[This is a review of Legends of Tomorrow season 1, episode 10. There will be SPOILERS.]
After an attack by Chronos/Mick Rory (Dominic Purcell) had Ray (Brandon Routh), Sara (Caity Lotz), and Kendra (Ciara Renée) separated from the team for two years, this week’s Legends of Tomorrow sees the team back together again. ‘Progeny’ was directed by David Geddes and written by Phil Klemmer & Marc Guggenheim: both executive producers who helped co-write ‘Pilot, Part 1’ and ‘Pilot, Part 2’. References to their roots were scattered throughout the episode, which provided only a little forward momentum and a whole lot of rumination on the nature of good and evil.
The team tracks Vandal Savage (Casper Crump) to 2147, and finds him mentoring the pre-teen Per Degaton (The 100Cory Gruter-Andrew), who Rip describes as being tantamount to “a young Hitler”. Degaton is famed for unleashing the Armageddon Virus, which kills hundreds of thousands and primes the world for Savage’s takeover. While the team debates the merits of killing a child for the greater good, Ray learns a thing or two about his lineage, and how his Atom technology was modified after his death.
Team Robot vs. Team Kidnapping
The question of when killing is justified is one we have seen on series before on Legends, and is a theme that’s been explored in superhero shows many times over. This particular moral quandary is a new one to Legends, and more grim than anything we’ve seen on the show to date. When tasked with killing a man like Savage – a bloodthirsty murderer in his own right – it’s no problem. If a lab filled with evil Russian technicians blows up or crooked businessmen are killed during a black market auction gone wrong, it can be chalked up to collateral damage. Killing Professor Stein to stop Firestorm technology from falling into the wrong hands already brought about a moral reckoning for Sara, allowing her to continue living in the light. Even to save countless others, killing a child is tough pill to swallow – and as Rory says, not terribly heroic.
The team’s struggle with what to do emphasised how badly they want to be good guys, and not even the lure of saving his child isn’t enough to get Rip to cross that line. This dilemma could have been an interesting character study, except everyone behaved exactly as expected. Rip was cold and calculated, Sara championed redemption, and Stein and Ray preached non-violence. Snart’s blasé attitude toward killing seemed out of place after his behavior in ‘Fail-Safe’ and ‘Left Behind’, making it seem more like posturing – knowing that no one would actually go through with a kill order.
In the end, the decision to let Degaton go with a only a stern talking to does seem weak and leaves many non-murderous solutions untouched on the table. Couldn’t they have kept the boy longer, and mentored him themselves? Or simply thrown him in jail alongside Rory? Killing a young kid was never really an option, it would be a sharp turn for a show that doesn’t deal in darkness, but the team literally moving up the apocalypse continues the theme of their not terribly well-thought out missions. They have run into Savage countless times now, and his easy escape continues to feel like a plot contrivances to get through to the season finale, more than plausible maneuvering.
Love in the Time of Flashbacks
Following Savage led Ray (aka Dr. Hannibal Lecter) to yet another unpleasant surprise: his Atom technology has been modified to create autonomous policing robots that bring terror instead of peace. After investigating the lab, Ray realizes he can now join the fast-growing Unknown Offspring Club (something there must be a CW support group for). Rachel Turner (Jewel Staite) was introduced as his five times great-granddaughter, though it’s ultimately revealed that it was his brother who had a kid and founded the company. This was Staite’s highly-anticipated debut on the show and her character was criminally underused as the token scientist. Hopefully Staite is able to return for more meaty work down the line.
Just as Ray hides his paternity troubles from Kendra, she is hiding her own flashback of Carter and their years as a family. It’s a nice nod to their son Aldus – who Chronos/Rory killed in the Pilot – and their history as a couple. The flashback finally portrays the exhaustion they felt after running for lifetimes, and the futile outlook born after spending generations getting murdered. We’re also revisiting something that was pushed hard in the first three episodes and on The Flash: Kendra and Carter’s great undying love. With any other couple Kendra’s conflicted feelings would seem sudden and out of place, but for a relationship that was developed while her powers were suppressed, it makes sense. With Carter so present in flashbacks, it’s a safe bet we’ll be seeing him again in another alternate future.
Luckily, we have Rory to put these relationship woes in perspective, as he warns the team the Time Masters are unleashing The Hunters on them – ruthless mercenaries who are coming to wipe them out of history.
Overall, ‘Progeny’ felt like a filler episode that was just treading water. While it would have brought up questions of time-travel communications, it does seem odd that the recent tragic events from Arrowhad no ripple into Legends. With Jonah Hex making his debut next week, it seems as though we have some ground to cover before we see any more cross-show events that would address this.
Legends of Tomorrow will return with ‘The Magnificent Eight’ on April 14th, 2016 at 8pm on The CW. Check out a preview below: