[This is a review of Legends of Tomorrow season 2, episode 5. There will be SPOILERS.]
Following a freshman season with a closed narrative and a big team shake-up in the final episodes, Legends of Tomorrow took the many changes in stride, altering the show’s mission somewhat from chasing a single villain through time to hunting down historical aberrations. Season 2 has already seen the disappearance of Waverider captain Rip Hunter (Arthur Darvill), the introduction of the Justice Society of America, and the death of Rex Tyler (Patrick J. Adams).
Additionally, Legends of Tomorrow is building toward the Legion of Doom, having so far established Damien Darhk (Neal McDonough) and Eobard Thawne, aka Reverse-Flash (Matt Letscher), are working together. Now, in the latest episode of Legends of Tomorrow season 2, the show pivots back to focus on their burgeoning Legion of Doom, as the team comes face to face with Darhk again.
In ‘Compromised’ — written by Keto Shimizu and Grainne Godfree, and directed by David Geddes — the Legends head to the not-so-distant past of the 1980s, during President Reagan’s tenure, as they trace a timequake to Darhk, who is working as an advisor to the president. While Sara struggles with seeking vengeance on the man who murdered her sister — again — Amaya and Nate seek out the JSA for assistance.
The Time Janitors Head to 1987
After allowing the Legends to take their time-travelling adventures a little off course of the overarching story — while still staying true to the team’s new mission — in previous episodes, ‘Compromised’ realigns the season by heading to the 1980s and revisiting Damien Darhk. When Nate builds a time seismograph in order to detect timequakes caused by aberrations, he leads them to President Reagan’s administration, in which Darhk has become a key member. However, the Legends learn that Darhk isn’t interested in derailing the end of the Cold War, but is searching for something from the Russian KGB.
Throughout the episode, the team’s mission of fixing aberrations comes into play a number of times as an argument between two members. In the beginning, Jax and Stein argue over whether they’re meant to use the Waverider as a means of correcting injustices in history — a carry over from last week’s episode. But, as Stein argues, they must use their time-traveling abilities to fix aberrations rather than change history altogether, prompting Jax to quip that they’re essentially time janitors.
The struggle between staying the course of their mission or altering history is a recurring theme of Legends of Tomorrow and takes the forefront especially in ‘Compromised’ as Sara faces Damien Darhk again, and again foregoes the good of the team for the sake of attempting to get revenge. As the new captain, especially, Stein takes issue with Sara acting rashly and nearly landing her and some of her teammates in jail. But, Sara has grown into her role as the captain and she applies what she’s learned about being a leader to the events of ‘Compromised’; she diffuses the argument between Jax and Stein, and ultimately makes the decision to spare Darhk’s life.
However, in her attempt to cause Darhk suffering, Sara may have given him too much power when she tells him how he dies. In fact, Darhk takes this knowledge and it motivates him to team up with Reverse-Flash — which, considering what we know of the Legion of Doom, may have done Sara’s team more harm than good in the long run.
A Team of Misfits
Despite their arguments over the exact parameters of their role as time janitors, the Legends are growing together as a team. Since season 1, Legends of Tomorrow has balanced its more unbelievable science fiction aspects with the grounded dynamic of the team — as is the case with all The CW’s DC Comics series. Given the shake-up that occurred for the team between the end of season 1 and the first two episodes of this season, Legends of Tomorrow has had to alter its dynamic a bit, though largely for the better.
Sara, for instance, is especially compelling as the team’s new captain, butting heads with Stein while learning to put her need for violent vengeance aside from Amaya. Ray and Rory, meanwhile, bring out new sides in each other as polar opposites; though, Ray’s goofiness comes off more cheesy than believable at times. In ‘Compromised’, Legends of Tomorrow puts together the two newest members of team, Nate and Amaya, who also have something in common due to their ties to the JSA. Nate has bounced off of all the other members of the Legends well, and that remains the same with Amaya.
However, the episode also dives further into Amaya’s character. Through the appearance of an older Obsidian (Lance Henriksen), she is forced to confront the fact that she left the JSA to hunt down Rex’s killer. Furthermore, Nate deduces Amaya had a relationship with Rex, one that broke the JSA’s rule against fraternization. Although it may not be the insight into the JSA that DC fans are hoping for, it provides more motivation for Amaya’s need to bring Rex’s killer to justice — albeit a motivation viewers likely already guessed.
All in all, ‘Compromised’ helps further develop the plot of season 2 while exploring the characters on the team. It remains to be seen how Darhk and Reverse-Flash’s time-traversing partnership recruits the other members of the Legion of Doom, or even what their eventual evil plan will be. But, Legends of Tomorrow continues to provide fun — and silly — character moments, paired with interesting superhero action no matter whether the episode builds toward the overarching narrative or not.
Legends of Tomorrow continues Thursday, November 17 with ‘Outlaw Country’ at 8pm on The CW.