[This is a review of Legends of Tomorrow season 2, episode 9. There will be SPOILERS.]
The first part of Legends of Tomorrow season 2 focused on the time-traveling team adjusting to a new status quo, as well as the formation of the Legion of Doom. In the aftermath of the season 2 premiere, the Legends were without a leader -- since Rip Hunter had been lost somewhere in time and space -- and with the addition of new members Nate Heywood and Amaya Jiwe, aka Vixen. But, as the Legends were attempting to come to terms with their new circumstances, villains Reverse-Flash (Matt Letscher) and Damien Darhk (Neal McDonough) struck up a partnership that later welcomed Malcolm Merlyn (John Barrowman) to their ranks.
The midseason finale of Legends of Tomorrow, 'The Chicago Way', revealed the Legion of Doom's goal is to obtain the Spear of Destiny in order to rewrite history without creating time aberrations, which the Legends team chases down. Additionally, the final moments of the episode revealed Rip Hunter was alive and well, living in 1967 as a film student -- shooting a movie based on the life of Rip Hunter.
Now, in the midseason premiere, 'Raiders of the Lost Art' -- written by Keto Shimizu and Chris Fedak and directed by Dermott Downs -- the Legends follow the Legion of Doom to 1967 when the villainous team create a time aberration. There, they discover Rip is living life under a different name and has no access to his memories. Their mission is made more difficult when the aberration -- which involves a young George Lucas -- affects both Nate and Ray Palmer, while the Legion of Doom attempt to recover the Spear of Destiny from Rip.
George Lucas Has the Spear of Destiny
As the title of the episode suggests, 'Raiders of the Lost Art' acts as a love letter to the legendary writer/director George Lucas - a younger version of which appears as a friend to Rip Hunter's new persona Phil. In fact, though the midseason premiere is ostensibly about the Legends team tracking down the Legion of Doom, reuniting with their long lost captain, and attempting to recover the Spear of Destiny before the villains get their hand on it, George Lucas is more instrumental to the plot than any of the show's other historically famous characters.
Although Albert Einstein and Al Capone have been featured on Legends of Tomorrow, and been subject to time aberrations caused by the Legion of Doom, the villains scaring George Lucas out of pursuing filmmaking has a far-reaching impact on two team members. Ray and Nate, without the inspiration of Star Wars and Indiana Jones, become a heart surgeon and a yoga instructor, respectively. With the time aberration catching up to their current selves, Ray and Nate lose their knowledge and abilities, rendering them - as Sara puts it - useless to the team.
As a result, Ray, Nate, and Amaya track down George just after he's dropped out of film school in an attempt to get the future prolific filmmaker to resume his dream. While Ray and Nate humorously attempt to convince George to re-enroll (including Nate's particularly direct line: "Stay in school!"), Amaya ends up doing most of the talking - despite the fact that she's never seen or heard of a George Lucas movie. Still, though it seems to work, George is in possession of the Spear of Destiny, which draws Malcolm and Damien back to the film student.
When the group is attacked by the Legion of Doom and forced into a trash compactor - recreating the scene from Star Wars: Episode VI - A New Hope - to find the Spear, it takes all three Legends team members and the threat of impending death to convince George he's meant to pursue his dream as a director. Once George believes, Nate's powers as Citizen Steel and Ray's Atom suit return. Although a somewhat overly cheesey conclusion to the 'Raiders of the Lost Art' storyline, the Legends team members' impassioned speeches about the impact of George Lucas's legacy will no doubt resonate with fans - whether they're fans of Lucas specifically or the sci-fi genre as a whole.
Captain Cold... is a Time Ghost?
While the majority of the Legends team members are focused on Rip and the Legion, Mick ropes Professor Stein into helping him with the visions he's been having of Captain Cold. So far as the audience has seen, these Captain Cold visions have acted as the devil on Mick's shoulder, antagonizing him and questioning his choices about staying with the crew of the Waverider. In 'Raiders of the Lost Art', Stein attempts to help Mick, but since it isn't the professor's realm of expertise it's unclear what exactly is wrong with Heat Wave until the end of the episode.
Although Stein initially tells Mick that the hallucinations are a result of his - gasp! - emotions, they later discover the Time Masters implanted an antenna in Mick's brain while he was Chronos during season 1 (and, if viewers forgot about Mick's time as Chronos, it may help that even Stein admits he forgot about it as well). After learning of the antenna, Stein theorizes Captain Cold may have become a remnant in the time stream - a time ghost as Mick calls it - while the receiver in Mick's head allowed him to communicate with his friend.
However, after bandying these theories around, Stein removes the antenna from Mick's head and they learn the piece of technology had been broken long before the hallucinations began, causing the professor to return to his original theory. Stein tells Mick he's experiencing cognitive dissonance as a result of his long-held belief of self-sufficiency and chaotic actions - voiced by the Captain Cold hallucinations - versus his newfound desire to be part of the team. Though it's an interesting step in Mick's season 2 character arc, and presumably setup for Captain Cold's eventual return to Legends of Tomorrow, the plot in 'Raiders of the Lost Art' is mostly lost to the other aspects of the episode.
Rip Is the Legion of Doom's Prisoner
'Raiders of the Lost Art' sees the Legends team finally name the group of villains they're facing this season, with Nate doing the honors - and offering a nod to the Legion of Doom's first ever appearance, on the Hanna-Barbera animated show Challenge of the Super Friends. Still, Malcolm and Damien again prove to be formidable foes for the Legends, at least while Nate and Ray are without their powers. But, once the heroes get their abilities back, the playing field is leveled once again with the reappearance of Reverse-Flash.
The resulting skirmish ends with the Legends reclaiming the piece of the Spear of Destiny as well as the medallion that can lead them to the remaining pieces, but Rip is captured by Reverse-Flash. Unfortunately for Rip, he still doesn't have his memories - despite a quite convincing bluff during the skirmish - prompting a promise of torture from the Legion members. It remains to be seen how exactly the Legion will get the information they want out of Rip and what the Legends will do to get their former captain back. But, since next week's episode is titled 'The Legion of Doom', viewers can likely expect to learn more about the villainous collective.
Legends of Tomorrow continues Tuesday, January 31 with ‘The Legion of Doom’ at 9pm on The CW.