[This is a review of Legends of Tomorrow season 1, episode 12. There will be SPOILERS.]
When the Hunters were introduced at the very end of the Legends of Tomorrow episode ‘Progeny‘, they were set up as the biggest bad around. After much ado they turned out to only be a small footnote in the ‘The Magnificent Eight‘, with the team quickly defeating them in battle in the Old West. This victory has now made way for the Time Masters’ next threat: The Pilgrim (Faye Kingslee). An enemy thought to be worse than Chronos and the Hunters combined, this assassin did not disappoint, and was a formidable foe for the team.
In ‘Last Refuge’, directed by Rachel Talalay and written by Chris Fedak & Matthew Maala, The Pilgrim begins hunting down younger versions of the team, in an attempt to kill them and erase them from the timeline. Rip (Arthur Darvill) reveals a little more about his childhood as everyone scrambles to save infant versions of themselves, and Kendra (Ciara Renée) and Ray’s (Brandon Routh) relationship takes a big step forward.
The Ultimate Headhunter
One of the things Legends has struggled with in its first season is creating villains who seem to pose a real threat. With the ability to easily learn languages, travel through time, and regenerate body parts our heroes have a distinct advantage over most common criminals. Vandal Savage is certainly a threat, but he often comes off as a cartoon-like presence, and most other bad guys have been easily dispatched. None of these issues plague The Pilgrim, a woman who can shoot, fight, control time and has no problem slaughtering children if that’s what gets the job done. Kingslee brought a cold energy to the Terminator-like part, and the freeze frame effects were a fun change. Once again the rules of time travel are adjusted to each episode’s needs, but at least this allows for some quiet, tender moments and a bit of evolution.
Sara, fierce ninja warrior that she is, saves her younger self from the assassin and chooses to not warn her to stay off the Queen’s Gambit. Presumably that’s because she understands that’s the crucible she needs to go through to become who she is now (and to preserve the ever-important timeline). Mick’s inadvertent echoing of his dad – who we can safely guess was not father of the year – helped him to finally forgive his younger self for the fire that killed his parents. Jax (Franz Drameh) had the heaviest emotional lifting to do, faced with the father he never knew in life. His breaking the rules to warn his father of his impending death was a big emotional moment that isn’t given enough time to develop, but Drameh is growing more confident in his role and his performance continues to impress. This storyline feels wasted in this busy episode, and we’re left with two very different theories (both from Rip) as to if Jax’s warning will simply make time find another way to kill his father, or if he’s saved his life for good. Hopefully we’ll see what impact his words had on the future down the line.
Oh Captain My Captain
If ‘Last Refuge’ shed some light on how Mick and Sara grew up (and how adorable baby Snart was) it was positively illuminating in terms of why Rip has such trust issues. It seems there is no part of his backstory that isn’t tragic, but it was a nice change in tone to meet Mary Xavier (Celia Imrie), his foster mother and the woman who raises future Time Masters. After all of the double crossing we’ve seen from the Time Masters, it would have been all too easy to have Mary turn them in, so her loyalty was a refreshing twist.
His offer to sacrifice his younger self to save his teammates’ loved ones along with his ultimately successful backup plan showed just how far he has come as a leader. They are also taking the time to show – in small gestures and in large – the way the team has bonded together. Their banter is easier, their fighting more slick and efficient. It’s been a slow journey but their relationships feel earned, with Sara and Kendra standing out as a surprisingly great pair.
Ray and Kendra’s sluggish romance has been in limbo for the last few episodes, as Kendra struggled with her feelings for Carter and the warnings of her past-self. Ray’s dogged romanticism is sweet, and his confession that their years in Hub City is his happy place paired with his bedside proposal were tender moments that displayed his complete dedication to Kendra. Blinded by love (or optimism) he certainly doesn’t have the best ability to read her face, but his heart is in the right place and it’s completely in line with the Ray Palmer we’ve seen evolving since the very beginning. The sudden arrival of his dead fiancee generated much less consternation than expected, given how deeply her death impacted him, and how serious he was about her future. Hopefully their engagement will stop Kendra’s weekly “free will vs destiny” discussion, though it’s doubtful we’ve seen the end of that debate.
Predictably, all of Rip’s best laid plans have again fallen apart, and the team is now driven to desperate measures to stop Savage. Now, they must kill him or literally be wiped from history as time readjusts without them. Another Savage-less episode excels as the team works, fights, and grows together. Hopefully they keep this momentum up as we speed into the last four episodes, and a battle with Savage after he has come to power.
Legends of Tomorrow will return with ‘Leviathan’ on April 28th, 2016 at 8pm on The CW. Check out a preview below: