[This is a review of the Legends of Tomorrow season 2 premiere. There will be SPOILERS.]
The third DC Comics-based series created as part of The CW’s Arrowverse, Legends of Tomorrow, was set up in the early episodes of Arrow season 4 and The Flash season 2 late last year. The crossover event between Arrow and The Flash additionally introduced the main villain for Legends of Tomorrow season 1, Vandal Savage as well as the characters of Hawkgirl and Hawkman. However, in the season 1 finale, Legends of Tomorrow wrapped up the Savage storyline with his defeat and set up a season 2 arc having to do with the Justice Society of America — thanks to the introduction of Rex Tyler, aka Hourman (Patrick J. Adams).
Since Hawkgirl and Hawkman departed at the end of season 1 and the version of Captain Cold who had become a member of the team sacrificed himself, there were a number of empty seats leading into season 2. However, the season 2 premiere introduces a new ally in Dr. Nate Heywood (Nick Zano), a present-day historian who has connections to the DC hero Commander Steel — and takes on the mantle of Citizen Steel in the comics.
In ‘Out of Time’ — directed by Dermot Downs with a teleplay by Marc Guggenheim and Phil Klemmer, and story by Greg Berlanti and Chris Fedak — Heywood enlists the help of Arrow’s Oliver Queen (guest star Stephen Amell) to reunite the remaining Legends team members. Heywood learns that those aboard the Waverider set off on their new mission of protecting the timeline from those who would mean to change it. However, their stop in New York City in 1942 to protect Albert Einstein — while Sara Lance goes a bit rogue in tracking down Damien Darhk (guest star Neal McDonough) — led to Rip Hunter to perform a Time Scatter.
A New Mission
Like many of the episodes in Legends of Tomorrow season 1, ‘Out of Time’ features a self-contained storyline that sees the team attempt to correct an historical aberration — in this case, an atomic bomb being set off in New York City in 1942 by a group of Nazis. In an attempt to thwart the Nazis, the team kidnaps Albert Einstein who is the only person they believe to have the knowledge to assemble an atomic bomb. However, the Nazis kidnap Einstein’s ex-wife and previous collaborator, who builds the bomb instead.
Rip is able to stop the bomb from making contact with the city by setting the Waverider on a collision course. But, to protect his crew, Rip uses a last ditch fail safe he calls a Time Scatter, sending his team members to various locations along the timeline, and puts Mick Rory in stasis on the Waverider. However, since the story is relayed to Heywood by Rory, Rip’s whereabouts are unknown — though he leaves a message for his crew that hints he won’t be returning to the team. With a number of Legends departing in season 1, it seems the Waverider’s captain is the latest departure of both the ship and the series — leaving the remaining members of the team to act as the new Time Masters.
On the whole, the storyline of the season 2 premiere doesn’t necessarily diverge from the show’s typical format: There’s a threat to the timeline, the Legends use their particular set of skills to fix the problem and tackle all the obstacles thrown in their path. That said, while this type of storyline in season 1 would seemingly be a distraction from the main threat of Savage, the new mission of season 2 allows for more wiggle room within the show’s premise. Legends of Tomorrow benefits from that wiggle room, allowing the episode to revel in its time-travel fun, while still establishing storylines and characters that will be explored throughout the season.
The Time Detective
In particular, ‘Out of Time’ introduces Dr. Nate Heywood to the series, an historian who refers to himself as a “time detective.” It’s Heywood who realizes the Legends have made their mark on history and tied them to Oliver Queen — Heywood also deduced that Oliver is the Green Arrow. In fact, the opening sequence of ‘Out of Time’ focuses on both Heywood and Oliver, using the Arrow star and the new Legends lead as an entry point to the story. Oliver is perhaps underserved in the episode, simply acting as the connecting piece between Heywood and the Legends, but his interactions with Heywood and Rory bring some fun to the premiere.
As for Heywood, he fits well within the tone of the series, with Zano playing the character equally humorous and earnest. But, it would seem Heywood is joining Legends as somewhat of a replacement for Rip. With Rip lost to the team — and leaving a message for them to carry on without him — it would seem he (and Arthur Darvill) has retired from the time travel adventures. Still, as Oliver points out, Heywood has been waiting his whole life for a chance to join a team such as the Legends.
Although the arc of ‘Out of Time’ shakes up the status quo of the team once again, trading Rip Hunter for Heywood, it remains to be seen how the new team will work together in the coming episodes. The historian is seen helping to track down the Legends throughout time, and preventing anyone else from using Einstein to build another atomic bomb, but largely spends the episode separate from the majority of the team. Still, Heywood’s newness to traveling through time replaces Rip’s gruff, jaded approach with a perspective that could help Legends of Tomorrow feel more fresh in its sophomore outing.
The Legion of Doom Begins & the JSA Arrives
While the majority of ‘Out of Time’ focuses on re-establishing the tone of season 1 with a new premise and the addition of Heywood, the final moments work to set up the season-long villain as well as introduce the Justice Society of America. Damien Darhk plays a role in the atomic bomb plot in 1942 — selling uranium to the Nazis and additionally aiding them in launching the bomb from their U-boat. However, while Darhk teases a mysterious partner at the end of the episode, Eobard Thawne aka Reverse-Flash (Matt Letscher) quickly arrives and establishes that the Arrowverse villains are working together.
As revealed during the hiatus, they will join up with two more villains to form the Legion of Doom. Given that Legends of Tomorrow is a team-based series, the Legion of Doom may prove to be a bigger threat to the heroes — and, since it features familiar faces, raises the stakes of season 2. Unlike Vandal Savage, who only had ties to three of the team members, the Legion of Doom will include villains connected to the team members, and who are well-known by the viewers as well. Additionally in contrast to the threat of Savage being introduced in the season 1 premiere, the Legion of Doom is evidently being developed more slowly.
The Justice Society of America, however, arrives all at once in the final scene of ‘Out of Time’, giving fans a glimpse of the DC hero team: Commander Steel (Matthew MacCaull), Vixen (Maisie Richardson-Sellers), Dr. Mid-Nite (Kwesi Ameyaw), Obsidian (Dan Payne), and Stargirl (Sarah Grey). It provides a fun and exciting cliffhanger moment, but considering Rex Tyler’s warning from the season 1 finale largely when unheeded in the premiere, the scene leaves the fallout of that warning until the second episode of season 2.
All in all, the season 2 premiere of Legends of Tomorrow stays true to the show established in season 1, while working to shake up the status quo of the team and establish new players in their time travel adventures. It remains to be seen how Legends of Tomorrow capitalizes on the characters and arcs introduced in the premiere — and whether season 2 will better balance an overarching narrative with the show’s episodic adventures. But, on the whole, the season 2 premiere offers some potential for those viewers who weren’t entirely impressed by season 1.
Legends of Tomorrow continues Thursday October 20 with ‘The Justice Society of America’ at 8pm on The CW.