[This is a review of Legends of Tomorrow season 1, episode 2. There will be SPOILERS.]
Legends of Tomorrow continued its premiere with ‘Pilot, Part 2′ that, like last week’s episode, was directed by Glen Winter and written by creators Greg Berlanti, Marc Guggenheim, Andrew Kreisberg, and showrunner Phil Klemmer. We find our team exactly where we left them, in 1975. Following a clue that will leads them to where Vandal Savage (Casper Crump) is, the team infiltrates a black market auction, meeting a spry Damien Dahrk – who doesn’t look a day younger than when we last saw him on Arrow – and cause a series of dangerous chain reactions.
Time travelling heroics, it’s all fun and games until you’ve accidentally disrupted the timeline and destroyed life as you know it. Our new band of misfits might have a spaceship that can create decade-authentic clothing, but they also have a tremendous amount of responsibility to mankind to not make things worse in their efforts to save the world. Still busy world building, Legends of Tomorrow episode 2 had a dual purpose of developing our heroes a bit better, while conveying the consequences of their interference with the existing timeline.
Who’s the Boss?
Still upset over Rip Hunter’s (Arthur Darvill) lies, no one is content to sit back let him lead the team. Leonard Snart (Wentworth Miller), not used to taking command from anyone, quickly asserts his authority, only to be countered by Ray Palmer (Brandon Routh) who clearly does not trust the pair of thieves. They make it into the auction and almost pull it off, until Savage senses the presence of Hawkgirl and recognizes them as outsiders. What follows is an awesome battle with each person wielding their weapon of choice, obliterating the enemy and making off with the atomic bomb. Firestorm, a.k.a. Professor Martin Stein (Victor Garber) and Jefferson “Jax” Jackson (Franz Drameh) neutralizes the bomb by absorbing its explosion, in a neat demonstration of their powers.
The direction and camerawork is especially strong during the fight scenes, jumping from person to person with dizzying speed. Their espionage act was enjoyable, playing out like a fantastical Oceans 11, and hinting at what the show could evolve into as each specialist learns to work with the other. Savage’s dialogue continues to be both overly formal and on the nose, making it difficult to find him terrifying as he enunciates lines like “I doubt you can apprehend me, and stop a nuclear explosion.” Crump is a competent actor, but Savage could benefit from more showing, less explaining.
Blast From the Past
The team again splits up, with Stein, Jackson, and Sara headed to find a device that a young Stein created that should help them to find the piece of Ray’s suit he lost in the battle. Snart and Rory are tasked with stealing the dagger that originally killed Kendra and Carter, but Ray, ever suspicious of the two, tags along. They find what they’re looking for but not before tipping off the young-Stein that something otherworldly is occurring, and his preoccupation with them causes him to miss the mixer where he would have met his wife. Thanks to Ray and Snart’s fighting, Savage easily apprehends the two and calls in the rest of the team.
Ray’s missing suit piece and Stein’s party skipping a party are both small points that introduce a much larger concept, which will influence a lot of the week to week action: the dangers changing the timeline. This was what the Time Council warned Rip about, and already we can see why they wouldn’t sign off on a vengeance-fueled mission that is bound to have a ripple effect on humanity. They’re already changing events and just because they managed to stop Ray’s technology from leading to the downfall of Central City doesn’t mean there aren’t plenty of bigger mistakes down the line. Despite most of the team treating their quest for Savage as a great adventure, this mission is a dangerous one. Snart foreshadows this nicely as he tells Ray that above all else he is a survivor, “and there’s gonna come a day when you wish you were too.”
Snart and Palmer clashing throughout the episode showed exactly who the two are, and they’re poised to be alternating antagonists and reluctant allies as their worldviews continue to conflict. Routh is excellent as the downright chipper Ray, but Miller is quickly walking away with the show chewing through scenery and providing most of the comic relief. Professor Stein grew a bit during the episode, grappling with the realization that he never outgrew his arrogance, and sacrificing his happy marriage in the interest of salvaging the timeline.
A Heavy Price
As the team rushes to save Ray, Snart and Rory, Carter and Kendra move in with the dagger that can kill Savage. Carter stabs Savage, only to have Savage pull the blade out and stab him right back, conveniently announcing that Kendra is the only person who can kill him. The team manages to save Kendra – who was also stabbed – but not Carter, who dies in her arms. Kendra runs through a wide range of emotions in this episode, and her grief over his quick demise feels very real. His death brings a whole host of new questions the biggest being: is this death really the end? It seems unlikely that there will forever be an empty chair on the Wave Rider, and seeing how they deal in time travel and Carter reincarnates, his chances of a return are high.
That being said, Rip clearly made the rule that they could not go back in time to interfere in events they participated in, which for now means no do-over with Carter. While he wasn’t an established character – his underdevelopment was one of the few problems with the first episode – his death still marks the first real test of stakes on this show and it will be interesting to see it is as permanent here as it (sometimes) is on their sister show Arrow.
Carter’s death brings together the team, reuniting them in their mission against Savage and vowing to avenge his death. Before it was only Kendra and Carter who were irrevocably tied to Savage, now everyone is. We close on the team, finally in agreement to let Rip be their true Captain. But who is Rip really, and is he the kind of man they should be following?
All in all this episode was solid conclusion to the events set up in ‘Part I’ though it would have had a much larger impact had it been aired back to back with its predecessor. This hour marked the end of the introductions and explanations, showing a team that is surprisingly powerful and fun. The quest for revenge is an well worn trope, but the motivation still seems like enough to launch a exciting, time bending adventure.
Legends of Tomorrow will return with ‘Blood Ties’ on February 4th, 2016 at 8pm on The CW. Check out a preview below:
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