UK TV recap: Legends of Tomorrow Season 2, Episode 6 (Outlaw Country)
Return to the Wild West5.5
Jonah Hex, take two6
Bit with the train7
Matthew Turner | On 10, Dec 2016
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.
I’m going to get a minor grumble out of the way first. Given that last episode saw the team returning to the 1980s, it’s a little annoying to have them back in the Wild West this episode, since both time periods already featured heavily in Season 1. Is it too much to ask that the showrunners use a bit more imagination when it comes to the setting and time period? Or at the very least, space the episodes out a bit, if they’re going to constantly revisit places they’ve been before?
That gripe aside, this is generally a fun episode that effectively serves as a sequel to Season 1’s The Magnificent Eight. After a brief but amusing discussion about what it means to be up against a Speedster (see Footnotes of Tomorrow, below), Nate’s Time Seismograph detects a timequake and the Legends head back to Liberty, Colorado, 1874. This means yet another episode where they’re not actively trying to solve Rex Tyler’s murder and I must say, Amaya’s patience on the subject is commendable, as she doesn’t even mention it.
It turns out the timequake has occurred, because a pesky time pirate was held up by outlaw Quentin Turnbull (a guest-starring Jeff Fahey) and he ended up in possession of a device that led him to a mine full of powerful dwarf star ore (not so coincidentally, the same alloy that’s used to power Ray’s ATOM suit). He then used the dwarf star ore to create advanced weaponry that allowed him to take control of the entire country west of the Rockies.
Naturally, the Legends can’t allow that sort of thing, so they saddle up and ride into town, gunslinger-style, pausing only to rescue their old friend, Jonah Hex (Jonathan Schaech), from a lynching. After that, the team split into a number of different pairings to take down Turnbull, with generally successful results.
It’s fair to say that this episode repeats a few of the same elements from their previous Wild West outing, but it’s difficult to complain when you get yet another barfight, especially when it involves Sara wielding a whip and Mick shooting down a chandelier just for lols. Also, in the context of how poorly the show treated Sara the last time they visited this time period (remember that trip to see one of Kendra’s other lives?), this episode is actually a vast improvement.
Sara is mostly teamed with Jonah Hex for this episode and while it’s becoming something of a cliché to point out that Caity Lotz has great chemistry with pretty much everyone, it’s demonstrably true once again, so here we are. Anyway, they play off each other nicely and there’s a decent mini-character arc for Hex, whereby he starts off an arrogant sexist who’s stuck in the old ways, but gradually learns to respect Sara’s authority as team leader, because of how generally awesome she is.
In fact, the writing on Hex is significantly better this time round, seeing as the character was largely perceived to have been short-changed in Season 1. He gets some significant back-story here, including the tragic story of how he got his distinctive scars and the extent of his history with Turnbull. Schaech is able to have more fun with the character this time round, too, although I’m still not convinced that Hex, as written, deserves to join the team full-time.
Speaking of the old-time misogyny, there is one hilariously misjudged moment and that’s the scene where Turnbull yells “You ain’t no man!” when Sara’s mask falls off during a gunfight. It mostly doesn’t work because of the way Fahey bungles the line (it sounds really childish), but it also fails because it’s basically just re-stating stuff they’ve already done with Hex’s own reactions to Sara. I did quite enjoy the ridiculousness of Sara’s “disguise”, though.
As for the rest of the team, Ray and Nate make another enjoyable pairing. Both characters have an enthusiastic, nerdy quality and it’s fun to see Nate all excited about getting to dress up as a cowboy and to have Ray be all, “Been there, done that – yeah, it’s pretty cool…” Nate’s boyish enthusiasm also extends to being a superhero in general (as a result of his being a house-bound haemophiliac in his youth – keep up at the back there), and that takes a severe knock, when he’s shot with a bullet coated in dwarf star alloy and realises he’s not invulnerable in his steel form after all.
This allows Ray to give Nate one of his patented pep talks, since he’s still effectively powerless after losing his ATOM suit and has had to find other ways to be of value to the team. At any rate, Nate feels sufficiently emboldened by Ray’s words of wisdom to have a go at stopping a train with his bare (steel) hands. It’s pretty much the only bit of proper super-heroism in the episode, but it’s a great moment and Nate’s reaction to his own success is kind of adorable. What’s that, you say? The plot? Well, the train was filled with explosives and Turnbull was using it to blow up a strategic canyon that would keep the US army out of the western territory, so, yes, the stakes were fairly high, but it’s not like Jax was tied to the tracks or anything.
Anyway, Ray’s reward for all this is to get his hands on enough dwarf star alloy to make himself a whole bunch of ATOM suits just in time for the four-way alien invasion crossover. So that’s nice. Oh, and he makes Nate a superhero suit too, because that’s what time-travelling super-friends do for each other, apparently.
As for Amaya, it does seem as if the writers are deliberately throwing her together with different characters each episode to see where the chemistry works best. Here, she’s paired with Mick and tasked with keeping an eye on him as he baits Turnbull into a possible gunfight in a saloon. That ends up backfiring in amusing fashion, as Mick and Turnbull start bonding over being evil, but when the shooting starts, Amaya correctly senses that Mick is veering out of control and letting his destructive impulses get the better of him. After the pair bicker back and forth for a while, she gently offers to help him come to terms with “the animal within”, since she knows a thing or two about channelling animal spirits.
To be fair to the writers, they’re actually showing some uncharacteristic self-restraint here, by refusing to have anyone point out the obvious, which is that Mick doesn’t have the first clue about how to channel his grief over losing Leonard, and that his self-destructive behaviour (including his frequent binge-eating) is all part and parcel of that loss. No doubt they’re saving all this for a big moment when Leonard comes back, but for the moment, it’s solid writing that credits the audience with working out what’s going on, rather than hitting us over the head with it.
That leaves Martin and Jax, with the latter getting particularly short shrift. Martin fares rather better, as he’s handed a doozy of a subplot that will no doubt be Important For Later. Basically, he starts getting severe headaches, accompanied by what appear to be memories of a young woman who isn’t Clarissa. When Martin realises that he somehow knows that he loves the woman, he realises he must have significantly altered his own past when he interacted with his younger self last week. D’oh! Call yourself a Professor, Stein? First rule of time-travel, that. Tsk.
Oh, and Martin and Jax still haven’t told their team-mates about Future Barry Allen’s message from 2056, although we do find out that it’s a warning about an upcoming war. Their discussion of the subject is conveniently interrupted when Sara barges in and announces that they need to get to 2016, because their friends are in trouble and have sent them a message. That appears to be all the set-up we’re getting for the four-way crossover, which makes a nice change, given how overboard they’ve gone in that department in the past.
All in all, this is a fun episode that offers strong character work for the majority of the cast and dishes out the usual blend of action and humour, even if it doesn’t actually advance the story-line. Tune in next week for the four-way crossover and the Invasion of the Dominators!
Footnotes of Tomorrow
– I like how much fun the show has with its Wild West trappings. Fun little touches this week include a sepia lens filter, some classic, western-inspired camera angles and a welcome return of the Wild West arrangement of the show’s theme tune.
– Best Mick moment of the episode? His delivery of the final line, in the following exchange, during the team’s discussion of Eobard Thawne. “The energy of the Speed Force grants the speedster chronokinesis, temporal manipulation.” Mick: “English, professor.” Sara: “It means that his running really fast lets him time travel.” Mick: “I’ll be in my room…”
– Continuing the CW’s admirable faithfulness to their DC source material, Quentin Turnbull is a villain in the Jonah Hex comics. If you’re unlucky enough to have seen the terrible Jonah Hex movie, you may remember that he was the character played by John Malkovich.
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