[This is a review of Legends of Tomorrow season 1, episode 13. There will be SPOILERS.]
Saving the world was never going to be an easy quest, even with the advantages of a Waverider and Time Master technology. From the moment Rip Hunter brought the team together on Legends of Tomorrow they've been working to achieve one goal: kill Vandal Savage. In the process Carter Hall was murdered by Savage, Mick Rory was captured and trained by the Time Masters, and Sara, Ray, and Kendra spent two years cooling their heels in the 1950s. To say they've had middling success would be an overstatement - but despite their many losses they have continued to fight Savage under increasingly dire circumstances, a true team of underdogs.
Desperation is the name of the game in 'Leviathan', an excellent episode directed by Gregory Smith and written by Sarah Nicole Jones & Ray Utarnachitt. After literally running out of time, the team travels to 2166 in an attempt to stop Savage at the height of his power, just before he murders Rip's family. There they discover Savage's daughter Cassandra Savage (Jessica Sipos) who Snart (Wentworth Miller) tries to bring around to their side, while Kendra develops a new way to kill Savage.
Her Father's Daughter
Going to 2166 is a risky move for many reasons: Savage is at the height of his power with an army at his disposal, he has had decades to prepare for their visit, and this time is incredibly emotionally charged for Rip as it marks the moment he lost his family. While the show easily could have spent the episode exploring Rip's past attempts (and failures) to save his wife and son, the show-runners instead chose to keep that as an emotional aside, focusing on Cassandra and her slow evolution from loyal soldier to ally.
Continuing its streak of women who can handily defeat numerous men in hand to hand combat, Cassandra had the same steely-eyed determination as her father. She also had the same cocky smirk as Snart, who used his past with an abusive father to convince her of Savage's true nature. After being largely sidelined for the last few episodes, it was refreshing to see Snart back in action, not only in the heist but in the quieter moments with Cassandra. Their similarities were emphasised but not overdone, and Miller's chemistry with Sipos kept their conversations charged.
Her presence brought us to the same conflict we saw in 'Progeny', as the team shies away from the more brutal option that would get results - in this case, mailing Cassandra's fingers to Savage - in the interest of maintaining their honor. Historically that honor hasn't exactly won them any battles, but here we see it work to their favor as Snart's cool logic paired with Gideon's handy recordings turning Cassandra against Savage. The addition of the refugees emphasised the very human cost of Savage's rule, something that can easily be overlooked in all the time travelling fun.
Legends has always worked best when it embraces its over the top superhero nature, something that hit new highs by launching into a full on robot battle. Ray went head to head with the titular Leviathan, which turned out to be a 200 foot robot capable of throwing the Waverider around like a toy. It was fun to see a Ray reconfigure his A.T.O.M. suit to grow in size and the battle was both fast-paced and exciting. Using a radio tower as a weapon was a nice touch, and there was something incredibly satisfying about seeing Ray literally punch the robot's head straight off. We heard quite a few pep talks this week as various people took up the mantle of leader, and it was nice to see Ray finally on the receiving end of one, with Jax cheering him on.
Welcome Back Carter
After the self doubt and failed assassination attempts that have plagued Kendra since the show began, it comes as no real surprise that her insecurity in her ability to kill Savage goes back a long while. Seeing her and Carter back in 1941 with him trying to prepare her for this exact scenario only reinforces how long the three of them have been playing this game. Kendra's progression through the episode was exciting, as she unlocked more memories and discovered the mace that would let her kill Savage. Her leadership and strength in the final fight with Savage felt like a payoff after weeks of waffling, which made her outright refusal to kill him that much more painful. The final reveal of a reincarnated Carter suffering from some advanced level brainwashing justifies her decision to sacrifice Rip's family in the interest of recovering his mind, but only just.
With Carter back in the picture, Kendra seems poised to fulfill the prophecy of her doomed relationship with Ray (has any TV couple ever started a conversation with "We need to talk?" that didn't end in a breakup?), while the team tries to save Carter and still somehow kill Savage. We'll have to wait and see if we see Cassandra again, though with Savage alive odds are good she will return. Savage is now captive on the Waverider, which can only mean trouble for our heroes.
This episode was a fun mix of spectacle and drama, and though they failed to kill Savage, his capture showed some actual progress on the team's part. Hopefully the show can maintain this forward momentum as we head into the last three episodes of Legends of Tomorrow's first season, and the team's final showdown with Savage.
Legends of Tomorrow will return with ‘River of Time’ on May 5th, 2016 at 8pm on The CW. Check out a preview below: