Warning: major spoilers below! You know the drill. Don’t read this recap until you’ve seen the twelfth episode of DC’s Legends of Tomorrow. You’ve been warned!
Last week, Legends of Tomorrow introduced Faye Kingslee as the Pilgrim, another one-dimensional enemy who only had slightly more personality than Chronos with his mask on, or than the Hunters who were defeated so easily in the Old West episode. The Pilgrim was about as generic as a temporal bounty hunter can get…and yet she was easily the best villain that this show has ever had. It’s less about the Pilgrim’s non-existent characterization and more about the idea that she had the means to assassinate the members of the Waverider’s crew at any point in their history. That upped the threat level considerably, which is why it was such a letdown when the show immediately neutered how ruthless that the Pilgrim could be.
Essentially, the writers of this episode came up with a new time travel rule out of nowhere, stating that the Pilgrim could only try to kill each target once in his or her respective timeline. Why, exactly? For no other reason than she’d be nearly impossible to stop if she actually used time as a weapon. Why stop with attacking the crew’s younger selves? Surely their ancestors would be more vulnerable to temporal assassinations.
The first few confrontations with the Pilgrim were entertaining, if a bit repetitive. The teenage versions of Mick Rory (Mitchell Kummen) and Sara Lance (Caity Lotz) were saved, before a slightly younger Ray Palmer (Brandon Routh) came under attack by the Pilgrim. In fact, that Ray was so recent that it would have been a cool cameo to see Team Arrow show up for a hot second in that fight.
Eventually, Rip Hunter (Arthur Darvill) came up with the bright idea to have the team abduct each other as infants to prevent the Pilgrim from targeting them. This led to one of the best scenes in the episode, as Heat Wave/Older Mick (Dominic Purcell) and Hunter tricked the very trusting father of Martin Stein (Victor Garber) into handing over his newborn son despite some hilariously unconvincing lies from the two time travelers. It was also very amusing to see Heat Wave warn his younger self not to drop the infant version of his future partner-in-crime, Captain Cold/Leonard Snart (Wentworth Miller).
For a brief moment, this episode showed some real heart when Jefferson Jackson (Franz Drameh) came face-to-face with his late father, James Jackson (Eli Goree), at the hospital shortly after Jefferson’s birth. The show had to awkwardly establish that James missed the birth before revealing that he was there after all, even at the risk of going A.W.O.L. to see his boy. Clearly, I haven’t been giving Drameh enough credit, because that scene really landed its emotional notes. Where has that been for the life of this show? There have been a few times before this episode where Drameh and Garber had some genuinely fraught exchanges that really worked. This show needs more of that.
Instead, it keeps forcing Ray and Kendra (Ciara Renée) on the viewer in a romance that doesn’t even seem real to the characters! There is just no spark between Ray and Kendra that would allow the viewers to buy them as a couple. You can’t fake chemistry…or in this case, you REALLY can’t fake it. For a show about the epic stakes of time travel, it’s really flubbed the emotional stakes for Kendra and Ray. The episode was so focused on making Ray and Kendra’s engagement work that it almost completely glossed over Ray’s reunion with his dead fiancée, Anna.
After the team members dumped their younger selves at what was essentially an orphanage for future Time Masters, the Pilgrim began abducting the loved ones of the Waverider’s crew as blackmail. It was genuinely nice to see Arrow’s Paul Blackthorne as a younger Quentin Lance, but other than Jefferson’s dad, Stein’s wife, and a brief glimpse of Anna, most of the Pilgrim’s victims were kept off screen.
To save the lives of his crew and their loved ones, Hunter offered up his younger self (Aiden Longworth) from the time orphanage in exchange for the release of the hostages. Amusingly, the Pilgrim was actually surprised when the team double-crossed her. That’s something Team Flash should have really tried this week, but that’s for another show to deal with. Young Hunter, or “Michael,” was the one who broke through the Pilgrim’s defenses by stabbing her, which led to the rest of the team straight out murdering her. I don’t know what else you would call it after they turned the Pilgrim into a pile of ashes. That’s the most ruthless thing that the assembled crew has done on this show and it was treated as if it was a moment that didn’t matter at all.
Despite the demise of the Pilgrim and the subsequent roofie-ing of their loved ones, the Waverider’s crew decided to leave their younger selves at the time orphanage…for reasons. Presumably it was to keep the Time Masters from sending another assassin after them. However, this show’s arbitrary time travel rules struck again when Hunter explained that they now had a time limit to stop Vandal Savage before their old lives were erased. While the show definitely needed a sense of urgency, it felt forced to do it in that way.
The few moments between Jefferson and his father, the two Sara Lances and their dad, and the two Mick Rorys almost made this episode work. However, it wasn’t enough to compensate for the parts that didn’t come together. The result was a wildly uneven episode as we head into the home stretch of the first season. There’s only four more chances this season for the Legends of Tomorrow creative team to nail the landing. And it’s anyone’s guess if they’ll be able to pull it off.
What did you think about the twelfth episode of Legends of Tomorrow? Let us know in the comment section below!
Images: DC Entertainment/The CW