UK TV recap: Legends of Tomorrow, Season 2, Episode 11 (Turncoat)
Mini-Ray vs Giant Rat8
Matthew Turner | On 19, Feb 2017
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.
After the refreshing focus on the Legion of Doom in the previous episode, it’s more or less back to business as usual on Legends of Tomorrow, with the team heading to a new time period to prevent the murder of a historical figure, in this case George Washington. Somewhat bizarrely, this also ends up being a Christmas episode, which didn’t quite tie together thematically (it’s a bit of a jump, going from Washington crossing the Delaware on Christmas Day to a Die Hard homage), but still delivers plenty of fun.
After Episode 10’s change-of-pace introductory narration by Damien Darhk (to reflect the focus on the Legion), the show goes one better this week, by having Mick do the narration in his own inimitable style. It’s so good, in fact, that it’s worth repeating in full. “Seriously,” he growls, “you idiots haven’t figured this out by now? It all started when we blew up the time pigs, the Time Masters. Now, history’s all screwed up and it’s up to us to unscrew it up. But half the time we screw things up even worse. So don’t call us heroes, we’re something else. We’re Legends. Who writes this crap anyway?” Brilliant.
So, as we saw in the cliffhanger, Arthur Darvill’s now evil Rip Hunter (let’s call him Dark Rip, as it looks like he’s set to stay that way for a while) shoots George Washington (Randall Batinkoff), causing a massive time-quake that alerts the Legends to his presence in 1776. However, as Dark Rip explains to Eobard Thawne, it’s all a trap and he intends to kill them all and take the fragment of the Spear of Destiny that they have hidden away on the Waverider. All that happens in the cold open (the bit before the title page comes up), so bonus points to Legends for establishing plot and stakes for the episode with such economy. Anyway, Dark Rip tells Thawne that when the Legends come to save Washington, he’ll be ready for them.
Only, the thing is… this doesn’t really make sense, because we’ve just seen Rip handing out automatic weapons to enemy soldiers after he’s killed Washington, when he’s actually planning to go back in time to when Washington is still alive in order to ambush the Legends. So why equip the army, if he’s now in an alternate non-Washington timeline that’s about to cease to exist? Maybe handing out the guns makes the time-quake a bit stronger? Either way, it’s not clear, so minus points to Legends for lack of clarity.
Anyway, the Legends know it’s a trap (“It’s Chicago all over again,” says Sara), but they head into 1776 anyway, because what are you going to do? It’s George Washington, and if America loses the American Revolution, there’s no America. Say what you like about Dark Rip, but the dude knows how to set a trap.
So, the Legends land in 1776 and infiltrate a party, with a shrunk-down Ray doing surveillance in the ATOM suit and Nate and Amaya posing as a married couple. Hang on. Wouldn’t Nate and Sara posing as a couple have made more sense? Yes, probably, but then you wouldn’t have the foreshadowing of Nate and Amaya’s imminent relationship, so let’s just go along with it. Also, this way, the show gets to make a comment about racism and how we’ve all moved on since 1776, so everybody’s happy.
Anyway, Dark Rip and his tooled-up soldiers – he must have brought them with him from the alternate timeline, although… we saw Eobard run off without him, so how is he time travelling? Maybe let’s not think about this too much – attack the party and Dark Rip callously shoots Sara in one of the coldest moments the show has yet produced. (“Hello, Sara… goodbye Sara.” Bang!) Mick and George Washington are taken prisoner, leaving Nate and Amaya to go looking for them. Meanwhile, Dark Rip unleashes an EMP that knocks out the Waverider and all the Legends’ powers, meaning Gideon is down, Mick’s Heat Gun doesn’t work, Firestorm’s transformation thingy is on the fritz and Ray is stuck in miniature size.
Jax and Stein take a gravely injured Sara aboard the Waverider, but she’ll die unless Gideon comes back online, so Mini-Ray heads into the vents, Die Hard-style, to try and fix the Waverider, while Jax and Stein try to save Sara’s life. Stein gets in a fun Star Trek / Doctor McCoy reference – “Dammit, Jefferson, I’m a physicist, not a doctor!” – but as with the Back to the Future / Doc Brown gag a few weeks back, it makes no sense, because in the previous episode, we saw Stein casually performing brain surgery on Mick and now, he doesn’t know how to take a simple bullet out of Sara. Good gag, though.
It’s a nicely balanced episode, with everyone getting something to do. Let’s get the two main subplots out of the way first. First, Mick, who had earlier been dismissive of Washington, ends up bonding with America’s First President while they’re being held captive and eventually ends up instructing him on how to fight with guerrilla warfare tactics. That’s actually the second great speech for Mick that’s worth repeating in full: “You don’t know the first thing about being an American. We’re misfits, outcasts, and we’re proud of it. If they attack in formation, you pop them off from the trees. If they challenge you to a duel, you raid their camp at night. And if they’re gonna hang you, you fight dirty and you never, ever give up. That’s the American way.” And, of course, Dominic Purcell sells the hell out of it. Honestly, he was never this much fun on Prison Break. Who knew?
The capper to the whole Mick-and-Washington buddy routine comes at the end of the episode, when we learn that there’s now a statue in Washington D.C. that looks a lot like Mick. “Careful,” he warns Ray. “I’m your forefather now.”
The other main subplot is basically a romantic interlude for Nate and Amaya. After some clumsy stuff aboard the Waverider (the time-quake throwing them into each other’s arms, etc.), they end up bonding, while they’re supposedly tracking Mick and Washington. (Surely Amaya could just summon the spirit of a bloodhound or someth-? Yeah, okay, let’s ignore that too.) They start chatting about how dating culture has evolved since Amaya’s time (the 1940s) and Nate comes dangerously close to mansplaining the 21st century, except that Nick Zano is so effortlessly charming that he pulls it off, telling her about Tinder and how sexual relationships now are just… “chill”. Except then he gets a chill of a different kind, because he falls into the river and Amaya has to summon her dolphin powers, dive into the water and rescue him… all of which, annoyingly, happens mostly off-screen. With Nate suffering from near hypothermia, Amaya takes him to a convenient tent and the pair end up sleeping together, after she insists shared naked body heat is the only way to keep him warm.
Although it is a little frustrating to have the writers fall back on a romantic subplot for Amaya – especially given that she’s supposed to be avenging her former lover’s death by bringing Reverse-Flash to justice – it has to be said that the Nate and Amaya pairing is a lot more successful than last season’s Ray and Kendra, largely because there’s actual chemistry between Zano and Maisie Richardson-Sellers. Just as long as they don’t pull the same trick as last season and have a now-in-love-with-Nate Amaya have to choose between Nate and Rex Tyler / Hourman when he inevitably turns up alive in a future episode. For the moment, a full-on relationship is on hold, because Amaya tells Nate she doesn’t date her teammates – except, er, Hourman was her… yeah, okay, moving on – although that’s bound to change sooner rather than later. At any rate, it’s a nice progression for her character, realising she doesn’t have to abide by 1940s precepts, if she’s hanging out with time-travellers from the future. They also have a fun moment bonding over the Wizard of Oz, which is blatantly nicked off Chris Evans’ Captain America. (“Hey, I got that reference!”)
Anyway, no offence to Nate’s skills in the bedroom, but the real action this week is all aboard the Waverider. Sara’s at death’s door, so she makes Jax the de facto captain and orders him to stop Dark Rip. Sure enough, Rip enters the Waverider and begins searching for the Spear fragment, accompanied by two British soldiers. Arthur Darvill is clearly enjoying the hell out of playing evil and it’s a lot of fun watching Jax go all Die Hard, as he takes down Rip’s British henchmen – including dressing one up like Santa Claus and leaving little gifts – and plays a deadly game of cat and mouse with his former captain. It’s also genuinely tense and surprisingly dark, particularly when Dark Rip finds Sara in the surgery room and finishes her off by choking her to death. Luckily, Sara has been killed before, so she’s used to it, but it really upsets Jax, who has to be physically restrained from shooting Rip. The tension is heightened throughout by having Dark Rip taunt his former comrades, as he stalks them through the ship, while he also knows every inch of the Waverider inside out, so, of course, he finds the Spear fragment and makes off with it. They’re really not very good at the whole preventing-the-enemy-from-getting-what-they-want thing, the Legends.
That said, this is a really good episode for Jax, who’s usually stuck playing second fiddle to Stein or Sara. Here, he gets to do his own hero thing, and proves a formidable opponent to boot, even if he does get Sara killed and lose the Spear fragment in the process. Still, you can’t win them all, eh?
Meanwhile, Mini-Ray is having his own adventure in the Waverider vents, as he stumbles upon a Giant Rat (cleverly introduced early on in the episode, when Ray chides Mick for leaving crumbs everywhere that are attracting rodents) and has to flee for his life. This is a lovely homage to both The Incredible Shrinking Man and, we’re assuming, Atom comics, and we only wish the show would have as much fun as this with Ray’s shrinking abilities every episode. Anyway, he eventually outwits the rat and turns the Waverider back on just in time for Gideon to save Sara’s life with the Purple Healing Ray.
That pretty much wraps everything up, since Dark Rip and the Spear fragment are long gone by the time everyone gets back to the ship. There’s no cliffhanger – instead, the Legends celebrate their mid-February Christmas episode with a proper festive party, including Ray giving Mick the still-alive rat as a gift (he seems really pleased) and Nate giving Amaya a pair of Gideon-generated ruby slippers, because he appreciates the value of a nerdy reference gift. Awww.
All in all, it’s another enjoyable episode, with each of the characters getting plenty to do and the usual combination of action, humour and fun character moments, not so mention some romance, tension and genuine darkness thrown in for good measure. Tune in next time for Camelot/3000… whatever that means.
Footnotes of Tomorrow
– No sign of Malcolm and Damien, which is probably just as well, given the satisfying amounts of screen-time available for everyone else. (Personally, I’d have taken more of Mini-Ray over Nate and Amaya’s first date, but that’s just me.)
– No sign of Imaginary Leonard, either. Supposedly, a Leonard from an alternate timeline will be joining the Legion of Doom at some point, but they’re obviously in no hurry.
– There are lots of nice little moments, but I particularly like Jax and Stein’s momentarily non-plussed reaction when they try to Firestorm up and discover that Rip’s EMP has messed up their touchpad thingy. The special effects budget on the show clearly doesn’t allow for a proper Firestorm appearance each week and this is a good way of dealing with that.
– “Hitler ruins everything.” So true, Nate. So true.
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