[This is a review of Legends of Tomorrow season 1, episode 7. There will be SPOILERS.]
After leaving behind a bleak version of Star City, Legends of Tomorrow broke its typical formula of adventures in time, instead spending the entire episode stalled in space. It's a big setting used effectively to tell a much smaller story as they focused on Rip Hunter's history with the Time Masters, and Mick and Snart's growing rift. In 'Marooned' directed by Gregory Smith and written by Anderson Mackenzie & Phil Klemmer, there was no hunt for Savage - only the team in constant danger, and it was one of the strongest episodes of the season.
With Savage's trail gone cold and Gideon in serious need of a software upgrade, Rip decides to use a distress call from another timeship to his advantage. Taking Mick, Jax, and Stein the Captain launches an away mission to access the ship's technology, only to be captured by space pirates in an ambush. Back on the Waverider, Sara and Snart get trapped in chilling conditions while Ray and Kendra work to repair the ship and rescue their team.
Engines to Full Throttle
In one hour, the show managed to rectify many of the challenges that '2046' highlighted. By spending so much time focusing on Rip's backstory, we are finally able to see the history that has been influencing all of his decisions since he abandoned the council and give Arthur Darvill some more meaty material to work with. The flashbacks to Rip and his late wife Miranda Coburn ultimately develops their characters beyond the dead wife trope - though Miranda remains one-note in flashback form - and makes Rip's guilt complex that much more understandable as we see what she gave up for him.
While the episode wrestles with some serious topics, it rotated from humor to pathos and back again. Instead of feeling jarring or out of place it seemed more like the writers hit their sweet spot: oddballs in space. By embracing everything this show is - and not attempting to impersonate Arrow or The Flash - Legends succeeds wonderfully. The humor, adventure, and absurdity inherent in the show were on full display here. The addition of space pirates, while not entirely threatening, were serviceable antagonist in this Star Trek send up.
Iron Willed and Battle Hardened
With Rip shouldering most of the emotional heavy lifting, his crew provided some nice comic relief. Ray Palmer's short-lived reign as captain was predictably bumpy, but his Star Trek take on being in charge was a nice addition. Victor Garber's Professor Stein also nailed it as he finally lived out his Space Ranger Stein fantasy, proving once again that there is not much Garber cannot successfully take on. Even though Rip was overstating his team's experience a bit, almost everyone still managed to get in a few punches, once again showing off Sara's amazing fighting skills even as she went up against (the surprisingly agile) Mick.
The only odd beat in the whole hour once again centered around Kendra. First she wasn't given anything to do besides tilt her head and give Ray gentle pep talks. Then, after his brush with death their two day flirtation was quickly upgraded to a full fledged romance as Kendra threw herself into his arms, kissing him just as he tells her she doesn't need anyone. Of course, Kendra and Carter were not actually together and she cannot remember most of their past, but this still feels like a huge jump for her. It also demonstrates that we don't even know her well enough to gauge if this is out of character for Kendra. A relationship will likely not be so ready made for Sara and Snart, but their near death bonding, and Snart shooting Mick to help save Sara, only supports the earlier hints of romance. Regardless of which direction they take this relationship, the two have a lot in common and seeing them open up about their regrets and previous encounters with death was a nice, quiet moment.
Time to Choose
When we first meet Snart and Mick, they are partners gleefully robbing Central City blind. The two of them signed up for this mission together - ostensibly for the thieving opportunities - but we've seen Snart's inclination toward good ever since he first cut a deal with Barry Allen. Despite his occasional grumbling, it's clear he likes being on the team, likes working on a greater mission. Their fracturing loyalties and Mick's discontent has been building over the course of the season and finally boiled over after Mick's hostile takeover of the ship.
Klemmer, one of the writers of 'Marooned' who serves as head executive producer, also co-wrote episode 4 'White Knights', which had Snart choosing his team and the mission over his partner for the first time ever. In many ways this felt like a bookend to that choice. Snart chose this team long ago, they just didn't want to acknowledge it until now. Their confrontation was tense, painful and completely believable as we watch their friendship dissolve. Snart's steely resolve to handle the problem Mick now poses showed just how far he had come since first signing on to kill Savage.
Of course the real question is: did Snart actually kill Mick? The pain on his face and grim acceptance that only one of them would survive says yes. However, general TV viewing rules dictate that if there is no body - and even that matters less and less in post-Lazarus Pit world - they aren't really dead. Having the anarchist Mick as a wildcard, waiting for his moment to strike is an excellent dangling story line, and leaves plenty of space for his return. Mick is a great character and Dominic Purcell does excellent work with his sensitive, mercurial moods. Hopefully, he is not gone for good.
In the meantime, with both Carter and Mick off the Waverider there is a surprising amount of empty seats onboard. Perhaps this opens the door for Vixen come on board?
'Marooned' was a stand out episode, seamlessly revealing multiple backstories while building the stakes, and bringing out team closer. By embracing the show's inherent strengths and grounding the action in real, emotional stakes it seems like Legends has found its own unique, if somewhat goofy, voice.
Legends of Tomorrow will return with ‘Night of the Hawk’ on March 10th, 2016 at 8pm on The CW. Check out a preview below: