[This is a review of Legends of Tomorrow season 1, episode 16. There will be SPOILERS.]
Since the very beginning, Legends of Tomorrow has been one of the more ambitious undertakings of the Greg Berlanti/DC Comics universe. Its sister show Arrow's first season was grounded as a crime drama, and The Flash based its emotional core around family as it explored fictional science. After being set up on both shows, Legends took on time travel and served as a superhero team-up show. The fight to defeat major big bad Vandal Savage (Casper Crump) anchored their adventures as Rip Hunter (Arthur Darvill) sought to save the world (and his family) from the immortal villain. While the focus often deviated to side-adventures, killing Savage was always the purpose of the show.
That aim came into sharp focus and ultimately fruition in the season one finale, 'Legendary', directed by Dermott Downs with a story by Greg Berlanti & Chris Fedak, and the teleplay by Phil Klemmer & Marc Guggenheim. This week our scattered heroes again rejoined Rip and uncovered Savage's master plan to revert the world back to 1700 BC. After rescuing Kendra and Carter, the team exploits a meteor-related weakness and finally kills Savage no less than three times.
This episode marks more forward strides than ever before, finally achieving the single goal the show has spent sixteen episodes building to. The action was balanced with emotional closure as both Sara Lance (Caity Lotz) and Mick Rory (Dominic Purcell) processed their grief. While much of the development was rushed, the very end set the stage for an interesting - and ultimately quite different - season 2.
The Craziest Bad Guy Plan
Savage's quest for world domination usually dealt in super-villain cliches to explain his plans and motivation, which essentially boiled down to wanting to rule the world and being mad that a girl rejected him. This week finally got specific: Savage was using the advanced technology sent by Thanagarians (aliens) to detonate each of the three meteors in three different time periods. This temporal paradox would result in a time quake that would return the Earth to the time of the first meteor reaction, otherwise known as ancient Egypt where he would be ruler, not advisor. Simple, right?
After failing to rescue Kendra and kill Savage early in the episode, seeing the team actually succeed was refreshing and a stark contrast to their streak of successive failures. After so many losses, they were overdue to finally complete their mission. Watching Sara, Mick, and Kendra strike the killing blow was entirely satisfying, and worked well to have his death be divided among the team, rather then just have Kendra - or pinch-hitter Carter - do it alone. Of course, it wouldn't be a finale without a fake-out death - and while Rip's near-death experience wasn't frightening, it at least gave some much needed closure with his wife and child.
The action of the episode centered around Savage's end, but the emotional core was rooted firmly in grief and recovery. Four episodes later, Laurel Lance's untimely death on Arrow finally reverberated into Legends, as Sara returned home to a painful reunion with her father, Quentin Lance (Paul Blackthorne). Blackthorne and Lotz have long been excellent scene partners and their work in this episode was fantastic, selling not only their heartbreak, but the legitimate reasons why Laurel, and by extension Quentin, would want Sara to leave town again.
Rip's logic handled the question of why Sara couldn't simply time travel and save Laurel (or for that matter, anyone who dies on either show) as he claims her inclusion in that particular timeline would result in the death of Laurel, Sara, and Quentin. However, Rip has been so evasive and dishonest about the timeline specifics it's hard to know if he has simply made that up to keep her onboard, and it's that untrustworthy side that makes Rip a questionable Captain.
Also grieving is Mick, who lost his partner and best friend when Leonard Snart sacrificed himself to save the team. Mick's newfound loyalty in the wake of Snart's death is sweet, and Purcell's portrayal manages to play his affection for the team both for laughs (his consistent insults to Ray are a frequent source of humor on the show) and heartbreak as he admits he doesn't want to lose any more friends. His small speech to a three-years-past Snart is perfect, and gives us a hint at how we could see more Miller on the show next season.
Guardians of the Timeline
The finale also delivered two surprises that set the stage for season 2. It seems we have seen the last of Kendra and Carter, as they left to explore their newfound freedom from Savage alone. While their exit makes sense, Carter was never integrated into the cast and the show has consistently struggled to find a purpose for Kendra, their departure still feels like a missed opportunity. With Kendra gone, Sara is now the lone woman on the show, pending new season 2 casting.
Finally, we were introduced to the previously teased “mysterious DC hero" played by Suits star Patrick J. Adams. Just as the team is about to board the Waverider for a new adventure protecting the timeline, Rex Tyler arrives, pronouncing that to do that would kill them. Tyler is not only from the future, he is a member of the Justice Society of America and a clear sign of what's to come not only for Legends season 2, but for the CW DC-verse overall.
Throughout its freshman season, Legends has stumbled greatly as it struggled to balance multiple lead charachters, intricate time travel, and a villain who could not quite pull off menacing. Despite that, it also managed to be a fun adventure filled with confident characters and relationships that felt real. It wasn't always perfect, but when it was good it was, as Professor Stein would say, astonishing. All in all 'Legendary' was an appropriate button for the season, tying up loose ends and setting up new future adventures. Hopefully, the show's writers will be able to capitalize on this new clean slate as we head into season 2.
Share your thoughts on the season 1 finale and theories about what’s to come in season 2 in the comments section!
Legends of Tomorrow will return for season 2 this fall on The CW.