[This is a review of Legends of Tomorrow season 2, episode 6. There will be SPOILERS.]
In Legends of Tomorrow season 2, the show has balanced its episodes between those devoted to the season's overarching mysteries -- including hunting down Rex Tyler's (Patrick J. Adams) murderer and locating a missing Rip Hunter (Arthur Darvill) -- with more standalone adventures throughout space and time. The Legends traveled to Feudal Japan where Nate was forced to destroy Ray's Atom suit as he himself learned to control his Citizen Steel powers; the Waverider crew battled zombies during America's Civil War as Amaya assimilated into the team.
Last week, Legends of Tomorrow revisited the overarching storyline when the team followed a timequake to U.S. President Reagan's administration in the 1980s and came face to face with Damien Darhk (Neal McDonough). Although the episode showcased how far the Legends have come as a team since the season 2 premiere, despite the number of shakeups in their roster, perhaps the more intriguing aspect of 'Compromised' was Darhk officially teaming up with villainous speedster Reverse-Flash (Matt Letscher).
Now, Legends of Tomorrow takes another detour from fighting the burgeoning Legion of Doom in this week's episode, 'Outlaw Country' -- written by Matthew Maala and Chris Fedak and directed by Cherie Nowlan. As the title of the episode hints, the Legends return to the Old West and reunite with season 1 favorite Jonah Hex (Johnathon Schaech), who needs their help with his archnemesis, Quentin Turnbull (Jeff Fahey). However, with Mick Rory overexcited by being back in the Old West and Nate still getting the hang of his powers, helping Jonah Hex proves more difficult than the Legends thought.
The Wild West Stays Wild
After the events of last week, in which Sara managed to snag the amulet Darhk had gotten from the Russian KGB, the Legends begin 'Outlaw Country' attempting to work out what exactly their antagonist is planning -- and how bad it really is that he's teamed up with a speedster. But, when Nate hits a research roadblock, the team is relieved to return to the Wild West in search of a time aberration.
When they stumble across Jonah Hex about to be hanged, the Legends save their old ally and learn he's at the center of an aberration that would see his archnemesis Turnbull conquer the western part of the United States. Turnbull would accomplish such a feat using dwarf star alloy (the mineral Ray used to power his Atom suit) found in an abandoned mine -- detected by a rogue piece of tech. However, there's also an old vendetta that runs deep between Jonah Hex and Turnbull, which is later revealed to be rooted in the mysterious Calvert mentioned in the previous Old West episode.
As was the case in season 1, Legends of Tomorrow heading back in time to a western setting and including fan-favorite comic character Jonah Hex gives the series a fun cowboy feel -- one that plays into the current popularity of western fare thanks to HBO's Westworld. Although 'Outlaw Country' feels less rooted in the Old West than the previous western episode -- largely due to the futuristic tech created through the dwarf star alloy -- Schaech is just as enjoyable as Jonah Hex, perhaps even more so as he butts heads with Captain Sara.
Additionally, the Old West has an effect on Rory, bringing out his inner animal that just wants to watch the world burn (though, Heath Ledger's Joker he is not). For the majority of season 2, Rory has struggled to let himself become more a part of the Legends team after the loss of Leonard Snart (Wentworth Miller) last year. 'Outlaw Country' seems to take five steps back in terms of his character development, returning him to the wild outlaw Snart left stranded in time, while taking one step forward when Amaya offers to teach Rory how to tame his inner beast.
Still, though the character arc doesn't make much sense within Rory's overall narrative this season, Dominic Purcell and Maisie Richardson-Sellers work well together with Rory's over-the-top cheesiness compared to Amaya as the straight man. The pair, especially when under orders from Sara, bounce well of each other, giving Legends of Tomorrow another fun dynamic.
Citizen Steel Is Indestructible, Right?
One of the other major character and story arcs of season 2 has been Nate's transition from hemophiliac historian to impenetrable-skinned superhero Citizen Steel. Although Legends of Tomorrow may be in its sophomore season, the show has tackled an origin story with the character -- which is especially compelling when Nate is surrounded by superheroes who have already completed their own origin stories. In particular, Ray has taken Nate under his wing, giving both characters specific roles to develop.
Where the characters in season 1 largely leaned more toward serious than goofy, the troupe of season 2 leans in the opposite direction -- with Nate especially helping to give Legends of Tomorrow a much lighter (almost Barry Allen-esque) tone. However, one major theme of Nate's story has been his arrogance, which is shaken in 'Outlaw Country' for the first time since he gained control of his powers in 'Shogun'. Thanks to dwarf star mineral laced bullets, Nate learns that the steel-like alloy of his skin can be damaged -- and he can be injured.
Of course, Nate handles the setback with characteristic charm and goofiness, giving Ray the chance to play the mentor role and offer the newer member of the team a pep talk. So, when Nate runs into battle against a train, his bravery is progress -- rather than earlier in the episode when he ran to Jonah Hex's rescue with little thought, but a whole lot of cockiness. Now, with Ray having built a suit for Nate, it seems he's nearly reached the rank of a fully-fledged superhero.
The Invasion Begins!
Although 'Outlaw Country' was a fun return to the Wild West and provided compelling character development for individuals as well as the team as a whole, the episode takes another step away from their overarching storylines. Of course, with the opening scenes devoted to Darhk's amulet and Stein and Jax discussing future-Barry Allen's message about a war, Legends of Tomorrow doesn't necessarily completely ignore its larger storylines.
Still, the final scene of the episode works to help the series jump into The CW's four-show crossover. The cliffhanger of the episode doesn't offer much in the way of a tease since Sara simply informs Nate and Ray that they're heading to 2016 to help their friends, but it's enough to get fans excited. Perhaps reuniting with their friends will help to develop Legends of Tomorrow's season 2 storylines. However, it's more likely the episode will be entirely devoted to defeating the crossover villain, the Dominators -- though that's not necessarily bad news for fans of The CW's DC Comics universe.
Legends of Tomorrow continues Thursday, December 1 with the conclusion of The CW's four-show crossover, ‘Invasion!’, at 8pm on The CW.