Warning: major spoilers below! You know the drill. Don’t read this recap until you’ve seen the second part of the pilot episode for DC’s Legends of Tomorrow. You’ve been warned!
It certainly didn’t take long for the “Legends” of DC’s Legends of Tomorrow to royally screw up on an epic scale. On their first real mission together, the team managed to expose their existence to Vandal Savage (Casper Crump), jeopardize their own futures in 2016, and get one of their own killed. By any measure, that’s not a good day!
After discovering that Rip Hunter (Arthur Darvill) has been lying to them at the tail end of the first half of the pilot, the team essentially ignored his attempts to lead them against Savage. Instead, Captain Cold (Wentworth Miller) led a mission to infiltrate an auction of a rogue nuclear device to the highest bidding terrorist. Martin Stein (Victor Garber) turned out to be a very good talker as he bluffed their way past Savage’s security. He was very convincing as a ‘70s era terrorist…but perhaps he was too good and too arrogant to know when to stop talking. One little slip-up allowed Savage to deduce that Martin and the rest of the team were time travelers, and he offered to sell the nuke at a discount to anyone who could take out his new enemies. On a side note, the Damien Darhk (Neal McDonough) cameo in this scene turned out to be largely useless. Hopefully the future Flash and Arrow crossover characters will be put to better use.
The ensuing action sequence was one of the best parts of the episode, and it was impressively staged. For a few minutes, Legends of Tomorrow actually had a Guardians of the Galaxy and The Avengers vibe as everyone on the team got to show off their powers or abilities. It was a little cheesy that Savage could activate the nuke with just one button, but Firestorm/Jax (Franz Drameh) was able to absorb the radiation and save Norway circa 1975.
Unfortunately for the team, Ray Palmer a.k.a. the Atom (Brandon Routh) lost an important piece of his suit in the fight, which apparently made major changes to their future in 2016. But before we go on, it has to be said that it was just ridiculous for the episode to try suggest that Ray’s advance technology could be reverse-engineered in the ‘70s in under a day. Even with Savage threatening his scientists into performing the impossible, it still lacked all credibility.
But the loss of Ray’s tech set up two of the three primary subplots. Sara Lance (Caity Lotz), Jax, and Martin teamed up to track down Ray’s missing piece with the aid of Martin’s younger self. Meanwhile, Ray, Cold, and Heat Wave (Dominic Purcell) went off to steal a dagger that once belonged to Hawkgirl in her original life. By far the most entertaining scenes of the episode dealt with young Martin (Graeme McComb) unintentionally embarrassing his older self by being much cooler. Young Martin hit on Sara and he was happy to talk science while getting high with like-minded people.
Getting the tech back was an afterthought, as Sara demonstrated that she was still dangerous even when she was high. The real meaty part here was the way that Martin botched his younger self’s history by inadvertently preventing himself from meeting his future wife. Oh, NOW Legends of Tomorrow remembers that Martin is supposed to be married! Kind of funny how the writers left that detail out of last week’s episode when Martin essentially left his wife behind without saying goodbye. And he drugged Jax too, let’s not forget that!
Young Martin wasn’t about to let his device go without a fight, and he followed the team and caught up with them after they retrieved Ray’s tech. He even came aboard the Waverunner time ship, which gave Legends of Tomorrow another Doctor Who-like moment as young Martin reacted to its wonders. At the same time, young Martin’s changes to the past caused old Martin’s wedding ring to disappear, as if he was never married at all.
It seems that Cold and Heat Wave are this show’s secret weapon. They have the innate ability to play off of anyone on this series. This time, Ray’s attempts to impress his criminal teammates on a heist to recover the dagger only served to make them like him even less than before. It’s almost as if they were the “cool kids” and he was trying too hard to justify his place on the team.
The owner of the house where the dagger was stored conveniently (and somewhat predictably) turned out to be Vandal Savage himself. And after beating up Heat Wave for a while, Savage demanded that Cold and Ray contact their teammates and bring Hawkman and Hawkgirl to him. This brings us to the part of the episode that didn’t really work at all: Hentschel and Renée have absolutely no chemistry together. If that were the case only in regard to their present selves, then it could have been explained by the fact that Kendra didn’t want to jump into a relationship with Carter again. But Hentschel and Renée weren’t even convincing when they were lovers in the flashbacks!
In retrospect, it should have been obvious that one of the Hawks was doomed when Carter went out of his way to tell Kendra that it was all right if she didn’t love him in this lifetime…he’d simply wait until another one of their shared reincarnations for her to love him back. Now there’s a kiss of death if we’ve ever seen one.
With the dagger in hand during the team’s attempt to rescue Ray, Heat Wave, and Cold, Hawkman attempted to end Savage, but he was soon murdered with his own blade. Savage didn’t waste any time seriously wounding Hawkgirl as well. It was a genuine surprise to see Hawkman die in the second episode, but given the nature of this show, his return is inevitable. Presumably, Hawkman will reincarnate, just as he always has before. But it will be interesting to see if his death in the past wreaks havoc on the progression of his past selves. Theoretically, there would now have been two incarnations of Hawkman in the ‘70s. Does that mean that there would be two Hawkmen going forward until another version rejoins the crew of the Waverunner?
The writing of the episode felt a little lazy at the end, as a quick phone call offscreen from Hunter to Martin’s younger self was all that was needed to put Martin’s history back on track. And in the end, the team united once again in a pledge to avenge Hawkman’s death. But for now, they’re all stuck in 1975 until Kendra’s wounds allow her to withstand another trip through time.
So far, this show’s biggest weakness has been the forced the romance between Hawkman and Hawkgirl. With Hawkman out of the way (for now), hopefully the writers won’t be quite as hung up on that angle going forward. That said, all of the non-Hawk characters were really entertaining in this episode. The series still has a lot to live up to in the shadow of The Flash and Arrow, but I’m cautiously optimistic that it can get there.
What did you think about the second episode of Legends of Tomorrow? Let us know in the comment section below!
Image Credit: DC Entertainment/The CW