one way or another. Happily, the show comes storming back to best-ever form this week, with a genuinely thrilling episode that delivers jaw-dropping spectacle, significant character development and a renewed sense of direction that bodes well for the final three episodes of the season.
Nobody actually mentions that their younger selves are still at the refuge from Episode 12, but the show trusts you to remember that time is of the essence here and that the Legends have no choice but to head to 2166 and try to defeat Savage at the height of his powers. Given that this is the period when his wife and child were murdered, this is already an especially difficult time for Rip, but the full depth of his tragedy is brought home even harder, when he reveals that he’s already tried to save them hundreds of times, only to watch them die over and over again. This ties in with what Rip has said before about Time wanting (or needing) certain things to happen and always finding a way to course-correct, like Death in the Final Destination movies. At any rate, it’s a significant character moment for Rip and Arthur Darvill sells it perfectly, giving his character perhaps his biggest emotional moment of the series so far.
The main plot this week involves the Legends arriving in 2166 and discovering that Savage has a grown-up daughter, Cassandra Savage (played by Jessica Sipos), who’s one of his loyal army generals. Kendra spots that Cassandra is wearing a bracelet from Egyptian times, which means that it could be used to kill Savage, so they plan to kidnap her and steal it. All things considered, the plan comes off pretty nicely and Kendra ends up melting down the bracelet and using it to gold-plate Carter’s mace, making it much more efficient for Savage-murdering purposes.
At the same time, with the aid of a few handy video clips provided by Gideon, Snart attempts to open Cassandra’s eyes to what kind of a man her father is (revealing that it was his decision to unleash the apocalypse virus back in Progeny), and the pair of them bond a little over having deadbeat dads. Right from the beginning, there’s a weird connection between Cassandra and Snart that the direction doesn’t really make clear – is it supposed to be attraction? Or is it just that she recognises them because Savage has given her crib sheets on her potential time-travelling enemies that could arrive at any moment? Either way, it feels a little like the writers wanted to take their connection a little further but pulled back, which is perhaps a wasted opportunity. (The idea of Savage getting mad because Cassandra falls in love with one of Rip’s crew is admittedly rather amusing.)
It pains me to say it, but the whole thing with Cassandra is actually rather under-whelming – some of that is the writing, but it’s also fair to say that Sipos doesn’t seem to have a proper handle on the character. By rights, this should be someone the audience is itching to see again, but instead, she’s almost immediately forgotten, even by the end of the episode. Also, considering she’s supposed to be one of Savage’s toughest army types, Sipos doesn’t make her all that forceful or commanding, although she handles the scales-falling-from-eyes stuff decently enough.
But really, who cares about Savage’s daughter when you’ve got Ray fighting a Giant Robot? The highlight of the episode – and quite possibly the series so far – comes after Savage has made threats about a super-weapon named Leviathan that he intends to use on rebellious refugees. Stein, Jax and Ray attempt to protect them and then suddenly there’s an ominous booming and Leviathan turns out to be a giant, glowing-green, Godzilla-sized robot. Holy hell, you think, how are they going to fight that? And then Ray comes up with an idea and essentially reverses the polarity of his ATOM suit and – yes – grows to giant size, whereupon he gives the robot one heck of an arse-kicking, at one point smacking it down with a radio tower, before finishing the fight by literally punching the robot’s head clean off. It’s a truly amazing sequence, jaw-dropping in terms of spectacle and also brilliantly conceived and executed, especially when you take TV budgetary constrictions into account (it sort of explains why a few of the more recent episodes have looked rather cheap by comparison). Also, it’s just flat-out fun, radiating the same sort of giddy joy at being a superhero show that you get on The Flash every week (or used to, back in Season 1, before things got all dark and Zoomy).
The look of the robot is wonderful too, at once futuristic, but sort of retro at the same time – a bit like the light suits in the original Tron. There’s also a clever additional touch, whereby the robot has the ATOM symbol on its chest, meaning that it has its origins in Palmer Technology, just like the robot cops in Progeny. (Luckily, the script doesn’t bother to rehash Ray’s guilt over that issue and instead it goes unremarked upon, which works better.)
One thing that is worth noting about the giant-sized-ATOM scene is the extraordinary coincidence of it airing just as Captain America: Civil War plays in cinemas. Skip to the next paragraph now if you still haven’t seen the movie and want to remain spoiler-free, but a very similar, equally unexpected and equally delightful thing happens in the movie, involving a character who is essentially The ATOM’s Marvel counterpart. The question is: is that just a coincidence? Or did someone on the Legends team get wind of the Civil War scene in the production stage? Either way, the timing is astonishing.
As for the refugees themselves, they’re not particularly well established as characters (and using a giant robot to take them out seems a lot like overkill), but their presence does enable the show to convey the message that helping refugees is a thing that heroes do, which feels like a pretty valuable statement to make in these troubled times. Good work, Legends.
The rest of the episode belongs to Kendra, who, armed with her Egyptian bracelet-plated mace, finally gives Savage the kicking he’s had coming all season. It’s Kendra’s best fight sequence to date and she unleashes proper, wings-out fury that finally does Hawkgirl justice. For one glorious moment, it looks like she’ll actually kill Savage and effectively end their mission with three episodes still to go, but no, she’s stopped in her tracks when a brainwashed future version of Carter appears and she thinks Savage is her only hope of saving him. And yes, sparing Savage basically means she is sacrificing Rip’s wife and child in the process (a subtle reaction shot from Rip hints at this), and okay, this isn’t actually the Carter she knows and there are, in fact, lots of Carters out there in multiple time periods (nobody thinks to tell her this), but, hey, what are you going to do? There are still three episodes to go, after all.
And so, we end with Savage being held prisoner aboard the Waverider while the crew try and figure out what to do with him. The result is a fantastic episode that almost feels like a season finale – indeed, you wouldn’t really have felt short-changed if it was. It gives the show a super-cool, all-time-best action sequence and hands Savage his first real defeat. More importantly, Savage himself actually feels like a credible threat this week, what with having an army behind him and a giant robot to control. (One thing that’s missing is Savage’s reaction when he learns that Ray has punched his robot’s head off – that would have been pretty sweet.)
Next stop: the Time Masters!
– The Ray and Kendra relationship seems pretty much doomed with the re-appearance of Carter. The impact of that will presumably be explored further, once Carter regains his Hawkman memories. For now, we get Ray making a final declaration for their relationship with the line “I don’t believe in fate, I believe in choices”, which is another great Ray moment in what is basically Ray’s best episode to date.
– Brilliantly, Savage’s daughter in the comics is called Scandal Savage. It’s a shame they went with Cassandra instead. Maybe she’ll show up in a future episode and Scandal will be her nick-name.
– Line of the episode goes to Mick, when someone asks why he’d risk his life for a bauble (the bracelet). “It matches my outfit.”
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Photo: © 2016 DC Comics. © 2016 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. All rights reserved.