Warning: major spoilers below! You know the drill. Don’t read this recap until you’ve seen the tenth episode of DC’s Legends of Tomorrow. You’ve been warned!
It’s a rare show that can undercut its own drama before the setup has even finished. And yet that’s a trick that DC’s Legends of Tomorrow pulled off twice this week. And who doesn’t love the old “let’s kill Hitler” time travel story? We got that too, except with a future Hitler analogue.
This week, Team Waverider found themselves in 2146, still a few decades shy of Vandal Savage’s ultimate triumph. At that point in time, Savage (Casper Crump) was mentoring Per Degaton (Cory Gruter-Andrew), a boy who is destined to become history’s next mass murderer. Now, for you comic book fans out there, DC actually has a character named Per Degaton who has almost nothing in common with the kid on this show who shares his name. That kind of defeats the purpose of using the character, doesn’t it?
Once the team realized that Savage was already well on his way to corrupting young Per Degaton, Leonard Snart a.k.a. Captain Cold (Wentworth Miller) was the first to realize that Rip Hunter (Arthur Darvill) was considering the cold blooded murder of Per in order to prevent Savage’s rise. Amazingly, it actually took a minute or two before someone else suggested that they simply remove Per from the timeline and place him somewhere else. That should have been option number one.
For once, Team Waverider’s first plan largely went off without a hitch. They kidnapped Per and brought him back to the Waverider. Worried that nothing short of killing Per would save his own wife and child, Hunter took Per out of the ship to kill him…and he couldn’t bring himself to do it. The problem here is that there was never any doubt about how that would play out. The exchange between young Per and Hunter was so poorly written that Hunter’s plea that Per be a good man like his father played like unintentional comedy. There was no heart in Hunter’s words, so how could anyone be moved by that when even he didn’t seem to believe it?
It is kind of darkly funny that Team Waverider has once again screwed themselves. After his release, young Per embraced evil much earlier than he did in the original timeline, which moved up the date of Savage’s conquest and genocide. Hunter and his team have only made things worse for themselves throughout the season.
One of the other major subplots this week dealt with the twin crises of Ray Palmer (Brandon Routh): his Atom tech was being used to subjugate the population of a corporate state and he apparently had a child that he never knew about in 2016. To Routh’s credit, some of Ray’s anguish actually landed. And it was genuinely fun to see Firefly/Serenity star Jewel Staite as Ray’s descendent, Rachel Turner.
However, the resolution to Ray’s problems may have been the hackiest thing that the show has ever done. It turned out that Rachel wasn’t Ray’s great-great-great-great granddaughter. She was the great-great-great-great granddaughter of Ray’s brother, Sydney. You know, that character who looks exactly like Ray and yet has never previously been mentioned. Yeah, that guy.
That’s pathetic. The sad part is that it could have been really interesting if Ray really did seed this horrible timeline by joining the Waverider crew and leaving his tech and unborn child behind to create this mess. Instead, Ray got to laugh it off like it was a joke and appeal to the inherently good nature of his distant relative. That was far from a satisfying payoff.
After being absent for several episodes, Carter Hall a.k.a. Hawkman (Falk Hentschel) finally reappeared this week in some flashbacks with Kendra/Hawkgirl (Ciara Renée), which finally gave one of her past selves a period hairstyle. While those sequences revisited the fact that Carter and Kendra had a son in one of their incarnations, it didn’t add much to the episode at all.
The strongest elements of this series continue to be Cold and Heat Wave/Mick Rory (Dominic Purcell). There were some enjoyable sequences throughout the episode which treated Mick like he was Hannibal Lecter (who was also amusingly name checked as Ray’s future alias). Mick even called out Sara Lance (Caity Lotz) and the rest of the crew for essentially using him as their confessional. By the time that Cold came down to visit his “friend,” he was ready to offer up his life and let Mick escape.
It was a nice moment when Mick won the fight with Cold, but lost the drive to murder his former friend and escape. Putting Mick back on the team’s side this quickly could be a misstep, but he laid out a compelling reason why he may need their help. The Time Masters have sent a new group of Hunters to kill Team Waverider and Mick. Although it’s not clear why the Hunters won’t simply attack the crew in the past before they joined Hunter on his quest to stop Savage.
Of course, there’s always the danger that the Legends of Tomorrow creative team could make the same mistake they made with Chronos. Until the revelation that Mick was Chronos, he was the least interesting villain on the show. If the Hunters are similarly personality free then they probably won’t be an improvement as replacement villains.
Last week’s episode of Legends of Tomorrow was very strong, so it was very disappointing to see the series backslide in quality this week. The problems were mostly on the script level. The action scenes were well done, and Routh, Wentworth, and Purcell had some strong material to work with. But this show still has an identity crisis that it hasn’t even come close to solving after ten episodes. There’s not much time left this season to get it right.
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Image Credits: DC Entertainment/The CW